Earlier today, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik was on The Thundering Herd podcast with Colin Cowherd to touch on the report of an unknown NFL team spying on Jameis Winston during one of his Combine flights. Cowherd immediately discussed tracking players and asked Dominik to share his story regarding troubled wide receiver, Justin Blackmon.
Back in 2012, the Buccaneers selecting fifth overall in the draft and were taking a serious look at using the pick on Blackmon.
"“We tracked players [in Tampa], Usually, I would use my scouts. We didn’t hire outside detectives, so to speak. We would put dossiers together on each player and that would include going to their hometowns. But with Justin Blackmon, there were a lot of concerns about what his character was at Oklahoma State.So, one of my area scouts, who was of my better scouts, we had him follow Justin Blackmon around Stillwater. And we found out there was a bar called The Cricket Inn, or The Cricket, which was a popular bar there in Oklahoma State. He [the scout] would sit there for one week. He went in at 3 o’clock every day and stayed there until 11 o’clock at night. That was his job. We checked how many times Justin Blackmon would come in. He came in too many times and we took him off our board.”"
The Buccaneers went on to trade their No. 5 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who took Blackmon, for their No. 7 pick and a fourth-rounder.
If the Buccaneers’ front office wasn’t so concerned about Blackmon’s character, they wouldn’t have gone out of their way to track him for an entire week. The decision paid off and presents a valid reason for why it is a good idea for teams to spy on players with questionable backgrounds, like Winston.
During their discussion, Dominik talks about the use of marijuana in the league. While he does not feel like the drug doesn’t mean as much as it did 15 years ago, the former Bucs GM brings up an interesting argument which lends itself to the tracking debate. “For me, the reason I do not like a positive test, specifically in Randy Gregory’s case, is that he knew it was coming,” he said. “The guys that are all getting ready to be tested right now in the National Football League, they all know that the test is coming. So, if you can’t stop for 60 days, then you’re making poor choices.”
These prospects need to expect NFL teams to throw anything and everything their way. While there is nothing they can do about altering their past, they can control what happens in the present. If you’re a potential first-round pick with character concerns, it’s in your best interest to stay on your best behavior from the time you declare to the night of the draft. It sounds like common sense, but clearly, there are players out there who still don’t get it.
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