Shane Ray's mistake could be quite costly.
Ray, a former Missouri defensive end and one of the top pass rushers in this year's NFL draft, was pulled over for speeding Monday and issued a citation for marijuana possession. According to various reports, Missouri Highway Patrol did not specify how much marijuana was found in the car he was driving, only that the amount was less than 35 grams, a Class A misdemeanor.
Some evaluators had predicted Ray might be among the first five picks in the opening round, which will take place Thursday night. But Ray could slide, possibly out of the first round, which conceivably could cost him millions in guaranteed money.
Ray was among several prospects invited to the draft, and spoke to reporters Wednesday after an organized Play 60 event with kids from Chicago.
"What happened Monday was a terrible decision that I made," he 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."
He said he understood that the incident could cause teams to question his judgment.
"With the timing of what happened of course they would question my judgment," he said. "All I can do is ensure to teams that I will grow from my mistake, I’ll continue to try to make better decisions, and I’ll learn. The biggest and most important thing is that I have learned from what happened."
He said he spoke briefly with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in reference to the situation.
"The commissioner just told me, `Let’s move forward on things,’ and we’re not going to just harp on this and act like this is who I am – like I’m a person with huge character issues, because I’m not," he said. "This is a mistake that I made, a bad decision that I made, and it’s one that’s costing me today."
Goodell remembers it differently. He said he did not speak specifically to Ray, but to the prospects as a group.
"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."
Ray isn't the only prospect dealing with an off-the-field circumstance that has given teams pause. Louisiana State offensive lineman La'el Collins was at Wednesday's event but was not made available to the media afterward because of a situation in Louisiana.
He will not attend the draft, because authorities in Baton Rouge want to see if he can assist them in the investigation into the death last week of his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend. The woman, who was pregnant, reportedly was shot multiple times. The child survived the shooting and is under medical care.
According to various reports, police do not consider Collins a suspect. He left the draft to meet with investigators.
Collins was widely projected to be a first-round pick, although various scouts say he now could drop into the second round or later.