2012 NFL Draft: Why Janoris Jenkins Would Be Disastrous Pick for Detroit Lions

Dean HoldenAnalyst IApril 10, 2012

Was this the high point of Janoris Jenkins' career?
Was this the high point of Janoris Jenkins' career?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In 2011, the Detroit Lions had a grand total of five draft picks. In less than a year since, three of those five have been busted on marijuana possession charges.

Is this a trend we want to continue? Because it seems increasingly to me like Janoris Jenkins fits right into that trend.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I've gone back and forth on Jenkins, because he has kept his nose clean at North Alabama, and it seemed like it was entirely possible that Jenkins was just a kid who needed some time to mature.

And then Mikel Leshoure was arraigned on marijuana charges. Then Nick Fairley was too. Suddenly a guy who was caught with pot twice during his college years doesn't seem like such a hot idea.

Now I've heard a lot of rumblings of, "it's only pot, what's the big deal?"

Regardless of your particular thoughts on the legality/severity/enjoyability of marijuana, there is no room for interpretation of the law, and even less for interpretation of NFL regulations.

Roger Goodell does not care if you think it's wrong, he's going to hand out suspensions just the same.

And I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but it's irrelevant if Jenkins is a top-15 talent if he's suspended too often to see the field. Pac-Man Jones was a top-rated talent, too. Where is his career these days?

Now, maybe it seems like I'm being too harsh on Jenkins for things that don't actually have anything to do with him (directly).

But recent events with Lions players have to give the Lions' front office a more critical eye when it comes to these character issues, and reportedly it has. The Lions don't want to become the Bengals or Cowboys, who pick up every troubled-but-talented player they can find and rarely see it pay off.

But this isn't all about the Lions. Jenkins not only has an extended rap sheet, four children by three women and an attitude bad enough to get him dismissed from an SEC school, but now there's this business with him getting fired by his agent.

Fired by his agent? That's like getting fired by your therapist. You walk into their office, and you are a giant pile of money to them. How bad does a guy have to be to make a sports agent say no to a giant pile of money? They're not exactly the types to say no to money.

Now, Jenkins' mentor has come out recently to say that the split was actually instituted by Jenkins, not his agent. But it reeks of damage control. Jenkins' mentor saying this is a little like his mom saying it was the other kid's fault.

But even if it's true, it doesn't necessarily help Jenkins' case. Under normal circumstances, an agent switch is no big deal. But Jenkins is a highly-scrutinized prospect because of his background, and the one thing teams want to see the most between now and the draft is stability. Switching agents, regardless of circumstances, does not exactly accomplish that goal.

Even if Jenkins turns out to be a good player after all, Detroit is now at a point where they need to seriously consider their team image. There are enough people (and referees) out there who already see the Lions as a dirty band of thugs on the field. The pot-related arrests aren't helping anything in terms of their off-field image.

Jenkins looked good at the Combine, and he was honest and frank about his background. That doesn't necessarily mean he's changed, it just means he knows how to manage his image and get drafted.
Jenkins looked good at the Combine, and he was honest and frank about his background. That doesn't necessarily mean he's changed, it just means he knows how to manage his image and get drafted.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

And with all the debate about Jenkins before the draft, if the Lions throw caution to the wind and draft him now, they're going to be "that team." Win or lose, I don't want the Lions to be like the Bengals or Cowboys. I don't want players, coaches, refs or fans to look at them that way.

Maybe this is just sentimentality speaking, but my attachment to the Lions goes deeper than whether they win or lose on the field. I don't think it's too much to ask for them to be a good team made of good people.

After all, Jenkins isn't the only cornerback in the draft. He isn't even the only talented cornerback in the draft. But he is the only one with such extensive character concerns following him.

So why don't the Lions just dodge that bullet and move on building their franchise with quality players both on and off the field?