A year ago, my draft-day crush, offensive tackle Carl Nicks, got busted at a college kegger at the University of Nebraska before the draft. This year, I've been banging the drum for Florida wideout/running back Percy Harvin. How did he repay me? By testing positive for marijuana at the scouting combine in February, according to Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com. Fool me once ...
Before this revelation, Harvin was expected to be a mid first-round selection. The questions now are how far Harvin will drop and whether the 49ers would snag him despite the recent news. Harvin's play-making skills are undeniable. Scouts gush about his quickness off the line of scrimmage and envision him as a slot receiver that will give defenses fits. Sure he's raw, but he would make an immediate impact as a return man, as a change-of-pace back, as a guy who catches quick screens while he learns the art of route running.
And yet last year's Nicks' episode is evidence that the 49ers will let Harvin slip on past. The 49ers thought that Nicks - huge and physical - was one of the best offensive linemen in the draft and one of the top players at the Senior Bowl. But the 49ers wouldn't touch him. Despite their need for an offensive tackle, Nicks' past was too troubling for the 49ers. They instead took an undersized center, Cody Wallace, in the fourth round. Wallace did not play a single snap in 2008. The Saints took Nicks in the fifth, and he started 13 games at guard.
As for someone in Harvin's situation, the issue is not that he smoked marijuana - lots of players do - but that he allowed himself to be exposed to it so close to the combine. That shows a lack of judgment, a lack of restraint and a lack of respect for the rules of the league he wants to join. Still ... there's something to be said about a talented player who suffers a fall from grace. Simply dropping in the draft might serve as a slap in the face, an awakening, a jolt from the I-can-do-no-wrong atmosphere in which he was ensconced in college. It certainly seemed to be a motivating factor for Nicks. Will it do the same for Harvin? And should the 49ers take a chance?
-- Matt Barrows