28 February 2012
Many fans think the NFL combine is all about the televised on field drills. Don't forget the off field activities, from counting bench presses to getting measurements, from height to IQ. But he most important part of the NFL combine is one fans don't get to see. The interviewing and vetting of prospects by NFL teams.
This also means the topic of NFL teams drafting talent over character and vice versa comes to the fore. Usually one player becomes the focus of such talk. This year it's a cornerback with 1st round talent, and if you go by his off field actions, an unsigned free agent brain.
Janoris Jenkins is considered the 3rd best cornerback prospect in the draft. He's also the poster child for bad decision making. For every good thing he does on the football field, there's a corresponding "What the Hell was he thinking?" moment off of it. He was a 3 year starter for the Florida Gators, before two arrests within three months for marijuana possession got him kicked off the team, forcing him to play at Division II North Alabama as a senior. A good program for DII, but it's still DII. Some one of Jenkins' NFL level talent doesn't play DII ball if he has a choice.
From news reports out of the combine, turns out Jenkins' life has been full of "What the Hell was he thinking?" moments as of late. He has fathered 4 kids (aged 3, 2, 1 and 3 months...HOLY JEBUS DUDE!) via 3 women, been arrested in a bar fight and failed a drug test. If there is misdemeanor level trouble to be found, Jenkins will find it...and women to find trouble with him.
Jenkins makes the perfect case study for the NFL. When you are deciding who is worthy of multi-year, multi-million dollar contract, do you draft talent over character? Is a player of Jenkins' reputation worth gambling a 1st round pick, especially for a team like the Lions, who desperately need a talented CB? When does the risk/reward level on a player of Jenkins' talent and bone-headedness reach a balance? When do you pull the trigger? If the talent us there, do you throw caution to the wind and pull the trigger in the 1st round? Do you wait until 2nd round? 3rd round? Never?
(Answers: There are limits, but most of time you do. Yes. The lower he drops in the draft, the risk/reward level shifts quickly. If you think he's going to start, yes. Definitely. Duh. Come on, this is the NFL, not the Boy Scouts.)
Those questions are why NFL teams go scarily in-depth with their investigations and interviewing (Matt Millen excluded, if you go by the Charles Rogers years in Detroit). If an NFL team clears you to be drafted, your knuckleheadedness been vetted damned thoroughly.
The Lions have been been burned in the past, both in passing on and actually drafting players thought to have knucklehead tendencies. They passed on drafting Randy Moss, who had a controversial, but Hall of Fame worthy career. The Lions didn't pass on Rogers, and paid the price for rest of the 00's. Moss and Rogers are both outliers, but are also worst case scenarios in not doing your due diligence.
To this point, Jenkins' biggest crimes are a love of the chronic, keeping his junk in his pants and not carrying condoms. When you think about it, I've just described 90% of the 21 year old males in the USA...including those who play football at the college and pro level. So let's keep Jenkins and his peccadilloes in perspective. Guys in their early 20's can be idiots, and tend to learn from their mistakes as they age. Hell, even Pac Man Jones grew up...a little.
Jenkins hasn't murdered dogs or kicked babies. He isn't in jail or committed a felony. His drug offenses have been minor, the equivalent of a minor being caught drinking beer. He's done the time, so the speak, for his transgressions and is showing remorse.
This kid (regardless of being considered an adult in the eyes of the law, I think we can all agree in many ways a college senior is still a "kid") is saying all the right things, and admitted at the combine his decision making could be found lacking. He knows the NFL is looking at him with a microscope. His next mistake could be his last as an NFL player, and Jenkins knows it.
Jenkins is likely worth the risk for a team like the Lions, looking for secondary help, even more so if he falls out of the 1st round.
Because most knuckleheads eventually grow up, especially when their livelihood is on the line.
|< Prev||Next >|