By nature, if you’re in the Supplemental Draft, there’s a problem.
For Josh Gordon, the star of this year’s slow-time selection meeting, the issue was self-inflicted, and the hardest part was watching his Baylor teammates have one of the best seasons in school history without him.
A failed marijuana test led to the suspension that cost Gordon his 2011 campaign, which saw the Bears win 10 games and the Alamo Bowl while quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman.
“Leaving Baylor was the hardest thing,” Gordon told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “I’d get up in the morning, turn on ESPN, and there they were, some of my best friends doing such great things. They did exactly what we believed we were capable of doing when I was there.
“Everything I thought I had, everything in front of me, just went down the drain. I didn’t want to stop chasing my dream, so I transferred, sat out the season and worked as hard as I could to start from scratch.”
Gordon’s sophomore season was a productive one, but he made headlines when he and a teammate were arrested after falling asleep in a Taco Bell drive-in line. Police found marijuana in the car, and defensive end Willie Jefferson was kicked off the team when it was his second violation. Gordon was charged with misdemeanor possession, though it was later dropped.
That wasn’t enough of a lesson for Gordon, however, as he was suspended indefinitely last July for what he admitted was a failed marijuana test.
“It was against school policy, of course, and I was [suspended] in the summer,” Gordon said. “I’ve definitely put that part of my life behind me. I don’t plan to ever go back there. It was a difficult time, but I learned from it, and I’ve moved on.”
Weighing whether he’s changed or not is the challenge for the teams investigating him. Scouts do skeleton work on underclassmen during the regular year, leaving them all playing catch-up for prospects when they enter the Supplemental Draft.
“They [scouts] want to know what kind of character guy I am,” Gordon said. “They want to know if I can be trusted. They want to know if I’m going to be a guy that always has off-the-field issues. I want to make it clear I’m not going to be that guy.
“I know how much heartache it caused my family, how much strain it put on me and my family. I don’t plan to ever go back there again.”
Whether NFL teams trust that word will largely determine how high he’s chosen, and what kind of chance he gets to back the words up.