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.

57 responses to “Several talented players went undrafted over off-field issues

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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 $$$

  19. 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%.

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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,

  24. 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.

  25. “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.

  26. 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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