INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday morning’s NFL Scouting Combine buzz has been dominated by the reviews of Saturday’s news-conference performances of Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett.
Newton’s performance has drawn mixed reviews. Most writers and broadcasters with whom I’ve spoken were bothered by Newton’s insistence on referring to himself in the third person. To them, it did little to diminish persistent talk that the Auburn QB’s ego is out of control, thanks to his describing himself as an “entertainer and icon” to Peter King of Sports Illustrated. There also was criticism over Newton choosing to address his controversial comments in a prepared statement that he read at the start of his news conference.
On the other hand, there are those, like yours truly, who believed Newton merited high marks for the strong command he showed while facing the largest combine gathering of reporters in front of a college prospect. My take from that is, if such a situation wasn’t too large for him, the enormity of the NFL won’t be, either.
Mallett was roundly crushed by media for trying to come off as someone who had no reason to be contrite despite ample rumblings of troubling character issues. Is it fair? Probably not. Frankly, how any of the QBs, or any player, handles himself with the media doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is how a prospect performs during his interaction with team representatives, who have 15 minutes to sit down with each player of their choosing at the combine.
I also heard the following from an NFL scout the other day, and it has me thinking that it might be wise to reserve judgment on Mallett: “The thing you have to be careful about when you hear so many bad things being said about (the character) of a player is that sometimes it’s the opinion of a few (player-personnel evaluators), and it just keeps being repeated. I think a lot of people have to keep working and figuring out for themselves exactly what he’s all about. And how he performs (during workouts) is going to influence that as well.”
Mallett is working on that right now.