In the days since last weekend’s 2010 NFL Draft, one of the biggest questions I’ve heard concerning the Kansas University football program was in reference to former wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe.
How could Briscoe have fallen to the sixth round when many believed him to be a first- or second-round talent and a likely second- or third-round pick?
There are a ton of answers here, but let’s focus on the main ones.
First, and quite probably most important, was the fact that Briscoe’s name was attached to the one phrase that can drop a guy faster than anything in these types of drafts: off-the-field issues. Although Briscoe was largely a good dude during his career at KU, he had a handful of incidents on his resume that caused NFL GMs to throw up the red flag.
For starters, there was a charge for shoplifting in 2007 followed by problems attending class and a suspension or two for violating team rules. No big deal at the time and certainly nothing that stood in the way of him becoming a record-setting wide receiver and one of the best the school ever had seen.
But just because your coaches and teammates can move past those issues doesn’t mean they disappear. It’s kind of like that speeding ticket you got several months ago. You haven’t sped since — or at least haven’t been pulled over for it — but that doesn’t mean you’re not still paying for it via the old insurance bill.
In today’s NFL, one which new commissioner Roger Goodell rules with an iron fist and an unforgiving mind, those things just aren’t worth the gamble. Why would a team pick a player with character questions when other, sometimes equally qualified players project a better image for the franchise?
Just look at the latest line of “characters” that have felt Goodell’s wrath: Pacman Jones, suspended for an entire season; Brandon Marshall, suspended for several games and under review multiple times; Ben Roethlisberger, not even convicted of a crime yet still suspended six games by the league and facing his possible departure from Pittsburgh.
Goodell’s message has been spelled out in no uncertain terms. The recent draft, with the fall of guys like Briscoe and Dez Bryant and the rise of guys like Tim Tebow, illustrates that the message is being received by NFL franchises loud and clear.
Besides that, many of you may remember that Briscoe didn’t exactly do himself any favors during the pre-draft workouts. He struggled at the combine with speed and strength and did a less-than-stellar job of marketing himself, which is what it takes these days — like it or not.
I was around Briscoe on and off for the past two years and I always enjoyed my encounters with him. He was fun to talk to, a little on the quiet side but pretty pleasant once you got him going. He always respected the media and rarely seemed annoyed with any of the questions he was asked, no matter how ridiculous. That’s when he was there.
Briscoe also routinely skipped out on the weekly media sessions and was next to impossible to get ahold of the week of the draft, including draft day. So was his agent. It’s my belief that these things cost Briscoe more than either one of them probably thought they would.
I know Briscoe is confident in his abilities. And he should be. But when things turn from game to business it takes a lot more than catching everything that comes your way and scoring touchdowns on a regular basis to make it. It takes charisma, it takes compromise and it takes the understanding that a little give here — even if it’s phony — can go a long way later.
Maybe all this will work out in Briscoe’s favor. I mean, he is going to the Cincinnati Bengals, who have a franchise QB, Carson Palmer, and an incredible veteran receiver in Chad Ochocinco for the Dallas native to learn from. If Briscoe were taken in the second round he may have entered the league with a little too much swagger and expected things to be easy, to be handed to him because of his status as an early-round pick. But now, as a sixth-rounder, he’s going to have to earn everything he gets.
Briscoe’s always been best when driven by a little adversity. Even though a little song and dance along the way might have moved him up the draft board, falling to 191st overall could be the best thing to have happened to him.
Former teammate Kerry Meier said it best, when asked to size up his former teammate a little more than a month ago: “Any time you can get him involved with and around football, you’re going to find good things,” Meier said. “He just needs to stay around football and ultimately stay focused on the task at hand and concentrate on being the best football player he can be.”