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Shawn Windsor, Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez break down Bob Quinn’s pre-draft news conference Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Video by Detroit Free Press
In this still image from video, Aaron Hernandez, right, listens beside defense attorney Ronald Sullivan, Friday, April 14, 2017, in court in Boston, as he is pronounced not guilty of murder in the 2012 shootings of two men in a drive-by shooting in Boston.
Bob Quinn was assistant director of pro personnel when the New England Patriots took Aaron Hernandez in the 2010 draft.
And while Quinn, now the Detroit Lions general manager, had no official say in the draft process back then, he said Thursday that he learned plenty about risk and reward from that pick.
“I think it’s a case by case thing,” Quinn said at his annual pre-draft news conference. “You can’t clump all character or all physical risks the same. You’ve got to take each individual player and prospect and do your due diligence in terms of how you think that player is going to fit on the field and you’ve got to kind of really evaluate how the fits going to be off the field. It’s a really hard situation. The off-the-field things that a number of prospects have every year, you have to evaluate it and make the best decision you think for your football team. It’s something we spend a lot of time on.”
Hernandez, who died Wednesday in his prison cell in an apparent suicide, played three seasons with the Patriots and emerged as one of the best tight ends in the NFL before he was accused and eventually convicted of murder in the 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd.
Quinn on Thursday called Hernandez’s tale “an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances on many, many levels that affected many, many people.”
“I read something that Coach (Bill) Belichick said a couple weeks ago and he used the word ‘tragedy,’ ” Quinn said. “And I think that’s the perfect word to describe it.”
Hernandez had known character flags coming out of Florida, including multiple reported failed drug tests.
The Lions steered clear of serious character risks in Quinn’s first draft last year. The decision, which Quinn said was a conscious one, was in line with what the franchise did in previous seasons under Martin Mayhew.
“We took a lot of high character captains,” Quinn said. “I think that’s really important. That’s something that we look at and we ask our scouts to go out and find the guys that are leaders on their team, the guys that are high character, guys that love football. We talked about that last time we met. That’s a question that I always ask to our personnel staff and at the right time to take a character risk it has to be at the right price and it has to be a player that you’ve done your due diligence and you’ve done your work on and you feel good about him being able to come into a situation with a support staff and the team ready to embrace a player like that.”
Quinn did not indicate whether the Lions’ appetite for drafting a red-flagged player has changed, and he declined comment on the most scrutinized player in this year’s draft, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.
Mixon was caught on video punching a coed in the face and is off multiple teams’ draft boards.
Asked how comfortable he’d feel drafting Mixon, Quinn declined comment.
“I’m not going to comment on who may or may not be on or off our board right now,” Quinn said. “It’s too close to the draft to be giving away.”
Contact Dave Birkett: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett .
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