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Packers Must Be Wary of Red Flags with Top Draft Prospects: Ebron, Mosley, Clinton-Dix

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Packers Must Be Wary of Red Flags with Top Draft Prospects: Ebron, Mosley, Clinton-Dix

Eric Ebron, C.J. Mosley, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix—arguably the top tight end, inside linebacker and safety respectively in this year's draft class—all come with high ceilings. All three are potential Pro Bowl type of players.

Unfortunately, all three also come with potential red flags that make them risky propositions as first round NFL draft choices.

Perhaps ironically, the three biggest needs of the Packers entering May's draft are conceivably at the same three positions: tight end, inside linebacker and safety. And not coincidentally, all three players have appeared in a myriad of speculative mock drafts as being selected by Green Bay.

The Packers and general manager Ted Thompson need to—and likely already are—vetting the backgrounds of all three players if they hope to address any of those positions with the 21st overall draft pick.

No matter the player, the money, attention and expectations that come with being a first round draft choice are unbelievably steep in the high-stakes world that is professional football. 

The level of concern with Ebron, Mosley and Clinton-Dix each exist to varying degrees, and it's possible that none of them will concern the Packers.

If these were second round draft choices or lower, the Packers and most NFL teams might not bat an eye at these perceived warning signs. But for the millions of dollars invested in players expected to become cornerstones of a franchise, the least a team can do is thoroughly investigate each situation.

North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron

While flying under the radar in the mainstream media, NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net is leading the charge on the character concerns of Ebron.

During a recent podcast, Pauline uses several emotionally-charged words to describe the Tar Heels tight end:

I've heard he's a high-maintenance personality. Over the past 72 hours I've spoken with four sources who just say that from a character point of view, a lot of red flags are being thrown up about Ebron. Basically, he's a 'me' type of player or person. He's a guy that's been called sort of a primadonna by some of his teammates. He does a lot of finger pointing. Basically, the world revolves around Eric Ebron, which turns a lot of people off. It's turned some of his teammates off.

In many ways, Ebron is reminiscent of Packers free agent tight end Jermichael Finley. Not only do they have almost the same size and playing style, their personalities would appear to be much alike as well.

As those who intimately follow the Packers have come to know, Finley had a disposition and temperatment that sometimes needed attention, caressing and assauging. He also lacked a filter that got him uwanted attention in the media.

What the Packers have to decide whether they would want to enter a relationship with a player of a similar mentality and makeup after just escaping one in Finley, assuming he doesn't re-sign.

Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley

Several injuries sustained by C.J. Mosley over the course of his college career are no secret. According to an article at AL.com, Mosley dislocated elbow as a freshman, dislocated his hip as a sophomore and underwent a minor procedure on his shoulder heading into his senior season. Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com also cites unnamed sources pointing to a knee injury. Whether that stems from what was initially feared as a knee injury in the 2012 BCS National Championship game and later confirmed as the dislocated hip is unknown.

NFL Draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki raised questions about Mosley's "long-term durability" in his profile at NFL.com.

Mosley declined to run the 40-yard dash at the Combine but did so at the Alabama pro day, clocking a best time of 4.62 seconds, per Gil Brandt of NFL.com. He still has not done the bench press. At his pro day, Mosley told the media about medical examinations he had prior to the Combine and insisted he checked out fine.

"Everything was good then," Mosley said. "There weren't no red flags thrown up or anything they had questions on I got an MRI or X-Ray on, so it turned out well."

The Packers and all NFL teams had their opportunity to closely examine Mosley at the Combine and very likely have access to any X-rays or scans they could possiblly want to see. But things also have a way of going unreported. For example, it wasn't revealed until after last year's draft that another former Alabama player had a previously unknown surgical procedure, that being Packers running back Eddie Lacy.

Despite other teams passing on Lacy because of his injury history, he proved there was little concern after having a successful 2013 season that ended in him being named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

In early October of 2013, Clinton-Dix was suspended indefintley for accepting an impermissable benefit in the form of a loan from an assistant strength and conditioning coach, one of nine on the Alabama staff, that reportedly had a connection to a sports agent.

According to the Tuscaloosa News:

(Corey) Harris made a short-term loan to Clinton-Dix in an amount less than $500, after Clinton-Dix's car was broken into on the night of June 25 or the morning of June 26. The Tuscaloosa News has obtained the police report filed by Clinton-Dix after the break-in, detailing the theft of money, an iPad, a backpack and sandals — both embroidered with Clinton-Dix's jersey number (No. 6) — stereo speaker sub-woofers, miscellaneous shirts and Nike Air Jordan shoes.

Clinton-Dix was reinstated by the NCAA after two games when it was found he repaid the loan and did not have contact with any agent or representatives. The strength and conditioning coach providing the loan was initially placed on adminstrative leave and later fired by the university.

Talking about the incident in retrospect, Clinton-Dix is quoted saying by AL.com, "It was a downfall on my part taking that extra benefit. They made a decision, they had to do what they had to do to punish me, to teach me a lesson and teach other guys a lesson and they did that. I just called it a downfall because I made a mistake."

Like Ebron, there are worse things Clinton-Dix could have done. He did not break the law, but knowlingly accepting money from a coach has called into question his decision-making. What NFL teams will be looking for is that there's no more skeletons in the closet.

For what it's worth, Clinton-Dix also underwent a minor knee scope after Alabama's final regular-season game but participated fully in both his team's bowl game and the NFL Combine.

It bears repeating that the concerns surrounding each of these afore-mentioned players are minor on a relative basis. But the question is not whether these players are the next Aaron Hernandez (character) or Justin Harrell (injury); the question is if they're worth passing in favor of a player that doesn't have as many question marks.

Should any of these players be on the board when the Packers are on the clock on Thursday May 8, might Green Bay be better served by taking Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, Ohio State's Ryan Shazier, Louisville safety Calvin Pryor or any other number of players instead?

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

So Clinton-Dix was punished by the NCAA for borrowing money while he was in college?

I get that it shows as a lack of judgement to break the rules but the NCAA's rules seem inhuman to me. I don't know anyone who got through college without borrowing money. The President of the NCAA made 1.7 million last year, and Nick Saban made 5.55 million.

As far as I'm concerned the faster the Northwestern Football team takes down the NCAA's slave labor racket the better.

HankScorpio's picture

I couldn't agree more about the NCAA and their rules. The rules about players and money are insane given the amount of cash that schools and coaches makes off those players performing on the field.

I don't see how Clinton-Dix taking money is any kind of a red flag for his potential to play professional football.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Jeremy Brown, Agree 100%, Do you remember when Wi players were suspended for getting a deal on football shoes? BA was making, I think 1 1/2 Mill a year at that time. This whole rule on College athletes not taking anything, is a joke as far as I'm concerned. I don't see the sense to it, plus it's going on anyway in some cases. Cam newton/ Reggie bush, JMO. LVT

Clay Zombo's picture

I doubt Amaro, Pryor or Shazier are squeecky clean either but it just goes to show theres more to evaluate on these guys than most fans really know.

ILB Shazier, whom I like a lot, scares me because of recent reoccurring hamstring injuries that kept him from fully participating in the combine and even his pro day. The last thing we need around here is more players with bum hamstrings but hes good enough to take that chance on.

Clay Zombo's picture

I keep thinking about what they will need to advance in the playoffs and having a guy like Shazier, who can spy and run down the Russell Wilsons and Colin Kaepernicks of the world, would help tremendously.

He is a 3 down LBer in my eyes and he also has elite speed for the position so im all for them taking Shazier at 21 as long as his hamstrings check out ok.

Otto's picture

I have two reservations with Shazier:
1. He's 233 lbs. Too light for ILB in the NFL? He seems slightly built.
2. Ohio State LBs. The Packers last one has solid but unspectacular. He's been paid 1st round money for 3rd round performance.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Otto, AGREED 100%

ben's picture

Good. I'm hoping we don't draft any of the 3, with or without any of the "red flags."

Kyle VanNoy, an OLB, is a much better ILB prospect than Mosely, without the injuries.(just check the tape) Ryan Shazier is an ILB with much more production than Mosely. He may be the best athlete in the entire draft. He would be a perfect fit as a nickel LB and as the packer's psycho safety.

"Eric Ebron, who ran a 4.57 shuttle and 7.49 three-cone drill. Ebron's overall Pro Day wasn't particularly consistent, with slower times (compared to his contemporaries) and dropping three passes during position workouts." -Overrated and a pre-Madonna to boot. I'd rather stick with Quarless, Stoneburner, & Bostick and take a 6th round flyer on any of these super Freaky Athletic TE prospects: Colt Lyerla, Blake Annen, or AC Leonard.

There may not be a 1st round caliber safety in the draft. I'd much rather take Bucannon or Ward over Dix. I'd also just as soon take Pryor, Joyner, Brooks, Exum, Dixon, or Reynolds. Call me crazy, and I know you will, Ryan Shazier might be the best "in the box" safety in the draft.

ben's picture

I said, "Ryan Shazier is an ILB", "he would be a perfect fit as a nickel LB and as the packer's psycho safety."

Then Stroh feels the need to inform everyone that "Shazier is NOT a Safety. He played LB and is a perfect at LB for the packers."

(Thank Stroh, What would we do without you)

Clinton-Dix is the best deep FS type safety in the draft? BY FAR?

1st of all, Dix isn't by far a f'ing thing. 2nd of all, Dix would give us 2 deep FS safety types. That's great but we're not a tampa 2. We're looking for more of a "in the box" type to compliment Burnett, Like Hyde for instance who excels in man to man coverage, run support, tackling, and blitzing the quarterback. Everyone can agree Burnett's game isn't in run support or rushing the passer. You really want to argue how another "deep FS type safety" is " the PERFECT safety for the packers"?

"Bucannon would be good value in the late second or early 3rd"?

WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He would be a steal late second/ early 3rd and good value in the early 2nd or even late 1st. At least according to anyone not delusional.

ben's picture

Whether it's "psycho" or "okie" or "whatever", Capers and the Packers have defensive packages that utilize a linebacker at the safety position.

You pretending otherwise for the sake of argument then feeling the need to "inform" us about different types of safeties is what make you a jerkoff stroh.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

You know what Tom? When I read your posts I see almost exactly the same name calling, argumentative, narrow minded, overbearing blowhard behavior you decry in Stroh.

ben's picture

Just remember, blah blah blah blah blah.....

murphy's picture

Stay classy.

The TKster's picture

Mosley, Shazier, Clinton-Dix, Pryor, or Ebron. I think one of those 5 will be GB's first rounder.

The TKster's picture

When GB had Reggie White I often heard that potential "locker room problem" players were less risky because of Reggie's strong leadership. What is the current pulse of the team like? Is there enough leadership on board for GB to be a little more confident that a guy like Ebron would fall into line?

ballark's picture

"Right now they don't have that kinda leader that just demands that everyone follows him."

What are you basing this on?

MarkinMadison's picture

It would have to be #12 keeping him in line. Can't say that I thought he handled Finley particularly well over the years. And he doesn't seem to be quite the leader in the locker room that #4 was in his prime. But the relative age and power dynamic with Ebron would be very different than it was with Finley. It is at least possible that Ebron would be so thrilled to be playing with such a high caliber quarterback that he would at least listen to #12 a lot more quickly than Finley apparently did. At least for the first couple of years.

4thand1's picture

AR is older and wiser and is turning out to be a great leader. If a rookie has issues with listening to established vets, someone has to kick him in the ass.

jh9's picture

I trust TT will use his due diligence on all prospective draftees. Just because someone doesn't have a history of injuries doesn't insure an injury-free career. All we need to do is look at the recent history of Nick Perry and Casey Hayward.

Drafting is an inexact science. All one can do is gather as much information as one can and balance everything to find the best player. But most definitely, I believe we need to upgrade our S and ILB positions with the first two picks in the draft.

Allan Murphy's picture

only ha ha dix the other two I pass on !

HankScorpio's picture

The red flag mentioned on Ebron is anything but minor. A me-first player does a team little good. Those kinds of players are in it for the name on the back of the jersey, not the one of the front (well, you know what I mean). If half of what Tony Pauline alleges is accurate, it's a huge concern.

I'm no doctor so I can't say if the injury issues on Mosley are a concern. But I can say that given all the recent injury problems the Packers have had, the last thing they need is another guy with medical concerns. Especially at LB.

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm a little suspicious. We're into disinformation season. Nobody heard squat about this until a couple of weeks ago. And it's not like you can't have a guy like this on your team. Finley and Vernon Davis both fit that bill at the TE position. Tons of WRs have been "me-first" guys but found a way to be productive assets to their teams. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather not have it. But if TT thinks this guy is a future pro bowler, I'd not fault him for taking him. My bigger concern is I'd rather see TT find a future pro bowler at S or ILB.

MarkinMadison's picture

Did Pauline ID his sources? Did he talk to teammates/team employees directly, or did he hear it second hand? If he heard it second hand were his sources NFL scouts? If he is that big of a head case, has it shown up in a tangible way, or is it something to talk about because it is draft season?

MarkinMadison's picture

"Pauline is likely his own source." That would mean that he witnessed things himself. That is probably not what you mean. He would need to have multiple sources on the team, and he would need to vet them, before I would put much weight on this issue, and even then I'm not sure if it matters a whole lot.

HankScorpio's picture

Mark,

There are plenty of me-first receivers that put up huge numbers. Very rarely does it help a team win a title. Two guys that come to mind are Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Both were undeniably great WRs--match up nightmares that opposing defenses needed to account for. They combined to play in 2 SBs, both losses.

I agree that Pauline might not be giving out accurate info. Given what I think I know about TT, the Packers are very carefully vetting the whispers....or completed doing so already.

Nick Perry's picture

If all these players have all these issues and red flags, don't be surprised if Thompson takes a Wide Receiver. Nelson and Cobb are FA next year. Yes, we know he wants to sign them, but their not signed yet. We as Packers fans have been spoiled with all the WR talent this team has had over the past few years. It's getting thinner and thinner each year.

BubbaOne's picture

Here's a scenario for Trader Ted: Houston and Cleveland need a QB but maybe they don't take one w/ picks 1 and 4 respectively. Then Houston figuring they need to trade up ahead of Cleveland's second 1st round pick at 26 trade picks 33 and 65 to Ted for pick 21. Ted could get 3 great players in the second round including Moncrief. Also teams may be willing to overpay for pick 33 since it's the 1st pick of the second day so Trader Ted could trade back a half dozen or so spots and pick up an additional 3rd rounder which would given him 6 of the top 98 picks...okay, I'll stop dreaming now.

8BitEra's picture

Unfortunately, there's no way this happens when Houston can trade down, still get their guy and score an extra pick or two. It's a helluva dream, though!

BubbaOne's picture

W/ no clear cut studs at the top and a deep draft through two rounds or more teams are unlikely to trade up so Houston may not have a trade partner for # 1. I just read Oakland loves Derek Carr and he also was tied to Houston. It's all speculation but Oakland's 36th and 67th pick equals the 21st pick.
If Houston could have Clowney as a bookend to Watt and their QB of the future w/ their 1st 3 picks I think they would be ecstatic. Likewise Oakland could be ecstatic w/ Watkins, Mack or one of the OT's at 5 and their QB of the future w/ their next two picks...hey, what can I say...I'm in REM sleep.

BubbaOne's picture

Yes, that was my scenario...no QB's taken at 1 or 4 and a viable option at 21 for teams (including Oakland) to come calling to Trader Ted.

"...its possible only one of the QB's go in the top 5. They just aren't that good to rate in the top12 picks "
....Shhh, either I want the above scenario to work OR a whole bunch of QB's to be taken before pick 21 to push down more choices for TT at 21.

Off topic: Zack Martin is ranked late teens/early 20's. He's projected at T or G but w/ his size and athletism I wonder if he could be a pro bowl C. MM wants to get bigger and more athletic at C. He'd be a helluva anchor to what's shaping up to be an above avg O-line.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I recently posted a fairly long comment about trading down. As noted above, trading down to #33 might net GB pick #67. without going through a scenario to explain each teams motivation, I note that Carolina at #28 has the right picks: GB might net pick #92 by trading down. Cleveland also seems viable. Trading down to #26 might net Cleveland's #106 or so and trading down to Cleveland's #35 might net pick #71. Not sure if packer fans would want to trade all the way down from #21 to #33 or #35. The mock drafts change significantly every year, but this year there seems to be a lot more volatility. I have seen some mocks were there is no player I am interested in available at #21, and others were 2 or 3 players of a group that includes Ha-Ha, Mosley, Nix, Evans, even Dennard and Lewan are available at #21, and others where Gilbert and Tuitt are available late 1st and early 2nd round, respectively. IDK who TT likes or has flagged, but I myself would find it hard to pass by trading down on a couple players in that group listed above. I trust in TT to choose a quality player at #21 or to fleece another team by trading down!

Jordan's picture

I think you could make an argument for trading down, or staying put at 21, or even trading back in to the first.

It's hard to predict what the perennial loser franchises like the Bills, Browns, et al will do in picks 1-20. Odds are they will try to draft splashy players like the bills did in 2010 with cj spiller at # 9.

You might think the perennial loser franchises will learn, but they never do. It's in their DNA.

DrealynWilliams's picture

What has this comment section turned into?! Sheesh!

DrealynWilliams's picture

I'm not complaining. Just a bit caught off guard. I'm still fairly new to this site,so I only know about the light jabs posters throw back and forth with "Cow". What you two have going on is on a different level.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Yea,I see it is pretty much 1-sided. As far as the whole "safety argument" situation goes I'm with you (Stroh) on that one.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dear Drealyn: I have been reading this site for a couple of years now. There were some jabs taken between commenters, even the occasional sharp elbow thrown, but just in the last couple of weeks things have really escalated. One can certainly control the language and tone of one's own posts. Thinking back on my own posts, I regret one post in which I described somebody else's argument (actually I think it was CD's article) as inane. So, I am sorry for that. I will be sure to moderate my own language and tone in future posts.

gbslapshot's picture

So....Your solution for people that argue with you is censorship?

BubbaOne's picture

Stroh,
I usually find good insight and info in your postings. It's not the msg, it's the delivery that I feel get you in trouble w/ others. As I've found in my men's group making "I" statements is more constructive in being heard. When I make others wrong they're more defensive and less willing to hear/read what I have to say...just saying, AHO!

gbslapshot's picture

I have been following Brian since Railbird Central was not even part of CheeseheadTV so do not assume that I am new. Honestly all I see is that Stroh has an opinion and that opinion may differ from yours. That is no excuse to censor someone in AMERICA...Our country may work in that way but if you can't see that is wrong then I pity you.

JimTaylor31's picture

I am new posting but a long time reader of the posts. Just my observations:
1) Stroh is sometimes rude and full of himself but he is obviously a knowledgeable Packer fan and his observations are worth reading.
2) Some folks have thin skins.
3) I think picking a WR on the second day is a great idea. If the Blue Chip defensive guys are gone at pick #21 I'd be good with a WR as long as he is BPA.

JimTaylor31's picture

Moncrief does look like a guy who could develop into a solid WR. We do need some quality depth at WR given the attrition rate. I doubt if we'll have Cobb/Nelson/Boykin all healthy for 16 games so another solid WR would be very beneficial. A guy like Moncrief/Jordan Mathews etc. who could be a #4 this year and develop along the way would be an excellent draft pick up.
The "James Taylor" is actually after Jim Taylor #31. My favorite Packer growing up. The singer does have some good music though. I agree with that.

8BitEra's picture

After the combine and his pro day, I have a gut feeling some team believes in Moncrief enough to take him in the 2nd. Perhaps even as early as the mid-2nd. I agree with you, though. Moncrief with our 3rd would be a steal.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I saw Jim Taylor play. Tough, Tough, Fullback. He carried the ball enough to be a Halfback. I was wondering?, Did GB ever Retire AG's number, or give him any special recognition for breaking JT's yardage mark. That stood for quite a few years. What about the Ring Of Honor? Shouldn't both be there, or are they?? LVT

JimTaylor31's picture

JT was one tough SOB. I remember him playing against the NY Giants and Sam Huff. Brutal. Both guys would go out of their way to hit each other, with or without the ball. I'm not sure about the AG question but I don't think GB retired #30 and I don't know about the ring of honor. He does belong IMHO. I have a ton of respect for AG also.

Evan's picture

The Ring of Honor is only for NFL Hall of Famers (except Ron Wolf - who should be there one day). Taylor is there.

I'm not sure of the retired number qualifications - I think it's pretty much a case by case basis. There are only 5 players so far. If Lambeau and Hornung don't have their numbers "officially" retired yet, I don't think Ahman has a chance. Favre will be #6.

Ahman was an absolute beast, but I doubt he'll ever get his number retired or make the ring.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Evan, You're probably right, but with Jim Taylor being in the Ring, & Ahman breaking his yardage mark, that stood for a lot of years, I think he'd be in line for something. He's the Best we ever had at Halfback.. JMO.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, I agree. Ahman Green was Good Enough to be in the HOF. The 1st time I saw him, he reminded me of Walter Payton. I personally think he is worth more recognition, than what he has gotten from GB. At least to this point. I don't think the fans who saw him play, will ever forget him. I know I won't. LVT

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, Not by me. I do agree he's under appreciated by most. He's the best we've had, if you ask me. I sincerely meant the comment, comparing him to Walter Payton. No disrespect of any kind to Payton. He & Sayers would be my 2 picks. I just saw a lot of him in AG. That has to be a compliment.

Jordan's picture

A good article on Taylor's # retired.......or not retired. It's kinda sorta retired or not retired. ;)

http://www.jsonline.com/packerinsider/99326524.html

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Jordan, Did you mean Paul Hornung? #5. If I'm not mistaken, they gave #5 to Don Majakowski to begin with, & he ask if he could have a different number because it belonged to Paul Hornung.

Jordan's picture

Yes, I meant hornung....Ty.

Imma Fubared's picture

Who doesn't have baggage? I would fear the 'me me me' guy. And all teams worry about someone who has the past and numerous major injuries. Unfortunately their is no perfect and that's the fun of it.
If teams always made great decisions and never ended up with a bum, then it would not be fun.
Personally I hate the pro days. These guys are agented up and those agents have brought in specialist to prime these guys and script the workouts so its kind of phony.
Its more about if I don't attend the combine you cannot see me side by side with my competition plus I can eck out another month to get in shape. Thats bs.

Otto's picture

Wait! A pass catching prima donna... NO WAY!
(sorry, just had to get that out of my system)

Warren Sapp, character questions/weed, fell draft day.
Randy Moss, character questions/weed, fell draft day.

These guys were a character concern coming into the NFL, so much so, they fell in the draft. They also feasted on the Packers for most of their careers.

The Packers have enough really talented guys that play 8 games a year because they're constantly injured (Mosley). Give me a risky character guy.

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