Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

26 Apr 2011

Report: Two NFL Prospects Failed Drug Tests at Combine

Jay Glazer and Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com cite multiple sources in reporting that Georgia linebacker/defensive end Justin Houston and Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard tested positive for marijuana at the 2011 Scouting Combine.

Not only does a failed drug test in Indianapolis raise a red flag about potential substance abuse issues, testing positive for an illegal substance during what's regarded as the most important job interview of a player's career will prompt teams to question that player's judgment, self-discipline, and reliability.

Though the media is just receiving confirmation of the failed tests, NFL teams would have been aware of them for quite some time and neither player has experienced a noticeable decrease in his draft stock. Both Houston and Ballard have been projected to go on the second day of the 2011 NFL Draft, with some mock drafts (including one last week from Peter King of Sports Illustrated) suggesting that Houston, who posted 20 quarterback sacks during this three-year career with the Bulldogs, could go as highly as 27th overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

If either player is still around on Saturday, we'll know why.

Posted by: Brian McIntyre on 26 Apr 2011

17 comments, Last at 28 Apr 2011, 11:03am by Dean


by JasonK :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 12:25pm

"Though the media is just receiving confirmation of the failed tests, NFL teams would have been aware of them for quite some time and neither player has experienced a noticeable decrease in his draft stock."

This would make sense, if "draft stock" was something other than the consensus opinion in the NFL media echo-chamber. Sure, reporters and commentators are sometimes fed tidbits from team scouts and management personnel, but that doesn't mean that trends in the media's opinion of a player are mirrored by similar trends in what NFL teams think. Most teams probably change their player ratings very little in the weeks immediately preceding the draft-- absent new interviews or workouts, there just isn't any new information to justify altering their view.

by Dean :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 12:45pm

So much for confidentiality.

by andrew :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 12:53pm

I don't view these as drug tests. These are intelligence tests.

If you know you are going to be tested, and you know millions of dollars are at stake and you still fail.... its not about that you used drugs. Its that you did it anyway despite knowing all this.

by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 1:17pm

Agreed, it is an intelligence test. Look again at the positions they play. That's probably why their draft stock has not fallen.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 1:21pm

I feel similarly. Drugs stay in the system for up to a month if they are fat-soluble. A few days if they are water-soluble. If you can't stay clean for one month before an event as significant as the combine, you're either really stupid or have a potentially serious problem. Or both.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 1:40pm

Forgot to add drugs will be detectable in your system indefinitely if they take it from a hair sample.

by Fan in Exile :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 2:05pm

That's why you should always be suspicious of the ones with buzz cuts. They're just dirty hippies in disguise. Of course the ones with long hair are just dirty hippies.

by Stewart (not verified) :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 1:32pm

What, no Ryan Mallett? I thought he was supposed to be the Meth-head of this draft class?

by Jersey Jeff Fin Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 5:54pm

It's funny because Mallett never failed any drug test in college or at the combine and yet people still say "his alleged drug use". I still think a late pick team spread those rumors just like a team did about Dan Marino for the hopes he will fall to them. It wouldn't shock me if it's Bill Billacheat and the Cheatriots. He would love a Ryan Mallett to groom under Brady for the next few years. I still think Mallett is the most pro-ready QB in this draft and hope the Fins take him at 15 but I'm afraid these "rumors" will drop him.

by Marko :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 1:45pm

Every year we hear about some players failing drug tests at the Combine. And every year those players still get drafted close to where they had been projected, although sometimes not quite as high (pun intended!).

Warren Sapp fell several spots, but he was still drafted #12 overall, and Cedric Benson was still picked #4 overall after reportedly failing drug tests before the draft.

by Independent George :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 3:09pm

On the other hand, Randy Moss fell to 21st overall, and Dan Marino supposedly dropped down to #27 because of suspicions of cocaine use.

by tuluse :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 4:43pm

I don't think Moss dropped because of drug issues. I think he dropped because of character issues. The kind that showed themselves during his Oakland years.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 5:40pm

I don't think it's a huge stretch to consider "constantly stoned" to be a "character issue."

by Marko :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 6:01pm

I think Moss had more than one character issue. Yes, drug use (allegedly) was part of it, but he had additional character issues as well.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 04/27/2011 - 5:04pm

You can also add BJ Raji and Percy Harvin to the list of alleged positive tests. I think both teams are glad for those picks.

by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 04/26/2011 - 4:23pm

Not Anttaj Hawthorne.

by Dean :: Thu, 04/28/2011 - 11:03am

PFT is now reporting that Jimmy Smith failed 3 drug tests at Colorado, and specifically for Codine. Guess he likes the drank?