Three players widely regarded as top-10 picks in the upcoming NFL draft, including Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, have admitted to previously using marijuana, Pro Football Weekly reports.
Johnson, Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams and Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye admitted using the drug, according to multiple sources who have watched the interviews, the publication reported.
The admissions were made during standard interviews at February's NFL scouting combine. The interviews are conducted with every player and shared by all 32 teams for review. None of the athletes tested positive for marijuana use in drug testing administered at the NFL combine.
Johnson is being considered by the Oakland Raiders for the first overall pick in the draft. Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said he didn't think Johnson's reported use would affect his draft value.
"I doubt it will have any effect whatsoever," said Gailey, a former Dallas Cowboys head coach. "I think he's a great young man who probably did it one time to see what it was like and told the truth [when asked about it]. I don't think it's an issue with him."
While some teams could see marijuana use as troubling, others might view the players' admissions of prior use as a sign of maturity, particularly since players are encouraged to be honest in the interviews.
But the NFL's new player conduct policy, along with its hardline suspensions of the Cincinnati Bengals' Chris Henry for eight games and the Tennessee Titans' Adam "Pacman" Jones for an entire season, could cause teams to put even more emphasis on character, now that the league has made clear it will deal with off-the-field misbehavior harshly.
"[NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] is going to be all over any team that drafts players with borderline character," an unidentified team official said, according to Pro Football Weekly. "You are not going to see a draft like, for instance, Cincinnati's [in 2006], where they took four criminals in one draft, because the owners are going to start getting fined."
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden talked about Adams on an ACC conference call Thursday.
"I hold him to the same esteem as President Clinton. He's in good company," Bowden said. "I'd be naive to think that most guys haven't tried it. He'd be the last guy I'd think. But I don't know if he inhaled."