The NFL supplemental draft will take place on Thursday, July 10. While there has been some extremely talented, yet troubled players in previous years, this offseason's selection process features four players that you have probably never heard of or have seen play.
New Mexico returner/receiver Chase Clayton, North Carolina linebacker Darius Lipford, Virginia-Lynchburg defensive tackle Lakendrick Ross and SMU running back Traylon Shead make up the four players eligible to be drafted. The entire quartet is unexpected to be drafted by most pundits and that's understandable. Even if you can look past their lack of experience and other issues, they are coming to the team with little chance of making the roster because of their lack of time in the system.
Below are brief backgrounds on all four players:
Position/School: KR/WR/RB, New Mexico
Height/Weight: 6'2," 204 lbs
College Career: A three-year player for the Lobos, Clayton has totaled five catches for 48 yards at wide receiver. He was a fullback in 2012 and rushed 32 times for 209 yards (6.5 YPC) and played mostly special teams at New Mexico. As a kick returner, Clayton thrived with 22 returns for 646 yards (29.3 YPR) and two touchdowns.
Reason for Leaving Early: Clayton was ruled academically ineligible for the 2013 season and did not appear in a game. He is now eligible to be drafted.
Position/School: DT/NT, Virginia-Lynchburg
Height/Weight: 6'5," 360 lbs
College Career: Ross committed to Morgan State out of high school but was academically ineligible to join the team. He then went to Virginia-Lynchburg where he played only six games in 2012. However, in those six games, he was dominant. He produced 19 tackles (five for loss) and four sacks. He was again academically ineligible last season.
Reason for Leaving Early: Ross has been named academically ineligible twice with his latest infraction coming last season.
Position/School: LB, North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6'3," 245lbs
College Career: Lipford committed to UNC in 2010 as a running back. He was moved to linebacker as a freshman and appeared in 11 games (one start) and produced four tackles. He became the starting SAM linebacker in 2011 and collected 42 tackles and four pass deflections. He tore his ACL in the Independence Bowl that season and missed all of 2012. He returned in 2013 and played in 10 games. He compiled 20 tackles (six for loss), 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Reason for Leaving Early: Lipford decided to forego his redshirt senior season and enter the supplemental draft. He is likely the best player of the four but has major injury concerns due to the ACL injury which impacted him in 2012 and 2013.
Position/School: RB, SMU
Height/Weight: 6'2," 230 lbs
College Career: Shead was a talented high school running back that committed to Texas in 2010 but redshirted as a freshman. He then decided to transfer to Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas. After one year of junior college ball, Shead headed to SMU. Last season, Shead played in only four games due to several injuries, including a sprained knee. He finished the season with 197 rushing yards (3.9 YPC) and three touchdowns.
Reason for Leaving Early: Shead decided to forego his senior season and declare for the supplemental draft.
As you can see, there aren't any Josh Gordons this year. As mentioned before, none of these players are expected to be drafted on Thursday, but there is a chance that a team could look at them after the selection process is concluded. If any of the four players goes undrafted, they will immediately become free agents and will be able to sign with any club.
If a team signs an undrafted supplemental player to a contract, that player is still facing an uphill battle. The player in question will only have training camp to prove that they belong. With the way the current CBA is set up, supplemental players are at a massive disadvantage, as their rookie and veteran free agent competition (for the most part) has been able to study the playbook and practice with the team for two months. The supplemental rookies are heading into contact and full-on practices without the walkthroughs and light workouts that they would have had during minicamp and OTAs. That lack of time on the team makes their chances of making the roster very tough.
When a team drafts a supplemental player, they are typically doing it to keep the player for the next season with the advantage of having them on their squad for an extra year. If the team spends a sixth round pick in the supplemental draft, that player is viewed as that selection for the next year. For the four players in this year's selection process, the hope will be that they can find a team one way or the other.