I don't know quite how to say this, Auburn fans, but … you know that irrepressible smile Cam Newton flashed for the student section last year after every victory? Yeah, Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki breaks the news in his annual NFL draft guide — an "indispensable source" for discerning draftniks everywhere — that all those teeth were all just for show:
Under the "Negatives" for Newton, Nawrocki details the on-field shortcomings. It's a lot of the same critiques we're familiar with: one-year producer, limited field vision, spotty accuracy. But Nawrocki bludgeons Newton when he starts talking about his personality.
"Very disingenuous -- has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup," writes Nawrocki.
How foolish you must feel, Tiger fans, for your inability to read your quarterback's scheming mind in moments of adrenaline-fueled triumph. This is why, as common fans, you're amateurs.
And, uh, Auburn players? You know the teammate you consistently described as "extremely hard-working" even before he took the SEC by storm? The guy you saw dragging receivers into the rain to work out during off weekends last summer? And later carried off the field on your shoulders after his Heisman-clinching masterpiece in the SEC Championship Game, at the end of a season in which he led the Tigers back from at least 10 points down in four different games? Yeah, looks like you fell for the old "team player" routine:
But Nawrocki was just warming up.
He continued, "[Newton] 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."
And Steve Wyche of NFL.com! Oh, sweet, gullible Steve Wyche. What were you thinking when you reported last week that Newton's "character issues" are a nonissue with a growing number of teams?
There seems to be a lot more positive chatter recently regarding Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. I've spoken to several personnel evaluators and coaches who believe Newton has weathered questions about his character and now teams are paying much more attention to the football player and his potential.
"I think a lot of people are starting to realize that Cam Newton is a pretty good player and has some things that not a lot of other people do," one general manager told me.
So, anonymous general manager, now you're actually suggesting to NFL.com readers and Nolan Nawrocki and the entire football-loving free world that a record of succeeding wildly at a high level while possessing a startling combination of physical assets that other prospects do not possess might have as much to do with success as the nebulous spin of strangers who task themselves with checking off the box marked "scripted" instead of "prepared" and "plays to the cameras" instead of "media savvy" after maybe — at most — 30 minutes of face time, then making up whatever they feel is probably true to fill out the rest? What draft guide have you been reading?
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.