With YouTube and the internet making scouts out of every fan with an opinion, sorting accurate info from garbage is harder than ever for the average draft fan. Something was bound to boil over with all that talk floating around so loosely. It did, and the event involves Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin, a player who has the potential to fill a big need for the St. Louis Rams. However, it wasn't just some random guy with a laptop; it was a writer and former scout, Russ Lande, with the Sporting News.
Following Baldwin's pro day, Lande criticized the 6'5" receiver for catching the ball with his body. Here's what he said:
Although he didn't drop a pass, he still traps way too many balls against his body instead of reaching out and snatching them.
Trouble is, Lande was not at the Pitt pro day to watch Baldwin, and Baldwin made that quite clear in defending himself against those charges yesterday. Obviously, Baldwin countered, stating, "My hands weren't a problem at all. I always pride myself on catching with my hands."
He then went on to call out Lande.
I really want to let them know how that guy wasn't even there. I found it to be more like a personal thing than him actually analyzing me. He was just saying stuff. I don't know how he got those assumptions and speculation. I had a good Pro Day.
Lande countered that he was responding to info he heard from sources who were on the scene as well as game tape, which the former scout had undoubtedly seen. Nevertheless, in the infamous report, Lande failed to mention that he was not at the Pitt pro day. It's an important lesson for professional and amateur alike now that every detail from a pro day gets chewed like a Denny's steak over and over again on the web.
But what about Baldwin? As you know, Baldwin is a player whose draft stock has been directly impacted by character concerns. Baldwin earned some of those character concerns after his criticism of his quarterback and coaches in the press following his declaration for the NFL draft, when he said, "it felt like they were purposefully trying to disrupt my draft stock." Fair or not, it's going to be difficult for some to separate those comments from his defense of Lande's charges.
Whether or not it was wise for Baldwin to call out Lande, I'm kind of glad he did. He also added this little nugget which might (or might not) salvage his response:
I do read those things and I'm the type of guy when I see some negativity it makes me laugh. I was thinking about it all last night and it made me want to work out eveen harder when I saw that.
That makes Baldwin's retort more, um, pillar-esque. Was it enough?
Programming note: TST and SBNation have a call with DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA this morning (this should be entertaining). Drop your questions for Smith on us and follow the call live via Twitter.