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Would you draft these guys?
Goodell's crackdown may mean fewer risky draft picks

By Mike Baldwin Modified: April 25, 2008 at 6:23 am •  Published: April 25, 2008
That's what's going to be most important. But character is going to be a very strong part of who we draft.”

Former OSU coach Pat Jones, who participated in 10 drafts as an assistant coach with the Dolphins and Oakland Raiders, said red flags are viewed differently within each organization.

"You don't move a player's name down just because it has a tag on it,” Jones said. "You still have a grade on the player. But if it's your turn, and there's a red tag, two or three people in that room know what the red flag is about. That's when the debate begins.”

How organizations evaluate those red flags under Goodell's watch is uncertain, especially since history shows red tags sometimes have been a knee-jerk reaction to rumors.

Tampa Bay selected Warren Sapp with the No. 12 overall selection in 1995.

Sapp fell in the draft following erroneous reports he had used cocaine. Randy Moss fell to 21{+s}{+t} in 1998 due to off-the-field issues.

But there are countless examples of "red flag” players like Adam "Pacman” Jones whose off-the-field issues have tainted their careers and soiled the NFL's image.

No team is immune. Every franchise has had players with off-the-field issues, ranging from DUIs, to drugs, to weapons charges.

"We've been very conservative and will continue to be that way,” said Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio. "We've had a couple (players with issues) but that doesn't mean we're not going to continue to be diligent.

"When we put our draft board together, it's a pretty clean board. We're looking for the right make-up in terms of playability. Is he going to be a good teammate, is he going to be good in the community? When we find all three of those we hope to make him a Jaguar.”

Brian Underwood, a Houston based agent who represents OSU products Dantrell Savage and Bowman, and has represented OU players Stockar McDougle and Corey Ivey, said it goes beyond any NFL policy handed down by Goodell.

"If you invest $3 to $5 million in a guy, and he can't play because he's suspended, that in and of itself is enough to not draft you,” Underwood said. "In the later rounds you're investing only $200,000 to $750,000. It comes down to trust.”

All organizations talk about drafting talented players with good character. But it's naïve to think it's an easy decision. When a team is on the clock, players blessed with talent, but have off-the-field baggage, are tempting.

Even though Goodell has made it clear he will crack down on continued transgressions he's shown a willingness to forgive one-time mistakes. That's why a team might be willing to select Bowman if they're convinced he can avoid future trouble.

Kansas City will have nine selections in the first five rounds after trading Jared Allen to the Vikings. With multiple picks, the Chiefs are one team that could take a chance on a player like Bowman.

"Character is always one of the qualities we put a value on,” said Chiefs coach Herm Edwards. "It basically comes down to an issue of trust. If you can trust a player off the field, you can usually trust him to perform under pressure on the field.”



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