Technically, the supplemental draft is meant for players who missed the registration deadline for the NFL draft. However, most players know that they are going to enter the draft, and register on time. The players in the supplemental draft often come with character concerns, or are struggling with ineligibility at the college level for some reason. Thus, these players declare for the supplemental draft rather than spend a year away from football.
Do decent players ever get selected in the supplemental draft? Absolutely. Chris Carter was a supplemental draft pick and now he's in the Hall of Fame. The last (only?) good Browns QB, Bernie Kosar, was a supplemental draft pick. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks? Supplemental draft pick. The often suspended but extremely talented Josh Gordon? Supplemental draft pick. QB-turned-WR Terrelle Pryor? Supplemental draft pick. While the supplemental draft isn't a huge source of NFL-caliber player talent, some talented players still are selected in it on occasion.
There are seven players eligible for the 2015 supplemental draft. Here they are:
Battle, Isaiah. OT, Clemson. Battle is probably the most talented player in this year's supplemental draft class. He has the talent to be a potential starter at the NFL level, and should stick with a team. However, character concerns abound after he was allegedly caught with marijuana while speeding. Battle, however, also just recently had a son, and logically could be moving to the NFL to help support him. I would almost guarantee that we see him drafted by some team.
Caldwell, Darius. DE, West Georgia. Caldwell is a small-school standout who spent some time at multiple schools, and ultimately spent last season at West Georgia. He does some things well, but projects as a practice-squad type of player at the next level. While he might be selected at the tail end of the supplemental draft, more likely he'll go undrafted. That being said, he still has the talent to wind up in an NFL camp.
Eiland, Eric. DE, Houston. Eiland is an interesting player. He started playing college football in 2007, but spent some time playing baseball in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and is 27 years old. His age and the need to learn a new position (he's likely too small to play DE in the NFL and will probably move to OLB) will discourage teams from selecting him, but he may find a spot in a camp.
McQuillan, Sean. TE, UConn. McQuillan is an extremely talented player. However, he was kicked off of his college team following an arrest on assault charges. McQuillan absolutely has the talent to stick on a roster at the NFL level, but his arrest will likely keep teams away from him since his trial is after the draft. If he's cleared of charges, he could be a steal as a free agent for some lucky team.
Short, Kevin. DB, Kansas. Short was a hyped junior college transfer for Kansas. Then he didn't play a down of football for them after transferring, following a red shirt season in 2013 and then a year of academic ineligibility in 2014. Two years away from football will likely scare teams away from Short, but he could wind up in an NFL camp. More likely he'll spend a few years in a league such as the CFL proving his talent before attempting to jump to the NFL.
Stuckey, Dalvon, DT, West Georgia. Stuckey is a talented small-school talent who attempted to transfer to Arizona State but didn't make the cut academically. He's a guy that has the talent to be a backup / developmental guy in the NFL early on, and should catch on with a team after the draft at worst.
Wilkins, Adrian. WR, North Carolina Central. Wilkins is an extremely talented kick returner, but at 5-8, 175 pounds, some teams will be scared away due to size myths. That being said, the Eagles have shown some interest, and I could see them taking a chance on him late in the draft. He's a very talented player that could see playing time early in his career as a return specialist. While Battle is the big name in this year's supplemental draft, Wilkins could be selected as well.
So those are the players. How do teams select them? The sensible way to do it would be to draft in order, just like the regular draft. Just have teams choose which round they'd like to select a player in, and highest pick wins. However, the NFL just can't let the supplemental draft be that simple. It's the supplemental draft, so they have to make it exciting!
The NFL supplemental draft can best be described as a three step program. And who doesn't love three step programs?! First, teams with six wins or less in the previous season participate in a lottery for the first overall pick. This group consists of the Giants, Rams, Bears, Jets, Redskins, Jaguars, Raiders, Titans, and Buccaneers. One of these nine teams will have the first overall selection in the supplemental draft, and the other 8 will follow. The Buccaneers will have the best odds at the 1st pick, and the Giants, Falcons, and Rams will have the worst odds out of this group. Every team is given a certain number of entries into the lottery drawing, and the Buccaneers will have the most.
The second group includes all non-playoff teams not included in the first group. This year, the second group consists of the Browns, Vikings, Saints, Dolphins, 49ers, Bills, Chargers, Texans, Chiefs, and Eagles. The third group picks after the second group, and consists of playoff teams. This year, the third group consists of the Panthers, Ravens, Bengals, Lions, Cardinals, Colts, Steelers, Cowboys, Broncos, Packers, Patriots, and Seahawks.
Once the draft order is finalized, teams "bid" on players. Each team gathers a list of players they are interested in drafting (if any), and places a round value on them. For example, if the Browns want Isaiah Battle in the 2nd round, they'll place a 2nd round value on him. The team with the highest value on a player gets that player, so if the Jets have a first round value on him, they would beat the Browns and receive him.
However, if a team selects a player using a pick in the supplemental pick, they lose a corresponding pick in the following year's regular NFL draft. So if the Browns select Battle in the 2nd round, they lose a 2016 second round pick in the NFL Draft. This is why many teams shy away from selecting players in the supplemental draft; most supplemental draft players are viewed as risks, and a prospect that doesn't pan out corresponds to a "wasted" draft pick, in a sense. Most teams prefer to stick to the regular draft, where more players are available to choose from, especially since the supplemental draft often mostly consists of prospects deemed "risky" by NFL teams.
That being said, this year, we might see at least one to two players drafted. Isaiah Battle will most likely be selected tomorrow (probably with a 4th or 5th round pick), and it wouldn't surprise me to see a team take a chance (although this is less likely than Battle being selected) on Adrian Wilkins with a 7th round pick.
It's draft season again, at least for now! Are you excited? I'm excited!