Pro Football Weekly writer issues scathing takedown of NFL Draft prospect Geno Smith

Should Nolan Nawrocki's takedown of Geno Smith be taken seriously?

4/2/13 in NFL   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

Feb 24, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (13) participates in a passing drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY SportsThere's a lot of buzz around Nolan Nawrocki's incredibly scathing scouting report about NFL Draft prospect Geno Smith, widely considered the top QB prospect in the draft.

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:

"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. Interviewed poorly at the Combine and did not show an understanding of concepts on the white board ... Needed to be coddled in college — cannot handle hard coaching."

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:

"Opted not to compete at the Senior Bowl and has approached offseason training as if he has already arrived and it shows in his body with minimal muscle definition or strength. Has small hands and glaring ball security issues (32 career fumbles). Really struggled handling the snow in Pinstripe Bowl (took two safeties) and will be troubled by the elements."

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.

Dec 22, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs for a touchdown as Oakland Raiders defensive end Andre Carter (97) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY SportsKeep 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):

"Tends to hop in the pocket and is not much of a scrambling threat - can be flustered by the rush ... Has a tendency to overstride when he goes deep ... launches some rainmakers. Inconsistent deep accuracy ... awkward follow-through ... Arrogant - can come off as having all the answers and struggle to win a locker room. Still immature. Comes across as overly staged, scripted and disingenuous in interviews and does not have the type of presence desired in the face of a franchise. Is not a fan of the weight room."

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?
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4/2/13   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

pbs19 wrote:
The race argument was a rather abrupt insertion. Two or three scouting reports does not a trend make. Isn't it equally as likely (probably *more* likely) that this guy is just a bad scout? Along those same lines, how many other scouts have made 1 or 2 judgments that turned out to be really wrong in recent years? I'm sure there are a ton of them. These guys are in the evaluation/opinion business, and thus they're going to be wrong sometimes. If they're never wrong, then they're likely not a scout anymore (probably a GM or director of player personnel).

If you're going to make an argument that someone's history stems from some character flaw (in this case, racism), then you have to do a much better job of showing a) precedent, and b) differences between this person and others in the same position that can only be explained by the flaw you're pointing out.

It's not necessarily the fact that he provided a couple negative scouting reports on black quarterbacks. He's far from the only person who wasn't convinced that Cam Newton would be successful on the next level, and many question Geno Smith as well, myself included.

It's the way he worded things. His assessments of Smith and Newton are no holds barred, while his (in his mind, similar) assessment of Clausen uses considerably softened language.

Also, I noted several other possibilities. I wasn't the first to bring up the race issue, so I was just pointing out why someone might think that.

4/2/13   |   pbs19   |   1 respect

The race argument was a rather abrupt insertion. Two or three scouting reports does not a trend make. Isn't it equally as likely (probably *more* likely) that this guy is just a bad scout? Along those same lines, how many other scouts have made 1 or 2 judgments that turned out to be really wrong in recent years? I'm sure there are a ton of them. These guys are in the evaluation/opinion business, and thus they're going to be wrong sometimes. If they're never wrong, then they're likely not a scout anymore (probably a GM or director of player personnel).

If you're going to make an argument that someone's history stems from some character flaw (in this case, racism), then you have to do a much better job of showing a) precedent, and b) differences between this person and others in the same position that can only be explained by the flaw you're pointing out.

4/2/13   |   rcc1michaele   |   2 respect

sounds to me like a racist prick who does"nt have a clue maybe this dude is a little jealous of these young black men who are about to make millions of dollars i"ll go a little farther it would"nt matter what color they are there is no way a bum like this should be saying things like this oh and by the way after cam newtons rookie record season what did you have to say about him then you jerk the reason i am bashing yopu is because with all those negative things you said where the f are the positives ? SO STF UP YOU SCUMBAG