Background Checks of College Players Part of NFL Draft

Written By Thomas Ahearn

ESR News BlogLong before National Football League teams select players in the annual NFL draft beginning Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET in New York City, background checks are used to reveal information about the character and behavior of potential picks that cannot be found on game tape or stopwatches, according to an article by NFL Columnist Dan Pompei on the Bleacher Report website.

Pompei writes that the alleged criminal activity of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez – currently in prison being held on murder and weapons charges – is “looming over” the NFL draft and gives real life examples of college players undergoing increased scrutiny from NFL teams as draft day approaches. He reports many teams employ entry-level scouts to perform social media background checks of prospects:

  • “We have every tweet they have ever made,” said one front-office executive who requested anonymity for competitive reasons. “When we interview them, we’ll ask them about their tweets. Some of them tweet about drugs, about ‘bitches.’ It’s unbelievable.”
  • One general manager who did not want to be identified for competitive reasons said his team has made increasing use of sophisticated Internet search engines… His team researches about 600 prospects per year, going back to when players were in ninth grade. They are looking for information about the players’ lives, athletic careers, off-field incidents’ and injuries.

However, another NFL executive quoted in Pompei’s article warns that the proper interpretation of the “missteps” of potential NFL draft picks is just as important as finding the information in the first place:

  • “You have to be careful because every kid says something on social media or has a picture they wish they didn’t have out there. You have to decide if it’s part of his character or just a kid making a mistake. You have to keep in mind they are 18- or 19-year-olds who sometimes are a little immature. You want to project if they will grow up and mature into the type of men you want on your team.”

Pompei reports that a background check on a potential NFL draft pick “can start literally as soon as he makes his first play in college.” NFL team representatives may “visit a player’s hometown and talk to family members, coaches, and others who knew him in high school.” A player’s college coaches, trainers, academic counselors, and professors may also be targeted for interviews during the background check.

Pompei reveals that many teams employ a security director – usually a former policeman, detective, or FBI agent – to gather information on potential NFL draft picks. On top of that, the NFL performs a standard security check on key players in the NFL draft and provides reports on players with a criminal record. Pompei’s article is available at http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2037203-the-nfl-is-watching-you.

Background checks of college football players for the NFL draft are done for a reason. In 2011, a joint investigation by Sports Illustrated and CBS News ran criminal background checks on 2,837 players on the preseason rosters of SI’s Top 25 ranked college football teams of 2010. The SI/CBS News investigation found 7 percent – or 1 in 14 – of college football players had criminal records.

The NFL Draft is How Football Teams Hire New Employees

Whether a potential new hire is an NFL football player or an office worker who will never star on the gridiron, background checks help ensure safe workplaces for employers, employees, and the public. Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ –  is a nationwide background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information about background checks, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email sales@esrcheck.com.