It continues to be anonymous scout season. But a former NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year is pushing back against the latest effort to possibly spark the slide of a top prospect via the whispering of criticism to a reporter without the attachment of a name to it.
It happened after Ian Rapoport of NFL Media posted a tweet that raises questions about Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau, based not on Rapoport’s assessment of Rousseau but based on the assessment from a scout whom Rapoport didn’t name. “Greg Rousseau is one of the Draft’s most challenging evals,” Rapoport said. “One scout called him a ‘skinny little guy’ on tape, but he showed up at his Pro Day 25 pounds heavier. Some wondered about the athleticism, but he’s much bigger now. Plus, he was an opt-out. Lots of questions.”
It wasn’t an overt slam of Rousseau, since Rapoport tried to balance things out a bit. Overall, however, it was a negative assessment. And it wasn’t lost on Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who has been talking up Rousseau for a while now.
“I wonder what the scouts were saying when I was coming out?” Campbell tweeted in response. “Not athletic enough? Not strong enough? I am not a scout and I know they have a tough job. But I hope they don’t overthink this one. @Greg_R5 can play football. He is a playmaker! Shows up in both the run and pass game.”
Earlier this year, Campbell said this about Rousseau: “I don’t care about the mock draft…I just want everyone to see this highlight tape! Gregory Rousseau is gonna be a problem! Straight up beast! I hope and think he will be better than me.”
One of the basic realties of the draft — a reality that rarely gets mentioned as the draft approaches — is that plenty of the prospects who eventually will be picked eventually won’t pan out. Still, specific criticisms of specific players in the days and weeks preceding the draft from scouts who don’t attach their names and affiliations to the assessment must always be viewed skeptically, given the well-accepted reality that scouts who love a player will trash him to reporters in the hopes that the player will then linger on the board long enough for that scout’s team to pounce on him.
Always keep that in mind when seeing any reports attributed to unnamed scouts that point out the flaws in a given prospect’s overall game, character, etc.