A question of character
Players' past factors into draft status more than ever
Posted: Thursday April 5, 2007 3:53PM; Updated: Friday April 6, 2007 1:24PM
As I sat in the Seattle Seahawks' war room before the 2001 draft, my first year with the team as a scout, one of our discussions involved explosive North Carolina State wide receiver Koren Robinson.
We were coming off a disappointing season and desperately needed a playmaker. In our version of the West coast offense, Robinson was the perfect fit. But when we delved into his background and character, there were concerns. The area scout rattled off numerous incidents that pointed to his immaturity and lack of responsibility. Robinson skipped classes, missed meetings and was not accountable in the weight room.
When it came time to vote on whether Robinson was worth the risk, I chose to ignore those red flags because his athleticism and potential was so promising. The room was divided, but we were confident that we had the structure in place to allow him to be productive and decided to select him with the No. 9 overall pick.
Needless to say, Robinson lived up to his reputation on and off the field. He was an explosive athlete with all of the tools to be a star, but he missed team meetings, did not work hard at practice and developed a reputation as a night owl. Eventually, his poor off-field habits destroyed his athletic potential and he was released from the Seahawks after a series of arrests. He's currently serving a year-long suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
With so much discussion about the NFL's need to implement a tougher code of personal conduct policy, it is more important than ever for teams to evaluate character in the draft process.
Character isn't easily defined, but it can be broken down into two categories: "ethical" character and "football" character.
"Ethical" character is the prospect's ability to handle himself off the field. Scouts try to investigate each prospect's background to fully examine his decision making ability and overall maturity.
"Football" character consists of leadership ability, work ethic, mental and physical toughness. Scouts and coaches want players who are not only great teammates, but also players who will put in extra time to be the best that they can be.
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