5 takes on evaluating character at combine

Every draft class has its share of characters, but what about character?

What about arrest records and off-the-field issues and the other red flags that often give cause for pause among NFL scouts, coaches and personnel men?

Those are often-discussed subjects at any NFL Combine.

The current edition is no exception.

A sampling from Indianapolis this week: 

Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine: "There's a danger in that, if you just say, 'We're only going to add players to our roster that are in the National Honor Society and the school choir.' You look across the league. It's not just the league. It's society in general. It's rare you're going to have somebody who has impeccable, clean character. It's all risk-reward; you've got to weigh it.

"As a team, that's why we're here doing these interviews. We've had some players who have had some issues and you look to learn from it. But at the same time I don't think you can just knee-jerk react and go the exact other direction and anybody that has any type of red flag you shy away from."


A look back at current members of the Steelers defense when they were at the NFL Scouting Combine.

San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke:** "I think everybody's addressing that. And I don't want to speak for every team but I know the process we go through and we try to be as thorough as possible, do as many background checks as we can and talk to as many people as we can. Get on the internet and dig as much as we can with all of the social media stuff and everything.

"But I think with the awareness that we're under this year, the attention that it got even more so than prior years, I think every team is really examining the approach to it and digging for as much information as they can. But, there are a lot of unknowns and that's not going to change. And there is a risk-reward to this business and that's not going to change."

Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio: "Each organization has to handle their business in a way that suits them. You're dealing with human beings and things happen. You just want to make sure you're thorough in the research that you do and the work that you put in. Obviously, being here now (at the combine), this is a part of that process, to be able to get a feel for some of these young men. It goes a lot deeper than that.

"I think you do the best you can to gather information. When you look at it as a whole and you look at the league in its totality I think there is a pretty good example of guys doing things the right way. It's probably not said often enough how a really high percentage of the people that are a part of this league are doing things the right way a large percentage of the time. We will be thorough in terms of determining whether or not a person is a good fit for our organization."


Arizona Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim:** "The commissioner has done a good job of trying to clean up the league and that's why this process (the combine) is so important, to try to get to know these kids as people. To see a guy like Tyrann Mathieu, who had so many off-the-field issues, but we got to know Tyrann as a person. He's one of the best leaders in our locker room right now. If they are passionate and love it enough you have a chance to get them pointed in the right direction."

Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman: "Every team has their own philosophy but I know we've always tried to do the best we can to vet out any potential issues and then you just have to decide as an organization. You know what you're going to be dealing with. Can we handle it internally? Do we have enough stuff, support staff, that that are expert in those areas to handle it? If we can't, then you move on. But I think that's up to each individual club how they vet through the process."

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