Newton is the second straight No. 1 overall draft pick to take the honor in voting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Rams QB Sam Bradford won it last year.
"I want to thank the man upstairs," Newton said.
The first Panther to win the award, Newton received 47 votes to three for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton. The awards were presented on the "NFL Honors" primetime special Saturday night on NBC.
Newton set an NFL record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with 14 and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. He helped Carolina improve from 2-14 to 6-10, throwing for 21 touchdowns.
"It's still a learning process for me. I mean, I learned so much the entire season. I can do so many things better. I have so much respect for this league that a lot of people don’t understand what it takes to be a player in the National Football League, let alone the quarterback."