NFL supplemental draft: Previewing the prospects
The NFL’s supplemental draft, which last year produced burgeoning Browns star receiver Josh Gordon, will take place this Thursday. There will be six players available for NFL teams to choose from: three defensive linemen, a defensive back and two wide receivers.
Teams “draft” players in this format by bidding future draft picks — Cleveland, for example, put up a 2013 second-rounder to nab Gordon; the team’s spot in Round 2 of this year’s normal NFL draft was then skipped.
Will any of the six eligible prospects earn a draft nod this time around? Here’s a quick look at the players in the mix:
James Boyd, DE, UNLV: Since the NFL is growing more and more obsessed with high-upside, athletic players, Boyd could pique some interest. He was a four-star recruit out of high school, after racking up 106 tackles and throwing for 4,200 yards and 44 touchdowns. He bounced around between QB and DE at USC, then did the same at West Los Angeles Community College.
Boyd, now 6-foot-5 and about 250 pounds, settled on the defensive side of the football last season at UNLV and produced 2.5 sacks (2.0 coming in the Rebels’ second game vs. Northern Arizona). He’s very raw and inexperienced as a pass-rusher, but his speed could get him on the radar.
Nate Holloway, DT, UNLV: UNLV’s website lists Holloway at 6-3 and 365 pounds, so he’s probably looking at a nose tackle-or-bust NFL future. He sat out the 2012 season with academic issues, so he has not been on the field since 2011 — he had 3.5 tackles for loss that year and 1.5 in ’10. A team looking for some depth up front may give Holloway a tryout, but it’s hard to envision any franchise using a draft pick here.
Toby Jackson, DE, Central Florida: Another player who missed 2012 due to academic shortcomings, Jackson played just one year with Central Florida after starting his college career in the JUCO ranks at Navarro College. The 6-5, 267-pound end had 3.0 tackles for loss during the ’11 season. But a bunch of upper-echelon teams were interested in him coming out of Navarro, including Alabama and Georgia, so there may still be some untapped talent here.
DeWayne Peace, WR, Houston: Peace led Houston last season with 54 catches for 603 yards. He and Deontay Greenberry might have formed a dynamic receiving duo for the Cougars this season, too, had Peace not been ruled ineligible (reportedly for academic reasons) in early June.
Could an NFL team take a flier on Peace? Possibly late, though there does not appear to be anything here, talent-wise, that jumps off the table. Peace scored just two touchdowns last season and has only adequate size at 5-11, 190. He may nab a late-round gamble, but it’s much more probable that Peace eventually signs as a free agent.
O.J. Ross, WR, Purdue: The most productive college player available in the supplemental draft, Ross hauled in 100 passes for 959 yards and six touchdowns during his three seasons at Purdue. Ross had to sit out Purdue’s 2011 bowl appearance due to academics, worked his way back into good standing for 2012, then was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules on Feb. 1.
So, given the focus on players’ off-field behavior right now, Ross faces an uphill battle to find a landing spot. The flip side is that Ross can be dangerous with the football in his hands, which is why the Boilermakers used him as a kick returner during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Ross is listed at 5-10, 188.
Damond Smith, DB, South Alabama: Smith already had a nibble from an NFL team — the Packers tried to sign him as an undrafted free agent, before a ruling that he had to enter the supplemental draft instead. Smith reportedly ran a 4.4 40 at a small-school pro day prior to the draft, and ex-NFL scout John Middlekauff tweeted last week that a current scout “said he’d be shocked if the CB wasn’t in a camp.”
As with possibly every other name here, Smith may have to again go the undrafted FA route. While talented at 6-foot and about 185 pounds, Smith carries the proverbial “red flags” with him — he transferred from Western Michigan to South Alabama after a fight with a teammate, then was suspended by the Jaguars for a violation of team rules.