For the majority of sports, the transition from the amateur to the professional ranks happens completely devoid of fanfare. Yet, there are exceptions to every rule. To see this one need look no further than the juggernaut of American professional sports – the National Football League. Not far removed from one of the most historic finishes in Super Bowl history, the NFL will once again look for new recruits to add to an already impressive fraternity of football talent.
However, over recent years a strange phenomenon has arisen in connection with draft picks. The question of character. Don’t believe us? Look no further than the likes of Manti T’eo whose dead girlfriend hoax surely dropped him to the second round. Or Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted, a commendable action, however, him subsequently being cut raises questions. Add to this recent off-field antics of its players bringing unwanted scrutiny to the league and its commissioner, you can bet teams and the NFL will deploy more financial resources than ever to investigate the character of every future draftee – especially for first round picks – to uncover any potential red flags before investing millions and compromising the future of their franchises. Fair or not, these young men can expect to go through an intense process of historical scrutiny that is rivaled only by those seeking to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2016. While you will not see any unique predictions from ‘LLERO, we think it important to factor in “character” when looking at the five top collegiate players whose lives will radically change come April 30th.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Projected Pick: 1
In 2013 Winston become the youngest player ever to win the Heisman Trophy. Add to that a BCS National Championship and he has the foundation of pro-ready QB. Yet, despite cementing himself as a top pick with his spectacular showing at the combines, sexual assault investigations, shoplifting and public displays of vulgar language have resulted in university suspensions and performing hours of community service. While the latter is always good, it’s even better when done voluntarily. You can bet GM’s will carefully evaluate if they can trust this talented young man to make better off-field decisions, including the company he keeps, when he becomes a millionaire.