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Patriots don’t weed out positive tests

04.27.10 at 12:14 pm ET

This past weekend’s NFL draft was one of rare depth, the kind of draft in which the average fan had actually heard of some of the team’s later-round selections. Stars were around on the third day, though not all of the upper-echelon players that went in the final three rounds were available late due to depth. As is the case with any draft, players fell due to poor combine performances, character issues and failed drug tests.

Enter Patriots fourth-rounder Aaron Hernandez. Perhaps a second-round talent based on his speed (4.56 40-yard dash) and pass-catching ability, he was removed from many draft boards due to a history of marijuana use and positive drug tests, according to a report. Tim Tebow’s favorite target (68 catches, 850 yards, 5 touchdowns) wasn’t removed from the Patriots’ board, however, suggesting Bill Belichick’s confidence in Urban Meyer (the Patriots selected three Gators last weekend) is enough for the New England coach not to fret on the matter.

Or maybe it’s the situation itself, and a positive recommendation from Meyer didn’t help Hernandez any more than it did teammates Jermaine Cunningham or Brandon Spikes. After all, the roster — past and present — hasn’t exactly been a D.A.R.E. campaign.

In addition to Randy Moss‘  “blue moon” interview with Bryant Gumbel back in 2005 — two years before the team traded for the enigmatic receiver — the Patriots roster has seen clouds of marijuana use from the likes of Kevin Faulk, Brandon Tate and former safety Dexter Reid. While Reid, a fourth-round pick in the ’04 draft, was canned after a season when his off-field issues outweighed his contributions as a safety, the Patriots took the hit with Faulk  in the form of a one-game suspension to begin the 2008 season after he was caught with marijuana at a Lil Wayne concert. Tate, the receiver whom the Patriots selected in the third round of last year’s draft, is a case more similar to Hernandez in that the team knew about his marijuana use prior to acquiring him.

Does a player smoking marijuana make him any less of a player? Maybe not, if Moss’ career is any indication. Even so, it’s interesting to note that in the high-character, no-nonsense Belichick regime, the Patriots will take a bite on a player despite what tests suggest.

Read More: 2010 NFL Draft, Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Brandon Tate



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