In a widely publicized report, Percy Harvin, the junior wide receiver formally of the Florida Gators, has tested positive for marijuana use at the 2009 NFL combine. This has been a lingering rumor for quite some time, but became official throughout mainstream media in the past 36 hours.
Yes, Harvin may now be a tough sell to a chapter of the boy-scouts, and he probably won’t be the top candidate to lead a Sunday-school group, but let’s be serious now– this is not a cause for concern. Obviously we don’t condone recreational drug-use for professional athletes, but it’s truly sad how quickly we can tattoo the dreaded term “character issue” to a player, for such a trivial practice .
Certainly, Percy Harvin now has an obligation, as a representative of the National Football League, to stay clean on a zero-tolerance basis. The fact that he failed to keep his urine clean for the biggest job interview in his life, isn’t particularly comforting; however, to allow this drug-test to demean his draft status is just plain silly. If you’re naive enough to believe that Harvin is the only high calibre athlete to smoke pot, you’re horribly mistaken. It’s a common phenomena in pro-sports, that is often jokingly admitted to, and the adverse effects attached to a positive drug test don’t take into account the substantial majority who do not get caught.
Harvin was a hard-working, stand-up guy during his time as a Florida Gator. He was not a chronic law-breaker, nor was he a generic trouble-maker. He was loved by teammates, and was never perceived as a distraction. Some question his coachability and repect for authority, but personally, anyone who plays for his team on a broken ankle, and publicly discloses the injury as a simple sprain needs to be given a tad more credit.
In what has been an exciting set of developments, this year’s crop of underclassmen wide receivers have mimed their offensive counterparts in the backfield. It seems as though declaring for the draft as a young-gun is more “in vogue” this year than any in recent memory, as illustrated by the two most critical offensive skill positions.
The most notable wide receivers that have declared for the pros are: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri), Percy Harvin (Florida), Darrius Heyward-Bey (Maryland) , Kenny Britt (Rutgers) and Hakeen Nicks (North Carolina). Crabtree is the most alluring prospect, often being cited as the number one talent in this year’s draft, regardless of position.
But beyond the Crabtree-mania, there exists a group of receivers that represent a complete 180 degree turn-around from the first-round drought that we witnessed last year at the WR position. Maclin has the potential to climb into the top-15, Harvin into the top-20, and each of the remaining prospects all have a realistic shot at being late first to early second-rounders (assuming they work-out well, and perform strongly at pro-days etc.)
So what are the consequences of this eminent double-cohort at the wide receiver position. It is frighteningly similar to the situation unfolding at the tailback position, where established seniors are being forced down the totem poll, by the more athletic, more skilled and more confident list of underclassmen. This is obviously bad news for the likes of Derrick Williams (Penn State), Louis Murphy (Florida), and all other senior wide receiver prospects. Not only was the glut at the position unexpected, but it will ultimately cost these college graduates millions of dollars on draft day.
So much for the cliche “stay in school”, these underclassmen have apparently been far more influenced by the Steve Miller Band… “take the money and run”.