|Would the Lions gamble on CB Janoris Jenkins? (Getty Images)|
The headline on MLive.com -- "Marijuana usage will not scare away Detroit Lions in NFL Draft" -- should come as no surprise. After all, this offseason, the Lions' first, second and seventh-round picks from the 2011 draft -- defensive lineman Nick Fairley, running back Mikel Leshoure and offensive lineman Johnny Culbreath -- were all arrested on marijuana-related charges.
Clearly, the Lions aren't so concerned about off-field concerns that they'll remove a talented player from their draft board. And heading into next week's NFL Draft, that won't change.
"The league has really changed over the years," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said during a pre-draft press conference Thursday. "If you go back 10, 15 years ago, and a guy had a positive test, that was a big deal. That was something to be very concerned about. It still is, but not at the level it was years ago. There are certain things we want to hear from guys. There are certain things we don't want to hear from guys. It doesn't help us to tell you (media) what those things are.
"We've talked to players that have had those concerns, and we've evaluated all those situations, especially the ones who are high picks, early guys. We've talked to all those guys and asked them about their situations, and we've reached varying levels of comfort with different players."
Let's be honest: the Lions aren't the only team that does this. The Bengals are often ridiculed for taking at-risk players. They've had some success -- Frostee Rucker and Cedric Benson come to mind -- but they also lead the league in arrests since 2000. On the other hand, the Patriots have been praised for doing the same thing: Corey Dillion, Randy Moss and Albert Haynesworth came to New England with character concerns, and while the first two worked out well, Haynesworth was cut midway through last season.
Could this mean that the Lions would take cornerback Janoris Jenkins with the 23rd overall pick in next Thursday's draft? The team has a gaping need at the position and some experts consider Jenkins to be the best cover corner available. But the pre-draft perception is that his drug-related arrests in college may have pushed him out of the first round altogether.
Mayhew, meanwhile, doesn't plan on changing how the Lions prepare their draft board.
"It's just each individual situation," he said. "If you go back to our draft process last year, it wasn't much removed from our draft process in 2009 or 2010. We didn't have those problems in that area in those draft classes. We're going to look at each individual situation. We did a lot of homework on those guys last year. We're doing as much as much homework, or more, on guys this year. I think every individual situation has to be evaluated that way."
Mayhew said he had spoken with Fairley and Leshoure in recent weeks and admitted that "It's very frustrating but we had a good talk about it. The league will handle it in terms of discipline for those guys, but I think they understand what the expectation is going forward."
And if they don't, there's always teammate Nate Burleson. Either way, here's to hoping Mayhew doesn't have to have a similar heart-to-heart with Jenkins -- assuming, of course, the Lions draft him.
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