Pro Football Weekly's harsh scouting report of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith raised eyebrows throughout the football community because it doggedly questioned Smith's work ethic and love for the game.
Equally harsh assessments of Nolan Nawrocki, the man who wrote the report, have followed (including a response from Smith). Nawrocki notably critiqued Cam Newton before the 2011 NFL Draft for his off-field attitude and "fake smile," which made a lot of folks wonder if Nawrocki had an agenda or was looking for attention. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said that assessment of Nawrocki would be unfair.
"I know Nolan Nawrocki very, very well," Mayock said on ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on Wednesday. "The guy has an unbelievable group of sources throughout the NFL. He works it tirelessly. I've been on the phone with the guy at midnight, 2 a.m., talking draft. The guy is crazy as far as his passion and love for the game."
Nawrocki, a former college safety, worked under the late, great Joel Buchsbaum at Pro Football Weekly. Mayock defended Nawrocki's integrity.
"When he puts that out there, there's no agenda. He's not trying to bash Cam Newton or Geno Smith. This is the feedback he's getting from scouts and what he believes based on his tape study. Does that mean it's right or wrong? No. We have to minimize that a little bit because scouts can say a lot of things to get their opinions out there for their own vested reasons."
Mayock hit the nail on the head there. Top-shelf analysts are asked to evaluate film, but their use of scout information falls more into a reportorial role. That can get tricky. Mayock once mentioned Blaine Gabbert and Matt Leinart as two prospects who concerned him regarding their love of the game.
Draft "experts" need to decide which scouts to trust and which not to trust. Mayock said he's still "trying to gather" information about Smith's intangibles, but Mayock knows enough about his draft colleague.
"I would bang the table for Nolan Nawrocki," Mayock said.
As for this quarterback class? Mayock is not impressed.
"I couldn't take Geno Smith in the top 10, probably (not) the top 20," he said. "I can't stand this whole quarterback class."Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.