Every Draft Guru and ESPN talking head owes BJ Raji a big thank you. His stupid mistake just provided a second act to his draft story and fodder for the endless on-air debates that surround the NFL Draft. He's gone from this year's Mamula to this year's Warren Sapp.
After the season ended Raji was considered a late first rounder. Then he dominated the Senior Bowl practices. Buzz built. Then they actually played the Senior Bowl and looked even better. The media and NFL started taking notice. Raji followed this performance with a very good combine and Pro Day. Detroit even floated taking him first overall. This skyrocketing reminded many BC fans of Mamula's assent.
Now word leaked that he failed a drug test prior to his combine. This will only remind people of BJ's past issues. Do you spend a first round pick on a guy who hasn't shown consistent effort? Do you give millions to a guy who battles his weight? Do you build your defense around a guy who had problems in the classroom? Do you want to deal with the headache of having your new star deal with the drug question in every interview for the next 12 months? Do you want to take a guy who was too dumb, or oblivious, or undisciplined to avoid pot for a few weeks prior to a scheduled drug test? All these types of questions surrounded Warren Sapp in 1995 (ironically the same draft as Mamula).
In the end I think Raji will have a draft day similar to Sapp's. He'll slide a little further than he would have prior to the leak. He'll be embarrassed and over analyzed. And he will be a steal for whatever team gets him. He'll make good money but not as much as he would have a month ago. If he becomes a good pro no one will care. If he is a bust, everyone will say "I told you so."
Some regulars may wonder why I chose to focus on the media angle instead of BJ's boneheadedness. Partially because I don't think it will matter and partially because I am resigned to guys doing stupid things. They're human and just because you are a good football player doesn't mean you are a good decision maker. BJ's did a stupid thing and nothing I say can change that or bring a fresh take. My only hope is he changes his behavior and learns. But given his track record I think he'll remain talented and reckless.