Two years ago, draft expert Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly created a stir with a biting critique of quarterback Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
“Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup,” Nawrocki wrote. “Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room . . . . Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.”
Nawrocki has now issued scouting reports for Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, regarded as the top two quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. And at a time when many believe Smith will be taken before Barkley, Nawrocki calls Barkley a first-round pick and Smith merely a “top-50 pick.”
Apart from Nawrocki’s critique of Smith’s mechanics, Nawrocki adds this assessment of Smith: “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. Has small hands and glaring ball security issues (32 career fumbles). Really struggled handling the snow in Pinstripe Bowl (took two safeties) and will be troubled by the elements. Needed to be coddled in college — cannot handle hard coaching.”
Nawrocki then makes a strong prediction about Smith’s future. “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,” Nawrocki writes. “Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities.”
Smith will indeed be drafted high, due to the possibility that his positives eventually will outweigh his negatives, allowing him to become the one thing every team needs: A franchise quarterback. If enough teams agree with Nawrocki, however, Smith may not be drafted as high as some would believe.