Studies of nuclear scattering from an arbitrary complex central potential have been initiated. This first report is devoted to the analysis of proton-nucleus scattering at 9.8 Mev using the Saxon potential. Qualitative rules for the dependence of the cross section on the parameters of this model are presented for medium-heavy elements. An important feature of the analysis is that more than one set of optical model parameters is possible at this energy. These multiple solutions have in common approximately the same value of VR2, where V is the real part of the nuclear potential and R is the interaction radius. This value does not differ significantly from the value used in the nuclear shell model. The imaginary part of the nuclear potential corresponds to an absorption length of about one nuclear radius.