The NFL’s scouting combine offers fans a much wanted dose of football action during the league’s 6-month long offseason, and provides a glimpse of prospects’ athletic abilities before April’s draft.
However, last week’s combine in Indianapolis focused more on who was not invited than who actually participated in the drills, despite some record breaking performances(John Ross breaking Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record of 4.42 seconds.)
Specifically three players were mentioned during NFL network’s coverage as notable absences due to off-field issues: Ole Miss quarterback Joe Kelly (nephew of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly), Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Baylor wide receiver Ishmael Zamora.
Kelly, who was enrolled at Clemson before being dismissed in 2014 after being arrested on battery charges stemming from an off campus bar fight, may have the strongest arm of any quarterback entering the draft.
“He’s got a cannon. He might have the biggest arm in the draft,” said Mike Mayock, former player scout who works for the NFL Network. – via usatoday.com
On to Mixon, whose off-field issues are more disturbing than Kelly’s. In 2014, Mixon was arrested for assaulting a woman; the graphic surveillance footage of the attack were released late last year.
Despite Mixon showing remorse and stating in multiple interviews that this event still haunts him daily, he faces an uphill climb against the NFL’s harsh domestic violence policies, policies installed after Ray Rice, former Baltimore Raven’s running back, was seen punching out his fiancé in a hotel elevator.
Although, some GMs, like Bob Quinn of the Detroit Lions, expressed disappointment in the NFL for snubbing Mixon of an invite, and left the door open for a potential draft selection.
We come here to see the best college football players in college football. So there’s 330, 340-some odd players here. Him not being here, because of those issues, personally I don’t think that’s real fair because we have a lot of investigation that we want to do on him and to get him in one spot for all the teams would have been great.” –via bleacherreport.com
Like Kelly and Mixon, Zamora’s off field issues revolved around violate acts, this time directed towards animals.
While Zamora is the least heralded of the three prospects, his 6’4 215 pound frame and on field production, would more than warrant a combine invite. But the NFL has taken a clear stance: if a player is involved in any violate off-field acts, then they will not be invited to the scouting combine.
However, not being invited to the combine may serve only to help Kelly, Mixon and Zamora. Instead of facing constant scrutiny from NFL personnel in Indianapolis, they will have the ability to host scouts and GMs on each other’s respective campuses during their pro days.
Furthermore, they will have the ability to interview NFL team personnel in a friendlier environment, and have the ability to workout in front of scouts with their facilities equipment and school’s coaches.