Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

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

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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