Thanks to a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the 2014 NFL draft begins on May 8, a full two weeks later than usual.
It's created a dilemma for NFL scouts and teams, so much so that some teams have given scouts time off for fear that they will "over-analyze" prospects.
Well, draftniks are taking no such vacation, and as writers and pundits far and wide scrutinize prospects to the point of five steps past nitpicking, "silly season" has hit a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it).
And it appears the Twitterverse has just about had it.
The latest scout to draw the ire of social media is no stranger to controversy. This time, NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki has come under fire for his scouting reports on a number of players, including Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman:
It's that first sentence that's getting Nawrocki in trouble, and as Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman pointed out, Hageman's profile wasn't the only one that started out that way:
The first sentence in this scouting report is a disgrace: http://t.co/auGw6tw6Or— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) May 1, 2014
OK. They have kids. So do quite a few people. Parents too. Brothers and/or sisters. An alcoholic cousin who always figures out where the family reunion is despite no one telling him.
Ryan Burns pointed out the contrast in the profile introductions for those players and Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr:
So Nawrocki's first line for Jimmie Ward is "has a child." Derek Carr has one too, but the first line there is: "Married." Alrighty.— Ryan Burns (@FtblSickness) May 1, 2014
However, Nawrocki saved his best hatchet-job for former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, who admittedly has more red flags than a Beijing souvenir shop:
Grew up poor in an unstable environment. Parents divorced when he was 9. Mother was on disability and unable to provide adequate structure, discipline and guidance, oftentimes relying on coaches to keep Colt in line, according to a September 2012 article in the Oregonian. Father moved to Hawaii during Colt's high school years and missed all his games from his sophomore year on. Consequently, Colt skipped stretches of class and was absent for meetings and practices, incurring suspension.
That's the first paragraph, and it did not go unnoticed:
At this point, it's worth noting that Nawrocki was the pundit who wrote this of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel:
Has not developed a reputation as a worker or for doing the extras. Suspect intangibles -- not a leader by example or known to inspire by his words. Carries a sense of entitlement and prima-donna arrogance seeking out the bright lights of Hollywood.
As Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey pointed out last year after Nawrocki savaged quarterback Geno Smith, this is an old song:
So…Nolan Nawrocki has now thrown Cam Newton, RGIII and Geno Smith all under the bus for character issues no one else has heard about...— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) April 1, 2013
It got Nawrocki blasted by Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller then:
It's one thing to not like a prospect. It's another to make things up about their character or work ethic. Looking at you, Nolan Nawrocki.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 1, 2013
And this year's nonsense is getting Nawrocki blasted now:
"Hi, I'm Nolan Nawrocki, the family values draft scout." Coming this fall to NewsMax!— ryan van bibber (@justRVB) May 1, 2014
However, it's not only scouts who live under bridges and terrorize billy goats who seem to have developed a case of the vapors as the draft nears.
Even ESPN's Mel Kiper, one of the most respected draftniks in the business (Don Draftnik, "The Godfather," if you will), isn't immune to the yips.
In Kiper's latest mock draft (subscription required), the coiffed one has Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews as the third player at his position selected in the first round of May's draft, behind Auburn's Greg Robinson and Michigan's Taylor Lewan.
Kiper touted Lewan's "mean streak:"
Isn't he about to be arraigned for that? RT @jkatzenstein: Mel Kiper loves Taylor Lewan. Just called him a nasty, street fighter.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 23, 2014
Well, given the penalties and assault charges, it's hard to argue that.
Mind you, this isn't to say that Lewan isn't a first-round pick. But, until recently Matthews and Robinson were the near-universal top two at offensive tackle in this year's draft.
Miller warned that if Lewan does leapfrog Matthews, fans at this year's Bleacher Report live coverage of the NFL draft might want to keep their heads on a swivel:
If Taylor Lewan is drafted before Jake Matthews, I will throw things on set.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 23, 2014
And never mind poor Teddy Bridgewater:
Teddy Bridgewater going to get blamed for Jameis stealing crabs the way this draft season has gone.— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) April 30, 2014
There hasn't been a prospect take more of a beating for less of a reason over the past month than the Louisville quarterback. Once considered the favorite to be drafted first overall, many pundits are now predicting that Bridgewater will drop out of the first round altogether:
Mike Mayock would be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater is a first-round pick. http://t.co/TUQ5mqMudx— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) May 1, 2014
Why? One bad pro day.
After struggling during his workout at Louisville, Bridgewater has been picked apart in recent weeks by scouts who appear to have suddenly realized Bridgewater isn't as good as they thought he was just a few weeks ago.
His hands are too small. His frame is too slight. His arm isn't strong enough.
Oh, and he doesn't have the right "face," either:
Mayock: Teddy Bridgewater's ability to be face of franchise concerns some teams. http://t.co/YPe1Bz7ZjU— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) May 1, 2014
The bash-fest on Bridgewater, much like Nawrocki's comments, have been met with a healthy dose of sarcasm in some parts of the Twitterverse.
Teddy Bridgewater is taking over NFL on ESPN's twitter feed. If I were a troll, I'd ask him how he can tweet with hands that small.— Josh Flagner (@RailbirdJ) May 1, 2014
Even more sarcasm from Bleacher Report AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen:
Teddy Bridgewater's leg hair is too short. Impacts his ability to throw into the wind and perform in cold.— Christopher Hansen (@ChrisHansenNFL) April 27, 2014
And just flat-out incredulity from Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler:
Teddy Bridgewater is going to make so many people look foolish.— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) April 28, 2014
None of this is to say that character concerns aren't a concern for NFL teams. Of course they are.
Should the NFL draft be moved back to the last weekend in April?
However, having a kid or growing up poor aren't character concerns any more than "prima-donna arrogance seeking out the bright lights of Hollywood" is legitimate analysis and not trollish hyperbole.
Also, changing your mind on a prospect is fine. Changing it after one poor workout? Getting shakier. Changing it for no other reason than to change it? Well that's just silly.
Now, this may all be much ado about nothing, as the draft very rarely unfolds like we think it will. And in an age where fans of the NFL devour information at an incredible pace there's more pressure on sports writers and bloggers than ever to keep that info coming.
Unfortunately, the extra two weeks of info we're getting this year shows that in some cases, more is most certainly not better.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go research how good Blake Bortles is at Candy Crush.
Because that's important.