After much controversy, the NFL is beginning to establish itself as a no-nonsense league. One of the league’s policies pertains to college athletes planning to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine. Any prospect with a history of misdemeanors or felony charges that include violence will not be invited to attend the combine.
However, the NFL showed mercy recently by reinstating Jaylon Ferguson, Jeffery Simmons, and Preston Williams combine invitation, according to a report from USA TODAY Sports.
Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson is one of the premier sack artists in this year’s draft class but ran into some trouble his freshman year. The 6-foot-5 defensive end was found guilty of battery during a fight at McDonald’s years back. Ferguson, now a senior, would have never expected this previous incident to impact his combine eligibility.
As for Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, he was arrested both in 2016, and 2017 for physical altercations involving women. Simmons recently tore his ACL and a medical examination will be in high demand for teams.
Preston Williams also proved to not meet the criteria for the combines violence policy. The Coloradoan reported that “Williams pleaded guilty to the assault charge, a Class 3 misdemeanor, on Jan. 23 and received a deferred sentence March 5 from Larimer County Court Judge Mary Joan Berenato.”
The NFL will go against its own policy and allow these prospects to participate in combine events. All three players will only be allowed to partake in medical examinations and team interviews. Their violent altercations still seemed to be costly because the players will not be granted the chance to showcase their physical talents in on-field drills and testing.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s Executive VP of Football Operations, defended the NFL’s choice to reinvite the infamous prospects. He told USA TODAY Sports, “Rather than having up to 32 teams travel individually in these cases, this is actually to accommodate the clubs, to frankly get the most important information — the medical exam — in one place,”
Vincent’s comments bring up credible points.
The NFL will go to extreme ends to fill their team with talent. If clubs are even remotely interested in drafting any of these prospects they are going to visit them anyway at their respected institutions. Having them undergo medical examinations and team interviews in one remote location will greatly help teams.
As for physical testing scouts and team, personnel will have to travel to the prospects pro day’s to get a glimpse on what they can do on the field. Even with this small grant of grace by the NFL their perception of violence is still concrete, and they have little tolerance for it.
The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine takes place Tuesday, February 26 through Monday, March 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.