Former Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree recently ran into some off-field trouble just weeks before the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine.
The result of the incident seriously impacts Ogletree's value in the upcoming draft, as he was pegged by most to be a first-round pick.
It also means the Cincinnati Bengals will be an even more popular destination in many mocks given the perception that Marvin Lewis and Co. love to take chances on players with character issues.
Ogletree was a sexy pick by many way before he was arrested in Arizona. The Bengals have a potential need at linebacker, and Ogletree just so happens to be one of the best available.
Just days before the arrest was announced, CBS' Rob Rang had the Bengals taking Ogletree with the No. 21 overall pick and provided his reasoning (h/t Cincy Jungle):
Ogletree proved a star in the middle for the Bulldogs, but the former safety's raw athleticism could push him outside in the NFL. The Bengals could use reinforcements on the flanks, and with few obvious hole s on the roster can afford to gamble on Ogletree's spectacular upside.
Rang later updated his mock to have the Bengals taking former LSU linebacker Kevin Minter.
Days before Rang made his Ogletree-Bengals prediction, Rotoworld's very own Josh Norris also had the Bengals taking the versatile linebacker:
It might be an easy comparison, but Ogletree has some Thomas Davis to him. He has issues getting sealed off by second level offensive linemen after taking false steps, but Ogletree powerfully closes from the backside when the lane is there or when face up on the edge. I expect Burfict to move inside with Ogletree on the weak side as a three down player.
Both Rang and Norris hit the nail on the head with the prediction—Cincinnati may have to address the linebacker position early in the draft. Rey Maualuga and Thomas Howard are free agents. The former is expected to hit the open market, while the team will likely try to bring back the latter.
Ogletree is the total package and electric on tape. The only question is where to play him. He has experience at safety and is athletic enough to play in the middle or at an outside linebacker position in the NFL.
The knock on the field for Ogletree is he struggles to shed blocks in pursuit of the ball carrier. Other than that, he is an outstanding player who covers slot receivers and tight ends well—an issue the Bengals have had for years.
Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah compares Ogletree to one of the better linebackers in the NFL, and one most Bengals fans should be familiar with—Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons:
Georgia LB Alec Ogletree reminds me of a bigger version of FSU/Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons. Very athletic/explosive, struggles to take-on— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 18, 2013
Combine all of this and it is easy to see why Ogletree is considered the top linebacker in the 2013 class. More importantly, it is easy to see how well Ogletree would fit in Cincinnati, especially with head coach Marvin Lewis having an affinity for players from Georgia.
Character concerns are where the Ogletree-to-Cincinnati claims become murky.
The DUI in Arizona was bad enough, but it is not the only high-profile incident Ogletree has taken part in as of late.
According to Doug Farrar of Yahoo, Ogletree was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season after reports indicated he violated the team's substance abuse policy.
Farrar also goes on to add that Ogletree's character issues have been known since the beginning of his college days. Per Farrar, Ogletree was suspended from what should have been his first collegiate start after he was arrested for theft of a helmet from a member of the track and field team.
The history of offenses for Ogletree should concern the Bengals, but even more concerning is the timing of the DUI arrest. With the biggest interview process of his life looming in the scouting combine, Ogletree proceeded to drive intoxicated and get caught.
This lack in judgement is going to haunt him over the course of the interview process at the combine.
Ogletree has likely been removed from the Bengals' draft board for the first round, and potentially further. Who can blame them? Cincinnati is entering a critical draft that could allow the franchise to take the next step, the last thing it needs now is another trouble maker in the locker room—no matter how great he may be on the field.
Cincinnati loves to focus on its own during free agency, which means at the very least Thomas Howard will be brought back if healthy. As Norris points out, Vontaze Burfict is projected to slide to his more natural position in the middle.
That leaves an upgraded needed at the strong-side linebacker position, which means a linebacker over the course of Cincinnati's first three picks is still within the realm of possibility. Just not Ogletree.
It is a different conversation entirely if Ogletree falls to one of Cincinnati's two second-round picks. After all, there is nothing to say he cannot have a redemption story under Lewis like Burfict did a year ago.
Ultimately, it is up to Lewis to make that call. Is Lewis going to continue to take risks despite the team being so close to contention? Or are we easing out of the bargain-bin era of risk-taking in Cincinnati in favor of character?
How the Bengals handle the 2013 NFL draft, Ogletree and other problem prospects will answer that question.
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