Every year we see similar situations where a large handful of draft prospects bring baggage into the process with them. There are always a group with health issues, and at least lately, red flags due to violence have become more prevalent amongst the field.
This season isn’t straying from that either.
Not only are players carrying checkered pasts or serious health issues with them into the draft in April, but several of them are some of the best players available. Whether it’s because of Chris Ballard’s past success with troubled players, or that some fans are hoping for their teams to harness the talent and control the issues, several of these prospects’ troubles are being overlooked.
While some may be getting consideration from Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts, I feel there is a core group that will not be on their draft board without a significant fall – and some won’t be on it at all. On the other hand, there will also be a couple whose consideration will be highly dependent upon interviews as well as a significant re-check of the facts surrounding their situation.
This is the beginning of Ballard’s legacy as a GM in the league, and some may say with the talent available it has the potential to be a legacy-defining draft. Despite his popular history of having the ability to read a player with his past, surrounding and home life, Ballard will not take a chance of having his first draft as an NFL GM blow up in his face.
With that, let’s dig in to some prospects that I suspect – some more strongly than others – will not be on the Colts board for the upcoming draft.
Williams has a multitude of concerns as he prepares for the draft. He’s widely considered to be one of the best pure edge rushers, however, the sentiments that he’s a one-trick-pony are just as profound. The off-the-field situations he’s becoming known for are far more troubling.
In his time at Alabama Williams had multiple failed drug tests, which is looked at several different ways by various teams in the league. Ultimately, though, the concern of utilizing high draft capital on a player who may not be able to stay on the field as a result of being in the league’s substance abuse system is very real.
Additionally, he owns a 2016 felony gun charge which consists of illegal possession of a minute amount of marijuana as well as carrying a handgun without a permit. Despite the stories of whose drugs, whose guns, etcetera, “the company you keep” argument will have teams in doubt of his ability to survive in the league of his own mistakes.
Look at it this way – many NFL players have and carry guns for personal protection. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, Williams will not be able to legally carry or own a firearm if he holds on to that felony charge and is convicted. Indianapolis – in spite of it not being Detroit, St. Louis or Oakland – has some notoriously dangerous neighborhoods and a high gun violence rate.
This presents a real problem for players who aren’t legally permitted to carry but want to protect themselves. This, among his other issues, is why I feel Williams isn’t a candidate for the Colts. He’s another gun charge waiting to happen, who also runs the risk of being kept off the field due to drug issues. The league’s “random” testing format won’t go long before he knows the staff by first name. Williams to the Colts isn’t happening.
We all know about the brutal assault of a woman that was caught on video and shocked even the people who knew about it long beforehand. We’re now hearing that numerous NFL personnel are projecting that Mixon will absolutely go in the second-round this year. Obviously, they’re willing to wait to keep the risk factor low, but not too long to miss out on his talent.
Up until recently I felt as if there was a small possibility that the Colts may look at drafting Mixon, though I assumed that owner Jim Irsay would be none too keen on the idea of bringing in a proven woman-beater. Now, I have no doubt whatsoever that the only locker room Mixon will enter in Lucas Oil Stadium will be the visitor’s.
Why? Well, the other day Chris Ballard was on the MMQB podcast with Peter King, and at one point in their conversation on delving into troubled players – and Ballard’s successes in that regard. King asked him if he felt that Mixon has shown enough of the remorse, and understanding of his actions desired to warrant drafting him, and Ballard replied that “I haven’t delved in Mixon enough to know that”.
It’s less than three weeks until the draft, so if Mixon was on their board in any way, shape or form, Mixon would have already had the investigative gamete run on everything in his background. You can safely take this possibility out of your head at this point.
McKinley is one of those prospects who won’t be completely off the board, however, it almost certainly will affect when they would potentially be willing to take him. McKinley had shoulder surgery following the scouting combine, forcing him to watch UCLA’s pro day from the sideline.
His procedure was to repair a torn labrum and broken glenoid – whatever that is – which will reportedly keep him out for 5-6 months. This puts him back in action in August at the earliest, and just as we’ve seen with others, this will put him behind the curve a bit in camp.
For my money, a first-year GM won’t put such an injury to the test with a first-round pick. Consider the similarities between Takk and Shaq Lawson last season. Drafted at No. 19 overall, then injures his suspect shoulder taking part in a non-contact drill.
For a team like the Colts, and the rebuild that they are currently in, having a first-round pick get derailed after re-injuring his shoulder is not something anybody wants to have happen. Ultimately, any recurring situation with that shoulder could possibly force either a very late start to the 2017 season, or even possibly getting his contributions back to the 2018 season in a worst-case scenario.
Is he off their board completely? No, I wouldn’t think so. However, I don’t think they would use a first-round pick on him by any means at all.
Like his teammate, Tim Williams, Robinson also had a felony charge relating to a handgun, and more specifically possession of a stolen handgun. His charges were dropped in regards to the gun, but again we come across the situation where a highly touted prospect doesn’t have the sense to stay away from idiots.
Matt Miller, of Bleacher Report, stated that a scouting source that he’s spoken to described Robinson as a ‘nightmare off the field’. Though that doesn’t add a ton of context, it adds to concerns that teams have already had with him through the process.
Additionally, Robinson has had some knee issues – nothing serious has been reported – and some were making assumptions that his struggles in 2015 were due to injuries that were suffered in Alabama’s fall camp. Most offensive linemen are susceptible to knee and leg injuries due to the nature of their position, but it’s still something to think about.
Finally, when you look at the on-the-field product, Robinson noticeably struggles in pass protection. He is a very good run blocker, but the Colts need to protect their franchise if they were to grab any lineman from this class – run blocking is a distant second with some quality run blocking talent already on the roster.
The fact that the Colts haven’t even gotten an interview with him at this point in the process and combining the entire package that Robinson presents on and off of the field, I just don’t see how he could be on their board this close to the draft.