Alec Ogletree should have a busy week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis talking to prospective employers more about his off-field issues than his abilities at inside linebacker.
Ogletree was rated by some analysts as a possible top-10 overall pick after leaving Georgia following his junior season, but his draft stock could fall after a recent DUI arrest, which followed a four-game suspension to start the 2012 season for reportedly failing a drug test.
NFL teams will want to talk to him in-depth about those missteps not only at the combine, but in the weeks leading up to April’s NFL draft, when prospects are brought in for visits, one former general manager said Monday.
“He’s going to be on a lot of teams lists now just because in 15 minutes of the combine, they’re not going to really get a great handle on who he is and what he’s all about,” said Phil Savage, a former general manager for the Cleveland Browns, player personnel director with the Baltimore Ravens and consultant with the Philadelpia Eagles.
The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock rated Ogletree as the draft’s No. 1 inside linebacker prospect prior to his arrest becoming public. Ogletree’s agent, Pat Dye Jr., has said his client was arrested on a DUI charge earlier this month in Arizona, where he trains.
“Let’s preface it by saying, if he was clean off the field, I’d be banging the table for a top-10 pick,” Mayock said.
“When you start talking about either medical issues or off-the-field problems, you get a risk-reward scenario, and every team’s different in how they assign risk versus reward. I think most of the teams are going to look at him and say … we have to account for it somehow. Some teams may say he’s off our board. I don’t think many teams will.
“Most teams are going to look at him and say top 10, too much risk there. Too much risk, not enough reward. If we can get him second half of the first round or the first half of the second round. Every team’s going to be different with that. They’re going to assign a value based on the risk.”
Ogletree was in trouble before his first game at Georgia when he was suspended after being charged with stealing the motorcycle helmet that belonged to a track athlete. Despite missing four games last season, he still led Georgia with 111 tackles.
Ogletree is “explosive,” and “made for the NFL game with an ability to drop and cover,” Mayock said.
In today’s NFL with spread offenses, that makes Ogletree a great fit, but will he fit in with some organizations?
“Every team has its own threshold of pain I guess you would say and how far they will go,” said Savage, now executive director of the Senior Bowl. “He’s been a productive player at Georgia. Obviously, if he has the support of (defensive coordinator) Todd Grantham and (coach) Mark Richt and the other support people there, it will help him, but it’s going to be a long spring because not only is he going to have to answer the questions about what he can do on the field, he’s going to spend the vast majority of the time trying to dispel these other situations.”
Grantham signaled strong support for Ogletree after the linebacker from Newnan announced he was turning pro following the Capital One Bowl.
“I love the guy,” Grantham said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I’d do anything in the world for him because he’s really laid it on the line for us.”
Two other Georgia underclassmen fell in the draft the past two years because of character questions.
Outside linebacker Justin Houston was projected by some as a late first-round pick in 2011 but reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine and slid to the third round.
After being taken by Kansas City, Houston said “I was just honest with them and told them it was just a mistake I had made. I put it behind me. … I think they trusted me. They took a chance and I’m going to make them proud for taking that chance.”
Houston had 10 sacks, 66 tackles and an interception in 2012 in his second NFL season.
Last year, tight end Orson Charles was arrested also for a DUI days after an unimpressive Georgia pro-day workout. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Bengals.
Mayock doesn’t think Ogletree will fall out of the first round.
If Ogletree or Notre Dame’s Manti Teo are available to Baltimore at No. 32 overall, the Ravens would “sprint to the podium,” he said.
Notes: Ogletree is one of 11 Georgia players invited to the combine, which begins Wednesday and runs through Feb. 26
Linebacker Jarvis Jones is projected by many as a top-10 pick and makes sense as the No. 5 overall pick to Detroit, Mayock said.
Where Jones goes in the draft will be affected by medical exams. He transferred to Georgia after not being cleared at Southern California after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column.
“If he checks out medically, he’s a top-10 player and hopefully will be an impact player,” said Mayock.
Nose guard John Jenkins could be a late first-round or early second-round pick.
“They are just loaded with players,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “That’s just the way it is at Georgia. A Super amount of talent there. …There are going to be a ton of prospects that are going to be drafted high.”
Said Mayock: “There’s a ton of Georgia kids running around, man. Every time you put a tape on, somebody wants to talk about another one.”
Mayock says Bacarri Rambo has “really good movement skills,” and calls him “probably a third-round safety.” Rambo also was suspended for four games this season for violating Georgia’s drug testing policy. “He’s got to convince people he’s a solid kid,” said Mayock, who said he also likes safety Shawn Williams.