The NFL's supplemental draft, at least as of late, has become a bit of an antique.
Over the last decade, the league has seen just eight players drafted in the summer's safety net for college players, who are typically enduring some kind of hardship or eligibility issue and would otherwise likely sit out the entire following college football season.
Of those eight drafted since 2010, only three have commanded Day 2 selections:
- Sam Beal, CB, Western Michigan: 2018 third-round pick, New York Giants
- Josh Gordon, WR, Baylor: 2012 second-round pick, Cleveland Browns
- Terrelle Pryor, QB/WR, Ohio State: 2011 third-round pick, Oakland Raiders
The supplemental draft used to be a hotbed for talent. Did you know that Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter was a fourth-round pick in the 1987 supplemental draft by the Eagles? From 1985 to 1990, the NFL added 14 players from the supplemental draft, a far cry from the barren experience it has become today. If we look over the history of the supplemental draft, we even find eight examples of first-round picks spent on players in the process. Who are they? And were those picks well spent?
1981: Dave Wilson, QB (Illinois), New Orleans Saints
The peak of Dave Wilson's football career was a 621-yard passing performance against Ohio State in 1980; Nick Saban was the Buckeyes' defensive backs coach that year. From there, Wilson was drafted by the Saints in the twilight of Archie Manning's playing career; but Wilson was never able to step into Manning's shoes as a long-tenured starter. Manning played his last snap in New Orleans in 1982, whereas Wilson managed just 35 passing touchdowns and 44 interceptions and an 11-16 record in his six seasons outside of Manning's shadow.
1985: Bernie Kosar, QB (Miami), Cleveland Browns
Bernie Kosar's legacy will probably go down as the best supplemental draft quarterback to date. Kosar was an average NFL starting quarterback but was named to a Pro Bowl in 1987 and commandeered a 12-4 Browns team in his first full season as the starter in 1986. Kosar would go on to throw for over 23,300 passing yards and chucked 124 touchdowns over a 13-year career and 108 career starts.
1987: Brian Bosworth, LB (Oklahoma), Seattle Seahawks
When you think about late 1980s collegiate star power, Brian Bosworth is one of the first names that comes to mind. Bosworth was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1986, a two time All-American and two time Butkus Award winner. He was a star with the Sooners, and, after early graduation, Bosworth entered the 1987 supplemental draft. He was ultimately drafted to the Seahawks despite writing them (among other teams) letters declaring his disinterest in playing for their teams. But a record-setting contract seemed to change Bosworth's mind; he signed a monster 10-year, $11 million deal before playing a down for the Seahawks.
Injuries, however, would ultimately derail Bosworth's playing career. He was forced to retire in 1989 after just over two seasons and suffering a shoulder injury he never recovered from.
1989: Steve Walsh, QB (Miami), Dallas Cowboys
This pick didn't turn out so hot, especially when you consider the rest of the story. The Cowboys owned the No. 1 pick in the 1989 NFL Draft as well and used it on UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. Several months later, Dallas used a first-round pick to pick up Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft and reunite him with his college coach, Jimmy Johnson.
That first-round pick would go on to become the No. 1 pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, but Dallas forfeited it for the rights to Walsh in the summer of 1989.
Walsh would start five games for the Cowboys, posting a 1-4 record, while throwing nearly twice as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns (five) before being traded to the Saints. Whoops, right? Well, not exactly.
Dallas traded Walsh to New Orleans for first- and third-round selections in the 1991 NFL Draft plus a conditional second-round pick that could graduate to another first-round pick with performance escalators. Walsh would last just three seasons in New Orleans and ultimately played for six teams. He ended his career with 40 touchdown passes and 50 interceptions.
1989: Timm Rosenbach, QB (Washington State), Phoenix Cardinals
Timm Rosenbach posted a 5-15 record as a starting quarterback in the NFL and was out of the league within four seasons of his arrival. He suffered a knee injury in 1991 that derailed his early career and saw a 1995 comeback with the Saints axed due to a disc injury in his back.
He is currently the offensive coordinator for Montana.
1989: Bobby Humphrey, RB (Alabama), Denver Broncos
Bobby Humphrey would go on to make the Pro Bowl in 1990 and rushed for 2,353 yards and 14 touchdowns over his first two seasons in Denver and became the first player in team history to run for in excess of 1,000 yards in consecutive season. Humphrey recorded a total of 2,661 yards from scrimmage over those two years and looked like a lock as a successful investment.
That was, at least, until a contract dispute in 1991 completely upended his progress with the Broncos. Humphrey played in just four games that season and rushed for just 33 yards touching the ball 11 times. His replacement rushed in excess of 1,000 yards himself and made Humphrey expendable after the hard feelings of the holdout infected the relationship.
Humphrey was traded to the Dolphins in 1992 and recorded nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage — 471 rushing yards and 507 receiving yards — but only found the end zone twice and at the end of the season hit the open market and failed to ever play in the league again.
1990: Rob Moore, WR (Syracuse), New York Jets
If Kosar is the greatest supplemental quarterback ever, then Rob Moore is the best first-round supplemental draft pick ever. Moore played 10 seasons for the Jets and Cardinals and logged 628 receptions for 9,368 receiving yards and 49 touchdowns. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 1997 when he was named first-team All-Pro with 1,584 yards while catching passes from Jake Plummer, Kent Graham and Stone Case.
Moore was targeted that season an incredible 208 times, the most on record in a single season since 1992. The only other receivers over that timespan to receive 200 targets in a single season? Herman Moore (1995), Marvin Harrison (2002), Calvin Johnson (2012) and Julio Jones (2015).
1992: Dave Brown, QB (Duke) New York Giants
Dave Brown played a decade in the NFL and served as a three-year starter for the Giants from 1994-96. New York went 20-27 over that timespan and Brown completed 55% of his passes while throwing 35 touchdowns to 46 interceptions. After he was sacked at least 42 times per season over that stretch, the Giants eventually phased in Danny Kanell as the starter the following season; New York went 7-2-1 in Kanell's 10 starts in 1997. The Giants mired in mediocrity with and without Brown for the rest of the decade until 2000, when former top pick Kerry Collins quarterbacked them to a 12-4 record.
- May 16, 2022
- May 16, 2022