This marks the Ravens’ 13th substance-related suspension since 2010 — the most in the NFL over that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Waller joins running back Kenneth Dixon (four games) as Ravens players who have been suspended this season.
In the Ravens’ pre-draft news conference two months ago, general manager Ozzie Newsome said the players who had been suspended recently — namely Dixon and tight end Nick Boyle — had been “vetted very well.”
“I think there are some things within society that are leading to some of the problems that our athletes have,” Newsome said in April. “But we do look to see if there are any indicators of that in their past or while they were in school, but a lot of times, there are not.”
Waller was suspended for at least one year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. This marks his second suspension in the past two seasons. He also was suspended two games in his final season at Georgia Tech for violating team rules.
Waller is one of 10 Ravens players who have been suspended since 2010 for performance-enhancing drugs or other substances: WR David Reed (2011), DE Ryan McBean (2012), CB Asa Jackson (2012, 2013), S Christian Thompson (2013), DT Haloti Ngata (2014), S Matt Elam (2015), TE Nick Boyle (2015, 2016), S Will Hill (2016) and Dixon (2017).
Of those players, eight were drafted by the Ravens but only two (Ngata and Hill) were considered full-time starters at the time of the suspension. When you include Waller’s one-year suspension, Baltimore has lost players for a total of 76 games due to suspension over the past seven years.
The Ravens have made a concerted effort in trying to assess a player’s character. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said one major change of the past 10 years has been the time spent looking at a player’s personality and getting a feel for who he is.
DeCosta said scouts would watch film for seven or eight hours and spend one hour talking to people on visits to schools. That’s not the case anymore.
“We challenge our scouts to go into schools and talk to at least four different people to generate a profile on who the player is off the field,” DeCosta said at the pre-draft news conference in April. “We look at specific things like durability, personality, coachability, intelligence, football intelligence — which is a little bit different — leadership and things like that. That is a big part of being a scout — going in and doing that.”