- The NFL Supplemental Draft is Wednesday. Fran Duffy profiles the five prospects and looks at the recent history of the event.
After hundreds of prospects hear their names called in the NFL Draft every spring, teams across the league get together for minicamps and then go on a one-month hiatus in the run-up to Training Camp. During that break, usually sometime in July, the league holds a Supplemental Draft.
The Supplemental Draft consists of a handful of players who did not enter April’s player selection meeting. Sometimes, these prospects just missed the deadline for paperwork for the spring’s draft, but typically some other kind of circumstance leads to the decision (academic ineligibility, off-field issues, etc.). These players decided to submit paperwork for the Supplemental Draft rather than sit out the season or transfer to a lower level of competition.
One thing to know about the Supplemental Draft is that it is not executed in the same way as the regular draft. On Supplemental Draft Day, all 32 teams decide whether or not they will place blind bids on any of the prospects available. Just like the regular draft, a team can use one of its selections - in this case from the 2019 NFL Draft - in any of the seven rounds.
There have been some talented players acquired in this process over the years. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was a second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was a third-round pick of the Oakland Raiders the previous year. The Eagles' last Supplemental Draft selection? It was in 1987 when they selected the only Hall of Fame player ever to be chosen in the Supplemental Draft in wide receiver Cris Carter.
It’s been pretty rare for a player to be taken by any team in the Supplemental Draft in recent years. In the last five years, we’ve only seen one player, former Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle, selected and it was in 2015 to the then-St. Louis Rams. The last time we saw more than one name called was in 2010 when fullback Harvey Unga and defensive tackle Josh Brent were selected.
That trend is likely to change on Wednesday at 1 p.m. with five talented prospects throwing their respective hats into the NFL ring. Here's a look at the five players - in alphabetical order - and what they could bring to their future pro teams.
CB Adonis Alexander, Virginia Tech
A two-year starter for the Hokies, Alexander has impressive size at 6-2, 195 pounds with long arms (32 1/8 inches). He has starts at both left and right cornerback. Ranked by most recruiting services as a safety coming out of high school, the team stuck with Alexander at the corner spot. Virginia Tech has put a lot of defensive backs into the league over the last two seasons, and I always had my eye on Alexander because he was a young starter with impressive physical traits. I always thought he was one of the more fluid athletes in the Tech secondary each time I watched him. He can turn and run with enough speed to keep pace with receivers downfield. When he’s got his eyes on the football, he can go up and make a play on it in the air.
Alexander is a willing run defender, and at his size he can compete on the perimeter. He needs a lot of work in press coverage. His body type says he should excel at the line of scrimmage, but his feet often get stuck in the mud early on and he can get out of position quickly. Overall, he plays very loose and cavalier with his technique in man coverage, affecting his ability to break on routes efficiently. He can get grabby in the deep part of the field as well. A team that drafts him is banking on what he could be down the road. He’s a big kid with solid physical tools but is more of an athlete than a football player at this stage of his development. If he’s selected, I guess that it will be in the later stages.
CB Sam Beal, Western Michigan
A two-year starter for the Broncos, Beal, like Alexander, has the size teams look for at 6-2, 195 pounds. He’s had experience at both of the outside corner spots during his career. His ease of movement is apparent as soon as you turn the tape on. He’s a twitched-up kid with the quickness and speed to stay in the hip pocket of a receiver at all three levels of the field. Beal has impressive recovery speed and ball skills to match. Of the defensive backs available in this Supplemental Draft, I think he has the most natural ability to find the ball late in the down. There are still times when his eyes can get caught in the backfield a bit too long, causing him to lose his man in coverage. Like Alexander, he can play a bit loose and give up early separation, but I think he has more ability to recover. Beal does appear to rely too much on his pure athleticism. He finished his career with just two interceptions in 23 starts. Beal is not the most intimidating run defender you’ll find on the perimeter. He’ll fit in well as an outside cornerback in a heavy man coverage scheme. The tools are there for him to be a starting corner at the next level. I expect him to be taken as early as the third round.
S Brandon Bryant, Mississippi State
A three-year starter for the Bulldogs at safety, Bryant primarily lined up to the wide side of the formation as a junior with reps deep and over the slot. He’s a bit undersized at 5-11, 205 pounds but he makes up for it with his physical tools and his aggressive mindset. Bryant is a phenomenal athlete with impressive quickness, agility, balance, and speed. He looks effortless with his ability to plant and drive on throws in front of him and is fluid when he’s asked to turn and run. He’s got man cover skills for a safety and should be able to help in that fashion. He has the hands to finish for interceptions on an island. Bryant is an aggressive alley player who is not afraid to come downhill and square up a ball carrier as a tackler. He can navigate through traffic to get to the ball carrier in the screen game and delivered some huge hits in the flat. I didn’t feel like his reported timed speed (which broke 4.30 by some reports throughout his career) matched the speed on the field, which was good but not great. He tends to break down a bit early coming downhill which can lead to some missed tackle attempts. He’s aggressive, but his lack of size may come back to haunt him against bigger ball carriers in the NFL. Watching him on film, I think he has tools to develop into a starting safety if he gets a bit better with his eyes. I think it’s more likely that he turns into an interchangeable backup who can play deep or in the slot. He has the tools to be a critical piece in an NFL secondary with time and patience, and at the very least he should be a swing backup with dynamic special teams potential.
RB Martayveus Carter, Grand Valley State
I have not studied Carter as of this point, but he is a two-year starter who made the most of his limited reps, earning first-team All-GLIAC honors in both years. A star at the Division-II level, Carter nearly won the Harlon Hill Trophy (the D-II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) two years ago as a sophomore. Listed at 6-0, 200 pounds, Carter looks smaller than that on the field, even at that level of competition. Based off of highlights he has some wiggle with the ability to make defenders miss. Carter looks quicker than fast. There will be questions about whether he’s dynamic enough to overcome his lack of size, questions he won’t be able to definitively answer without a pre-draft workout. With the little I have seen of him, personally, I think it’s most likely that he goes undrafted.
LB Bright Ugwoegbu, Oregon State
Like Carter, I haven’t done an all-out study on Bright Ugwoegbu, a two-year starter for the Beavers who was returning to Corvallis as one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball. The rising senior is undersized at 6-1, 205 pounds and did not test well at his pre-draft workout. He was very productive as a sophomore, posting 54 tackles with 11 tackles for loss (a team high), and 5.5 sacks despite missing three games. Ugwoegbu, who is from Texas, dealt with some personal strife early last season after his family was forced to evacuate from his childhood home during Hurricane Harvey. His production dropped some, and after a coaching change there was some thought that he would declare for April’s draft. He decided to return to school, but at the start of spring practice he was suspended indefinitely, and later declared for the Supplemental Draft. Most media reports point to him going undrafted.