As if the Detroit Lions’ problems with player personnel the past few years wasn’t enough, here is another sign of trouble. The recent news of three 2011 draft picks getting busted for marijuana possession this offseason carries significant implications for the team and the players.
The three draftees, Nick Fairley, Mikel Leshoure, and Johnny Culbreath, have all been cited for marijuana possession in the span of a few months. Just to pile it on, Leshoure had two separate citations in less than a month.
Fairley, the 13th overall pick in 2011, broke his foot in training camp and was limited to just 10 games this season. He recorded 11 tackles and one sack. Leshoure, who the Lions traded up to get in the second round, tore his Achilles tendon in training camp and missed the entire season. Culbreath, a seventh-round pick also spent the entire season on the injured reserve.
For three players who really didn’t contribute to the team’s successful season and run to the playoffs, it doesn’t seem like the players have the best interest of the team at heart.
After what was a rough season for the three rookies, these incidents only create a larger black eye for the franchise considered to be the dirtiest in football. All three of the players could face punishment from the league under the NFL’s drug policy. For first-time offenses, there is a maximum of a four-game suspension and a six-game suspension for a second offense.
Both Fairley and Leshoure were expected to be significant contributors during the coming season. With these infractions, the momentum the Lions built over the course of last season could take a hit. Additionally, there could be draft implications.
Janoris Jenkins would be a great fit for the Lions’ system and may be the top talent available when the Lions pick. His off-field issues will possibly cause him to slide down most draft boards. However, those same issues may now push the Lions away. From a public relations standpoint, it would not be best to take another high-risk player.
Depending on how strict the league chooses to be, these citations could disrupt a promising franchise and is further proof that the substance-abuse policies may not be strict enough.