You may have heard a note or two recently about a wide receiver named Titus Young. Young was chosen by the Detroit Lions with the 44th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. Young had outstanding career numbers at Boise State, and put up good pre-draft numbers in all the running and jumping activities they put draft-eligible players through. However, he was also suspended for a good chunk of his sophomore season for fighting with a teammate.
Young had an excellent rookie season, with 48 receptions for 607 yards and six touchdowns. But he punched yet another teammate (this time it was Louis Delmas). The Lions had to send Young home from practice at least three times before they finally released him after his second season.
As you probably know, Young recently went on a crime spree that will probably never be forgotten: three arrests in six days, including a whole lot of burglary and possible pre-burglary activities. It looks like once a lawyer gets ahold of him (he’s pretty hard to catch, for everyone except police officers anyway), he’ll be entering an insanity plea, and for good reason.
It’d be easy to say, “Saw THAT coming!” But check out the “overview” portion of Young’s NFL.com draft profile:
Young possesses the makeup and run-after-the-catch ability of an NFL slot receiver who could also contribute in the return game. Put a few really impressive statistical seasons on his resume. Has the quickness and speed to get open underneath but route-running is still somewhat or a work in progress. Was not being covered by elite defensive backs on a week-to-week basis. Size is an issue, as more physical defensive backs can out-muscle him, and limits his downfield big-play potential. Has some off-the-field and on-field behavioral issues that must be checked out. However, Young’s production and “make you miss” talent will likely land him in the middle rounds.
Not many people could’ve imagined that Young’s “behavioral issues” would manifest in such a persistently disastrous way, but now the Lions have to recover from wasting a high pick who was probably a big part of their future plans after such a productive first season. The Rams signed Young a day after the Lions released him in February, as Jeff Fisher is a guy who enjoys the challenge of rehabilitating guys who’ve made errors in judgement in the past. But even the Rams couldn’t deal with him, and two weeks later Young was released again.
When GPA > 40-time
Eric Reid, FS, LSU: Round One, 18th Overall
We know the basics: Has the size, plays physical 49ers-style defense, was an All-American for LSU. Fills arguably their most urgent need with Dashon Goldson’s departure. What I really like about this pick is it set the tone for a theme I’ve picked up on with this 49ers draft: none of these guys seem to have the term “character concerns” associated with them. Reid is an equally impressive student who spurned Jim Harbaugh’s efforts to recruit him to Stanford. Opinions vary on whether he was the best available safety at the time but it’s certainly a smart, safe pick.
First we heard Reid’s high school GPA was 4.46, then we got a correction from Eric Branch.
Correction: Eric Reid’s high school GPA was not 4.46, but 4.6. Graduated 6th of 366 students. “I’m very proud of it,” he said. #49ers
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) April 26, 2013
Oh yeah? Eat your heart out, Reid — Vance McDonald finished fifth in his graduating class. Jim Harbaugh gleefully told a story about Quinton Patton buying his own plane ticket to San Francisco, because the fourth round receiver was too excited to know that doing so would break an NFL rule. Good guys, these new 49ers.
However, second rounder Tank Carradine was set to attend Illinois after graduating high school, but he failed to qualify academically and played in junior college instead. Apparently the 49ers don’t care if you’re a choirboy if you can rush the passer. Oops, hold up …
From his Florida State bio:
2011: “Given one of two academic awards for the junior class at the annual team banquet and selected as co-recipient with Nigel Bradham of the Bill McGrotha Humanitarian Award.”
Guess the Tank figured things out.
That’s not to say Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have put together a team of perfect people. Four guys on the roster — Al Netter, Demarcus Dobbs, Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald — have been arrested for driving under the influence. They took a chance on Perrish Cox after he was acquitted of sexually assault in Colorado. Chris Culliver hasn’t been charged with a crime, but his errors in judgement have caused distractions and his place on the team is still safe. But if one created a list of three qualities that sum up what Harbaalke looks for in a player, it would probably look like this: toughness, intelligence, versatility.
Whether it was done purposely or totally by accident, the 49ers drafted a group of players known for having drive, determination and “nice motors.” They had no problem drafting players with injury concerns, as long as the player was of sound mind and attitude.
The Seattle Seahawks also pounced on a few players who dropped due to off-the-field concerns in the Draft. And the Rams followed up last year’s decision to take Janoris Jenkins in the second round of the 2012 Draft with the selection of linebacker Alec Ogletree with their second pick (No. 30 overall) in 2013. Ogletree was arrested for driving under the influence two weeks before the NFL Combine, and had a couple other problems during his days as a Georgia Bulldog:
Ogletree, a junior last season, was arrested and charged with theft during his freshman year after stealing a motorcycle helmet from another Georgia athlete. Last year, Ogletree was suspended for the first four games for violating the team’s substance abuse policy.
Jenkins was arrested three times between June of 2009 and April of 2011, but was able to keep his nose clean and play a lot for the Rams in his rookie season, a year where he scored four defensive touchdowns. So far, the gamble appears to be working for St. Louis, a team trying to improve quickly through the draft so they can compete in the NFC West. The 49ers’ draft strategy — at least in 2013 — showed they’d rather bet on the full recovery of guys like Carradine and Marcus Lattimore than hope guys with rap sheets get on the straight and narrow once they start collecting NFL paychecks.