Would you draft ex-Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway?

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway wasn't drafted in the first round. Would you take a chance on him? [ TIMES FILE ]
Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway wasn't drafted in the first round. Would you take a chance on him? [ TIMES FILE ]
Published April 27 2018

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway should have heard his name called last night during the NFL draft's first round.

He didn't.

He might hear his name called tonight, during the second or third round.

He probably won't.

Which means one of the draft's top receivers will likely fall to the final rounds Saturday, assuming a team feels comfortable enough to risk any precious pick on the Miami native.

RELATED: Mike Mayock: Gators' Antonio Callaway a third-day NFL draft pick

"I've just got to get them to take a chance," Callaway said last month after UF's pro day.

Would you do it? Would you give him a chance?

You know about the 21-year-old's potential. How he became the only player in Gators history to score a touchdown by rush, catch, pass, punt return and kickoff return. How he was one of the only bright spots on two anemic UF offenses. How he ran the second fastest 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) among receivers at the combine. How he looked like a top-20 prospect this time last year.

"First-round talent," ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said.

But you also know the reasons he slid out of the first round, and could keep sliding.

You know that he served two lengthy suspensions in three years. He missed almost all of the 2016 offseason as UF investigated a sexual assault accusation against him (before clearing him of wrongdoing in the Title IX case). Then he missed all of last season after police alleged that he used a stolen credit card to deposit $1,970 into his UF bookstore account (the two felony complaints he faced will be dismissed if he lives up to the terms of his pre-trial diversion agreement).

You know that he has had three known marijuana incidents.

His Title IX defense included an admission that he was "so stoned" that he "had no interest in having sex with anyone." Nine months later, Callaway was cited on a complaint of marijuana possession in an early-morning traffic stop, with a 40-year-old man who had been arrested more than a dozen times in the state. And at the combine – where his most pressing questions involved his ability to stay out of trouble – he failed a drug test.

If you want to pile on, you can consider the time last fall he was cited for driving 95 mph in a 65 mph zone, at 1:30 a.m., with a suspended license, in Palm Beach County.

You also know that Callaway has vowed to change.

"I got a daughter now," Callaway said of his infant, Aulani. "I ain't got no choice but to make the right decisions."

But he does have a choice. Plenty of players have made mistakes, matured and succeeded in the league. Plenty of others kept making mistakes before running out of chances and becoming former players.

RELATED: Matt Elam, Antonio Callaway looking for NFL chances at Florida Gators' pro day

If Joe Mixon can break multiple bones in a woman's face and still be drafted No. 48 overall last year, some team will take a chance on Callaway. He's too talented to go undrafted, and those who know him insist his transgressions are the result of immaturity, not malice.

"I'm not this bad person that the media portrays," Callaway said last month. "I mean, I can't stress it enough. I've just got to … let my actions speak for me."

For three years associated with UF, you heard what his actions said, on and off the field.

What do they tell you?

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