The surprising part isn't that Nawrocki didn't see Smith as a top-10 pick in the draft. There are many people who think that. In fact, there are quite a few people on record saying that NONE of the available quarterbacks are worth a first round pick. The surprising part is where Nawrocki attacked Smith.
His on-field critiques were relatively mild criticisms that seem easily correctible and pretty common among college QBs. The off-field criticisms, on the other hand, seem excessively harsh and over the top, and don't seem to gel with anything that we've heard about Geno Smith up to this point:
In his summary, Nawrocki said Smith is "a cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks, Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room. Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities."
This is drastically different from earlier reports in which Smith's intelligence was praised, and he was actually labeled as "gifted."
So which of these articles is true? Is he a gifted QB with next-level understanding of the game? Or does he have trouble understanding concepts?
Nawrocki also calls Smith uncommitted and unfocused, another assessment that appears to come out of nowhere. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports says that Smith actually interviewed very well according to his sources Freeman seems to think that some of the people feeding this information to Nawrocki might be teams who have picks lower in the first round, and are hoping that Smith will fall to them.
However, look at some of the other criticisms. These are not issues that needed to be relayed to Nawrocki. These are things that Nawrocki observed himself:
For starters, many top draft prospects opt out of the Senior Bowl. That's nothing new. And minimal muscle definition or strength? Name another QB at the combine who had better muscle definition than Smith. Interestingly enough, Matt Barkley also has "small hands" issues, yet Nawrocki projected him considerably higher than Smith.
Keep in mind that Nawrocki is the same guy who blasted Cam Newton, right before Newton was selected with the 1st overall pick, and ran away with the Rookie of the Year award. Nawrocki even admitted that he had never even met Newton when he wrote the report.
Upon realizing that, the first instinct is to question whether or not it's an issue of race. Does Nawrocki have it out for black quarterbacks? He says he doesn't, citing a scouting report on Jimmy Clausen that he says was just as scathing as his scouting report on Newton, if not more so. However, Nawrocki's reports on Smith and Newton are pretty easy to find. His report on Clausen seems to have vanished. The only thing you'll find is a summary of his reports on the top 10 quarterbacks in the 2010 draft, which includes Clausen as the #2 QB.
While it's true that Nawrocki has some negative things to say about Clausen, he does so in a rather measured way, qualifying many of his criticisms (noted in bold font):
Compare that to his reports on Newton and Smith, where he seems far more assertive and decisive about the quarterbacks' weaknesses, despite the fact that both of them are almost certainly far better than Clausen. Newton has already proven himself, and Smith doesn't have to do all that much to prove that he can outplay Clausen.
Exactly what IS Nawrocki's problem with Geno Smith? What was his problem with Newton? Is it a racial issue? Or is Nawrocki receiving info that is somehow personally biased against certain players? Are NFL teams feeding him information to try to manipulate his draft position? Or is this just Nawrocki's honest assessment of Geno Smith? What's your take?