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Supplemental Draft to the Rescue
Emory Hunt, FBGP Analyst
With talks of a potential abbreviated college football season, or a full season in the winter, it appears that the powers the be will have college football come hell or high water. But, with any scenario that’s tossed out there, especially with the uncertainty of Covid-19, there ends up being more questions than answers.
And for many potential 2021 NFL Draft prospects, the thought of not having a college football season, or an abbreviated season, or one that pushes up against the 2021 NFL Draft next spring, doesn’t sound like the best possible situation for them to be able to maximize their opportunities to increase their value as prospects.
In 1977, the NFL created a supplemental draft. It was meant for players whose eligibility had changed and hadn’t declared in time for the regular draft. In over 40 years, there have been a handful of impact players — the most notable in recent years being Josh Gordon. But it’s been pushed to the shadows, mainly; a quirk of the behind-the-scenes machinations that barely registers a blip between OTAs and training camp.
I don’t think it’s going to be pushed aside this year. Follow this logic with me.
Judging by the current timeline of events, I find it hard to envision a 2020 college football season happening. Spring Football has already been shuttered. Which means the ever-so-important winter and spring workouts have ceased. And with no clear date to return to campus, it’s safe to say that we won’t get productive summer workouts or fall camp done in time to realistically have a full season.
Professional ball differs from college ball in one major aspect: there are no classes. College football can’t continue until college classes continue. Professional ball has the luxury of moving a season to start whenever/wherever. One, because it’s professional and they have the financial resources. And, two, there’s a fixed number of teams. You’re talking 32 NFL teams vs. 850+ football-playing colleges from FBS-JUCO.
So with potentially no college football to be played this season, guys who are upcoming seniors or rising juniors and are legit pro prospects will be left without a season to play. They would essentially go a full year without playing football. And, more importantly, would go a full season without getting PAID to play football.
With that potentially being a serious conundrum for many potential prospects, the question then becomes: what could be a potential option?
Answer: The NFL Supplemental Draft
“So how does this thing work, Emory?”
Glad you asked.
The supplemental draft essentially runs like a silent auction, where teams have to bid the following year’s draft pick for the potential player. The draft works on a tier system, to level the playing field:
So just for example, if Team A was willing to part ways with next year’s first round pick for Player B, while Team B only offered up a second round pick, Team A would get the player. Because of that, many teams are reluctant to give up future draft picks for players, which is why you don’t see many players taken in the supplemental draft.
However, this year could potentially change that with the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 college football season. We could essentially see the NFL use the Supplemental Draft as a jump-start on the 2021 draft.
Having players who either considered coming out in April’s draft but ended up returning to school, plus players — like Clemson’s star QB Trevor Lawrence, —who would have more than likely played their final season of college football in 2020, eligible for the supplemental draft, could make this usually nondescript draft VERY interesting and exciting.
Because the Supplemental Draft happens in July, that gives NFL teams another two months to evaluate and study potential players for the draft.
There is one wrinkle — the NFL rule book uses language about a player’s eligibility having to change from the time they didn’t declare for the draft to the time of the Supplemental. If they wanted to be strict about this, the NFL could argue that none of these players’ eligibility changed, assuming the schools just view this as a lost season and hit reset next fall as if nobody advanced a year. Hopefully this doesn’t happen and the players are allowed to make this decision for themselves.
“But what about the upcoming college seniors who aren’t highly thought of yet? How do they factor in?”
Another great question, Emory, I’m glad you asked that!
Because the NFL (Now, I don’t know all of the legalities involving the NFLPA and how that would factor into this) can essentially adjust the rules of how they operate at any time, they could essentially run the supplemental draft like a second, full seven-round draft. It would almost be like draft ‘futures’, sort of like you see in baseball (I reached out to the NFLPA for some help with this question, but they declined to reply by the time this article ran).
As you know, I’ve personally scouted thousands of players. So while all eyes this week are on the actual NFL Draft, I like to be a step ahead, and have listed some of the more interesting names you could see in the July Supplemental, if things play out the way they will. I went ahead and dropped a round next to each player, so you have a feel of the Supplemental pick they might commend. Worst case?
This is an early look at some of the top 2021 prospects (NOT IN ANY ORDER. SO DON’T TRIP).
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
2. Justin Fields, Ohio State
3. Jamie Newman, Georgia
4. Brock Purdy, Iowa State
5. D’Eriq King, Miami
1. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
2. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
3. Travis Etienne, Clemson
4. Najee Harris, Alabama
5. Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana
6. Josh Johnson, UL-Monroe
1. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
2. Rondale Moore, Purdue
3. Devonta Smith, Alabama
4. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
5. Justyn Ross, Clemson
6. Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
7 Jamarr Chase, LSU
8. Marquez Stevenson, Houston
1. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
2. Brevin Jordan, Miami
1. OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
2. OT Walker Little, Stanford
3. OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
4. OT Jackson Carman, Clemson
5. OT Samuel Cosmi, Texas
6. OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
7. OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan
8. OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State
9. OC Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
10. OG Trey Smith, Tennessee
11. OG Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
1. DE Quincy Roche, Miami
2. DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
3. DE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
4. DT Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA
5. DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson
1. Jabril Cox, LSU
2. Dylan Moses, Alabama
3. Garret Wallow, TCU
4. Micah Parsons, Penn State
1. CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
2. S Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, TCU
3. CB Elijah Molden, Washington
4. CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
5. S Richard LeCounte III, Georgia
6. S Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State
7. CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
8. S Sean Wade, Ohio State
9. S Caden Sterns, Texas
If you think ratings will be a smash hit for the NFL Draft, you can imagine the ratings for a televised Supplemental Draft.
Hopefully, we’re able to get the world back in order to have normalcy within our fall sports. But, this particular contingency plan would make things very interesting if it were to occur.
The XFL Following is Something We’ve Never Seen Before
Alex Marinoni, FBGP Reporter
The sporting world came to an abrupt halt last Wednesday, due to the Coronavirus international pandemic. The NBA, MLB, NHL and other professional/collegiate sporting leagues across the country, suspended operations and will look to figure out plans to continue their seasons. The XFL (one of the last leagues to confirm) waited until the end of day Thursday, to not just postpone their inaugural 2020 season, but, end the season entirely. The XFL doesn’t have the luxury of waiting out their season and picking up at a later date because they understand that they need to do right by the players. Not only did every player get fully paid out for their preseason and five weeks of service time, but the teams allowed their players out of their contracts earlier to seek other potential opportunities awaiting them in both the NFL and CFL. It was an easy decision that Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck didn’t have to make, but just like how they’ve handled every decision this season, it was the right one.
It is a big reason why the XFL, in such a short period of time, did something we have never seen before in the sporting world; create a following and build a sustainable culture in just half a season.
Week after week, the XFL was dominating the TV ratings on Saturdays and Sundays, and the attendance at the games met or exceeded expectations. Despite the naysayers, who were quick to remind everyone that the ratings were decreasing slightly every week, they still averaged well over one million viewers every game. Attendance in some cities seemed to hit their peak, but other cities like St. Louis, were on the verge of putting 45 thousand fans in the Dome. Days leading up to games, through days after games, the XFL was trending on Twitter and this was without the help from the Adam Schefter’s and Ian Rapoport’s of the world. A collection of up and coming and eager reporters, like me, were the ones getting the stories, visiting team practices, interviewing players and coaches, as well as hosting cable TV shows and Podcasts. If you followed the XFL at all this year, then you are more than familiar with the names like Konnor Fulk, Bailey Carlin, Mike Mitchell, Jai Stokes, Danny Jones, Allison Koehler among MANY others. Did you know these names before week 1? These names, and the many others, were part of the reason why the XFL community as a whole flourished the way it did.
How can this happen in just five weeks?
All these people, including myself, and the rest of the Football Gameplan crew, believed in what the XFL represented: a chance. For a lot of these players and coaches, it was a first chance. Players like Jordan Ta’amu, Donald Parham,PJ Walker, Cavon Walker, and coaches Jonathan Hayes and Pep Hamilton got their first chance at the professional level to play for, and/or lead a franchise. Then there were the guys who got a second chance; the likes of Matt Jones, Cameron Artis-Payne, Will Hill and Jim Zorn. Players and coaches who have spent significant time in the NFL looking for a chance at a second football life. Lastly, there were the guys who were on their last chance, guys like,Josh Johnson, Matt Elam and Kevin Gilbride. These, among many other players and coaches who were the guys that the NFL didn’t need any more and if not for a league like the XFL, we may have never seen in the professional football world again.
Now, you might be thinking, “how does this gain the following the XFL was able get?”
Through three paragraphs of this article, I have not once said the words “CBA,” “Money,” “Super-Team,” “Rules,” “Antiquated-Ways,” “Arbitration,” Etc… These are just some of the words used to describe the problems going on in American sports today that fans are just sick of. The NBA has a Super-Team problem. MLB has many problems that can all pretty much be summed up in one word: antiquation. Between the rookie contracts, arbitration process and the terrible job they do of marketing their star players, MLB has felt more like the old grumpy grandpa having a hard time adapting to the times. The NFL… HA! Where do I begin?? They have more problems to figure out than both NBA and MLB combined. I will just use words like CBA, Franchise Tag, Holdout, inconsistent officiating, inconsistent discipline measures, among many others.
There are two things American sports fans love in this country: football and watching really talented people play football. The XFL doesn’t have contract or CBA problems; they have the opposite of an antiquated problem, as they’ve innovated many new ideas on the field; and the parity in the league through five weeks was about as close at it could be. There wasn’t any background noise, political statements or agendas being pushed across on fans. Every Saturday and Sunday for five weeks, all we got was eight teams playing for the love of football. The XFL took out the BS and listened to the fans, and laid out a product that not only they wanted to see, but what the players wanted to see too. When the Coronavirus struck the US and the XFL was forced to close its doors on the season, you could see and feel the utter disappointment at all levels. The fans felt devastated, but, thankful. The up and coming media personalities are sick as we consumed the XFL like no other, but, were thankful. And no one was hurting more than the players as not only was their first, second and final chance at playing football came to an unwarranted pause, but, were thankful.
The community and foundation that was built in five weeks is something no league could have ever accomplished, especially with the failures the Spring Leagues before it suffered. The following the XFL garnered is real, and is among the many reasons why the XFL will be here to stay.