If there's one part of the draft I really can't stand, it's the part where scouts -- both amateur and professional -- step down from their real jobs to engage in amateur psychology and try to determine whether a college prospect has certain mental or emotional issues that will impact his NFL future. There are players with obvious issues; Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict has seen himself plummet off of just about every NFL draft board because of legitimate red flags. Burfict has made it very easy for those problems to be spotted and analyzed, and teams have a right and responsibility to consider them.
However, there are other instances in which the analysis just gets silly. In a recent piece by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, various scouts and personnel people size up the top 10 quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class, and there are some interesting opinions afoot. Specifically, one scout's take on Robert Griffin III:
"As much as is written about his athleticism, his athleticism under duress in the pocket isn't even close to Cam Newton's. This guy, 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. He's got a little bit of a selfish streak, too. Everybody was laying on Cam, but for some reason this guy has become gloves off. He doesn't treat anybody good." Another scout also questioned the way Griffin deals with people.
It's quite possible that the "gloves-off" policy with Griffin has to do with the fact that someone caught him on a bad day, and that analysis doesn't represent the wider view. It's also possible that there's some fire behind that smoke, but people don't want to go down the same lemming trail so many did with Cam Newton last year. You may remember this particular gem in Newton's scouting report from Pro Football Weekly's 2011 Draft Guide:
"Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. 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."
Sounds like another guy with a "selfish streak," right? Problem was, Newton busted most every rookie quarterback record on the way to one of the more impressive inaugural seasons in NFL history. He proved that a lot of the stuff in that scouting report was bunk, and that some of the things that may have been true were actually advantages. There's a pretty decent run of quarterbacks who play to the camera and have ginormous egos and are not only successful despite those traits, but because of them to a certain degree. And you could apply "Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law" to the more recent versions of Brett Favre without too much trouble.
Look -- I don't know Robert Griffin III, and I'm not at all qualified to opine on where he sits on the NFL Jerk-O-Meter. But I'm just guessing that if a scout walked into a meeting with this preconceived (and in my opinion, totally erroneous) evaluation on his mind when talking to RGIII...
"Everybody 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. I don't think he has vision or pocket feel, which to me are the two most important components of quarterbacking. He's just running around winging it. He's [Michael] Vick, but not as good a thrower."
...well, Griffin might not be too friendly with that if the attitude came off. Football players are just like everyone else -- their mental and emotional makeups are far more complicated than any short report can encapsulate.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Cam Newton
- Vontaze Burfict