Reflections on the NFL “character” draft

As a college guy, I’ve never taken more than a passing interest in the NFL Draft. But last week I got a chance to work the draft in New York for CBS College Sports and really immersed myself in the process. It is fascinating and now I know why people are so locked into it.

And strictly from a college guy’s perspective I really believe that in this draft NFL teams, thanks to the shenanigans of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Pac Man Jones, were looking at character more than ever. Four examples:

Dez Bryant, WR: The Oklahoma State star has Top 10 talent. There was simply no debate on that. But he fell all the way to No. 24 (Dallas) because other teams questioned his character (he lied to NCAA investigators about his involvement with Deion Sanders) and work ethic. He played only three games as a senior before being suspended by the NCAA. We can debate whether or not that was the proper punishment. The fact is Bryant’s reputation cost him millions of dollars.

Tim Tebow, QB: Denver not only traded up but gave up several draft picks in order to take Tebow at No.25.  Even Tebow fans will tell you that the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner will play very little quarterback for a least a year—if not longer. The wisdom of this pick won’t be known for several years but Broncos coach Josh McDaniels is willing to tie his future to Tebow, a guy who needs all kind of work on his mechanics before he is ready to be an every-down NFL quarterback. Why? Because he wants Tebow’s positive presence in the locker room. That puts a lot of pressure on Tebow to earn the respect of the grown men on that team. They don’t go for the rah-rah stuff. You’ve got to show them.

Jimmy Clausen, QB: I talked to a lot of guys who know the NFL and they all said the same thing. Clausen was the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft. He ran a pro offense at Notre Dame. So why did Clausen fall all the way to the No. 48 pick (Carolina)? A lot of teams who needed a young quarterback (like Minnesota) passed on him. There were all kinds of questions being raised about his ability to be a leader and a quality teammate. So what happened?

I said this at the time and I will say this again.

As my friend Spencer Tillman always reminds me, we live in a world of images and impressions. On April 22, 2006 Clausen and his “entourage” took a police escort to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. It was there that Clausen, a high school JUNIOR, stepped out of a white Hummer limousine and announced his intention to sign with Notre Dame the following February. It was a bad decision then and created a negative template about Clausen that he never shook. And once the negative template is set, people are then more willing to believe negative things about you even if they are not provable. Is that fair? Probably not. But it matters. Jimmy Clausen has first round talent but he’s going to get second round money.

Carlos Dunlap, DE: This was one of the great tragedies of college football in 2009. Florida’s Dunlap was easily a first-round talent but on the Monday before the SEC championship game was stopped by police in Gainesville, Fla. and arrested on alcohol-related charges. Florida is getting ready to play for the SEC title and a spot in the BCS championship game. Everything the team had worked so hard for in order to repeat as national champions was on the line. Coach Urban Meyer would never say it publicly nor would his teammates, but it was the worst kind of betrayal. Dunlap was suspended, Florida was not mentally ready to play the game and Alabama crushed the Gators. I think Alabama would have won the game anyway but you get the picture.

Here is the most telling thing about Carlos Dunlap. New England coach Bill Belichick and Meyer are pretty tight. Belichick comes to Gainesville at least once a year. Belichick had three picks in the second round and I believed he would take a couple of Gators.  I thought Belichick might take Dunlap because he knows how to handle players with issues (Randy Moss). But he passed on Dunlap with the No. 53 pick and took Florida’s other defensive end, Jermaine Cunningham. Cincinnati, the NFL’s home for problem children, then took Dunlap with the next pick.

If you are a college football player with aspirations of playing in the NFL, this year’s draft should be a cautionary tale. Ben Roethlisberger was not charged with a crime but will sit out perhaps as many as six games this season for stupid, self-centered behavior. This commissioner (Roger Goodell) ain’t fooling around.

You may be talented but if you engage in stupid and self-centered behavior it will cost you more than your reputation. It will cost you millions of dollars.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

157 comments Add your comment

Kiffinisatosser

April 26th, 2010
12:31 pm

Am not a tech fan, but in my view, Dwyer was the biggest steal of the draft. The guy is a stud.

Tampa Tribune

April 26th, 2010
12:33 pm

I sure wish Reptiles Rule would comment on my internet site.

tony's a homer

April 26th, 2010
12:33 pm

Tony, I’ve been critical of you being a homer and for good reason, but thank you for saying what needs to be said.

Gainesville Sun

April 26th, 2010
12:37 pm

Filipino Boys

April 26th, 2010
12:41 pm

Does this mean Tim Tebow won’t be coming to see us this Summer?

Kiffinisatosser

April 26th, 2010
12:42 pm

Last season I thought Tony spent a lot of time stating the blindingly obvious. This season Tony seems to have raised his game. he must be a free agent next season!

ga gator

April 26th, 2010
12:42 pm

You weren’t exactly right Tony, the Gville police didnt stop Dunlap, the idiot was already stopped; passed out at at green light.

Joe Haden

April 26th, 2010
12:43 pm

Low Country, AJ might have a chance that I wont shut him down anymore. NOT, now it will be Jenoris Jenkins.

Dear Filipino Boys

April 26th, 2010
12:45 pm

Your foreskins are presumably safe. Just pray that Tim doesn’t show up with Josh McDaniels and a scalpel.

Mark "Crimson Crier" Ingram

April 26th, 2010
12:45 pm

Mikey, did any of dancin’ curdawg helmet-ripper-off’rs and eye-gougers get drafted?

poor gators

April 26th, 2010
12:49 pm

Gator fans really amaze me. in a “haha” kinda way”. look at this realistically: new defensive coordiator, o-coordinator in just his second year, no saint tebow, no cooper, no Maurkice Pouncy, and you lose basically EVERY defensive player who MATTERED for you in the last two seasons. yes you have a qb coming in who is highly touted, but until I see him walk out into knoxville, jacksonville, columbus, or baton rouge without wetting himself, im not impressed. he will be good, no questioning that, but it will take at least 6-7 games before he reaches his peak. hint: starting in what was it, a game and a half? is not significant experience for a developing qb, just ask uga and joe cox.

im not saying that UF wont be successful but not SEC East champs in what is basically the first year of the new era.

for UF- 9-3 regular season, win capital one or chick-fil-a bowl.

winner of uga-usc in game 2 WILL go to the SEC championship game (it wont matter because either would be SMOKED by Bama)

and you want to call uga fans delusional omg rofl

Dumbo

April 26th, 2010
1:03 pm

MADD….so sorry….I woulda added “sic” at conclusion of statement, my youngest was hurt by DUI driver 2 yr ago….kinda, wildly biased against drunk drivers….as for being Dumbo…I did graduate from UGA in ‘80, so that should answer why I go by Dumbo, right.

louie

April 26th, 2010
1:14 pm

Tebow is a “me-first” guy.

Didn’t hand off to a RB in the ENTIRE 2nd half of the SEC Championship. Called his own option on goal lines to win a Heisman. Had his own commercial during the Super Bowl. Will be the biggest bust in the NFL history.

What a disastrous pick by Denver, because of this pick, most experts are saying Denver had the WORST draft day because Tebow was a 4th rounder at best, and that at fullback, not QB. Nice most of the experts agree with me and my pre-draft assessment of Tebow.

Agent

April 26th, 2010
1:14 pm

If Carlos Dunlap would have signed with me that Monday night before the SEC Championship game, I would have driven him home myself.

Beast from the East

April 26th, 2010
1:17 pm

In response to “poor gators”….who is delusional????? Do you really think SC has a shot at the East??? What have they EVER done to make you think that???
Do you really think UGA has a shot in the East???? New DC, lousy OC, MAJOR discipline problems (penalties, turnovers), a first year QB who has never even held a clipboard on the sideline of a college game. Not to mention, UGA can’t get past the Gators unless UF has a MAJOR DOWN YEAR. This year ain’t it, buddy. Next year doesn’t look too promising for you either. We might take a step back this year, but we won’t step back far enough to lose to UGA or SC…..certainly not to Kentucky like ya’ll did last year. Come talk some smack when you’ve EARNED it.
Until then, keep quiet and have fun in Shreveport!!!!

Dumbo

April 26th, 2010
1:20 pm

louie….I do believe that you are a angry guy….that said no matter what Tebow does, he will not be the leagues’ biggest bust…that title will always belong to Ryan Leaf! Louie are you by chance a fellow Alumof UGA….would possibly explain dislike of Tebow, considering how he kick our butt 3 out of 4 times.

poor gators

April 26th, 2010
1:23 pm

@beastfromtheeast

you obvioulsy read nothing a wrote in the first like half page of that comment,

which is typical for a gaytor fan, never wants to acknowledge that anything might be awry with their team

you might wanna quit talkin smack about uga and usc and start payin attention to what’s goin on down in Gainesville… its not pretty

Dumbo

April 26th, 2010
1:28 pm

Beast from the East….I’ve always have heard that UF folks are the most gracious losers and the most obnoxious of winners, you’ve proved that point most certainly.

Beast from the East

April 26th, 2010
1:29 pm

poor gators, go back to sleep. I’ll talk to you in October after your annual beatdown. We’ll represent the East again and most likely lose to Bama for the second time this season. But we won’t be watching it on the tube!

poor gators

April 26th, 2010
1:32 pm

first of all that would be second time in the last two years not this season (ahh gaytors)

again refusing to acknowledge any of the valid points Im making here

ill give em to ya again and this time remember the obviously small education you recieved at uf and listen closely:

look at this realistically: new defensive coordiator, o-coordinator in just his second year, no saint tebow, no cooper, no Maurkice Pouncy, and you lose basically EVERY defensive player who MATTERED for you in the last two seasons. yes you have a qb coming in who is highly touted, but until I see him walk out into knoxville, jacksonville, columbus, or baton rouge without wetting himself, im not impressed. he will be good, no questioning that, but it will take at least 6-7 games before he reaches his peak. hint: starting in what was it, a game and a half? is not significant experience for a developing qb, just ask uga and joe cox.

im not saying that UF wont be successful but not SEC East champs in what is basically the first year of the new era.

for UF- 9-3 regular season, win capital one or chick-fil-a bowl

Beast from the East

April 26th, 2010
1:34 pm

Dumbo, I hate to sound obnoxious but if that’s the way you see it then so be it. It just really grinds my gears to hear trash talk from folks like “poor gators”. Just the name he uses is disrespectful. I don’t talk trash to Bama fans because their team has earned their place in history ON THE FIELD. When UGA actually does something on the field then he can claim that right, as well.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 26th, 2010
1:35 pm

Yeah it was Haden who shut him down alright. Or it could be that we didnt have a QB to get him the ball! LOL!

Dumbo

April 26th, 2010
1:37 pm

Beast from the East…why are so down on Georgia…..could it be that you had to come up here to find a job other that at motel or at the local nursing home?

poor gators

April 26th, 2010
1:37 pm

im leaving and just remember when you snuggle up to your tebow doll tonight remember everything i mentioned

with that i shut down

Beast from the East

April 26th, 2010
1:39 pm

poor, I read your slanted comments the first time. Yes, we have questions on defense. We expect the offense to be better than last year. How much is yet to be determined. The defense will surely not be as good early in the season. Second half, who knows? The second loss to Bama I’m reffering to is in the SECCG because we also play them at thier place during the regular season. Lastly, please don’t compare Brantlet to Joe Cox. You do the young man a great disservice.

Reptiles Rule

April 26th, 2010
1:47 pm

“poor gators”…so what you’re saying is that because UF has a new DC and a first year starting QB and is replacing players they won’t be the pick of the East but on the other hand YOU’RE new DC and totally rookie starting QB and many new players are going to??? And you seem to love originality as I see you constantly use “gaytors” in your posts. That’s about as clever as “Ugay” don’t you think???

Dumbo

April 26th, 2010
1:48 pm

Beast from the East “please don’t compare Brantlet to Joe Cox”…uh do you mean John Brantley?

Orlando Sentinel

April 26th, 2010
1:58 pm

Please come see me online, Reptiles Rule.

The Bradenton Herald

April 26th, 2010
1:59 pm

Me too, Reptiles Rule.

Reptiles Rule

April 26th, 2010
2:03 pm

Sorry…should be YOUR not YOU’RE. But either way, your one way logic does not make sense. And louie, yes most of the so called “gurus” and “pundits” like Mel “I Love Jimmy Clausen” Kiper were saying some of the same things in regards to Tebows mechanics NOT his character as you seem to be somewhat questioning. But it’s funny louie, the guys that have to put their actual $$$$$$$$$$ were their mouth is and stroke a check…had a whole ‘nother opinion. Brings to mind the old saying that money talks and (your) bullsheet walks….

St. Petersburg Times

April 26th, 2010
2:13 pm

Add me to the list, Reptiles Rule.

Lakeland Ledger

April 26th, 2010
2:14 pm

Show me a little love too, Reptiles Rule.

SEC powerouse not

April 26th, 2010
2:23 pm

if Clausen is the end all be all player that everyone thinks he is, then why did he not win more at Notre Dame? Give me a break. Also, Matt Moore at Carolina is doing a stand up job since taking over for Delhomme and cannot see where Clausen is going to take over his job.

SEC powerouse not

April 26th, 2010
2:25 pm

Lizdogpoop can go to he!!, ignorant inbred married to your brother trash…Know the facts about Dywer before you run you backwoods mouth

KJ

April 26th, 2010
2:33 pm

“Know the facts about Dywer”

You mean, like, how to spell his name?

Atlanta Gator

April 26th, 2010
2:34 pm

MADD—-

I certainly understand your perspective, but thankfully no one did die as a result of Dunlap’s DUI. He did the crime and he’s paid a price. Is he forever unredeemable, always some sort of lesser human being? You’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s not what my religion is all about. Damn few of us are perfect, and most of us may be in need of a little forgiveness at some point in our lives.

Foot in Mouth

April 26th, 2010
2:35 pm

Look me up, SEC powerhouse not.

MADD

April 26th, 2010
2:38 pm

Nobody is perfect Atlanta Gator. I just didn’t like what was inferred with your comment, that’s all. DUI is a very serious crime and hopefully Dunlap learned a very valuable lesson.

Jamar Hornsby and Avery Atkins

April 26th, 2010
2:41 pm

Atlanta Gator, does your religion forgive us and make us human again?

Carlos Dunlap

April 26th, 2010
2:48 pm

This is what I get for asking the USC staff stand by the fax 3 years ago after I told them I was coming when I had already sent the fax to Charlie Strong.

Character? Yeah, I’ve got character all right.

Atlanta Gator

April 26th, 2010
2:58 pm

“Jamar Hornsby and Avery Atkins”—-

I’m happy to have this conversation with you if you would like to drop the sarcasm and the mockery.

Jamar Hornsby got his second chance at a different school and screwed up again. It was his own repeated bad choices that ended his NCAA career. Enough said.

Avery Atkins is a much sadder case. Atkins clearly had a substance abuse addiction, and he couldn’t pull himself out of his downward spiral.

In both cases, I believe Urban Meyer made the right call. Sometimes losing something like your scholarship and your place on the team is exactly the sort of wake-up call needed.

And, no, neither of them ever stopped being human. Unfortunately, both exhibited far too many of the frailties typical of our species.

Atlanta Gator

April 26th, 2010
3:01 pm

MADD—-

I’m not trying to make light of the DUI offense, but the kid’s life should not be over because he screwed up once. That’s all.

Gary Brown, Jarvis Moss, Marcus Thomas and Ronnie Wilson

April 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

National Championship rings help Gator fan forgive faster, just ask us.

SEC

April 26th, 2010
3:04 pm

GaGa4Gators (10:14) If speed was the only thing the NFL looks for in running backs, Emmit Smith wouldn’t have gotten drafted.

Moreno is a good blocker and excellent receiver out of the backfield, along with being a good runner.

louie is a dufus

April 26th, 2010
3:08 pm

I haven’t heard a single “expert” say Teabow will be the biggest bust in NFL history. Moron.

Atlanta Gator

April 26th, 2010
3:13 pm

Not sure what you’re point is . . . other than to stick it to the Gators. As I recall, three of those gentlemen were asked to leaves the program after having been given second chances. Forgiveness only gets your so far, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences.

Atlanta Gator

April 26th, 2010
3:15 pm

Damn. Meant to write “your” not “you’re.” See–no one is perfect.

Hardtruth Soldier

April 26th, 2010
3:17 pm

Tony when is “Character overrated? Imean you investigate a man(Rothleisberger) and find nothing on him, do you blame him or a poor judicial system, or do you blame what is becoming the Mike Tyson Domino Effect. Woman wanting to be with these big time athletes, and thinking that he must commit to them if they do the “dew”. So many athletes get in trouble because of young women who chose to act foolish, and know it’s no “real punishment for them. A little tears, and an act of innocense by a petite pretty girl can get her free from responsibility so fast it’s embarassing. Case in point: Shawn Merriman Last year, Mike Tyson9Ok you believe that any woman shows up at 2a.m. from the other side of town just to sleep and she’s in the room with the world champ). Urlacher 3 years ago, and the list goes on. Am I saying that every guy is a Saint? No, but at what point do some of the “jezebels take responsibility. My God she had to come past security, not once but twice, coming and going…. When are we going to recognize to that these are young men in college in Dunlap’s, and Clausen’s case (actually Clausen was still legally in H.S.) What has the kid did since then but go out and become one of the best QB’s at the Most storied programs in the country. If you and the rest of the Media won’t to really look at this thing closely, stop writing what is clearly junk journalism, and attacking some 19 or Twenty year old kid for a beer. Why don’t you attack your Government for sending 18 year olds to die, but tell them it’s not legal to drink ! This is why so many kids are messed up today, because we have clueless adults, and you guys will never get a clue…. As for Tebow, why is this guy being given the keys to heaven, he want be the first to achieve greatness in college, and not do well in the NFL. Remember Eric Crouch, Tim Couch, Ryan(cryin) Leaf, Akili Smith, and Gino Toretta? UF Fans get real with yourselves, when was the last time a UF GATOR QB did anything great in the NFL? Honestly if it wasn’t for Emmit, you could tell me the last time a back did anything great, TEBOW IS A GOOD CHARACTER KID, BUT AS A QUARTERBACK HE BLOWS. PERIOD!

Denver Dog

April 26th, 2010
3:39 pm

Charley Pell is loving it!

some sense

April 26th, 2010
3:43 pm

c. f. Perrish Cox, OSU