2012 NFL Undrafted Free Agency: 7 Players Who Killed Their Own Stock
Norm Hall/Getty Images
Undrafted free agency doesn't come with all the fanfare of the NFL draft, but it's almost as much of a resource for building a team.
If you're an NFL prospect, and Mr. Irrelevant gets his ceremonial No. 200-something jersey before your phone rings, you are officially an undrafted free agent.
Many undrafted free agents agree to terms with teams hours after the draft ends. Some players would rather go undrafted, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, so they have more control over where they go. Some undrafted free agents go on to have decent careers in the NFL.
However, it wasn't supposed to be that way for some players.
These guys were supposed to hear their name called at Radio City Music Hall, or at least read their name at the bottom of the TV screen during the fast and furious late rounds.
But these players became undrafted free agents because they killed their own stock with bad behavior off the field or lackluster performances during the pre-draft process.
No man-hug with Roger Goodell for these guys.
Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Vontaze Burfict is the poster boy for NFL draft self-stock killers.
Burfict was the Pac-10 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and made 90 tackles in 2010. His tackle total dropped to 69 in 2011 and he committed 16 personal foul penalties in his last 26 games at Arizona State, according to Sports Illustrated.
Still, Burfict was a first-rounder in some mock drafts. He had a shot at walking across the Radio City Music Hall stage with a new lid and a No. 1 jersey, but he blew it at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Burfict was the only linebacker who couldn't crack five seconds in the 40-yard dash, running it in 5.09 seconds. Not only that, but in combine interviews he was unapologetic about his role in a locker-room fight with a teammate, according to Sports Illustrated.
Sounds like a fun guy.
Signed by: Cincinnati Bengals
Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina
Geoff Burke/Getty Images
Using your picture on a flier to promote a New Year's Eve party doesn't exactly make you a menace to society, but it doesn't sit well with the NCAA.
Dwight Jones originally was declared ineligible for the Independence Bowl because of that, according to the Bradenton (Fla.) Herald via CBSSports.com. He later was allowed to play after agreeing to cancel the party, but after the game, the flier was posted on Facebook and the party was held anyway.
So Jones was banned from North Carolina's Pro Day and held his own workout that day at a high school 10 minutes away from campus. A Denver Broncos scout was the only one who showed up, according to the Bradenton Herald via CBSSports.com.
Jones also hurt his stock at the Senior Bowl, struggling to catch balls in traffic and showing questionable desire, according to CBSSports.com.
Projected as a mid-round selection, Jones fell out of the draft.
Signed by: Houston Texans
Janzen Jackson, FS, McNeese State
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Janzen Jackson played on the field with the checkerboard end zones and appears to have a checkered past that couldn't have helped his draft stock.
After being named second team all-SEC with 69 tackles and five interceptions for Tennessee in 2010, Janzen left the team in February to deal with "personal issues," according to ESPN.com. That report also says that Jackson failed numerous drug tests at Tennessee.
Jackson was dismissed from the team before the 2011 season and had to play his junior season at McNeese State before declaring for the draft.
In 2009, according to the Chattanooga Free Press via CBSSports.com, Jackson was arrested on attempted armed robbery along with two teammates.
The charges were later dropped, and here's what Jackson said on WWL 870 in New Orleans via CBSSports.com:
I made some mistakes, and I admit I made them. I was young. I was away from home, and I didn't make the right choices back then, and I paid the price. It humbles you no matter how good you think you are. I know the NFL knows all about those issues, and I have no reason to back away from them, but I also know that I learned from those errors in judgment.
Signed by: New York Giants
Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Cliff Harris became one of the nation's top cornerbacks and punt returners in 2010.
He had six interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and led the country with 23 pass breakups, according to CBSSports.com.
Harris also was the nation's best with four touchdowns on punt returns.
Harris' speed on the field put him on the radar of NFL scouts. However, he killed his draft stock with his speed off the field, caught by a different kind of radar.
In June, Harris was cited for driving 118 mph with a suspended license, according to ESPN.com. Among those with him in the car, which smelled of marijuana, were Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended Harris because of the incident. Harris played in six games in 2011, but couldn't stay out of trouble, and was kicked off the team, according to The Oregonian.
Harris ran a sluggish 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and didn't improve on that time at Oregon's Pro Day. He vomited after his pro day workout, according to the Oregonian.
Harris' lack of speed during the pre-draft process could be attributed to added bulk that will be necessary to play in the NFL. He weighed 181 pounds at his pro day after playing at about 170 pounds in college.
Signed by: Philadelphia Eagles
Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
It's not that Darron Thomas has off-the-field issues. It's that he always seems to be around when off-the-field transgressions take place.
Thomas was in the car that smelled of marijuana when teammate Cliff Harris was cited for driving 118 mph with a suspended license, according to Oregonian columnist John Canzano.
According to CBSSports.com, Thomas was in the car with teammate Jeremiah Masoli when Masoli was stopped for a traffic violation with marijuana in the car. Thomas also was a passenger when teammate Eddie Pleasant crashed a car while street racing in 2008.
So it might not be accurate to slap the "character concerns" label on Thomas, but in his column from August of 2011, Canzano says that Thomas' presence in those situations puts his leadership in question.
Leadership is kind of important for a quarterback.
All that aside, Thomas was projected as a mid-round pick, at best, from the beginning. So perhaps that baggage didn't kill his stock as much as concerns that his numbers were inflated because he played in a spread offense at Oregon.
Thomas went 23-3 as a starter at Oregon, yet coach Chip Kelly tried to convince him to stay in school for his senior year. Several teammates were surprised he entered the draft, according to CBSSports.com.
As of May 11, Thomas was still looking for a team, although he had a tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers and scheduled tryouts with the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals, according to The Oregonian.
Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Not often does a 6'4" wide receiver with 72 catches and 12 touchdowns go undrafted.
Jeff Fuller might have hurt his own draft stock by not entering the draft after racking up those numbers in his junior season.
Early in the 2011 season, according to an NFL evaluator via Pro Football Weekly, Fuller was projected as an early-round pick.
Fuller was hampered by injuries, including a concussion, in his senior season. Fuller was hurt again in the Senior Bowl, suffering a stress fracture in his foot.
While Fuller can't be blamed for getting hurt, he didn't help his draft stock in the week leading up to the Senior Bowl. He dropped a lot of passes in practice, according to The New York Times Fifth Down Blog.
At least now Fuller is reunited with Aggies teammate Ryan Tannehill.
Signed by: Miami Dolphins
Michael Brewster, C, Ohio State
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Even if Michael Brewster was drafted, it likely would have been in the late rounds of a draft that was a weak one for centers.
A subpar performance during Senior Bowl workouts weakened a solid resume that included 2010 All-American, 48 straight starts and a reputation as a leader.
Brewster was dominated by Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin in Senior Bowl practices, according to The Sporting News, even though Martin is an inch shorter and six pounds lighter.
The tattoos on Brewster's arm might make one wonder if he was part of the Ohio State Five that was suspended for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits.
He was not.
Brewster's draft stock dipped because of what happened on the field, not off it.
Signed by: Jacksonville Jaguars