Why the NFL supplemental draft is fool’s gold

Ray Fittipaldo 3 years ago

The NFL first held a supplemental draft in 1977, and in the 37 years since, 41 players have been selected by teams in exchange for a draft pick in the next year’s draft. On all but a few occasions, it was a mistake to take a risk on a player who was not eligible for the NFL’s entry draft.

Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns is the latest example. Gordon, a talented receiver who had already been facing a one-year suspension for violation of the league’s drug policy, was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated Saturday in North Carolina.

Gordon was a troubled player dating to his college days at Baylor and Utah, where he failed multiple drug tests. That was the reason he elected to enter the supplemental draft in 2012.

Oftentimes, players who enter the supplemental draft have some history of trouble or character issues in college. And more often than not, the teams that draft them get burned.

Cleveland took Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft and forfeited a second-round pick in the 2013 entry draft.

Here is a list of just some of the players the Browns could have had if they did not take Gordon: LB Kiko Alonso, LB Manti Te’o, RB Giovani Bernard, RB Le’Veon Bell and RB Eddie Lacy.

Lacy was the NFL offensive rookie of the year and Bell and Bernard were productive players in their rookie seasons. Alonso, who recently tore his ACL and will miss the 2014 season, amassed 159 tackles and was one of the top defensive rookies in the league while Te’o was a starter on a playoff team.

Gordon was terrific on the field for two seasons. He piled up 2,451 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. But he did for a bad team that never sniffed the playoffs. Now, it’s debatable if Gordon will ever play in the league again.

Think the Browns want a do-over?

Franchises such as Cleveland should be in the business of building for the future through the draft and not taking risks on players with baggage. It does the Browns absolutely no good to have a player that accumulates stats and then disappears because of his off-field issues.

They could have had any number of productive players for at least four years and maybe more if they signed them to a long-term deal before or after their rookie contract expired.

Of the 41 players taken in the supplemental draft only one is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Cris Carter, who was taken in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft by the Eagles, was enshrined in 2013.

But it should be noted the team that drafted Carter and had to forfeit a draft pick never got to reap the benefits of his excellence.

Carter, taken in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft, had a drug problem, too. The Eagles cut him for that reason in 1989.

Carter got clean and resumed his career in Minnesota, where he developed into one of the league’s top pass catchers for the next 12 years.

Carter is one of only a handful of supplemental draft picks to enjoy NFL success. One of the others was Bernie Kosar, who was selected by the Browns in the first round of the 1985 supplemental draft. Kosar played parts of nine seasons with the Browns and led them to the AFC championship games three times.

Some other notable supplemental draft picks include Brian Bosworth, Bobby Humphrey, Steve Walsh and Terrelle Pryor. All were well-known in college but struggled to gain stardom in the professional ranks. The Seahawks, Cowboys and Broncos forfeited first-round picks to take Bosworth, Walsh and Humphrey. The Raiders gave up a third-round pick to take Pryor, who was traded to the Seahawks over the offseason.

Supplemental draft picks almost never pay off and teams such as the Browns, who are always searching for quick fixes, end up setting their team back instead.

Here are some other fun facts about the supplemental draft:

*The Steelers have never selected a player in the supplemental draft.

*USC and Miami have had the most supplemental draft picks with three each. Ohio State and Oklahoma State each have had two.

And one side note about Gordon pertaining to the Steelers:

*Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor’s life will be easier by not facing Gordon, who torched the Steelers for 237 receiving yards in a November game at Cleveland Browns Stadium last November. Most of those yards came against Taylor and the Steelers stopped using Taylor to shadow the opposing team’s top receiver shortly thereafter. Gordon and Calvin Johnson are the reasons Taylor had to take a pay cut to remain with the Steelers.

*Chat at 1:30 today.