"Character concerns" is a pretty big catchall when it comes to drafted players.
If a player comes with "character concerns," it can mean anything from a DUI in his freshman year of college to theft from a convenience store, to stealing laptops from a dorm, to even repeating the same stupid illegal acts multiple times in their college career.
Or, you know, there's the whole Aaron Hernandez thing, too.
I think we know enough about the Aaron Hernandez case - at least what's been released to the public via the media - that I don't need to go over the particulars on this forum, but that doesn't necessarily change what Hernandez's draft stock was. According to several, he was a first-round talent, but character concerns pushed him down to the fourth round. Character concerns such as...
SI.com found that Hernandez had failed numerous drug tests while in college and the tight end admitted as much to NFL teams before the 2010 NFL draft. The Connecticut-raised Hernandez was also said to have many gangs ties and over the years he had had some other police-investigated incidents involving guns.
And then allegedly shooting a guy in the face and murdering another this year. And now those character concerns have probably pushed this guy out of the NFL for good, if the allegations hold up - but even then, he might be pretty well pushed out of free life for good.
Character concerns can occasionally be written out as immaturity, college-age stuff, and the hope is that the shock of taking a tangible hit in draft stock can straighten a player up. Sometimes it's laziness, sometimes it's aggression, sometimes it's off-the-field misbehaving, sometimes it's difficulty in maintaining an even weight (take note, Alshon Jeffery?), and sometimes it's breaking a law. Take, for example, the Bears' own bad-news case Evan Rodriguez (ironically, a poor man's Aaron Hernandez!):
However, Rodriquez has run into some trouble off the field. He was charged with misdemeanor disturbance and misdemeanor trespassing while at West Virginia in 2007, then arrested for disorderly conduct in April 2009.
"We all make mistakes," Rodriguez said. "It's growing pains. As long as you learn from your mistakes and don't let them happen again and mature, which I have done. If they believe in me ... I won't let them down."
Oh, don't worry, you haven't let the Dolphins down yet, Evan.
For me, two of the big ones are recency and repetition. Failure to display a learning curve that "illegal actions are not a good thing," and certainly taking a character knock at the most critical time in a young player's career - the job interview - doesn't bode well.
So character concerns kind of suck - for the player himself as well as the team that picks him if they resurface. So why do teams pick character-concern guys?
Well, because sometimes the talent they offer is just too tantalizing to turn down. So many players are cited with "character concerns," but when draft time comes, they're picked and more often than not they're a fine-enough player with maybe a blip or two on the radar here or there.
But sometimes, some of those character concerns come home, like Hernandez and Rodriguez.
Which leads me to, which character concerns scare you most when looking at a prospect? How much does a character concern knock a player in your rankings?