With the St. Louis Rams season coming to a close, Rams nation will now turn the collective focus to the NFL Draft. One theme following the regime change was taking chances on players with previous character issues. Janoris Jenkins, Chris Givens, and Cortland Finnegan were players that Spagnoulo and company would have never considered. Heading into the draft one has to wonder if this trend will continue.
I agree with taking calculated chances on top-level talent with character concerns. However, I also believe that once a team amasses a group of players with character flaws, a tipping point can be reached.
When I look at the St. Louis Rams I see a team that is still lacking top level talent but has a core of leaders. Combining the Rams lack of top-level talent, with the group of leaders they have, a recipe for chance taking begins to form. We saw the fruits of this recipe this season through the play of Chris Givens and Janoris Jenkins.
The 2013 draft contains players that will drop due to issues off of the field. So I posed the question:
Here are the players that were mentioned:
- Da'Rick Rogers
- Michael Dyer
- Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu
Da'Rick Rodgers is tall, fast, and very well may be the best wide receiver prospect in the draft. Rogers makes highlight real catches, comes fearlessly across the middle of the field, has top-end speed and good hands. Rogers stands at rangy 6'3 and 208 pounds and knows how to use it. Unfortunately he has trouble using other things. Rogers was kicked off Tennessee's football team after he failed a drug test. Rogers then transfered to Tennessee Tech to finish out his college career. Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.Com stated:
Because of the off-the-field problems, he is likely to go on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tyrann Matheiu inspired heated debate among some Rams fans when it was suggested that the Rams should take a shot on him. Matheiu is an impact player. Standing at 5'9 175 pounds, Matheiu doesn't let his size stop him when it comes to forcing turnovers. In his two year stint at LSU, Matheiu accumulated 6 sacks, 4 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, and 16 tackles for a loss. Although Matheiu was a rising star, he was dismissed from LSU's football team due to drug related issues.
While Matheiu's size didn't hinder his play in college, wide receivers in the NFL are much better at using their bodies and will give him trouble. Matheiu's lack of size makes many question what position would best suit him. Some say safety, while others think he would be best suited as a slot corner. His stature, along with his off-the-field issues, will cause Matheiu to slide down some draft boards.
Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have shown that it is not beyond them to take a chance on a player who has the talent but not the character. If the Rams follow suit in this year's draft, I believe that these three players would be ones to keep your eye on. If you were in the Rams war room on draft day which player with off-the-field issues would you pull the trigger on?