Alfonzo Dennard could have a bright future in the National Football League . Emphasize “could” heavily now, though.
Getting kicked out of the Capital One Bowl for road-raging on Alshon Jeffery wasn’t great, but NFL scouts can write that off as being passionate and having Jeffery give him all he could handle.
Assaulting an LPDer while among the bar scene on O Street only a week before the NFL Draft? When Roger Goodell and his decisions have made teams wary of all off-field issues? Suddenly the bowl game incident looks tame.
He’ll go to the League and start somewhere next year. You could’ve narrowed his likely homes down a month ago. Now, almost all 32 destinations appear in play.
Reading up on perception of Dennard, the details can get sketchy. ESPN the Mag remarked about how Alfonzo is “very slow in the hips” and “gets burned too often.” This is the same organization who spewed that Jake Locker was a can’t-miss prospect ad nauseum.
These criticisms are somewhat similar ones of Prince Amukumara last year. How he was suddenly too small among a laundry list of reasons that teams should be careful about selecting him too early. If you hadn’t watched how little Prince was picked on as a senior, his numbers were admittedly far from impressive, but context was critical.
Much like Amukamara, you have to go back to Dennard’s junior year to realize how good he was under Pelini.
He was the corner that had the majority of balls thrown his way because quarterbacks knew not to throw at Amukumara. Was he a complete shutdown corner then or in his senior year? Absolutely not, but there aren’t many that make NFL talent scalpers fawn.
It seems like no one remembers how Dennard shut down Justin Blackmon or how he helped take away Jake Locker’s weapons in Washington.
Even last season when he blanked B.J. Cunningham or made life miserable for Marvin McNutt, it seems like the bowl game against Jeffery was the defining point of Fonzie’s athleticism and character.
It seems that way because that’s what everyone remembers and now, there are even more chapters to a potentially troubling story.
Let’s remember what Dennard’s challenges were as a young man: A childhood of being poor in the South. Getting out of Georgia and being alone in foreign surroundings.
Growing up and learning from the man who recruited you (Marvin Sanders). All of a sudden, you’re playing for that check you promised your momma while now training with a guy who wants to tear you down and rebuild you (Corey Raymond) to defend a new conference.
If Alfonzo thinks that was tough, imagine what will happen when he’s getting paid big bucks to produce. That’s why this arrest couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
In terms of the draft, there’s really no limit for him. Teams were going to make him a second to third-round pick, but with the lingering issues that a court date concerning a felony charge presents, there will be less teams who want to pick him above the third.
While it drops his initial paycheck total, it also gives him a chance to be a rebuilding project.
There are teams who are picky about the character they hire and others like Oakland that seem to be a haven for players that need that second chances. At the same time, there are markets that aren’t a positive environment for someone looking to reinvent themselves. Atlanta, Dallas and New York, for example.
Too much can happen, especially in Atlanta where he’s not far from home and can likely be easily influenced.
Perhaps the best spot for Dennard is a with a team located where the night life isn’t going to be a distraction. Buffalo, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Seattle. Those would be perfect spots for a guy who is hungry to spend three or four seasons getting better, showing what he can do and growing up both as a person and as a athlete.
Kansas City may be the ideal fit.
They need secondary help in the worst way possible (especially within a division that now features Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning), and he’s not far from Lincoln where people like Bo Pelini, John Papuchis and Tom Osborne can be counted on to give him guidance.
Wherever Alfonzo goes, he’s going to be questioned about the fights, about hitting a cop. He’s going to be tested. He’s going to be “torn down” and rebuilt to be a “NFL cornerback”, whatever that means. He’s going to face adversity again, especially as he is trying to avoid prison and becoming a felon before the 2012 season ever gets started.
Dennard needs to get back to being hungry for success. He will have Husker Nation in his corner. No matter who’s backing him, it’s ultimately up to him to show he’s matured and bounced back.
Good luck, Fonzie.