Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon got most of the negative attention leading up to the draft, but OU teammate Dede Westbrook has a list of red flags that pushed him even further down the draft (what exactly is Bob Stoops doing down there in Norman?).
The Jacksonville Jaguars took Westbrook early in the fourth round on Saturday. It won’t get as much attention as the Cincinnati Bengals taking Mixon in the second round, but the Jaguars – now run by hard-nosed Tom Coughlin – are going to have to answer similar questions about why they’d ignore a lot of past incidents to take Westbrook, a very talented receiver who was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season.
The Tulsa World wrote extensively of Westbrook’s past. Twice, he was arrested on family violence complaints against the mother of his two children, the Tulsa World said. Westbook was accused of throwing her to the ground in 2012 after breaking a window at her apartment. He was arrested but Milam County District Attorney’s office eventually rejected charges against him. In 2013, he was accused of biting her arm and punching her in the face. That case against Westbrook was dismissed for “inability to locate state’s witness,” the Tulsa World said. Because he wasn’t convicted on any charges, he was allowed to be at the NFL scouting combine. Mixon was not.
Oklahoma, which recruited Westbrook in 2014, said it didn’t know about those incidents, saying “nothing was reported” when they did a routine background check according to the Tulsa World.
While Mixon tried apologizing in interviews before the draft, Westbrook maintained he did nothing wrong, saying he “never” committed assault in either case. On ESPN after the Jaguars picked Westbrook, analyst Todd McShay said Westbrook was kicked out of his combine interview by one NFL team, the only time he has ever heard of that happening (Hays Carlyon, a reporter for 1010XL, asked Westbrook about that statement and Westbrook said he was not kicked out of an interview.)
“I got in some trouble and I did some things as well, but I was never convicted of anything,” Westbrook said at the combine, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero. “Like, I’ve been to jail, but all the charges (were) dropped. I have no pending charges or anything. So, I think I’m just like you.”
When a player is drafted despite red flags, it’s always because a team can’t pass up the talent. And Westbrook has talent. He was an amazing big-play threat for the Sooners, racking up 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns. He can be a dangerous receiver for the Jaguars, who already have a lot of talent at the position.
The Jaguars followed the well-worn script teams use when they draft a player with off-field issues. They said they did their homework on Westbrook and they won’t have any tolerance if he gets in any more trouble.
“Obviously he’s had some issues early in his career,” Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said. We feel that’s behind him. And it has to be behind him. There’s no choice now. With coach [Doug] Marrone and coach Coughlin here, there’s no margin for error for him off the field.”
– – – – – – –
More NFL draft coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• NFL draft: Day 2 winners and losers
• How the Saints had the most heartbreaking draft ever
• Dan Wetzel: Has door opened for lie-detector tests in NFL draft process?
• Every Day 2 pick graded and analyzed
• Cowboys legend hilariously trolls an entire NFL city