Pro Football Weekly used to be one of the most influential, if not the most influential draft publications. That influence has waned since the late, great Joel Buchsbaum passed, but the publication still can make waves.
We noticed last week that the publication had Matt Barkley ranked first among draft eligible quarterbacks, with Geno Smith ranking sixth. That was surprising, although there is a healthy disagreement among the top of the quarterback class. Ranking Smith sixth doesn't seem that crazy.
Nolan Nawrocki's scouting report on Smith was more eye-opening. Some lowlight quotes from the write-up, which was published online Monday:
"(Smith is) 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. ...
"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."
That sounds harsh because Nawrocki is a member of the media, not an NFL team. But teams write up similarly bruising takedowns of players for their own purposes that never are shared with the public. It's surprising to hear Smith is not a "student of the game" and that his work ethic is suspect. This is the first we've heard of that about Smith, who has a great reputation for his film study.
This is not the first time Nawrocki came out swinging at the top quarterback on most people's boards. He had a brutal assessment of Cam Newton two years ago that included Newton's "fake smile," among other infractions.
Here's the way this works: Nawrocki will get hammered for publicly saying what others might privately be saying. We aren't in the position to say if his assessment is fair. But when you are attacking a player's work ethic and love of the game, you better be confident you are right.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.