For the second year in a row, no players were selected in the NFL supplemental draft. So what exactly is the supplemental draft? What players are eligible? How is the draft order determined? And has the draft ever produced any relevant players? Below is a comprehensive examination of all things supplemental.
History and Eligibility
The supplemental draft was adopted into the league in 1977. Since then, 42 players have been taken. Basically, it was established for players who did not enter the regular draft, either by missing the filing deadline or for eligibility issues, such as academic or disciplinary matters.
Draft Order Determination
The league uses a weighted three-step type of lottery system to determine the draft order. First come the teams that had six or fewer wins the previous season. The team with the worst record in that group is given a weighted advantage over the other teams and weights decrease until reaching the team with the best record in the group. The next group consists of non-playoff teams and follows the same weighted system. The 12 playoff teams from the previous season make up the final group and also follows the same lottery system. Got all that? Let’s continue.
Next, if a team wants a player, they submit a bid to the commissioner with the round they want to pick that player. The team that submits the highest bid is awarded rights to the player. Easy enough. If more than one team bids a pick from the same round, the team with the highest pick in the round wins out. No team is required to use a pick in the supplemental draft, but if they do, they forfeit their choice in the corresponding round of the next years NFL Draft.
Notable Draft Picks
There has been only one player selected in the supplemental draft that has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That pick was wide receiver Cris Carter, selected in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Carter was ruled ineligible for his senior year at Ohio State for signing with an agent. Carter finished his career with 130 touchdowns and is one of only eight players in NFL history with 1,000 or more receptions.
Quarterback Bernie Kosar was also a product of the NFL supplemental draft in 1985, but not without controversy. Kosar decided not to declare for the NFL until after the regular draft in order to play for his preferred team, the Cleveland Browns. Kosar had a storied career and earned his only championship ring as a backup for the Dallas Cowboys.
Standout defensive performers include DT Jamal Williams, selected in the second round by the San Diego Chargers in 1998 and LB Ahmad Brooks, chosen in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006.
And, of course, the draft has had its share of notable busts. Brian Bosworth was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1987 and retired after only playing two seasons. At the time, he signed the biggest contract in Seahawks history and the largest ever for a rookie player, 10 years for $11 million.
And then there was Josh Gordon. Taken in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns, Gordon has had his share of off-field issues. He is currently facing a possible year-long suspension and was recently arrested for driving while impaired.
So there you have it. The supplemental draft doesn’t get a lot of attention and usually comes and goes without much notice. This year’s draft only produced four eligible players. None were taken, allowing them to become free agents and still in search of an NFL career.