As NFL teams debate whether drafting a player such as Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is worth it, the reality is many teams will weigh the risk of a player with character flaws if the price is right.
And some teams will put more of a thumb on the scale than others.
Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said out loud what some won’t, that teams will investigate players and try to decide if he fits their team, but will ultimately find talented players.
“I think it’s the complete profile of a player,” Robinson said, via Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean. “It’s the value that he’s going to bring on the field, it’s the value that he’s going to bring in the locker room. Is he going to be a good teammate? Is he a coachable player? Is he a detailed player? Is he going to fit well in the community?
“We’re not looking for a bunch of choir boys, but we’re looking for guys that can play football and act like mature adults.”
Robinson wasn’t speaking directly about Mixon’s case, but he’s become this year’s petri dish for the character experiment, after he punched a woman in the face in a 2014 incident which was captured on video for everyone to see again and again.
That may disqualify him from some places, but Robinson’s approach is the one many take, relying on their own research to gauge whether a player is worth the risk (which changes as the draft goes on). Titans coach Mike Mularkey said teams still have to consider players with drug offenses or even domestic violence charges, once they do that diligence.
“I think we give the guy a chance first, if either we can interview him here or bring him in for [a visit to the team facility] or when we go to their schools, to understand, ‘Has he learned from the incident? Is that something in the past that’s gone by?’” Mularkey said. “You can’t immediately knock somebody out of the loop just for a mistake they made, and there are a lot of them that have made mistakes. And they’re mistakes. One-time mistakes.”
And consciously or subconsciously, the fact the Chiefs were rewarded for taking a chance on Tyreek Hill last year in the fifth round will likely only embolden teams this year when it’s time to make a call on Mixon or others with red flags on their charts.