Earlier in the week, I looked at the athleticism of Washington’s 2021 draft class compared to some of the most athletic draft classes in the past 30+ years. That was a relatively easy exercise compared to what I’m proposing to do today, which is to try to plumb the depths of these players’ characters. There are no easy single metrics, there are no in-person interviews. I don’t have access to anything about them beyond what I can find on the internet through relatively straightforward searches.
Going in to the search, I had no idea what I was going to come out with, but I looked at a variety of factors, including: academic success, team captainships, special recognition for community work, and any testimonials I could find about each of these players. Let’s see where the journey took us.
Round 1: Jamin Davis (LB)
- Graduated a semester early from high school in order to attend Kentucky.
- Volunteer for “God’s Pantry” (2019) (food back in Lexington).
- Favorite quote is: “you can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic.”
- “He understands our culture, he has a tremendous background, the kind of background that I look for. Very smart and intelligent young man. …He’s what you look for in a football player.” - Ron Rivera
My "Shocker" Micah Parsons falls to back of Rd1 & Kentucky's Jamin Davis comes off board 1st.— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) April 29, 2021
Always hear "Stock is Rising". It's actually the case on Jamin Davis. Elite Workout & 1 yr off the charts production. HIGH CHARACTER. Fits Todays NFL LB Mold better than Parsons.
Round 2: Sam Cosmi (OT)
- Academic all-state in high school.
- Two-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (fall 2019, spring 2020)
- “One of the things is being as honest and as raw as possible with my personality,” Cosmi said. “I’m one of the most hard-working guys on the field and off the field.”
Sami being Sami...Realize pro dream Friday, back at @AHSEagleFB training Monday. He will never change... all he knows is WORK!!!— Coach Orr (@Orr_JBlaine) May 3, 2021
Congrats @WashingtonNFL, he'll be ready to compete May 12th. pic.twitter.com/k8o008bgsB
Round 3: Benjamin St. Juste (CB)
- Academic All-Big Ten (2020)
- Earned his undergrad degree from Michigan in just three years and then earned a Sport Management Master of Education in two years with the Gophers.
- Named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society.
"He's a wonderful teammate, and he works hard every day to get better. He's a quiet guy, but he's a wonderful teammate." Coach Fleck, on Benjamin St-Juste's performance and growth.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) October 1, 2019
"Not that many people make it out of Montreal, Canada. The path I took was super hard."@GopherFootball CB Benjamin St-Juste sits with @ojhodgkinson to discuss his Canadian roots, BIG10 football & his path to the #NFLDraft:https://t.co/TRDeMSqDo0— The Touchdown (@TheTouchdownNFL) April 24, 2021
Round 3: Dyami Brown (WR)
Sometimes I think this the only time they really care about my life. pic.twitter.com/4wob1gPsnW— Dyami Brown (@deuce2_) June 4, 2020
#UNC's Dyami Brown (@deuce2_) on his community contributions:— Luck (@Quierra_Luck) March 26, 2021
"Being involved with the community is important to me especially if they mirror how I grew up. Ive had family deal with illnesses so being part of those communities and contribute to their healing is important."
Round 4: John Bates (TE)
Asked Coach Harsin about #BoiseState tight end John Bates today...— Will Hall (@WillHallKTVB) September 30, 2019
Just 4 games into the year, the junior TE already has season career-highs in catches (11), yards (157), and TD catches (1) pic.twitter.com/AqEWqOJ1wS
Round 5: Darrick Forrest (S)
#Bearcats senior safety Darrick Forrest on how the program has come so far: "Consistent leadership, guys buying in & hard work. My first season we won 4 games. We never complained. We just put our heads down, grinded & loved one another. That allowed us to win this championship."— Justin Williams (@Williams_Justin) December 20, 2020
"I see myself on a pedestal to show youth that you can beat the odds, you don't have to be a statistic and you can be whatever you work to be." - Darrick Forrest#Bearcats | #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/7EmG6UGYGt— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) February 26, 2019
Round 6: Camaron Cheeseman (LS)
- Big Ten Distinguished Scholar (2019)
- Two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2018-2019)
Camaron Cheeseman applied to dental school, scored in the 93rd percentile and was accepted to Michigan and Ohio State. This was his "emergency backup plan"— Logan Campbell (@loganncampbelll) May 1, 2021
Round 7: William Bradley-King (EDGE)
- Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll (2016)
- Graduated from Arkansas State in May 2020. Pursuing master’s degree from Baylor.
- “As far as who I am away from the field? I would say I am a simple guy. A family man first and foremost. I am all about my people back home. I want to be a guy who others can look up to. I want to be a leader and show everyone in my city you can make it. Prove to them that we can be successful if you just put in that hard work. That’s who I am really. I am a guy that is all about his community and showing them love. They need to know that I will always be here for them, and I will put on for them. I feel like a lot of people get away from home and stop showing love. That will never be me. I will always be family first, and that includes my hometown.”
“I'm a huge fan of him. I think he'll do really well in this league. He's just a really tough, hard working guy.” — Baylor starting LT Connor Galvin on grad transfer JACK William Bradley-King— Colt Barber (@Colt_Barber) August 27, 2020
Full article: https://t.co/XIspX5gFOR
Round 7: Shaka Toney (LB)
West Philly native and @PennStateFball player @SackA_Toney is gearing up for "Pro Day." @LBustamanteNBC shows us how he’s using his big day to give back to his hometown: https://t.co/BJONKxBueK pic.twitter.com/KKvLg1Xwa0— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) March 24, 2021
Washington Football Team drafting Shaka Toney in 7th round is huge value pick. High character kid with a non stop motor. Just turn on the tape. This kid can play.— the Last Boy Scout (@nittanytitan1) May 2, 2021
Round 7: Dax Milne
Dax Milne is used to doing hard things.— Jarom Jordan (@jaromjordan) September 9, 2020
On the field it was earning a scholarship after his freshman year.
And off it, coping with and helping his Mother who overcame cancer.
Here’s this week’s Deep Blue. pic.twitter.com/NsbQGPQ5Tp#BYUFootball
UDFA: Jaret Patterson (RB)
- Team captain (2020)
It's definitely been fun, all three years I've covered Jaret Patterson -- he's really helped put UB on the map. A great representative of the program, from a strong family and super-humble.— Rachel Lenzi (@rachelmlenzi) December 6, 2020
"Sometimes when you lose you can learn. I'm really excited to get back to practice, get back to work." -Jaret Patterson— Bull Run (@UBBullRun) September 8, 2019
Branden Oliver on Jaret Patterson's record-setting day for the UB football team:— Rachel Lenzi (@rachelmlenzi) November 29, 2019
"I remember telling him his freshman year that he would do it. I knew from his work ethic he was hungry, just how I was when I came to UB." @UBFootball @__JP26 @BoBelieves https://t.co/x123bRGyQl
Are these statements and thoughts just platitudes, the sorts of praise coaches and fans routinely give all sorts of players, without any real depth? I’ll let you be the judge of that. But, I’ll say, in my searching, what I didn’t come across, were allegations of criminal behavior, stories about suspensions, or academic probations.
Humility, quiet leadership, hard work, were all common themes, and all seem like great traits to pair with athletic excellence, if one intends to make it at the highest level of the sport.
Is the character of pro football players important to you?
This poll is closed
Not as important as their performance on the field.
I think it’s an important consideration that should be weighed in the mix.
It’s a deal-breaker if it’s not there.