Eagles monitoring draftees' social media activity

Eagles monitoring draftees' social media activity
April 15, 2013, 2:00 pm
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They’ll study a player’s speed, height and weight. They’ll pore over every detail in his medical report. They’ll scour hours of film, watch him closely at the Combine, check him out at the Senior Bowl.

And then go look at his Facebook page and Twitter account.

The pre-draft scouting process for NFL teams is detailed and elaborate. And these days, it goes beyond the field and right onto a player’s computer.

Yep, in the high-stakes world of the NFL draft, teams are using every bit of information about a player to learn what kind of professional he’ll be. Even what he posts online.

And even if he’s big and strong and fast and tough, if they find his tweets or Facebook posts objectionable – racist, sexist, homophobic, violent or simply showing a lack of tact – they might very well pass.

“What you see with most of these guys who do questionable things on Facebook [or] Twitter is they probably have done other questionable things,” general manager Howie Roseman said Monday morning.

For example?

This past fall, Ohio State’s backup quarterback, Cardale Jones, tweeted this: "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS."

Defensive back Demarkus Perkins from Florida International tweeted earlier this month about taking a recruit to a strip club: “The recruit was 2funny at strip club tonight.”

Wide receiver Ryan Spadola from Lehigh, the Eagles’ former training camp home, was kicked off the Lehigh team because of a racist tweet.

It doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens enough that the Eagles now monitor this stuff.

“We have someone looking over Facebook pages, Twitter accounts,” Roseman said. “In front of us will come every single person on our draft board, their Twitter accounts and their Facebook accounts.

“It’s important, how they represent themselves in those settings, and I think you see the process they go through. They tweet certain things, and once the draft process starts, all of a sudden they shut it down or they’ll say things that are really positive, and those are discussions we want to have.

“Those are the players that we’ll want to spend extra time with and understand and get into their mindset.

“What’s going to happen when they get drafted and get some money? That’s part of the process.”

Some college coaches prohibit their players from tweeting, but first-year Eagles coach Chip Kelly was not one of them during his years at Oregon.

"If they can't be responsible in social media, then we recruited the wrong kids," Kelly told Eugene newspaper The Oregonian last year. "I think it's very prominent this day in age, and we try to educate our kids like we educate them in everything they do. But if you can't trust a kid on Twitter, can you trust them on third down?”

Lapses in judgment on social media are certainly not limited to college players.

Eagles Pro Bowl tailback LeSean McCoy got himself in trouble earlier this offseason with a series of tweets attacking the estranged mother of his infant son.

It was serious enough to draw national attention, and it got McCoy a personal audience with Kelly just days after he was named head coach. McCoy deactivated his account before resuming tweeting several weeks later.

Would McCoy’s tweets have raised a red flag with the Eagles if he were still at Pitt?

Most likely. Roseman said offensive or inappropriate tweets aren’t a reason to rule out a player they like. But they are a part of the overall information-gathering process.

“Ideally, we’re trying to get high-character guys who don’t have any indiscretions,” Roseman said.

“I think … when you’re 18, 19, 20, 21 years old, things happen. I mean, you’re not perfect. You make mistakes. Are those terminal mistakes or are those all part of going to college and kind of growing up as a person? And what kind of people are they really?

“I know, sitting here, I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve done some things when I was those ages, but I think we want to make sure that we’re not putting a red flag on someone and taking him off our draft board because they made a mistake that was a youthful mistake, as opposed to them being a bad person, having bad character, not loving the game of football.”

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