When quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. said Tuesday that NFL teams have been shadowing and spying on former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, there was some skepticism about the claim. Maybe even snickers of paranoia.
There might be something to it, though.
Former NFL general manager Mark Dominik admitted Wednesday that he employed similar tactics on some draft prospects during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13 -- most notably suspended Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon.
During an interview on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show, Dominik said he had a scout shadow Blackmon during the pre-draft process in 2012. There were concerns about Blackmon’s character after a DUI arrest in 2010 and several other minor incidents and Dominik said he wanted to gather as much information as possible. The Bucs had the No. 5 pick and Blackmon was an option at that point.
The report Dominik said he got from his scout wasn’t good.
"We found out there was a bar called the Cricket Inn or the Cricket, which was a popular bar there in Oklahoma State," said Dominik, who is now an ESPN analyst. "He [the scout] sat there for one week, went in at 3 o’clock every day and stayed until 11 o’clock at night. That was his job, and we checked how many times did Justin Blackmon come in? And he came in too many times and we took him off our board."
The Jaguars, under former general manager Gene Smith’s regime, also investigated Blackmon but kept him on their board. Smith traded the team’s first-round pick (No. 7 overall) and a fourth-round pick for Tampa Bay’s No. 5 pick and drafted Blackmon.
It has turned out to be one of the worst decisions in franchise history. Blackmon has three alcohol-related or marijuana-related arrests and has been suspended twice by the NFL for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season and then suspended indefinitely on Nov. 1, 2013 for his third failed drug test.
Since being drafted, Blackmon has appeared in only 20 of a possible 48 games.
The Jaguars still hold Blackmon’s rights and there is hope that he might be reinstated before the beginning of the 2015 season. Until he is reinstated he doesn’t count against the salary cap or roster limit and the Jaguars do not have to pay his salary. If he is reinstated, Blackmon would remain under contract for 2½ years.