During draft season we have a lot of time to think, a lot of time to talk, and a lot of time to listen as others talk. On the surface those aren’t bad things, because analysis is what we do around here, and thinking mixed with talking is what leads to the learning and evaluating. It’s a cycle, you see.
But sometimes that cycle can more so resemble a spiral of blinding, white nothingness, and the result is both comedy, and anonymous drivel.
We’ve already seen plenty of the latter. Rooted in nameless scouts, the anonymous character bashing quote is agenda driven, with leaks coming from a team that wants the player in question to fall. Or if it’s a positive leak, the aim is to drive a prospect’s price up so he’s selected higher than his true value.
Either way, quotes from anonymous executives are completely useless. Like this Jadeveon Clowney hit job from an NFL personnel man over the weekend…
“He’s spoiled, and he’s lazy. He’s never worked hard a day in his life, now all of a sudden you’re going to give him a bunch of money and expect him to work hard. I don’t see it.’’
Or this masterpiece in which Teddy Bridgewater was compared to a person who isn’t even real…
I present you with the greatest QB comparison ever. An AFC North coach compared Bridgewater to…Willie Beaman. I’m not making this up.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 14, 2014
Then the pundit army jumps into the echo chamber, and it devolves into a race to out-ridiculous each other.
“There’s so many red flags, you can make a dress”-NFL Draft Expert @ESPN_Colin on Bridgewater.
— Kyle Posey (@The_KP_Show) April 14, 2014
Those three quotes are only from this week. And it’s Tuesday.
When anonymous voices are involved, the end is senseless personal attacks pushed for a purpose. And when yammering heads are involved — or even owners, or the prospects themselves — the result is often comedy. Either the laughing kind, or the laughing because it’s better than crying kind.
Come with me then, and let’s explore the recent history of the memorable pre-draft quote in its various forms.
Cam Newton is a selfish jerk, or something
Everyone’s favorite amateur psychologist, Nolan Nawrocki is now infamous for his scathing scouting reports which far too often focus on personal characteristics and flaws only loosely related to the actual playing of football. Sort of like this:
Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. Only a one-year producer. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.
That’s his hot take on Cam Newton from a few years ago, one that’s essentially a jumble of anonymous scouts speaking, as that’s where his information comes from. In a follow-up interview after his Newton report was posted, Nawrocki said he hasn’t actually met the former Auburn quarterback, and instead his insider info was culled from sources he called “three-to-five decision makers“.
During draft season such a consensus is more than enough to lay waste to a the inner character of a person you haven’t met, while disregarding any agenda involved.
Nawrocki strikes again
Two years later Nawrocki fired at Geno Smith.
Not a student of the game. Nonchalant field presence — does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire. Mild practice demeanor — no urgency. Not committed or focused — marginal work ethic.
Smith could very well be a bust, and it’s not hard to see that future after a rookie season when he threw 21 interceptions to only 12 touchdowns passes, and completed only 55.8 percent of his attempts. But while this character assessment received attention, it has little connection to Smith’s potential failure.
He’ll fail because he has poor mechanics, he makes bad decisions, and he forces throws, all things also mentioned in Nawrocki’s report alongside his second-hand character assessment from afar. He won’t fail because of a nonchalant field presence, or an inability to inspire.
Drunk Jerry Jones knows all
And now we turn to the inebriated owner portion of our proceedings.
In 2010 drunk Jerry Jones knew what the Jets later didn’t: that even gimmick, part-time player Tim Tebow is worth little. Or more accurately, nothing.
I could listen to drunk Jerry Jones talk all day. Glory holes, man.
Darren McFadden was pretty high on Darren McFadden
Every high-end prospect should think they’re just the greatest. Their future team wouldn’t want it any other way.
But the specific way in which McFadden thought he was set to be super awesome is now both funny and a little tearful. After saying he would be the best running back in the 2008 draft, McFadden then moved on to address concerns about his durability when speaking to USA Today:
“The team that takes me is going to get a guy who can hit a home run at any time from anywhere, a guy who is going to play through injuries. If I can still walk, I want to be out there.”
Through six years McFadden still hasn’t slugged through his various ailments enough to play his first full season, appearing in only 67 of a possible 96 games.
That time JaMarcus Russell was in the same sentence as Peyton Manning
I realize this is a pretty deep Internet rabbit hole, and one with so many hilarious missteps by all those who whiffed on JaMarcus Russell (which was everyone).
But of all the comedy buried in that hole amid the mountain of 2008 scouting reports, this capsule from NFLDraftScout featured at USA Today wins:
Has a well-built, strong and athletic frame. … Shows good overall foot quickness and agility to step out of the pocket and buy time for his receivers. … Shows good accuracy firing the ball up the seams. … Has a fluid throwing motion, much like the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning. … Will play through pain and does a great job of standing tall in the pocket. … When he tucks the ball and runs with it, he has the size, strength and bulk to consistently break tackles.
The one time Merril Hoge was right about something
Annually whenever Merril Hoge says something that initially sounds completely ridiculous in March or April (like his “I see bust written all over him” comment about Johnny Manziel), quickly those with any access whatsoever to social media remind you of his various draft whoopsies. The time when he said Brian Brohm would be a better quarterback than Aaron Rodgers is always the most popular video in circulation.
But because I’m a fan of fairness, we should note a rare example of vindication. This is the one time when Hoge chucked his dart in a pitch black draft room, and it found the desired target…