There are parts of the NFL Draft process that can be a lot of fun. The chess game between front offices, the study and analysis of game film, and the leaks of really horrible Wonderlic scores at the combine -- I love those things!
Then there's the overanalysis, the portion of the player study that bleeds over an invisible boundary from standard game film stuff and instead focuses largely on irrelevant bodily features and junior high-level gossip and bullshit.
It's through the latter, the overanalysis, where nfl.com's Nolan Nawrocki (previously of Pro Football Weekly) has achieved much of his draft season relevance, to the point where we now await his annual overly personal thrashing of one of the consensus top prospects the same way we wait to see if the groundhog sees his shadow.
The year's Nawrocki salvo came yesterday, and the target was probably not all that surprising.
As it turns out, Nolan Nawrocki is not a big fan of Johnny Manziel's game, either on the field or off the field. When you consider who Nawrocki's previous most notable targets have been for his scathing personality profiles, this shouldn't come as a huge surprise (although there are some who would say that they probably expected Nawrocki to set his sights on Teddy Bridgewater, if you know what I mean).
In 2011, he had this to say about Cam Newton:
"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. Will require a very strong-willed, demanding coach to live up to his potential and avoid the trappings of fame and fortune, but even the greatest taskmaster will not be able to keep away the drama that is still swirling from a stained Heisman Trophy and littered recruiting trail that Newton left in the SEC. Can provide an initial spark, but will quickly be dissected and contained by NFL defensive coordinators, struggle to sustain success and will not prove worthy of an early investment. An overhyped, high-risk, high-reward selection with a glaring bust factor, Newton is sure to be drafted more highly than he should and could foreclose a risk-taking GM's job and taint a locker room."
And then last year, he had this to say about 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. Interviewed poorly at the Combine and did not show an understanding of concepts on the white board. 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. Needed to be coddled in college -- cannot handle hard coaching. 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."
Now, in an article where nfl.com is outlining the "most controversial" draft prospects, Nawrocki comes out firing on Johnny Football with the standard cadre of "get off my lawn"-type concerns about Manziel's perceived thirst for the spotlight:
Nawrocki's take: Suspect intangibles -- not a leader by example or known to inspire by his words. Carries a sense of entitlement and prima-donna arrogance seeking out the bright lights of Hollywood. Is known to party too much and is drawn to all the trappings of the game. ... Has defied the odds and proven to be a great college-system quarterback, but still must prove he is willing to work to be great, adjust his hard-partying, Hollywood lifestyle and be able to inspire his teammates by more than his playmaking ability.
(NOTE: If you'd like to read Nawrocki's entire draft profile on Manziel, both positives and negatives, you can check out the full profile here, but be forewarned. If you roll your eyes at the overly nitpicky, job-justifying minutiae of draft experts, there is plenty of cringeworthy stuff in here, highlighted by Nawrocki's contention that Manziel has "very big feet that almost look clumsy," as if he was clomping around through SEC defenses wearing huge floppy shoes like Bozo the Clown. Seriously, very big feet?)
My favorite "middle aged white guy" sounding part of Nawrocki's character assassination of Manziel is the multiple instances of the word "Hollywood." It almost sounds like my uncle who used to lament how much the old University of Miami teams were "shuckin' and jivin'" when they would celebrate touchdowns back in the late 80's.
Also, there's something patently absurd about Johnny Manziel being included on a list of "controversial" or "risky" prospects that also includes LSU running back Jeremy Hill. You remember Hill, right?
Also worth noting that Hill hasother priors that, thankfully, are not uploaded to YouTube anywhere
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Seriously, plunking Manziel onto a list with this guy is like sending a kid to Huntsville for an underage drinking citation. Johnny Manziel and Jeremy Hill? Really, Nawrocki? Really?!?
If Nawrocki's accuracy (or lack thereof) on his assessment of Newton is any sort of barometer, the Texans should just go ahead, send the card with Manziel's name on it up to Roger Goodell today, and the league can start the draft on May 8 with second overall pick.
Things seemed to work out all right for that Newton guy.