So on April 1, Nolan Nawrocki swung a sledgehammer at Geno Smith. His Pro Football Weekly scouting report was a harshly worded criticism that was a lightning rod for pre-draft conversation.
We really didn’t talk about it here, save for an occasional joke or reference for fun. The one thing that bothered me most was how the scouting report was dismissed so quickly and free of thought. It was a rallying point for people here, a source of anger because it was just so mean, never mind that it might have merit. I mean, ex-teammates were being interviewed to give their two cents — like they wouldn’t disagree.
I guess I have a hard time taking a guy to task for having an opinion when it’s his job to have an opinion. If you don’t like it, fine. But if you don’t like it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain truth. I’ll repeat what little I’ve said of it before: Tone down the rhetoric and make the presentation a little less over-the-top and I think a lot of people could agree with a lot of the things that were written.
On May 1, Jason Cole wrote another equally unflattering — and perhaps more unflattering, given the time that’s passed since the PFW piece — story about Geno. This wasn’t opinion. This was sourced by league executives for multiple teams that met with Geno before the draft.
Two sources indicated that when Smith went on some visits to teams, rather than interact with coaches and front-office people, he would spend much of his time on his cell phone. Instead of being engaged with team officials, he would be texting friends or reading Twitter or a number of other distracting activities.
“All these other players who were in there were talking to the coaches, trying to get to know people and he was over there by himself,” one of the sources said. “That’s not what you want out of your quarterback.”
Read on. It’s not kind and it seemingly retraces some of Nawrocki’s steps: Leadership, maturity, work ethic, ego. Which brings me around to my point, which, I promise, is not meant to take down Geno. Try and follow me here.
The four seasons and the ups and downs are what they are. Games are, to some extent, out of his control. Defenses and teammates play a big part. There are 21 of them on the field for a play and just one Geno. And when Geno’s on the sideline, there are 22 of them and none of him.
Mechanics can be corrected. Practice habits can be adjusted.
But the pre-draft process is something he had total control over and the management of that process is being used against him. Skipping the Senior Bowl was bizarre, because even then there was absolutely no consensus about where he’d be drafted, which means there was no reason to disregard it.
There are now stories about how aloof he was in meetings and not exactly mindful of the opinions around him that mattered most. Leaving the draft in the manner he did was criticized, and understandably so, though to a certain limit. Again, nobody can fairly have a problem with him being mad or sad after going through all of that on that night.
Can’t sulk out of the draft, though. Not when you’ve waited three hours and need to wait 30 minutes more to make a seamless exit. Can’t tell ESPN — ESPN! — you’re going home and then tell other reporters you have no idea from where that story came. Can’t do that when you’re being slammed for your character.
Now he’s fired his representation, which is going to enhance all that’s happened already. It’s a curious decision and we’ll probably never know what happened because Select Sports is a legitimate agency that won’t stoop so low to go after Geno. That’d be bad form for a group that represents a list of clients, like Dana Holgorsen.
It strikes many that nobody stepped up to plate for Geno after the PFW story and that Geno did, what, almost no media. That’s odd, right? Who knows what went into that reaction. The implication now is that Geno blames the group for his slide, which is something Select Sports rejects with calm and logic.
“We worked tirelessly for Geno Smith and all of our draft prospects,” the firm said in its statement. “The NFL draft is unpredictable, and we prepared Geno and all of our draft prospects, as we do every year, about what can happen during the draft.
“Not only did we tell him that what transpired on the first day of the draft was possible, the question of whether Geno would be a first- or second-round pick was arguably the most talked about subject in the three months leading up to the draft. We wish Geno the best.”
That next-to-last sentence is a stinger. Still, put all the pieces together and it makes for quite the mosaic of the now former Mountaineers quarterback. And it must make you wonder about where this all began: April 1.
Having lived the days that followed and having witnessed everything those days produced, do you read or remember the PFW story and and have a different reaction?