So the bottom line is, teams are placing a much higher emphasis on player conduct and character when it comes to the draft process. And it is exactly this reason why Brandon Meriweather, Safety from the University of Miami, has experienced a free fall in his draft stock.
By now, everybody knows about Meriweather's incident in the Florida International brawl, as well as his shooting incident off the field. And Meriweather has been drilled all offseason about these very things:
"When you think of a Miami player, the first thing you think of is 'thug,' " he told reporters last week during a visit with the New York Giants. "But I'm not a thug. I'm not a bad guy. I can only let people think what they're going to think until they meet me and realize, 'This isn't a bad guy. This is a good guy.'
"If it was a Michigan guy who did it, it would have gotten pushed under the rug. They would have said one or two things about it, then they probably would have let it go. But since it was Miami who did it, my name and a couple more names got blown up with it."
Watching Meriweather play, you see a first round talent. You see a new, hybrid safety. A guy who can cover people and hit people. But you also see him frequently getting in the face of his opponent. He celebrates often after making a play, and he likes to talk a ton of trash on the field.Is this the talent you want in the first round, especially if you are the Chargers and in desperate need of a playmaker at safety? Of course you do. But if you are the Chargers, are you going give this guy a 5 year, 12 million dollar contract and cross your fingers he stays out of trouble? I don't think so.
But I do think that if the Chargers take a receiver at pick 30, like a Sidney Rice or Dwayne Jarrett, and Brandon Meriweather is still on the board at the top of the second round then maybe AJ Smith trades Michael Turner to a Buffalo or Atlanta or any other team and takes a flier on Brandon Meriweather.
Taking Meriweather in the second lowers the dollar amount investment in him and allows the Chargers to take a gamble on a player who could pay off huge. But these are the things that are left up to GM's and front offices, and I am just an interested observer.