I'm sorry to break it to all of the Goody Two–shoes out there. If you're basing NFL draft decisions on whether a prospect might once have smoked something that appeared to be marijuana, then, well, let's just say your talent pool is going to be awfully, awfully limited.
And trust me: Team decision-makers are well aware of the realities of modern roster building.
But don't take it to from me. Here's what Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn had to say on Thursday night:
"I think you have to take everything into consideration," Quinn said. "I think if we took players off the board if they smoked pot in college, or marijuana, like half the board would be gone. Realistically, that’s the day and age that we live in, and you have to evaluate the risk and the reward of the player."
That's why it's just too easy to blame the first-round fall of Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil on a bizarre but only moderately concerning video posted to his Twitter account. Tunsil, the best player in the draft according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., sat and watched two other offensive tackles go in front of him before the Miami Dolphins selected him at No. 13 overall.
Certainly, it was terrible timing for someone to post a video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking something -- presumably marijuana -- through a plastic tube. It happened just 13 minutes before the draft started. Tunsil acknowledged in an ESPN interview that he was the man in the video. He said his account was hacked, an oft-used excuse that is completely believable in this case. (Who would intentionally post that video on the final night of a lifelong job interview?)
But the truth of Tunsil's prospects began leaking earlier this week, when reports suggested some teams preferred Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley. Tunsil had a checkered career at Ole Miss, having never finished a season because of either injury or suspension, and this week he was sued by his stepfather because of an incident that occurred last summer.
I don't think we can separate what happened on Thursday night with the rest of Tunsil's background. It might have tipped the scales in some cases, but it is difficult to believe that evidence of recreational drug use alone would be enough to change a draft decision that was months in the making.
The Baltimore Ravens drafted Stanley at No. 6 overall, citing character as part of their decision-making process, and the Tennessee Titans traded up to get Michigan State's Jack Conklin at No. 8. Would the Ravens have taken Tunsil were it not for the video? I strongly suspect the answer is no. The same goes for the Titans. This was a pileup of issues, not simply one that played out in real time on social media 13 minutes before the draft began.
I wrote on Thursday morning that Tunsil would be the first tackle drafted because he was clearly the best player in the group. I still believe he is. I probably underestimated the concerns teams already had. At worst, the video cemented concerns that teams already had.
The Dolphins got a blue-chip player at a spot where they are usually gone. It's just too convenient to blame the video for Tunsil's fall. There's always more to the story.