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NFL Draft Prospects with the Biggest Red Flags

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterOctober 7, 2016

NFL Draft Prospects with the Biggest Red Flags

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    When collegiate prospects are being considered by NFL teams prior to the draft, they are put through a rigorous screening process. Criminal history, injury history and even a player's sexual orientation is divulged during the background check.

    This shouldn't come as a surprise based on the fact some prospects will become millionaires overnight. Organizations should try and find out everything possible about the players they want to potentially employee. And with the help of the Internet and social media, teams can indeed find out all they need to know.

    Let's take a look at six prospects who have the biggest red flags attached to their draft stock.  

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

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    Prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, there wasn't a more coveted pass-rusher than Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. As a prospect, he simply has it all. He's fast off the edge, he uses his hands well and plays with good leverage. 

    Unfortunately for Jones, more than a few team doctors at the combine were scared off by the fact he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2009. Spinal stenosis is often classified as abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, according to eMedicine.com

    USC's medical staff originally found the medical red flag when Jones was a freshman. Despite trying to convince them otherwise, USC wouldn't clear him medically, which ultimately forced Jones to transfer to the University of Georgia.

    From there, Jones went on to have a fine career as a Bulldog. He notched 28 sacks, 44 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles over the course of two years. Are his impressive statistics enough to make NFL general managers believers? Or is the medical risk too monumental to overcome?

Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU

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    By now, most of us are aware that Tyrann Mathieu wasn't exactly a model citizen while playing football at LSU. According to the USA Today, LSU head coach Les Miles told an NFL coach that Mathieu failed more drug tests than he could count.

    This shouldn't come as a surprise after the Heisman Trophy finalist was kicked off the football team prior to the 2012 season. Based on what we now know, the dismissal was warranted. People around Mathieu were hoping that the incident would serve as a wake up call, yet it didn't.

    Shortly after being booted from the squad, he was arrested for the possession of Marijuana in October. Sometimes hitting rock bottom is the only way to truly reinvent yourself. Without question, that has been the case for the "Honey Badger."

    He started to workout on his own, he attended classes as a regular student and kept his nose clean. His passed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine was a good start for the Day 2 hopeful, but was it enough? Can he stay clean once he enters into the NFL?

    Those are the questions that remain. 

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

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    Running back Marcus Lattimore has endured more injury and pain than any NFL hopeful should ever have to endure. He tore his ACL in his left leg in 2011, and he tore his ACL in his right leg in 2012. He also shredded his MCL, PCL and LCL in his right leg.

    Lattimore's most recent injury had people convinced that he would never play football again. Two gruesome injuries in back-to-back seasons can easily cloud one's future. Yet the former first team All-SEC selection didn't let the doubt keep him down. 

    Ever since the injury, he has been solely focused on rehabilitating his knee. Months and months have now passed since that awful October day in 2012, which points to the fact that Lattimore's rehab is winding down, and his next journey is about to begin.

    He told Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal that he's heard the first round all the way down to undrafted in terms of his draft position. Even though it's unlikely he goes undrafted, there are still plenty of questions regarding the health of his knee (per Kareem Copeland of NFL.com). 

    Scouts want to know if he will ever be the same player again, both mentally and physically. Will he be ready for Week 1 of the 2013 season? Will his career be shortened because of the injuries? These are all legitimate questions, yet they won't be answered overnight. They will be answered in due time. 

Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

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    Like LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree is prone to making poor choices. Just days before the NFL Scouting Combine, hundreds of collegiate football players from around the nation were putting in hours of hard work, so they can turn their dreams into a reality. 

    Except for Ogletree, of course; he was too busy celebrating his combine performance before it even happened. On February 16, 2012, the 242-pound Bulldog was pulled over and cited for speeding and a lane violation, according to ESPN.

    But that wasn't all. After the officer had Ogletree pulled over, he smelled alcohol on his breath and proceeded to charge him with a DUI. It's hard to tell how much the DUI incident effected the linebacker's draft stock, yet we do know one thing: His February arrest isn't the first blemish on his record.

    In 2010, Ogletree was arrested for stealing a motor scooter helmet that was valued at $35 (per Tim Tucker of AJC.com). And in 2011, he was suspended from the football team for violating Georgia’s drug policy.

    Depending on the team, some general managers will look at his off-the-field problems and say no big deal. While others may remove him from their draft boards, or at the very least knock him down a few spots.

Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech

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    When a player plays two years at one of the top college football programs in the nation and subsequently transfers to a Division I Football Championship Subdivision school, one knows it's never good. This was the case for former Tennessee Volunteer wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers. 

    After a break out sophomore season, Rogers was dismissed from Tennessee's football team. In 2011, the 6'2" 217-pound wideout piled up 1,040 yards receiving on 67 receptions while scoring nine touchdowns. Yet his production wasn't enough to ignore the fact he had failed three drug tests during his tenure in Knoxville.

    Rogers knew he did wrong, he said it himself at a press conference prior to the 2012 season:

    There were a couple of drug tests, and it was about me being a young, immature guy and those are things that I've got to work on. I plan to do that. When it came to review my next school and I met coach Brown I most definitely felt like he was a guy that could help me with all my things and the situation that I had going on.

    Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown definitely helped Rogers stay on the right path in 2012. There wasn't one off-the-field incident while at Tech, so it's safe to assume the wide receiver's past problems are now behind him. 

    Despite being game planned against week in and week out, Rogers put up impressive numbers. He caught 61 passes, amassed 893 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. However, one year on the straight and narrow doesn't mean he has every NFL organization convinced his history is indeed history. 

Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

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    I know, the Manti Te'o fake girlfriend hoax incident has been covered from every angle. It's played out, plain and simple. Yet that doesn't mean NFL teams have forgotten the story, nor are they convinced that he's not a phony. 

    According to Bob McGinn of JSOnline.com, one NFL scout he spoke to said his team had already taken Te'o off their draft board: 

    We've kind of taken him off the board, he doesn't have enough ability to put up with all that. Why fool with it? Try-hard, smart (Wonderlic of 23) guy. This was the first year he's really gotten himself in shape. Some of his teammates think he's kind of a phony.

     

    Can you blame the teams that have removed Te'o from their board? He's a quote-unquote strong leader, but how can he be trusted? We are talking about a guy who killed off a girl who didn't exist for the sole purpose of gaining notoriety.

    It worked. Te'o was a Heisman Trophy finalist and won almost every award he could have won. As a senior, he registered 113 total tackles, picked off seven passes and sacked opposing quarterbacks 1.5 times.

    By no means did he have a poor career at Notre Dame, but one has to think the tragic events that happened off-field helped put him in the public eye.

    It will be up to front office executives to decide whether or not the whole catfishing story was Te'o making a bad decision, or if it was a true case of dishonesty.  

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