Every year on draft day, we ask ourselves, "How did this guy fall so far in the selection order?" Off-field matters or poor performances at the NFL Scouting Combine put prospects in this category.
General managers will attach a mental red flag to a player's name as a reminder to draft with caution. At times, the talent outweighs non-football related issues. For others, arrest records or poor interviews could drop the prospect off the board completely.
Locker room culture plays a factor. A franchise with a strong-willed head coach and a close-knit veteran-laden roster may take a chance on a prospect with a troubled past. Whereas a general manager rebuilding a team from scratch will likely steer clear of incoming talents with character issues.
Last year, on draft day, Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil sat through a massive slide after an ill-timed video emerged via social media. In the short clip, he smoked a substance through a gas mask:
The standout Mississippi tackle went from the best non-quarterback asset in the 2016 draft to the No. 13 overall pick. It's unlikely we'll see something as bizarre on April 27, but players will fall for different reasons.
Who's in danger of waiting a little longer to hear their name called on Day 1 or Day 2?
|NFL Mock Draft—Round 1|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford|
|3||Chicago Bears||Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford|
|5||Tennessee Titans (via Rams)||Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State|
|6||New York Jets||Jamal Adams, S, LSU|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Mike Williams, WR, Clemson|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee|
|12||Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)||Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)||Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State|
|15||Indianapolis Colts||Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama|
|17||Washington Redskins||John Ross, WR, Washington|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin|
|20||Denver Broncos||Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt|
|21||Detroit Lions||Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida|
|22||Miami Dolphins||Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan|
|23||New York Giants||O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida|
|25||Houston Texans||Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Kevin, King, CB, Washington|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State|
|32||New Orleans Saints||Haason Reddick, LB, Temple|
|Draft Order via NFL.com|
DeShone Kizer Falling Due to Character Issues
Initially, the Notre Dame quarterback listed within the top three at his position. However, character concerns hurt DeShone Kizer over the offseason. One AFC head coach cited diva qualities, per MMQB's Albert Breer.
"He's got the size, the arm talent and he's very bright," said one AFC head coach. "But there's a disconnect there. There are diva qualities there, and he seems to (overthink everything), like he's fighting who he is. And once the cycle starts, he can't get himself right."
The dings against Kizer's character didn't stop there. NFL execs weighed in, anonymously, and seem to favor more coachable prospects at the position, per CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora:
"Kizer might just slip out of the round entirely with execs not sold on his attitude and maturity, while [Davis] Webb continues to generate a groundswell of support. It could end up becoming much closer between those two than most would have expected back in September," said La Canfora.
For what it's worth, Mike Mayock, a well-respected draft analyst, dropped Kizer from No. 1 to No. 4 among quarterbacks in the evaluation process. Above all, it doesn't help that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said his former starting signal-caller should've stayed in school, per Indianapolis Star reporter Laken Litman.
The consensus doesn't look good for the Notre Dame passer. With all the negative assessments of his psyche and non-readiness to compete in the NFL, he'll fall into mid-second-round territory.
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In February, Cam Robinson ranked as the best offensive tackle within the incoming crop with a chance to become a top-10 pick. After digging through his background and college film for two months, CBS Sports projects him as a late first-round selection.
One unnamed scout questioned Robinson's ability to protect the passer, his penchant for drawing flags and off-field question marks, per Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Bob McGinn.
"Whiffed frequently in pass protection and had too many penalties. Arms measured 35.5. Very, very erratic," said the scout. "Off the field is a little bit of a question mark, too."
According to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, authorities arrested Robinson and a teammate with marijuana and a stolen gun in their possession.
NFL.com's Kimberly Jones reported the Alabama offensive tackle interviewed well. He likely helped his draft stock in the character area.
Still, the concerns about his perimeter protection may force him to move over to right tackle or guard, despite his extensive experience at left tackle. If general managers feel Wisconsin product Ryan Ramczyk and Utah prospect Garett Bolles project as better fits at left tackle, both may leapfrog Robinson on draft day.
Derek Barnett's Lackluster Offseason
Based solely on production and college film, Tennessee pass-rusher Derek Barnett should be a top-10 pick. He racked up 32 sacks and 52 tackles for a loss in three years for the Volunteers.
Barnett went through a disappointing evaluation process. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, he had an illness while preparing for the combine and ran a 4.88 40-time:
Unfortunately, he didn't have an opportunity to improve on the underwhelming performance at his pro day due to a strained hamstring, per Schefter.
Prospects want to show their best to team representatives, and Barnett didn't scratch the surface during his workouts or on the practice field. It's difficult to argue against production, but first impressions also hold weight in the draft evaluation process.
Scouts may commend the Tennessee pass-rusher for fighting through an ailment and an injury, or he may drop behind other prospects who impressed over the past two months. Though, among the three incoming talents on this list, Barnett is the least likely to fall dramatically in the draft order. His collegiate production should keep him within the top 20 picks.