The NFL has revived an often-overlooked opportunity for teams to acquire new talent, and for players in unique circumstances to find their homes in professional football: the supplemental draft. After a hiatus since 2019, the NFL supplemental draft is making a much-anticipated return on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, as reported by The Athletic. It’s a special event that can bring up-and-coming talents, like former Purdue wideout Milton Wright, into the spotlight.
What Exactly is the Supplemental Draft?
The supplemental draft is essentially a lifeline for players who find themselves in unusual situations which prevent them from entering the regular NFL Draft held in April. The most common scenario is when a collegiate player becomes academically ineligible for the upcoming season after the regular draft has taken place. Without the supplemental draft, these players would be left in limbo for an entire year.
To be considered for the supplemental draft, players must file a formal petition with the NFL. Not every player who applies is admitted; players must also be at least three years removed from high school to be eligible.
A Tale of Triumph
An example of the talent available in the supplemental draft is Milton Wright. Wright was a promising wide receiver from Purdue, who unfortunately was ruled academically ineligible for the 2022 college football season. In his 2021 season, he snagged 57 passes for an impressive 732 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Wright is among those eligible for the 2023 supplemental draft, and his past performance indicates that he could be a valuable addition to any NFL team.
The Intricacies of the Draft
The supplemental draft has its own unique order that differs from the regular NFL Draft. Teams are categorized into three groups: non-playoff teams with six or fewer wins, non-playoff teams with more than six wins, and playoff teams. Within these groups, the order is determined by a weighted lottery, giving teams with fewer wins a better chance at an earlier pick.
Teams submit blind bids for the players, indicating the round in which they would like to select a player. The team highest in the draft order that submits the earliest-round bid for a player is awarded that player. However, this comes with a caveat – the team must forfeit a pick in the same round of the next year’s regular draft. This system adds a layer of strategy, as teams must weigh the immediate benefits of acquiring a player against the cost of losing a future draft pick.
Notable Supplemental Draft Successes
Several players have made their mark in the NFL after being picked in the supplemental draft. Notable recent picks include safety Jalen Thompson, who was picked by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round in 2019; cornerback Sam Beal, selected by the New York Giants in the third round in 2018; offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, picked by the St. Louis Rams in the fifth round in 2015; wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was a standout with the Cleveland Browns after being selected in the second round in 2012; and quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who began his career with the Oakland Raiders as a third-round pick in 2011.
A Welcome Return
The return of the supplemental draft is a welcome development for both NFL teams and players. For teams, it’s an opportunity to bolster their roster with hidden gems. For players like Milton Wright, it’s a chance to turn a setback into a life-changing opportunity. The 2023 NFL Supplemental Draft is not just a selection process; it’s a beacon of hope and a testament to the adage that sometimes, good things come to those who wait