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For NFL Prospects, How Much Does Character Matter?

Cameron Newton. Jonathan Baldwin. Nick Fairley. They play three different positions, but all three are considered among the top prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft.

What unites them is the explosion of red flags that crop up among scouts, reporters and league observers every time their names come up.

Character's a tricky thing to judge. Cam Newton was linked to a laptop theft and a series of eligibility questions, Baldwin has been called a diva and was arrested in 2009 for allegedly copping a feel on a woman and Fairley has seen his motivation questioned constantly since declaring for the draft. All of these represent serious concerns, but I don't know if they tell us whether any of these guys are good or bad people.

In fact, I'd say that character is one of the more nebulous traits that front office types use to judge players, but it's one that continues to come to the forefront around this time of year. It's one thing to avoid a guy with an extremely checkered history or a felony conviction, but it's another to watch a few game tapes and a Combine interview and come away convinced you've found a rotten core at the center of a prospect.

What I'd like to hear you guys discuss is how much character should matter when it comes to evaluating prospects, and what red flags teams should be looking at. I think it'll be a good discussion.