Deciding where a prospect belongs on a draft board can be dirty business. They get poked and prodded about every aspect of their physical and mental makeup as teams attempt to get the process down to as much of a science as they can.
In doing so, some unnamed scouts had some downright nasty things to say about Shilique Calhoun pre-draft, who the Raiders would end up taking with their third round pick. As you can imagine, a player with consistent, albeit not overwhelming production as Calhoun had at Michigan State, those criticisms were not about his talent, but rather the intangibles.
"He's kind of got a little Michael Oher situation in his background," one scout told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Surrogate parents. He's a good kid, no character issues, but they spoiled him a little bit. I think they overdid it and made him too soft. I just wanted to see the killer instinct. I just want to see a little more toughness."
Nevermind that the first scout doesn't know the difference between a surrogate and an adopted parent. If that scout's criticism alone were here, it would be cause for a hearty ‘F--k right off' with the way he talks about Shilique's upbringing and his parents. However, his basic criticism about toughness seems to find an echo chamber with the other two scouts.
"In that body is a pretty good football player if he was able to put it in gear," another scout said. "Questionable urgency. Stays on blocks too long and kind of watches things. More of a slippery, finesse type run defender."
"I don't think he has a heart," said a third scout. "I've been burned too many times by guys that don't play hard."
That's not to say any of their assessments are correct. Lest we forget Mario Edwards Jr was widely criticized by several scouts for a perceived lack of effort and there has been no sign of that in the pros.
Just like Edwards, Calhoun must go about proving his doubters wrong because those criticisms were a big part of why he wasn't selected as high as he was once projected.
Hopefully for those teams that shied away from Calhoun, that the criticism wasn't just about him being a kind person -- which would be ridiculous if that's the case. There are plenty of players in the NFL who reach great heights ‘despite' being kind. The NFL has awards for such players (Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for instance) and the nominees are not often criticized for it in their on-field play.
Who really knows how much any of this criticism matters in the long run. All we can do is wait a few years and then look back and either see it as foretelling or laugh at how incorrect or meaningless their evaluations were.
Before you decide you think these ‘unnamed scouts' are simply full of it and write them off, consider they also had some very positive things to say about other players the Raiders ended up selecting including Karl Joseph as the best safety in this draft and supporting the selection of Jihad Ward in round two. I guess you take the good with the bad.