Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson becomes the third player this offseason whom the NFL told was not welcome in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.
As many of you know, the Combine is where the top players for the NFL Draft gather to show off their skills for the 32 NFL teams that will be in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. For Ferguson, who is projected as a first-round defensive end, this news does not come at a good time.
On Wednesday, Ferguson found out from the league that a conviction of battery from a fight at a McDonald’s his freshman year at La. Tech is what is keeping him from showcasing his talents. Ferguson is the all-time sack leader in the NCAA and is ranked sixth among all defensive ends going into the April NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee.
The other two not invited to the combine because of off the field issues are defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and wide receiver Preston Williams. Simmons rated as the third-best defensive tackle on the board and a first-round talent as well. You can read more about Simmons’s trials and tribulations here.
The NFL Combine rules state: “Any player convicted of a violent crime will not be allowed to participate at the combine.”
Missing the Combine does not spell instant doom for players as there is a multitude of stars currently in the NFL that did not go to Indy.
Joe Mixon would be the most notable current player that did not go to the Combine after a video surfaced of him punching his girlfriend in the face the December before the 2018 Combine. Mixon was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault in 2014, and then subsequently suspended by the team for the 2014 season. Mixon was a day two selection at number 48 overall and by all accounts, has had a solid first two years in the league.
Other current players that did not participate at the Combine, whether for violating the rules or just not being invited, include:
- Reigning Super Bowl 53 MVP Julian Edelman
- Future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates
- Cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Chris Harris
- Wide Receivers Doug Baldwin, Adam Thielen, and Tyreek Hill
The NFL revoking Ferguson’s invitation to the Combine is far from a death sentence for his career. As you can see, plenty of guys have come back from off the field issues to have a significant impact on the game. Ferguson will have an opportunity to prove his talents to NFL teams at his Pro Day after the Combine.
What will also help Ferguson is that he plays a position of need for teams in the NFL. Pass rushers are hard to come by, and guys that know how to finish at the quarterback are even rarer. As we all know in the NFL, as long as your skill and ability trumps whatever problems you have off the field, there will always be a team that will employ you.