If you thought NFL draft season was over and the seemingly never-ending churn of NFL content was coming to a halt until training camps mercifully open up, you would be sorely mistaken. The NFL is king, as they say, and rarely does a week or two go by without some sort of NFL event, even in the darkest days of the long off-season.
Here we are in the middle of baseball season, the Cubs are playing great, the Stanley Cup playoffs and NBA championship still fresh in the rearview mirror, but there is only one thing that is catching my attention these days: The NFL Supplemental Draft.
Now usually, the supplemental draft comes and goes without much fanfare. Maybe one player will be selected with a late pick and other times no one will be selected at all. But this year, more than any other year in recent memory, there are some legit talents who could potentially be drafted by your Chicago Bears.
But before we get into the players, you might be asking yourself:
What is the supplemental draft?”
How it Works
The supplemental draft will be held on Wednesday, July 11th.
Unlike the regular draft, there are only a handful of players eligible to be drafted. After the NFL Draft, if an underclassman is suspended, arrested, found academically ineligible or for any other reason won’t play college football next season, they can apply for the supplemental draft. This is usually one or two players per year, and there are three this year.
The draft order might also be slightly different. Instead of going simply by winning percentage, they determine the order by breaking the teams into three groups:
- Teams with less than six wins
- Other non-playoff teams
- Playoff teams
Each group is entered into a lottery to determine the order starting with the teams with less than six wins and ending with the playoff teams. Since the Bears only had five wins last season they won’t pick any lower than 11th but could potentially land the first overall pick. Each round will follow the same order.
It also differs from the NFL draft in that it is done through email as a silent auction. If a team wants to select someone, and they are not required to, they simply state who they want and in what round they wish to pick them. The team who commits the highest pick will get the rights to that player. The team that acquires the rights will then forfeit a pick in next years draft corresponding to the pick they used in the supplemental draft.
For example, if the Bears use a fourth-round supplemental pick this year, they will lose their fourth rounder in the 2019 NFL Draft. Also, since the Bears do not have a second round pick next year due to the Anthony Miller trade they cannot select a player in the second round of this supplemental draft.
Notable Draft Picks
The Supplemental Draft started in 1977 and 43 players have been selected in its time. Eight of those 43 have gone on to pro bowls and one, Chris Carter, even went on to become a Hall of Famer. Josh Gordon (Browns), Terrelle Pryor (Raiders), Ahmad Brooks (Bengals), Brian Bosworth (Seahawks), and Bernie Kosar (Browns) are some other notable draft picks.
In 1984, a separate supplemental draft was held for graduated seniors who signed contracts with either the USFL or CFL. That draft saw three Hall of Fame players get drafted: Steve Young, Reggie White, and Gary Zimmerman.
So while often overlooked, history has shown it is possible to acquire a very talented player in this draft.
The Bears, unfortunately, have not been so lucky. In 2010, the Bears selected their first and only player in the supplemental draft using a seventh-round pick on fullback Harvey Unga. Unga was on and off the Bears practice squad but never saw the field as a professional.
2018’s Eligible Players
There is a high likelihood that at least three players will be drafted this year. This would be the highest total of picks since 1989 when 5 players were selected.
1. CB Sam Beal (Western Michigan)
Beal will most likely be the first player selected this year. If he would have declared for this past draft, he would have been a Day 2 pick (second or third round). But academic issues put his eligibility in question. So instead of petitioning the NCAA for eligibility, he decided to declare for the supplemental draft.
The junior defensive back is a size/speed prospect at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds with athleticism to spare. He is smooth in coverage and has the long arms and physical mentality to be a press man corner at the next level.
The Bears were present at his pro day where he impressed scouts with a 4.47 40-yard dash and 37-inch vertical leap. He will need to get stronger and become a more physical tackler but has the potential to be a steal.
Over the last two seasons, he produced on the field racking up 92 tackles, 18 passes defended and two interceptions. Beal’s athletic profile, coverage skills, and production make him far and away the best prospect available.
Projected Round: 3-4
2. CB/S Adonis Alexander (Virginia Tech)
It was thought that Alexander would declare of the standard NFL draft, but he decided to go back for his senior season in the hopes of winning a national championship with a strong Virginia Tech team. But, like Beal, he was ruled academically ineligible and decided to declare for the supplemental draft.
Alexander is a much different defensive back than Beal. Where Beal is more scheme versatile, Alexander’s lack of athleticism makes him more of a fit in a zone-heavy scheme much like the Seahawks deploy.
While his athleticism leaves a lot to be desired, (he ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at his pro day) he makes up for it with tremendous size at 6-foot-3 and 197 pounds. In his three year career with the Hokies, he amassed 125 tackles, seven interceptions and 17 passes defended.
Projected Round: 5-6
3. S Brandon Bryant (Mississippi State)
If any of the defensive backs go undrafted, it will most likely be Bryant. Like the other two, Bryant was ruled ineligible for academic reasons.
Bryant is a good athlete for his position. Unfortunately, he relies on his athleticism too often which masks his below average football intelligence. He can be slow to react and diagnose and can be caught out of position. Often times he has enough athleticism to recover in college, but that won’t work at the next level.
After a promising freshman season where he notched 63 tackles, three interceptions, and 1.5 sacks, his performance dipped in each subsequent season. This last season those numbers dropped to only 32 tackles and one interception.
Bryant ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at his pro day. The Bears were not in attendance.
Projected Round: 7-Undrafted
4. OLB Bright Ugwoegbu (Oregon State)
Ugwoegbu was suspended for the upcoming season due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Ugwoegbu is an undersized pass rusher who has eight sacks in three seasons.
The Bears were one of six teams present at his pro day. But this was probably more to do with due diligence on any available pass rusher than actual interest. He measured in at 6-foot-1 and only 205 pounds so he will need to move off the ball in the NFL. Overall his poor athletic showing at his pro day and lack of size will most likely mean Ugwoegbu will need to catch on as an undrafted free agent.
Projected Round: Undrafted
5. RB Martayveus Carter (Grand Valley State)
Carter had nearly 2,800 yards in two seasons for Division II Grand Valley State. Pace loves his small school prospects, but with the Bears depth at the position, they are unlikely to be interested.
Projected Round: Undrafted
You’re probably wondering:
What are the chances the Bears draft one of these guys?”
I would put the likelihood of them drafting one of them as fairly high. After all, the Bears did not draft a defensive back in the 2018 draft despite being connected to some high profile cornerbacks.
At cornerback, they currently have Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara as starters with Bryce Callahan locking down the slot. But behind those three players, there is not much in terms of talent or long-term upside. Considering injuries have been an issue for all three starters in the past, it would not surprise me to see the Bears take a chance on either Beal or Alexander.
The great thing about the supplemental draft is players usually get drafted lower than their talent level suggests. As I mentioned above, Beal would have been a second or third round prospect had he been in the real draft. But in a supplemental draft, they could get him in the fourth or possibly even later.
You also get the added benefit of getting a player in the facilities a whole year earlier than if you used the same pick in next years draft. Since most mid-to-late round picks often need a year to develop this extended time with the team is invaluable.
If the Bears do select someone Wednesday night, we will have a full write up and analysis of the pick right here, so stay tuned!