Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 4/5/12
The Lions desperately need a cornerback.

Just ask anyone who follows the team. There were a number of plays in the second half of the season where the secondary was burned. Some of those plays made cornerbacks look especially silly. Vast numbers proceeded to declare that Janoris Jenkins needed to be the Lions' pick.

Then the last few days happened.

Light was shed on the fact that three of the Lions' rookies from last year were arrested this offseason for possession of illegal substances. The nation has responded in kind by an almost wholesale abandonment of the notion of the Detroit Lions selecting Janoris Jenkins at all due to character issues.

The blind decision that Jenkins was the only pick for the Lions was an irrational approach. The categorical dismissal of him is not much better.

Understand, the Detroit Lions' War Room is in the business of drafting talented football players. Janoris Jenkins is a talented football player. If he is on the board when the Lions draft, the Lions will consider him.

Much has been made of how drafting a player with character issues will affect the public perception of the team.

The Lions response will be similar to any other professional football franchise's response: Ignorance and Apathy
For those who don't happen to have a thesaurus handy, the translation is: Don't know, Don't care. 

The Lions are paid to win games. While charitable donations and helping little old ladies across the street is noble, it does nothing to win football games. When the Lions sit down to evaluate players and have to make the final decision, the all-important question will be "Can he play?"  If the answer is yes, then it is going to take an awful lot to convince them not to take a chance.

This is not to say that the Lions will completely dismiss the idea of character. It will enter into the equation. But the focus will be on team leverage, not fear. To illustrate, consider this:

1) What level of character issues are they? There is a certain percentage of the populus that is mortified at the idea of marijuana possession and use. However, these days those people are getting fewer and further between. Legal sanctions are not crippling like they are for, say, weapons possession or violent crime. If a person was hanging on the edge of going to prison for the rest of his life, the team would likely shy away. But substance possession crimes will be viewed as unwise decisions. They have ways of encouraging players to make wise decisions.

2) When were the character issues? Janoris Jenkins had issues more than a season ago. They were severe enough at the time, but he got kicked in the teeth for it. I imagine getting booted from a high profile SEC school like Florida was a shot to the ego. A combination of humbling experience and determination to make amends for it may actually serve him better, not hurt him.

3) Do the Lions feel that his reputation is hurt so badly that he will slip to them in the second round? As much as the Lions want quality players, they want them at a quality price. If they think they can get him in the second round, they won't jump early.

It would be nice to believe that everyone in the NFL is nice and shimmering and clean. If you are still harboring that illusion, you might want to avoid news stories about the New Orleans Saints this week. Their example is a sober reminder that the NFL is about winning. That is what teams want. That is what fans expect.

When the Lions evaluate players, they will be focusing on physical attributes and odds of him being on the field on Sundays. That's it.

So if you think the Lions may be worried out of selecting a quality player because of a little risk, you may want to reconsider.





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