By: Will Burchfield
“It’s a really hard situation,” said Bob Quinn.
A week away from the NFL Draft, the Lions GM was discussing the challenge of sizing up a prospect with off-the-field concerns. Quinn was in the Patriots front office when they drafted Aaron Hernandez, and he and the Lions have been linked to Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon throughout the current offseason.
“It’s a case by case thing,” Quinn said. “You can’t (treat) all character or physical risks the same. You have to take each individual player and prospect and do your due diligence in terms of how you think that player’s going to fit on the field and then you have to really evaluate how the fit’s going to be off the field. It’s a really hard situation.
“The off-the-field things that a number of prospects have every year, you have to evaluate it and make the best decision you think for your football team. It’s something we spend a lot of time on.”
Quinn said at last month’s draft combine that Mixon, who was caught on film punching a woman in the face in an Oklahoma restaurant last December, was on the Lions’ draft board. It’s unclear if that’s still the case.
“I’m not going to comment on who may or may not be on our board right now,” Quinn said on Thursday. “It’s too close to the draft to be giving (that) away.”
The Lions met with Mixon privately a week after the combine, and are believed to be seeking an upgrade at running back. Most pundits believe Mixon, a consensus first-round talent, will fall into the second or third round, where Quinn may be emboldened to pull the trigger.
“At the right time to take a character risk, it has to be at the right price, it has to be a player that you’ve done your due diligence and your work on, and you feel good about him being able to come into a situation with a support staff and a team that’s ready to embrace a player like that,” Quinn said.
In Quinn’s first year as GM, the Lions drafted a number of high-character prospects, many of whom had been captains on their previous teams.
“I think that’s really important, that’s something that we look at. We ask our scouts to go out and find the guys that are leaders on their team, the guys that are high character, guys that love football,” Quinn said. “We talked about that last time we met, that’s a question that I always ask to our personnel staff.”
Still, “at the right price” and “the right time,” it appears Quinn is willing to bend his standards.