Charles ready for next chapter in NFL after eventful lead-up to draft

Orson Charles describes himself as “excited and nervous” about this week’s NFL draft because he doesn’t know what to expect.

That’s common for draft prospects, but pegging when the former Georgia tight end may go has more than the usual amount of uncertainty after an eventful few months since his departure after his junior season.

Charles skipped running at the NFL combine in February, posted an unimpressive 40 time at Georgia’s Pro Day in March, was arrested days later in Athens for driving under the influence of alcohol and switched agents two weeks before the draft.

All of which has a player considered by some a potential first-round prospect at one point now expected to go later, but how much later remains to be seen. The draft begins Thursday with the first round and runs through Saturday.

The arrest was “bad timing” for Charles and caused teams to do additional homework on him, said draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network.

“You really don’t know if it’s affected you or not,” Charles said from an apartment he’s staying at in Boca Raton, Fla., where he’s training for the draft.

“I think for Orson Charles, he was kind of one of those guys, you thought maybe late first, early- to mid-second then he gets pushed down a bit,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “Now he’s back up. I think he’s in that second or third round, Day 2 discussion.”

Mayock said that the 6-foot-2½, 251-pound Charles, who had 45 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, “looks like a wide receiver and he’s not going to get much bigger.

“You’re talking about a guy that can’t play in-line. He’s going to have to be an H-back, move kind of guy and now you’ve got off-the-field concerns. I think he was probably considered a late second-round pick. I think he’s down at least a round now into the late third round and I think other teams have pushed him down further.”

Charles, a first-team All-SEC pick, has addressed his arrest with NFL teams.

“That was my first incident ever,” Charles said. “I’ve never been arrested or dealt with the law. At Georgia, I went to class, I did everything the coaches asked me to. It was just a one-time mistake. I’ve definitely expressed that to the (NFL) coaches.”

Charles said the most difficult part of the arrest was having to tell his mother.

“She actually found out and she just broke down crying,” Charles said. “I never heard my mom cry before. Just hearing that, it just broke me down in tears. I definitely had to overcome this. It definitely made me a stronger person. It definitely made me wise, as far as who I have in my circle and the choices that I’m going to make in the future.”

Charles wasn’t considered a player with character issues at Georgia. Draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly said Charles’ leadership ability was commended inside the program where he was a team offensive captain.

“If it wasn’t for the late DUI and the average Pro Day workout (including a 4.75 40) where he showed very tight in his drills, there’s a chance he’d go in the second,” Nawrocki said. “I think he can still get up in the second round, but when you weigh all the potential risks, he’s a player that can slide. More teams would like to get him in the third round now.”

Charles returned recently to Athens to accept an award for making the SEC Academic Honor Roll and spoke with Georgia coach Mark Richt, who told him not to let the DUI define him and that people would judge him by how he responds to the adversity.

Charles parted ways with Impact Sports and agent Sean Kiernan earlier this month in what the agency described as a split in “the best interest of both parties.” A five-day waiting period was waived.

Charles said the agent switch came after consulting with his family.

“We thought it was best to go in a different direction,” he said. “Not taking anything away from that agent, but we definitely felt we should go with a different agent because in my situation, I definitely did have something I needed to take care of.”

Charles is now represented by Joel Segal of Lagardère Unlimited. Charles said Segal has experience working with “kids that have incidents and still tries to keep them up as a draft pick and not letting them fall.”

Segal also is representing Florida’s Chris Rainey this year and his clients include former Bulldog Justin Houston and former Gator Percy Harvin.

Harvin dealt with a report of a failed drug test before the 2009 draft, but remained a first-round pick. Rainey was suspended in 2010 after being charged with aggravated stalking. Houston reportedly tested positive on a drug test at the combine last year and was a third-round pick.

“I would love to go in the first, I would love to go in the second, but I would love to have the opportunity,” Charles said. “I’m just giving everything to my agent and praying about it because you never know what will happen.”

Charles, who had personal workouts with the Jets, Eagles and Buccaneers, planned to return home to Tampa for the draft and will gather with family either at his church or at his home.

“I’m opening another chapter in my life,” he said. “I get to start brand new.”

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marcweiszer

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