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Percy Harvin Comes to Minnesota With Plenty of Baggage

Apr 26, 2009 – 5:20 PM
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Ryan Wilson

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It's remarkable to think that three years removed from the sex boat scandal, and the subsequent fallout that cost Mike Tice his job, the Vikings would seriously consider drafting Percy Harvin, the former Florida standout who tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine in February.

But it's not the failed drug test that should be most worrisome for Minnesota's front office -- plenty of professional athletes smoke weed -- it's the fact that he wasn't smart enough to pass on grass when he knew he'd have to pee in a cup once he got to Indianapolis. As NFL scouts have preached: it's not so much a drug test as an intelligence test. And Harvin flunked both.

I'm not naive enough to think that game-breaking skills can trump off-field red flags, but it's ironic that the Vikings took 78 players off their draft board because of character and injury concerns and still ended up with Harvin. To be fair, several days ago, head coach Brad Childress traveled to Florida to meet with Harvin and apparently saw enough to consider him draftable.

And today, Harvin's college coach, Urban Meyer, spoke to some of the issues:
"We recruit a little bit like Minnesota drafts," Meyer said. "When we recruited Percy out of high school we were made aware of some issues. He's a very competitive guy and his temper can get the best of him. It certainly did in high school. ... But we did our research and it showed he had to harness his energies through staying focused on getting better. ... Everything is very controllable with Percy."
Meanwhile, an NFL source tells Pro Football Talk that "They're glad that Harvin is gone at Florida ... He wore out his welcome down there, but they'll be the first people to tell you that the guy can flat-out play.

"I've seen worse character guys come in this league and stay out of trouble, so it's hard to say what will happen with him. You just cross your fingers and hope for the best."

And more to the point, former Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards, covering the draft for ESPN this weekend, offered this frank assessment:
"This guy is one of those guys, whether he's driving a Ferrari, a Cadillac, a Volkswagen -- if he even goes to Disneyland and drives the little cars that run on the rail -- he's going to have a wreck. So you better have a good body and fender man. ... There's going to be some things you have to deal with, and you know that.''
Of course, this all goes away if Harvin performs. And as PFT's source points out, there have been "worse character guys" in the NFL. And if the Vikings -- described as a player or two away from a Super Bowl caliber team -- can make a deep playoff run, well, it'll be worth the potential headache. And, hey, Minnesota wasn't the only team interested in burning a first-round pick on Harvin.
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