Each NFL Draft season there will be a few players who go through the process and watch (literally) millions of dollars slip through their fingers as their draft stock plummets on draft day due to the brutal, impersonal backroom nature of the NFL Draft itself.
In 2015 projected top ten pick OT La’el Collins ended up going undrafted after murder investigations rumors surfaced two days before the draft. In 2016 OT and bong aficionado Laremy Tunsil received an education on the NFL Draft, social media and proper bong technique. This season LB Reuben Foster is getting the treatment.
To be clear, the difference between being a top five pick and going several selections or even rounds later is millions of dollars for a player that can never be recouped. In the current CBA the funds for players is clearly allotted/slotted and the numbers are fairly fixed. It’s a floating figure based on available money for each team yet it’s a carefully crafted formula that yields predictable results. To illustrate the difference a drop of a few selections results in look at a few key 2016 contract values below.
That’s not even considering the fact the first 5-10 picks get a large amount of their contracts guaranteed. Now we better understand the look on Aaron Rodgers face as he sat in the green room watching the Benjamins fall away with each team passing on him.
It’s one thing getting a reality check about what teams really think in regards to a players skill set but with teams, agents and pundits all putting their fingers in the assassination-by-anonymous-source pie a young mans life can change in a big way through often, no fault of their own. Instead they are objects in a macabre chess match between teams, agents and pundits as they all jockey for position in predicting the NFL Draft, all for their own reasons.
A team may want to either inflate or deflate a players value as they attempt to mask their own intentions. An agent wan’ts his player to do well ergo deflating a rivals value is fair game in their eyes as is inflating their clients. Pundits want the inside scoop and generally aren’t too worried about the impact their musings may cause. The players themselves are left with little to no recourse in combating these tactics.
In 2015 it was OT La’el Collins. After years of preparing for the moment Collins watched his draft stock plunge from potential top 10-15 player to not even being drafted as rumors of a possible link to a double homicide in Baton Rouge, La swirled. Collins’ phone remained silent during the draft even though police clearly indicated he was not a suspect and they were merely talking to everyone who knew the victim. Toxic stuff, a huge story and the Dallas Cowboys reaped the rewards as Jerry Jones reeled in the top talent using his renowned salesmanship. Difference in contract value from a top five to undrafted? Over $20 million.
In 2016 OT Laremy Tunsil watched a video of him (allegedly) taking a bong rip surface and the projected top five pick slid to the Miami Dolphins at 13. That’s $10-$15 million Tunsil will never be able to recoup.
This season highly touted LB Reuben Foster is finding out how different the NFL world is. From a reported issue at the NFL Scouting combine that involved a hospital worker to persistent back room whispers about his former shoulder injury the ‘Bama product has had to respond to team’s inquires on the subjects at each stop along the way. How far will rumors about his “attitude” and shoulder drop him on draft day? Well the number just got a little larger with reports he failed an NFL Combine drug test.
To be clear, Foster didn’t test positive, rather he failed the test because his sample came back “diluted.” This is lab speak that states the sample had too much water to effectively test. This happens if you drink too much water before a test. Something the players are warned about. If you over-hydrate you flush your body of toxins and your test or sample the next time you go is almost pure water. The CBA clearly states that is this occurs the league considers the test “failed.”
“I hope to go on Thursday, but I can’t control that.” – Reuben Foster
Is there any other reason for an elite athlete to consume mass quantities of water? Like tons of them. Former Cowboy and current Titans RB DeMarco Murray gains approximately 20 lbs of water weight the few days before a game as part of his regimen. He loses it on game day. In Foster’s case he was unequivocal in his response as he explained he was extremely ill before the Combine and was purposely hydrating to maintain his weight. He also seemed fully aware that the new information will affect his draft stock as he relayed “I hope to go on Thursday, but I can’t control that.”
The game tape clearly illustrates the LB’s talent. Projected to go in the top 15 now the instinctive thumper may be looking at day two as a possible landing spot. The Dallas Cowboys are famous for taking shots in the second round on players who have slid there due to various reasons either medical or off-the-field induced. Perhaps the Alabama prodigy is now on their radar? To be certain teams who previously had no thought of this talented player being in their reach at the bottom of the first and/or top of the second round are now revisiting the game tape and making some calls to check on interviews with scouts and coaches. Foster is indeed a top 15 talent. Come the NFL Draft however he’s now just as likely to be top 15 of the second round and a few ducats lighter in the bank account. Welcome to the NFL Mr. Foster. Make it to your second contract and it will all be a distant memory.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over