Well, the NFL Supplemental Draft is interesting this year. That’s kinda fun.
Three specific entries make this year’s supplemental draft worth tracking: Adonis Alexander, CB out of Virginia Tech; Sam Beal, CB from Western Michigan; and Brandon Bryant, SAF from Mississippi State. All three are entering the supplemental draft due to academic ineligibility for their upcoming seasons; all three have draft-worthy grades on my scale.
But should Philadelphia seriously consider one of these players?
It’s important to first review how supplemental draft selections are made. The 32 NFL teams are separated into 3 bins.
Bin A: non-playoff, sub-7 win teams
Bin B: non-playoff, 7+ win teams
Bin C: playoff teams
If you’re interested in selecting a player from the supplemental pool, you have to submit a bid for that player, with the round of draft pick you’d be willing to surrender for him. Whichever team offers the earliest round selection gets to draft that player, forfeiting an equivalent round pick in the subsequent year’s draft (i.e. the 2019 NFL Draft). In the event of multiple teams offering the same caliber bid, teams from Bin A get precedence over Bin B, and Bin B over Bin C.
Philadelphia’s currently projected to have 11 selections in the 2019 NFL Draft, including two in the fourth round and three in the sixth. As such, they have the abundance of capital to help rationalize making a supplementary selection. I’m not particularly thrilled about any of the three options for Philadelphia specifically, but here’s how I would value them.
Sam Beal, CB, Western Michigan — 4th round grade
This my dude. A second-team MAC performer in 2017 who lead his team in PBUs, Beal was on many 2019 watchlists as a potential Top-100 player.
Listed by Western Michigan at 6’2 and 195, Beal has a thin, wiry frame but still plays with great physicality, especially near the line of scrimmage—but it isn’t the frame that makes him such a good press corner; it’s the technique. While he occasionally guesses and runs himself out of position, Beal regularly wins within the contact window to initially disrupt timing/position of the stem, and then excels downfield, closing throwing windows and maintaining speed while leaning through the wideout and tracking/attacking the ball with wide receiver-esque success.
In off-man and zone coverage, Beal shows decent reactionary quickness to attack downhill and anticipate breaks. His knack for affecting the catch point shows up again, but he isn’t yet an instinctive player when reading the backfield, and as a result, he’s still a click late. The Eagles run an average man/zone mix in the NFL and like to work in a lot of concepts, but a player like Beal would be best served on a team dedicated to Cover 3 looks that allow him to win down the field.
I would also question the logic of spending a 4th round selection on a boundary corner when you already have four on the roster (Mills, Darby, Jones, Douglas) this year, three under contract for 2019 (no Darby), and two for 2020 (no Mills). Beal is a talented player, and I’d likely submit a 5th-round bid for him were I in Roseman’s shoes—but I wouldn’t expect to get him.
Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech — 6th round grade
Alexander is the poster child for “I might not be good at much, but I am very large for my position, so there.” Posted by the Hokies as 6’3 (Egads!) and 207 pounds, Alexander’s length and girth immediately present a problem for all but the freakiest of wide receivers. It’s worth noting that Alexander will hose a workout before the supplemental draft, at which point teams can verify those measurements (as well as get a wingspan measurement to boot).
With his size and willingness to mix it up, Alexander immediately becomes a draft-worthy project for teams that value size at the position; his value is boosted for press-heavy Cover 3 teams. However, Alexander cannot offer much outside of that scheme, as his high-cut frame and poor discipline make him a liability in pure man coverage.
Lazy, heavy feet and long strides make for poor short-area quickness and an inability to mirror receivers out of snappy breaks. David Sills V, a talented receiver for the Mountaineers, all too easily gained separation against Alexander all game long. The West Virginia coaching staff figured this out and attacked Alexander with Sills frequently later in the game. Given his inability to quickly attach to underneath routes, Alexander is at this point in his development a liability, and requires at least a year on the bench before being pushed into any significant number of reps.
Philadelphia’s scheme simply does not protect their cornerbacks enough to justify bringing in Alexander. The ceiling of Alexander’s development is likely already represented by second-year Rasul Douglas’ game: another long and big corner who struggles in short areas, Douglas is far more disciplined and precise with his footwork already, and brings the same physicality and disruption that Alexander would.
Brandon Bryant, SAF, Mississippi State -- 7th round grade
Brandon Bryant is frustrating, guys. A bonkers athlete, Bryant put out a promising 2015 campaign, but then statistically regressed over the next two years for the Bulldogs.
So you’re stuck wondering: what happened?
What I can tell you is this: Bryant is not the smartest football player right now. He guesses a ton and relies heavily on instinct—and even when his instinct is true, he often takes poor angles, sacrifices clean tackles to pursue hit sticks, and lacks the Spidey-Sense to know when he’s being baited.
Something’s wrong with the coverage here—of that there’s no doubt. Perhaps it isn’t even Bryant. But as a defensive player, when you run directly into the same zone that a fellow defender is already occupying, alarm bells should ring off in your head. You should adjust and look to cover the space left vacant. Bryant lacks that headiness.
That said, he’s a blue-collar player who likes to fly and likes to thump, which projects him well to special teams. His 6’0, 215 lb frame lends itself to box safety work, but he’s such a good mover, he can give you deep safety looks as well—that’s a bonus. He’s a depth safety, whose chances of making a roster would be increased on a team like Philadelphia, which has a weak safety corps and loves to recruit special teams aces. On the athletic profile alone, the seventh-round pick is a low-risk, warranted investment.