2014 NFL Draft: Anonymous strikes again

Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

The annual NFL Scouting Combine starts this week, and that means only one thing: context-free reports about the state of America's youth.

It is important to note that Nolan Nawrocki isn't just a scout. He's a writer for ENN EFF ELL DOT COM, and thus an official cog in America's most profitable football machine. It's not just that he's an expert in totally non-quantifiable things heard from anonymous scouts. No, Nawrocki scratches deeper than most, and gets to the very core of a prospect's character.

This year, writing for the official website of the NFL Network, Nawrocki delved into the non-quantifiable realm of character with the usual results. Every first grade has a teacher fond of writing the dark fates of children in their heads, and of hinting that the dropping of a juicebox onto the class computer's keyboard means a dark future of certain jailtime for the youngster. Nolan Nawrocki is this teacher, and these are his progress report warnings composed after a long, bitter research session in the teacher's lounge.

This is his entirely original insider estimate of Johnny Manziel.

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.

Texas A&M had the best two-year span in recent history, raised more money than they ever had as a university thanks to Manziel's Heisman year, won two bowl games in a row, beat the best team in the nation in 2012, and remained competitive in 2013 with the 111th ranked defense in the nation because of one thing: Johnny Manziel. His teammates generally liked him. His coaches, even when irritated with him, vouch for him. He raised $80K for scholarships at Texas A&M, and does charity work for kids with juvenile cancer.

These are Johnny Manziel's tangibles, which surely do not counter the obvious statement that rich-ass, cashin' out Johnny Manziel is also extremely confident in his abilities, and occasionally makes gestures indicating a real enjoyment of the game of football.

Jadeveon Clowney's estimate might be as bad, or at least less sensical. In between writing things people already knew about Clowney -- that he's brilliant, but inconsistent for a lot of reasons -- Nawrocki actually writes this about a player who just declared for the NFL Draft a few months ago.

Needs to learn what it means to be a pro.

These are other true things. Clowney is 21. He's gonna have to learn what it takes to be 22, but being 23 is a project. He's gonna have to get there one day at a time. Probably 365 days at a time. He's a long way off from being 24. At least two years off, if not more. Clowney's gonna have to mature, and eventually become a 25 year old. Jadeveon Clowney is definitely not a pro football player yet, because he doesn't play in the NFL, the pro football league he's looking to join as a professional player.

Even when he's accurate about possible character concerns, there's nothing of substance to Nawrocki's criticism, at least not with things you couldn't have found out yourself using Google and up to four years of reporting on the various prospects here. Colt Lyerla has "overcome a lot of adversity," which you would know if you had read any one of the articles already written about him elsewhere. Him being "overly emotional" is important knowledge; Lyerla's arrest for cocaine possession, however, is not worth a mention, either by deliberate omission, or because this was written last July before Lyerla's arrest in October of 2013.

Victor Hampton of South Carolina is mentioned as a character risk, but with no mention of his arrests, or what they were for. LSU running back Jeremy Hill "must be investigated", a funny choice of words because Hill, an LSU running back of immense talent and horrendous judgment, has been arrested twice: once for misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a minor, and once for punching a man in a parking lot.

Nawrocki's argument would be that this is all what he had heard from scouts, and thus some kind of fact worth passing on under the protection of anonymity. This would be fine if it were anything new, or interesting, or not duplicated by multiple layers of existing reporting. It is not any of this, and is mostly a word-slurry of filtered, secondhand cromag gossip among what sounds like an astonishingly dull group of men. (BREAKING: Western Kentucky's Jonathan Dowling "talks too much.")

Worse yet, it's been stripped of all relevant detail, supporting evidence, or context. If you want that, read it. You can find the rest out with Google, a more helpful tool than Nolan Nawrocki. It isn't that his business is the direct casual slander of possible NFL prospects. It's that he collects it like it's fact, and passes it forward. He's more of an official casual slander courier, carrying the anonymous judgments of the NFL's whispering manbabies forward into the light of public opinion. It's a living.

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