NFL: Intelligence a minus?
The NFL draft was this weekend, and Myron Rolle was taken with the last pick in the 6th round. Usually, this wouldn’t be important, and I wouldn’t spend the time writing an article about him, except that the biggest knock on Myron Rolle wasn’t a large flaw in his play (not saying there aren’t flaws, but no fatal flaws), but rather that he took a year off to go study at Oxford University under the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Usually, I would consider the fact that he took a year off a bit of an issue, but the truth is that the NFL has had players that have taken years off of school for stupider reasons, and they were drafted much higher.
The two most recent players to have taken a year off were Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams. They were a part of a controversy in 2004 in which they wanted to enter the draft a year early. Neither of them were awarded the right to the NFL draft, and because of NCAA rules, they both were not able to participate in the 2004 NCAA Football season, and like Myron Rolle, neither of them were able to practice with their team. Both of them had horrible workouts (worse than Rolle) in the 2005 combine, and yet, they both got drafted higher than Rolle. Williams, in particular, was taken 10th overall, and Clarett was taken in the end of the 3rd round.
Neither of those players were the greatest characters either. Mike Williams has had no glaring character flaws as of yet, but has become one of the biggest busts in the past decade. Maurice Clarett, on the other hand, was arrested in 2006 when he was found with a loaded AK-47, a katana and an open bottle of vodka after a car chase with the police, and is currently in a halfway house.
Yet, in a draft where players rose greatly (Tebow, for example) for great character, and fell (Clausen, to name one) for questionable character, why does the NFL pass on a player who, in my opinion, could be an ambassador for the NFL because of his high intelligence and great character, just because he may have intellectual interests? Does the NFL not appreciate intelligence?
I’m not suggesting Rolle was a first round pick. I don’t believe he was a talented enough football player for that. I did think he was a third round grade myself, and was dumbfounded when he dropped that far. Teams may want character guys, but I question whether they really do care much about that if they pass on such a prospect.
If you want a bit of an interesting view into Myron Rolle’s life pre-draft, there is a great article on ESPN that will only strengthen your opinion on the young man.