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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

April 28, 2007
These picks didn't go up in smoke

Given that each player's character was going to be scrutinized in this NFL draft, maybe honesty is the best policy after all.

Case in point: three high-profile players who admitted during the NFL Combine in February that they had smoked marijuana were among the first 10 picks. Calvin Johnson, wide receiver from Georgia Tech, was chosen No. 2 by Detroit. Gaines Adams, defensive end from Clemson, went to Tampa Bay at No. 4 and Amobi Okoye, the 19-year-old defensive tackle from Louisville, was taken No. 10 by Houston.

The unforunate part of their disclosure was that it was supposed to have been given in confidence to team representatives gathered in Indianapolis to observe and interview draft prospects. Instead, the information was leaked - intentionally perhaps by teams that had an interest in the trio and were trying to discourage rivals from drafting them.

Who knows? Anyway, commissioner Roger Goodell, who is cracking down on NFL misbehavior after a wave of lawless incidents last year, apologized to the three for the leak. In turn, Johnson, Adams and Okoye earned appreciation from teams for being so forthright about using marijuana. It wasn't something that was discovered independently and they had to be confronted with later. What's more, they apparently were convincing enough in their interviews in conveying they had no serious drug problem.

Deeper in the first-round selections Saturday, one player who was identifed as a potential draft risk, safety Brandon Meriweather from Miami, was chosen at No. 24 by New England. Meriweather's college background includes firing a handgun last summer, trying to protect a teammate from an assailant. He was not charged in the incident because he had a permit to carry a gun and it was proven he acted in self defense. There also was Meriweather's one-game suspension three months later for his part in an ugly brawl during a home game last season against Florida International.

You have to figure that the Patriots must have done their homework before selecting Meriweather because we can think of no stricter, no-nonsense taskmaster among coaches than Bill Belichick. Nevertheless, the pick turned some heads and bears watching.

--Jim Jenkins


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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