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Several talented players went undrafted over off-field issues

At the Scouting Combine, former Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough said his suspension from this year’s Rose Bowl for violating team rules was “not going to affect my draft stock whatsoever.” But it did: Bullough has undeniable NFL talent, but he went undrafted.

That’s a common trait among many of the most talented players who weren’t selected in this year’s NFL draft. Teams may like your talent, but if they don’t like your character, they don’t want you in their locker rooms.

LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson is the kind of powerful 300-pound athlete NFL teams are looking for on their defensive fronts, but he reportedly failed a drug test at the Scouting Combine, and he wasn’t drafted.

Florida had two cornerbacks who were passed over despite being good enough to be drafted, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Purifoy reportedly was caught with drugs last month and avoided arrest by agreeing to work as a police informant. Roberson served a suspension during his career with the Gators.

Colt Lyerla was once viewed as one of the top tight ends in college football during his career at Oregon, but Lyerla had a string of off-field issues that resulted in him leaving the team during the 2013 season. Lyerla was also arrested on a drug charge shortly after he left the Ducks, and those issues resulted in Lyerla going undrafted.

All those players still have a chance to sign on as undrafted free agents and prove they belong in the NFL. But teams are wary of players with off-field red-flags, no matter who talented those players are.

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57 Responses to “Several talented players went undrafted over off-field issues”
  1. nflpoker says: May 11, 2014 6:56 AM

    That’s what they got for being stupid.

  2. lawyermalloy says: May 11, 2014 7:05 AM

    Lets be REAL. If any of these had NFL skills someone would have taken them!

  3. till3r says: May 11, 2014 7:10 AM

    Welcome to the real world.

  4. keltictim says: May 11, 2014 7:15 AM

    Yes but there is also several great developmental talents out there, like a Connor Shaw, that were great college talents, and stewards of the game, who deserve a chance. Let’s not focus on those morons that didn’t get drafted because they were too stupid to put the drugs down, let’s showcase the hard workers that deserve a chance at a practice squad, a chance to earn their way into the folds of The Shield.

  5. spoiledtaco says: May 11, 2014 7:20 AM

    Too bad it only took a player possibly committing multiple homicides for teams to realize that they guys should be avoided.

  6. diehardfootballfan says: May 11, 2014 7:23 AM

    How can you be so stupid as to not keeping yourself clean at the combine.

  7. qdog112 says: May 11, 2014 7:29 AM

    It all depends on who you are and how bad you are off the field. Johnny Manziel has an off the field rapsheet that would keep many undrafted.

    Despite wall to wall coverage of every breath he took, little was mentioned about underage drinking, arrests for bar fights, offering fake IDs to cops, NCAA suspension for violations and missing the Manning Camp due to being drunk.

    Nobody else in the draft would have made it with a resume like his.

  8. Eutaw's Finest says: May 11, 2014 7:31 AM

    Lyerla=Aaron Hernandez v2.0

    Had the world in your hands and decided extra cuticular activities were more important (yes I know blow is not the same as murder, I just meant the general idea of wasted talent).

  9. moeman79 says: May 11, 2014 7:32 AM

    Glad to see teams looking harder at the overall player, maybe you can goto Canada and grow up a bit.

  10. chiadam says: May 11, 2014 7:35 AM

    Pot heads, rats, and addicts don’t get drafted? OK, got it.

  11. ssraebel says: May 11, 2014 7:45 AM

    My Jags are moving on from Blackmon. Cleveland is about to lose Josh Gordan.

    No talent alone does not get you drafted anymore. As the salaries and ratings go up so does the scrutiny of the players behavior. Cameras are everywhere and social media is an instant process – players can’t hide their missteps like in the past.

    Blackmon earned millions for basically nothing. Teams are going to take a chance every once in awhile but it is going to be fewer and fewer from now on. If you fail a test you drop.

  12. patsfan13 says: May 11, 2014 7:46 AM

    There are always UFA’s picked up by teams who have flourished in the NFL.

  13. delsj says: May 11, 2014 7:46 AM

    No worries. The Bengals will sign all of them.

  14. vikesr4reel says: May 11, 2014 7:47 AM

    Sounds like future patriots or Seahawks

  15. cylondetector says: May 11, 2014 7:48 AM

    To me, there is nothing worse than someone who gets caught with drugs and then turns ‘stool pigeon’.

    That reflects far worse on their character than the original offense.

  16. brokeu91 says: May 11, 2014 7:51 AM

    Didn’t Lyerla also make some comments about Sandy Hook being some sort of conspiracy?

    It’s like he was going out of his way not to get drafted.

  17. orivar says: May 11, 2014 7:56 AM

    Let’s really be honest, getting drafted is over rated. It doesn’t matter where you get drafted or if you even get drafted at all, in fact it’s better to NOT get drafted if you have the talent cause then you get to pick and choose where you go. Draft position honestly only matters to teams as they’re the ones picking and/or taking players that other teams wanted.

    Max signed with the Texans. Anthony with the Dolphins. Loucheiz Purifoy apparently refused a deal with the Broncos, Marcus & Colt haven’t been picked up yet but it’s doubtful that will be the same before the day is over. As long as have the skills it really doesn’t even matter as you’ll get picked up. Worse come to worse they play in the CFL or act as ambassador in Japan as the X-League is slowly gaining more ground.

  18. kamthechancellor says: May 11, 2014 8:13 AM

    What a bunch of bs. If any of them had Aldon Smith-like talent they’d have been at least a second round pick.

  19. orthomarine says: May 11, 2014 8:14 AM

    Anthony Johnson is in Miami… Hope he squares it away; we can use the depth

  20. archersofmtdoom says: May 11, 2014 8:26 AM

    I initially thought the Titans should take a chance on Lyerla as we desperately need TE help…..but now that we’ve finally moved on from the likes of VY, Kenny Brittle, and CJ1K, I think we’re fine without another player with issues.

  21. shoeflypie says: May 11, 2014 8:27 AM

    I know general “wisdom” says pot is not addictive, but when I see so many players unwilling or unable to put it aside even for a short while when they know a test is coming makes me really question that wisdom.

  22. SparkyGump says: May 11, 2014 8:29 AM

    Stupid is as stupid does….and you can’t fix stupid.

  23. pslbucfan says: May 11, 2014 8:32 AM

    What about that guy that skipped the combine because God told him not to go? Did the Seahawks draft him like he said?

  24. rationalitybias says: May 11, 2014 8:40 AM

    No way Purifoy was getting drafted when he couldn’t take responsibility for his own actions.

  25. nfldoc says: May 11, 2014 8:44 AM

    Makes for an interesting article and does provide some hope that “maybe” teams are being smarter with character issues, but the asterisk here is that these were all late round picks at best. It’s not going to matter with a top pick like, say, Jameis Winston. Also, there were some questionable character guys drafted this year too. But maybe this can be a warning shot to others and that might be a good thing.

  26. theytukrjobs says: May 11, 2014 8:45 AM

    Pay attention kids.

  27. filthymcfunny1 says: May 11, 2014 8:45 AM

    Welcome to the greenbay packers kids!!!

  28. tahnoonzee says: May 11, 2014 9:06 AM

    future Raiders

  29. londonbengal says: May 11, 2014 9:14 AM

    Two words for y’all to consider.

    Burfict and Vontaze

  30. cursedvikings1998 says: May 11, 2014 9:16 AM

    It’s going to be a sad year without Josh Gordon. 😦

  31. texanfan62 says: May 11, 2014 9:21 AM

    Max Bullough signed with the Texans last night. Good pickup.

  32. clssylssy says: May 11, 2014 9:32 AM

    Basically these were college kids who were not doing anything different from a large percentage of their peers who just didn’t get caught or were not being scrutinized so closely. Look that all the NFL players who repeatedly have committed offenses and skate…depends on who you are, who you know, and what’s at stake. After the incident with the entire Miami locker room and front office last year, I find it laughable that college kids are being singled out and held to a higher standard than grown men who are “professionals”. Some of these kids will get signed and depending on the franchise will have a chance to turn their life around and go on to become solid professionals. It’s called growing up and learning from past mistakes. Too bad the NFL doesn’t seem to hold the owners to the same high standard as they do players!

  33. rajbais says: May 11, 2014 9:38 AM

    Bullough will not make a team.

    He had character issues, but he exacerbated them by putting on 20 lbs after leaving MSU.

    Yes, he trimmed down to 249 at the combine … but why the 20 lbs???

    Plus, he was a East-West Shrine Game invitee; not a Senior Bowl invitee. Both game evaluators are not dumb and the Senior Bowl evaluates after the East-West. So if he wasn’t a Senior Bowl invitee he’s not really that good.

  34. dg0122 says: May 11, 2014 9:44 AM

    Jeremy Hill has quite a rap sheet and he got drafted in the 2nd round

  35. nflgiant says: May 11, 2014 9:49 AM

    “who talented players are?……Hmmmm

  36. lrical says: May 11, 2014 9:50 AM

    I second that lawyer. Honey badger had major issues and he went as well as someone named Blackmon

  37. californiaqid says: May 11, 2014 9:52 AM

    The more we judge our athletes for off the field issues, the worse athletes we will get. I don’t want to NFL to get any more self-congratulatory than it already is. Leave the moralizing to weaker minds. I don’t like how everyone acts like they’re better than these athletes.

  38. oldcracker says: May 11, 2014 9:55 AM

    Some teams draft well, some develope well, and some do both.

    As a life-long Browns fan (60+ yrs) I’ve had to sit back and watch with great envy while other teams (like the Patriots) find those “diamonds in the ruff.” So much depends on the scouting, management, and coaching all being on the same page.

  39. bonerchamp says: May 11, 2014 10:15 AM

    Lyerla would’ve been a sure fire first round pick if he kept his nose clean. He’s a top 10 athlete who can play multiple positions.

  40. rajbais says: May 11, 2014 10:29 AM

    Colt Lylerla might be the only one who’s worth a shot.

  41. thetruthcampaign says: May 11, 2014 10:45 AM

    So, if, let’s say, Clowney had drug issues, which he didn’t, would he go undrafted? No. Maybe not #1? Definitely, if the skill/person is a question mark, off-field issues could well be the deciding factor. A good thing to remember for these young guys.

  42. 49erfan44 says: May 11, 2014 10:51 AM

    To the guy who says getting drafted doesn’t matter. Tell that to their bank accounts. The difference between drafted and undrafted is a few million $$$

  43. tinbender2000 says: May 11, 2014 11:03 AM

    I liked the article on Chip Kelly s philosophy of wanting to draft only players who have graduated. Sure you’ll lose out on some great players (Otis Sistrunk, public tryout walk on from the University of Mars), but the odds of getting a loser drop about 98%.

  44. upperdecker19 says: May 11, 2014 11:04 AM

    If Chip Kelly brings in about every eligible Oregon player except Lyerla, that should speak volumes

  45. seahawkswilson says: May 11, 2014 11:12 AM

    All players listed still sound better than your average 49er.

  46. janvanflac says: May 11, 2014 11:16 AM

    I think recent history such as multiple suspensions of Blackmon and Gordon, both high draft picks, is having an effect.

  47. oldbyrd says: May 11, 2014 11:27 AM

    They got exactly what they deserved for mindless desecions.

  48. coachbeck says: May 11, 2014 11:29 AM

    Cleveland will win with Josh Gordon now. Since he is constantly on suspension watch he will never get a decent contract.

  49. dfwhawkguy says: May 11, 2014 11:37 AM

    These guys seem like choir boys compared to the Niners roster.

  50. ajgreenhof says: May 11, 2014 11:42 AM

    We all knew Colt Lyerla had character issues to the max.

  51. qckappa says: May 11, 2014 12:13 PM

    Good for the NFL, stop being stupid.

  52. Brandon in Northwest Suburbia says: May 11, 2014 12:37 PM

    Lyerla’s issues aren’t just a raging cocaine addiction…that’s a symptom. The man is mentally unstable to the point where I’d be surprised if he lives to see 30.

    Strictly talent-wise, he’s a top ten prospect. Not just the speed and hands, but he is an absolute eraser as a blocker.

    I hope he gets it turned around, but I really think he’s going to turn up dead one of these days. Hopefully he doesn’t take 50 people with him.

  53. jetsjetsjetsnow says: May 11, 2014 12:53 PM

    If it isn’t important enough for a guy to stay clean before knowingly being drug tested at the combine then how can they possibly expect a different outcome in the draft unless they are considered super super talents.

  54. ghent32 says: May 11, 2014 1:42 PM

    NFL teams, for all the hypocrisy they represent at times, do not like drugs folks.

    There’s a reason that mafia families immediately wack their own members when it comes to drugs. You cannot trust or rely on anyone with a drug problem.

    NFL teams know these people will spend half the time suspended by the league for repeatedly failing tests, soon after that they’re out of the league for good. I would never waste a draft pick on a player like that.

    Their talent is useless if they’re not on the field.

    Not all,

  55. nclrbrt says: May 12, 2014 6:20 PM

    Has Josh Gordon been suspended yet? Because to assume accuracy from an ESPN news report is a fool’s errand. Don’t get me wrong–I like ESPN, I really do. But their “reporters” tend to throw crap at the wall to see what sticks.

  56. hockeyfan91 says: May 12, 2014 10:07 PM

    “Several talented players went undrafted” but a publicity stunt with less talent than any player listed in this article was drafted in the 7th round by the Rams.
    The NFL is quickly turning into a joke.

  57. oldforester says: May 13, 2014 3:35 AM

    A lot of these kids are coming from bad situations, Lyerla included. Some have desire & mental toughness and get out. Oters don’t ever develop the mental capacity to allow well intended coaches, friends, etc. to redirect them. Assume they will always be the Big Man on Campus and then let their johnson do their thinking straight to oblivion.

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