NFL Draft: Eventful Offseason Proves Evaluating Character Does Matter
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Players getting arrested, suspended or cut for their character issues are just some things that prove that evaluating character as part of the draft matters.
There have been 32 players arrested this offseason (h/t ProFootballTalk's Police Blotter). The arrests have been anything from DUIs and drug charges to more serious crimes like battery and aggravated assault. The Lions have been the worst offenders of this.
The inordinate amount of DUI arrests and marijuana arrests shows that there is a problem with the drug and alcohol culture of the NFL. Teams will start to take this into account when they evaluate players, as they don't want a guy who is going to drag his team down with his poor behavior.
There have also been multiple suspensions, the biggest of which is Bountygate's group of suspensions: Scott Fujita, Tony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma. While this isn't an arrest situation, it's something that is completely against the Collective Bargaining Agreement and is detrimental to both team chemistry and fielding a competitive team.
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NFL teams need to make sure that their leaders are going to leave positive influences on their young players. Having 32 arrests this offseason and double-digit suspensions around the league on top of it, the NFL has a real problem with character and needs to scrutinize the players they bring in. The only way to do this is to scrutinize their players' backgrounds.
Teams will fall apart in clutch situations should the players not have the right character in adversity or the will to win. If a player can't keep his nose out of trouble, how can he prove that he is going to be an asset to a team either on or off the field? The truth is that he can't and it will only be detrimental to his draft status and teams' views on him.
The NFL teams are already applying this to their draft philosophies. Just look at where Pacman Jones was taken—top six—then take a look at a similar character corner in Jimmy Smith—pick 27. It shows that character has been a huge thing for the NFL teams of late.
Do you think NFL teams need to place more of an emphasis on character in their draft evaluations?
Another cornerback who fits the same mold and has a problem with alcohol and marijuana much like the majority of players arrested this year do, is Janoris Jenkins. He had to transfer out of the University of Florida because of his problems and fell down to the early part of the second round because of character concerns. The real tragedy here is that he was a top-five talent in the draft.
The best example of a character issue completely taking a player out of the draft is Vontaze Burfict. He was once regarded as someone with first-round caliber talent, but scrutiny of his game tape along with review of his character issues both on and off the field as a fighter and failing a marijuana test has led to him completely falling out of the draft.
In reviewing all of the factors, college football players need to understand that the NFL isn't going to play games with them off the field. They will need to clean up their acts to even get drafted. Character is huge and it's about time that NFL teams cared about it as much as the fans do.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and host Kvetching Draftniks Radio.
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