It’s late February. The Combine is unfolding. And that means it’s time for scouts to rip or praise players under the cloak of anonymity.
Plenty of writers who publish assessments made by unnamed scouts are now ridiculed when doing so. The pedigree and accomplishments of Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tend to insulate him from scrutiny, even when his unnamed scouts swing and miss on players like Robert Griffin III. (Heck, McGinn can even publish Wonderlic numbers without being vilified.)
McGinn assesses the players who could be available when the Packers use their first-round pick, and he shares the insights of a pair of unnamed scouts regarding Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, a German-born-and-bred prospect who is now poised to fulfill the very unlikely dream of being a first-round draft pick in the NFL.
“He’s good, but I don’t see the special in him,” one unnamed scout said. “Kind of a try-hard, good football player but nothing special.”
Said another: “He’s not a dynamic pass rusher but he seems to get sacks. He comes off the ball hard but he’s not special.”
Without knowing anything about the team(s) for which these scouts work, there’s no way of knowing whether they’re badmouthing Werner in the hopes that he’ll be available when their team(s) pick. That’s how it works. Teams that love a player say bad things about him, wishing for a free fall. Teams that hate a guy say great things about him, hopeful he’ll be taken early — pushing down the board players in which the team is actually interested.
With more and more media swarming around the pre-draft process, there’s always someone ready to publish these anonymous assessments.
But citing an “unnamed scout” tells the audience nothing about the skills or credentials of the scout. As the late George Carlin used to say (as Carlin himself would say, he’s saying nothing now), there’s a worst doctor in the world — and someone has an appointment with him tomorrow. Similarly, there are plenty of scouts who aren’t as skilled as others. Any time an unnamed scout is being quoted, there’s a chance that he’s the worst of them all.
You know, like the ones who told McGinn last year that, as to RG3, “[e]verybody is just assuming because of the Heisman and the socks and all that bs. . . . they are ignoring a lot of bad tape that he’s had,” that “I don’t think he has vision or pocket feel, which to me are the two most important components of quarterbacking,” that “[h]e’s just running around winging it,” that “[h]e’s [Michael] Vick, but not as good a thrower,” that “he’s not as good as Cam Newton,” that “[a]s much as is written about his athleticism, his athleticism under duress in the pocket isn’t even close to Cam Newton’s,” that “the only way he gets big plays with his feet is if he’s got a wide-open field and the sea opens for him,” that “[h]e’s got a little bit of a selfish streak, too,” and that “[h]e doesn’t treat anybody good.”
Or maybe these unnamed scouts are just good enough to know how to push lies in the hopes of advancing agendas.