With the first pick of the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…
We all know how the beginning of this year’s draft is likely to start. As the picks go by, the chore of getting inside the minds of each team’s front office members become increasingly difficult. These teams will weigh the talent of the prospects available, their current depth charts, specific schemes they run and how each prospects unique skill set best fits that, amongst many other things.
In recent years, Roger Goodell has forced teams’ hands in factoring in what players do off the field as well as on it. This is not to say that the NFL hasn’t been conscious of their players’ actions before Goodell took over, but rather how it has been magnified since. The personal conduct policy has caused greater pause when selecting players to make contract offers to.
Every draft there are players that fall under this line of scrutiny. Each case a bit different than the other. We tend to treat them all as black and white, with no grey area. The comfort of throwing a blanket term like “character issues” over each occasion leads the media analysts to treat all off-field issues in the same regard. There a several players this year, like every year, that are getting the bulk of the criticism. The most talented and probably most talked about is North Alabama cornerback, Janoris Jenkins.
Jenkins was kicked out of Florida after a stellar on-field career and had to transfer to North Alabama this past season after contemplating entering the NFL supplemental draft. The actions that led to Janoris transferring were two arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Adding more fuel to the fire was the fact that he revealed having 4 kids from 3 different women.
While there is definitely room for concern with the off-field issues, it just seems that the months leading up to the draft have caused everyone to one up the previous media outlet reports on Jenkins. At first it seemed that teams would question these events and then, almost overnight everyone jumped to the conclusion that Janoris Jenkins is the next Adam “Pacman” Jones. I didn’t remember reading about the arrest for shooting up the strip club, but it must have happened. How else can you explain calling a college kid that had two simple possession charges of less than 20 grams of marijuana, the next Pacman? His legal punishment for this brutal crime was a fine that was less than $500.
I would be curious to find out the results of a honest poll involving every media personality and NFL front office person that condemns Jenkins’ pot arrest, if they were asked about trying marijuana in college or at any time in their life. If they answered yes, like or former president Bill Clinton, would we look at them any differently as character is concerned? I would have a hard time believing we would. This is how I don’t get comparing him to Pacman. That would be like comparing the neighborhood teenager, who sneaks out back for a hit of a joint behind his parent’s garage to Scarface.
I understand Aqib Talib being compared to Pacman Jones. Talib has shown a long line of anger issues and attacks on individuals. While Jenkins was arrested back in 2009 for a fight where he fled the scene, he doesn’t have any other outburst of this nature. It’s also worth pointing out that he was targeted in the 2009 incident.
When his character is attacked, they like to group all of his troubles together, because piecing them apart doesn’t set him out from the rest of the NFL. As a group the list looks daunting. Jenkins had three arrests for fighting, fleeing cops, possessing marijuana multiple times, and he has four kids from three different women. When I write it like that, the only thing missing is the highlighting and bold underlining that the writer wants to use to illustrate his points for shock and awe factors. How big of an issue are the three kids? Is he running for office? Will money be an issue? I don’t understand our concern over his kids, from a football standpoint.
This is a league that requires men to run fast at each other and slam their bodies into one another without any fear. Then they get up and go at again and again and we ask these gladiators to not get hurt and guard against the most elite athletes in the world. I don’t care if he has four kids or if he plans to have more. As a society, men have been adapting over to this TMZ culture. It use to be men that mocked and laughed at women for gossiping and worrying about what celebrities are doing, but now, the men have caught up, if not surpassed the women in this laundromat form of discussion.
”Did you see Tom Brady’s new haircut” “I heard he’s dating…” “Janoris Jenkins has four kids from three women.” Seriously, listen to sports talk radio across the country. How many times are the callers and the hosts gossiping about who, what, when, where, with NFL players? If Chad Johnson wants to be called Biggie Smalls next month, the media would gladly call him that and follow every detail of his dog and pony show, despite him not being relevant on a football field anymore.
Janoris Jenkins plays football and he plays it better than any other college cornerback prospect coming out this year. There will be teams that pass on him due to these maturity issues that most of the American public dealt with, as far as marijuana and having altercations while they were in college. Those that agree with that but still have problems with the kids from different women and think it’s relevant to his football assessment probably don’t realize that Santonio Holmes had three kids while at Ohio State. They probably didn’t remember that this same discussion was going on a few years back when Darren McFadden was coming out. They may even being sitting there reading this now with a scowl across their face, while wearing their Ray Lewis jersey, who just so happens to be in the same boat with Jenkins and a bigger boat at that. You’ll even find the guys sitting up on the NFL Network set tearing down Janoris Jenkins as a prospect because of his kids, while sitting next to Marshall Faulk. Maybe they should turn to Mr. Faulk and ask “him how did having several kids from several different women change your Hall of Fame career?”
The simple fact is that cornerback is the toughest position to play on defense. The NFL has become a passing league and you need at least three quality corners. That’s before you factor in depth and injuries. A truly elite cornerback rarely comes out of college and when they do, a team would be wise to select him. Jenkins was the Darrelle Revis of college football. He seeks out the opposing team’s top threat and shuts them down. No matter what you hear about any other corner prospect in this draft, he was the only one who was capable and the only one that did so.
Teams will take risks on players that didn’t perform at even a mediocre level in college, due to them being athletically gifted but pass on a guy that proved to be a top talent because of these issues. Which is more of a risk? A guy that shut down the best receivers that college had to offer but smokes weed and has sex or a guy that runs a sub 5.00 forty at 350 pounds but gets his knees buckled by a running back that picks up the pressure?
There’s a reason the same teams watch all the other teams in the playoffs every year. The playoffs teams sitting back in the twenties are hoping those non-playoff teams stick to their failed tendencies of drafting for hope, instead of talent. Janoris Jenkins is the best cornerback in this class. If a team wants to pass on him due to his character issues for Morris Claiborne, I understand that. Claiborne doesn’t have the baggage and is a great prospect. After Claiborne goes of the board, there is no one close to Jenkins talent wise, at the cornerback position. The risk on talent far exceeds the risk of these minor issues of Jenkins. Whichever team drafts Jenkins in the first round will get a All-Pro caliber player.
Watching some teams in the NFL draft is like watching the same horror movie over and over and expecting a different ending. I’m sure I’ll watch that movie again in the next few weeks as I scream the equivalent of “look behind you” to the team that plays the role of the dumb blonde that always trips while running away in the woods.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock