There are two very valid criticisms/concerns that have been brought up regarding Nawrocki's evaluation of Cam Newton. The first concern is that Nawrocki's evaluation was meant to draw attention to Pro Football Weekly and sell draft publications. The second criticism revolves around how Nawrocki was able to make such damning comments about Newton even though he's never spoken to Newton or been around him for any amount of time. I will address both.
As far as attention is concerned, if you think Nawrocki is seeking attention, you don't know him very well. I've had him on my sports talk show - (once), my NFL Draft show (once) and I've talked shop with him on a few occasions. If anything he shies away from attention. Hell, I never knew what he looked like until last week despite talking to him about the draft over the last three years. Google images? No prayer. I always figured he had some big push-broom Chicago-style mustache based on his voice.
I've given Nolan a chance to come on the radio and push his draft guides in the past and he declines. He's an evaluator and that is it. Hell, check out the video on PFW and you can see how uncomfortable he looks in front of the camera. I do, however, believe that the editors of PFW leaked Nolan's evaluation in order to draw attention to their product. I'm certain that was the case. And it worked. That wouldn't have been Nolan Nawrocki's call.
As for how he can make such damning accusations regarding Cam's character, I think it is a fair question, but one that is answered pretty simply. I've got a few contacts around the league and they all pretty much agree that Nawrocki is the most tied-in of all the analysts/evaluators out there. Some teams share info with him and he shares some with them. He and I have a few of the same contacts in the league and I know that he gets character evaluations from some of the best scouts in the business.
The good scouts have college coaches in their scouting region who trust them. These scouts are able to get all the info - good and bad - about players that they need and they take this info and build it into their player reports. If a scout really has interest in a player, he will talk to that player's high school coach, high school teacher's, ex-girlfriends, AAU basketball coaches and especially study and note the player's family and friends. One of the reasons that Percy Harvin was off the board for so many teams is because of who he hangs around with. That made their reports.
The best teams want to know every possible bit of dirt on a player so they can decide if he's worthy of being that team's pick. The higher rated the player, the more digging the good teams will do. They don't want ANY surprises after draft day. If they are drafting a turd, they want to know they are drafting a turd and what makes that player a turd so that they can better manage the player. One defensive back in this draft is a virgin according to a draft insider I spoke with. Should this matter to a team? I don't know, but I do know that teams even dig into this area with some players (I'm not always sure why, but they do).
Rob Rang, Chad Reuter and the guys over at NFLDraftScout.com do a great job of giving readers a look at player evaluations that are very professionally done and give readers great insight into the strengths and weaknesses of players. Draft Scout doesn't, however, won't go too far into the character issues for players. While they hear the stories about players from scouts and personnel people around the league, they usually won't print much of it.
What Nawrocki did (and does) is write up prospects in the same fashion that many NFL scouts write them up, not like other media outlets write them up. Not only do scouts put the focus on their on-field attributes, but they also include anything and everything that they find out about a player that could have a positive or negative effect on the player's draft stock in his own war room. If the scout doesn't do his due diligence on a player, it could end with him getting fired. It's happened plenty of times.
Link: Did Nolan Nawrocki cross the line with his Cam Newton evaluation?
For the record, I thought Nawrocki may have gone a little far with some of his characterizations of Cam since he knows that the general public is reading his evaluations. The comment about knowing where the cameras are at all times seemed a little much but I've heard the same comment behind the scenes from an NFL team and they got that info from Auburn.
I understand why some people in the general public and in the draft community are slamming Nolan Nawrocki for how far he went with his Cam Newton commentary, but I also realize that Nolan is more evaluator than draft writer. He's a former Illinois linebacker who lives and breathes football. He's one of the sharpest evaluators that I've dealt with from a media standpoint and NFL teams talk to him because they consider him a "football guy" and not a "football writer." I used to read some of Nawrocki's evaluations to my dad when he was coaching O-line with the Steelers and he usually said Nawrocki was dead-on.
Just keep in mind that Nawrocki simply pulled the curtain back a little bit on the conversations that are taking place behind the scenes of many NFL teams right now about regarding Cam Newton whether you agree with what he wrote or not. I have Cam Newton as my top-rated QB, but I also consider him to be one of the biggest risk/reward prospects in the the draft.
Edited by Mr Scot, 31 March 2011 - 03:32 PM.