Ah, yes, proof that the NFL Draft is near: The anonymous bad-mouthing has begun. In the days and weeks leading up to biggest spectacle of the offseason, an event that by its very nature is unpredictable, the one certainty is that unnamed NFL front-office types will have less-than-laudatory things to say about those players destined to be early first-round picks.
This year, former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney finds himself the unwitting target of some shadowy NFL executive, whose words almost certainly have less to do with the truth than impacting Clowney's draft stock.
"He's spoiled, and he's lazy,'' an NFC personnel man told NJ.com. "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.''
Uh-huh. And you, mysterious talent evaluator, have no ulterior motives. Like, say, hoping your very public observations play some role in Clowney's draft-day slide in the hopes that the team you work for might be in position to take him. Or perhaps it's just coincidental.
Wherever the truth lies, the personnel man has more.
"Oh, he's going to be a high pick,'' he continued. "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.''
Duly noted ... and promptly ignored.
Unlike Nolan Nawrocki's sometimes harsh scouting reports, which sometimes rub folks the wrong way, the NFL executive hides behind anonymity. You may not agree with what Nawrocki writes but at least he's willing to put his name on it and face the criticism.
(Incidentally, Nawrocki didn't speak in glowing terms about Clowney, but he didn't go so far as to call him spoiled or lazy, either.)
As PFT.com's Mike Florio points out, "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."
Just something to keep in mind as we make our way to Radio City Music Hall for the draft on May 8.