Character counts. But how much?
That question will be on display Thursday night, when the first round of the
Several of the top college prospects are considered character risks, beginning with the player expected to be chosen first overall by Tampa Bay, Florida State quarterback
But Missouri defensive end
Ray, among the top pass rushers in this class, was pulled over by Missouri Highway Patrol on Monday and cited for marijuana possession. He lamented his poor decision to reporters Wednesday at a "Play 60" event with local Chicago youth.
"What happened Monday was a terrible decision that I made," Ray said. "I'm definitely very sorry for the position I put myself in and everybody else. What needs to be understood is everybody makes mistakes. I made a mistake, and it just so happens it's right before the draft. One of the most important days of my life."
Louisiana State offensive lineman
Police have not named Collins as a suspect, but they want to know if he has information that would be helpful to them. Several
With the league coming off its most turbulent year — when the off-the-field transgressions of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson dominated the headlines — NFL Commissioner
"We met with the players as a group, as we always do at the draft," Goodell said. "We talked to them about the next few days, obviously, but more importantly the days after that. What it's like to be a professional, what it's like to be in the NFL. They have a responsibility, the resources we have to support them, and to tell them that we want them to be successful on the field but we also want them to be successful off the field."
This could be the sixth draft in the modern era in which the top two players selected are quarterbacks. There's a strong possibility that Oregon's Marcus Mariota, also a Heisman winner, will be chosen No. 2 by Tennessee, or by another team that might trade into position to get him.
Whereas there are red flags surrounding Winston, Mariota has a solid reputation and his character is considered among his top selling points.
Quarterbacks went 1-2 in the draft 17 years ago when Indianapolis picked
Former NFL executive Bill Polian, general manager of the
"I'm not privy to the psychological reports, nor am I privy to the individual character-slash-security reports that every team in the league has — and that's a big part of the equation — and I don't have the appropriate information to make an informed judgment," said Polian, now an ESPN analyst.
"That said, it strikes me studying tape, talking to people at Florida State and Oregon, talking to people around the league who know the two young men involved, talking to Jameis, that this is a lot closer. It's a lot closer on the playing field, and it's probably a lot closer in terms of who they are as people."
Like Winston, Mariota is not among the more than two dozen top prospects attending the draft. He, too, will be watching with family.
One of the elite prospects who will be in attendance is USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, widely expected to be a top-five selection. He captured the anticipated emotion of the event, saying he'll struggle not to cry when he hears his name read.
"It's going to be hard when I look at my mom," he said. "She's already emotional. When I first saw her out here, she started crying. It's going to be hard to hold back when all my family's there, and it's one of the biggest times of my life."