Every year at this time, scouts and personnel executives slide behind the cover of anonymity and take low blows at top prospects.
Some of the scouts and personnel executives are doing it for one reason: To get the player to slide down the board so that the team whose employee is saying bad things privately about said player can draft him.
It’s one of the few certainties about the NFL’s talent acquisition process. Teams that like a player will say bad things about him in order to have a crack at him. Teams that don’t like a player will say good things, in the hopes that a team drafting higher will take him, pushing more desirable prospects down the board.
Without knowing the team, it’s impossible to know whether that agenda applies here. But that doesn’t stop plenty of media outlets from taking the quotes and using them, since they inject sizzle into the process.
The latest comes from Mark Eckel of NJ.com, who quotes an unnamed NFC personnel exec who doesn’t like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
“He’s spoiled, and he’s lazy,’’ the unnamed executive said. “He’s never worked hard a day in his life, now all of a sudden you’re going to give him a bunch of money and expect him to work hard. I don’t see it.’’
For good measure (perhaps), the unnamed executive expressed a belief that Clowney won’t slide. But maybe that’s just the genius of it.
“Oh, he’s going to be a high pick,’’ the unnamed executive said. “Some team will fall in love with him. But wait and see, just wait and see. I just don’t think you can count on him. I’m betting the under on him.’’
Lies get told all the time in the NFL, and the pre-draft process contains the highest concentration of them. The audience needs to understand that when trying to assess the value of such observations.
Here’s the answer, in a nutshell: There is none.
For that reason, we hope the media will think twice before serving as the conduit for unnamed scouts dumping on kids who are finally in line to get paid for the risks they assume and the efforts they contribute.