The NFL Scouting Combine is in full swing, and all the pageantry of the underpants Olympics is on display. But for all the discussion about 40-yard dash times and bench press reps, for two star linebackers from the University of Georgia, it’s less about what happens on the field as to where they are drafted, and more about them, but this makes their weekend just as important. But the question I ask is, which red flag matters most to fans, and teams?
The linebackers in question are, of course, Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree. Both are tremendous athletes with gobs of NFL potential. Jones is an absolute terror as a pass rusher, and had the single most impressive game by a defensive player I saw in the 2012 college football season. Ogletree is a more refined and a traditional linebacker, but has prototypical size and speed and is a near complete package in multiple schemes.
However, both players are dealing with things that have nothing to do with their games that could potentially hurt them badly in the draft.
Jones has a medical condition known as Spinal Stenosis which in layman’s terms, is a narrowing of the spinal column that can create pressure on the spine. This sort of condition can cause numbness and pain and lead to injury due to lack of feeling. Thousands of people walk the Earth right now with Spinal Stenosis, and don’t even know it.
Ogletree on the other hand is in good health. His problems are related to character and off-the-field incidents. Most recently, Ogletree was arrested for a DUI just a week before the combine, which pairs up nicely with a previous suspension with Georgia for a positive drug test. Those two strikes matter, and they matter a lot to NFL teams who value character. A player in trouble with the law or league policies can’t help their team win.
But if you have to chose the lesser of two evils, so to speak, who are you taking? The talent of both players cannot be denied, and at their best, both could be super productive starters in the NFL. If I have to decide between a player with a health concern like what Jones has for a character issue like Ogletree I take Jones. Spinal Stenosis is a condition that can me be managed as we have seen from Jones during his college career, and while he does run a risk of an injury because of it, can anyone say that an NFL player isn’t one play away from an injury? In my opinion, it’s a marginal issue being overblown.
With Ogletree, you get something that could be simply part of his personality – bad judgment. And as the old saying goes, getting rich just makes you more of what you already are. So if Ogletree is the kind of guy to make bad choices now, adding a big salary won’t fix that. The likelyhood that Ogletree makes a mistake is not less than Jones being injured again, and I like my odds of getting production out of Jones without interruption over Ogletree.
Both are great players and I hope they are able to have long and successful careers without any problems. But if I have to pick between the two, give me Jones every time.
The next question is how far will these situations push both of these playmakers down? It’s really impossible to guess at this point. The reports on Jones and his medical condition have been confounding at best, as some teams are pulling him off their board altogether, while others giving him a clean bill of health. As for Ogletree, we’ve see these off-field situations close to the draft cost a player a full round, so if you have him pegged as a low first-round pick, him getting to the end of the second is a real possibility.