Jayden de Laura Declares for 2024 NFL Draft Amidst Controversy

Jayden de Laura, formerly of Washington State and Arizona, has entered the 2024 NFL Draft. Does his circumstances complicate his evaluation?

After an offseason marred by uncertainty, former Arizona and Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura has announced his decision to enter the 2024 NFL Draft pool. From an evaluation standpoint, what can we take away from de Laura’s situation?

Jayden de Laura Declares for 2024 NFL Draft After Leaving Texas State

de Laura played four seasons at the collegiate level, splitting time between Pac-12 programs Washington State and Arizona. In total, the Honolulu product passed for 8,489 yards, 63 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions in 32 games.

Initially, de Laura planned to transfer to Texas State for the 2024 season. But less than two weeks after announcing his commitment to the Bobcats, de Laura left the program. Later, on Feb. 22, he officially announced his intent to instead enter the 2024 NFL Draft.

At this time, it’s not clear whether or not de Laura is eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft.

He’s a fourth-year senior who never redshirted, but at the same time, his maintained eligibility from the 2020 COVID-impacted season could render him an underclassman still — meaning that the Jan. 15 deadline has passed for him.

If de Laura is viewed as an upperclassman by the NFL, then he will be eligible to be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. If not, he’ll have to wait for the 2024 Supplemental Draft in the summer.

After both events, if he goes undrafted, he’ll have a chance to sign with teams as a free agent. And if there is no NFL interest, de Laura may be able to play in the UFL or CFL.

For de Laura, Off-Field Concerns Cloud 2024 NFL Draft Evaluation

As a talent, de Laura has some intrigue. He’s a good creator with a good arm whose best moments at the collegiate level put those physical tools under the spotlight. But his career has been marred by off-field concerns.

In May of 2023, de Laura and high school teammate Kamo’i Latu settled a sexual assault lawsuit stemming from an incident that occurred in 2018. According to a judge affiliated with the civil suit, de Laura admitted to the incident in writing and “eventually apologized.”

In the same suit, it was revealed that de Laura and Latu adjudicated — or admitted to — the wrongdoing as juveniles in Hawai’i and were ordered to write apology letters to the victim.

At the time of de Laura’s departure from Texas State, College Football Network analyst Keff Ciardello shared on X (formerly Twitter) that Texas State students had planned to organize a protest toward de Laura’s addition to the roster, given his past. The QB’s departure came shortly after the protest plans were announced.

Additionally, de Laura was arrested in connection with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) incident in his time at Washington State.

de Laura’s Case Emphasizes Complexity of NFL Draft Evaluations

The assault plaguing de Laura occurred in high school — over five years ago — but that doesn’t lessen its severity. And that brings up an important point in character evaluation: The evaluation process spans a long way back, even beyond a player’s collegiate career.

Every NFL team has different guardrails for character evaluation, and every team does extensive research on all prospects. Some teams have a reputation for being more lenient when it comes to giving second chances, but not every off-field incident is made equal.

The incident in de Laura’s history is particularly severe. In this case, a person was hurt and brutally exploited, and there’s little ambiguity regarding the actuality of the event and whether it occurred or not.

Some teams — most, in fact — will likely look at de Laura’s history and take them off their boards entirely. For many teams, character guardrails are stringent, and an off-field history such as de Laura’s will fall far beyond the thresholds in place.

For the few that may decide to take a chance on him, most likely as a UDFA, an honest conversation needs to take place between de Laura and coaches: Has he changed, has he grown, and does he feel genuine remorse?

That decision — to ultimately give a chance or to withhold it — will be left to each organization independently.

GET DRAFTING: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

But in short, some prospects earn their place on the draft board with their character, conduct, and accountability. Some lose that privilege with the choices they make.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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