Commentary

Supplemental drafts yield mixed results

Teams considering Pryor must weigh checkered history of similar picks

Originally Published: June 20, 2011
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Ahmad BrooksMichael Zagaris/Getty ImagesAhmad Brooks is a supplemental draft choice who has had some success, but his best play was not for the team that selected him.
Supplemental drafts are crapshoots.

On paper, the concept is intriguing. A college athlete loses his eligibility in the spring, applies to the supplemental draft in the summer and is available for a team to play in the fall. For the cost of a draft choice next season, a team gets a 16-game trial run before the team would have used that draft choice. Sometimes, that player is drafted in a lower round than what teams might have as his draft grade.

What a bargain, right?

As former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor waits to find out when he will be selected in the supplemental draft, teams have to decide if they are interested in him. One factor they must weight: Recent supplemental drafts have been letdowns.

Since 1999, 10 players have been selected in supplemental drafts. Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither, a fifth-round supplemental pick in 2007, is one of the few success stories. Gaither became a starter by his second year and registered 28 starts in four seasons. For a fifth-round pick in 2008, that's a steal.

Guard Milford Brown (a sixth-round pick in 2002) and linebacker Ahmad Brooks (a third-round pick in 2003) had some success, but their best play was for teams that didn't draft them. Brown had 14 starts for the Texans but 33 for three other teams after he left Houston. Brooks lasted only two years with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he moved on to become a valuable role player for the San Francisco 49ers.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the past 10 supplemental picks was running back Tony Hollings, whom the Texans selected with a second-round pick in 2003. Hollings had only one start for the Texans and gained only 149 yards in three seasons.

Defensive back Paul Oliver was a fourth-round pick of the Chargers in 2007. He's helped in the secondary but hasn't developed as a starter. Defensive linemen Manuel Wright (fifth round, 2005, Miami Dolphins) and Jeremy Jarmon (third round, Washington Redskins, 2009) didn't distinguish themselves. Running back Harvey Unga of the Chicago Bears and Josh Price-Brent of the Dallas Cowboys were seventh-round supplemental picks last season but spent 2010 learning fundamentals.

The supplemental draft has had some great success stories. Jamal Williams anchored the Chargers' defensive line for years, and Mike Wahle was a mainstay for the Green Bay Packers' offensive line. Both were 1998 supplemental choices.

Pryor's name makes this year's supplemental draft interesting, but recent history puts a damper on expectations for him.

From the inbox

Q: The Patriots have all the talent they could possibly want, and it showed during the 14-2 season. However, what is going on in the postseason? They've lost three straight playoff games, and they have all been against teams that the Pats have beaten in the regular season. What's wrong, and how does it get fixed? Have the Pats made an attempt to fix it?

Cal in Los Angeles

A: Great question. On defense, I contend that the Pats are paying a price for not having a great pass rush. They haven't developed a pass-rusher from the draft in years. Against top quarterbacks in the playoffs, the defense is challenged. The offensive issues in the playoffs baffle me. Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I do think that in the past two playoff runs, Brady wore down at the end. He was coming off the knee surgery in 2009. Last year, he had a foot injury. I wouldn't worry much about Brady. He'll be fine. Bill Belichick's challenge is getting better on the pass rush and figuring out what did go wrong.

Q: I was wondering, because the Rams didn't address guard or the backup running back hole, if could you see the Rams becoming buyers at those positions once the lockout comes to a close?

Blair in Chicago

A: I think they are fine on the offensive line, but I would have to think they are going to be buyers in free agency for a backup running back. My thought would be to add Darren Sproles. He could help with the return game and add needed explosion to the backfield. I don't think they need to find the same style of runner as Steven Jackson. But a Jackson-Sproles combo would be fun to watch. The Rams clearly have to add more run-after-the-catch ability to their offense. They might also have to consider Reggie Bush if he is released.

Q: As a lifelong Browns fan I am finally happy with direction of the team after years of disbelief. My only real reservation with the team is that it seems to believe that Colt McCoy is a franchise QB. I don't see it. I think he has a lot of moxie and can be decent, but I don't see him rising to greatness. Can he be that guy? Are Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert seeing something I don't?

Bill in North Baltimore

A: You're correct in having a "show me'' attitude about McCoy, but when you think about it, was there any quarterback in this draft the Browns could have selected that would have been that much better? Maybe not. Give Colt a year and see how he does. The one debate is whether the Browns should have used their extra first-round pick in 2012 to acquire Kevin Kolb. If Kolb goes to Arizona and becomes a star and McCoy doesn't, then the Browns blew an opportunity. But let's say the Browns don't have a great season. Let's say they go 6-10 or worse. The quarterback class in 2012 might be better at the top than this past draft's. If that's the case, the Browns can get a quarterback who can make them better.

Q: Do you think Chad Pennington has a chance to make one more comeback? I know he is not going to be a top-tier starter, but when he is healthy he is still a serviceable mentor and backup to a team with a young QB. What about Minnesota signing him to teach Christian Ponder, whom many have referred to as a young Pennington?

Andrew in Philadelphia

A: The Dolphins would like that to happen, but I can't see it. In fact, Pennington stated in the past couple of days he's going to take the year off to evaluate his health and where he wants to play in 2012. All the Dolphins are looking for in free agency is another Pennington to compete against Chad Henne. For them, Pennington would be perfect. I question whether he can ever come back and play again because his shoulder has been rebuilt so many times. His résumé is perfect for the Dolphins or Vikings. I'd be surprised if he plays again.

Q: Regarding the Dez Bryant versus Michael Crabtree comparison, I agree with you that Bryant is bigger and faster, has better hands and more talent but have to disagree with the way you bash him and not Crabtree for behavior. Yes, Bryant is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer and lacks some skills regarding time management. However, after he was drafted he showed up on time and worked hard when he was healthy. Nobody associated with Dallas has questioned his love for the game or effort in practice or a game. This offseason he has missed only one Dallas workout, and despite ESPN trying to make a huge deal out of it, his teammates knew he would miss that practice. Compare that to Diva Crabtree, who missed training camp and half the season the year he was drafted because he thought he was a superstar. Last season he got into a shouting match with a teammate over his effort or lack thereof in practice, and this season he finally attended a Niners workout and was bad-mouthing Alex Smith. To me Crabtree seems to be a diva like T.O. or Moss but without the talent. Your thoughts?

Doug in Cleveland

A: A lot of receivers are divas. To his credit, Crabtree hasn't had incidents off the field. Crabtree missed training camp because of a contract holdout. He thought he was going to be the third pick in the draft. He was the 10th, but he tried to persuade the 49ers to pay him over the No. 10 slot. That happens. I'm not going to bash Crabtree, because I think he is a good receiver and will only get better. I just like Bryant's potential more.

Q: Do you expect to see Golden Tate get more opportunities with the ball in his hands for the Seahawks next season? For a second-round pick, it seemed like his role in the offense was pretty limited last year. I was hoping the Hawks would use him in the same fashion that the Vikings use Percy Harvin, with a lot of WR screens, short slants, etc. Were there some issues that I may not have heard about preventing him from getting touches last season? Injuries? Discipline? Route-running ability?

Nick in Seattle

A: I don't know if this will be a breakout season for Tate, but I really like what he can do for this offense. He has great run-after-the-catch ability along with good hands and great speed. You get the feeling he didn't seem to fit in with former Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. There are some thoughts that he didn't pick up the offense as quickly as Bates wanted, but Pete Carroll changed coordinators and let Bates go. Tate will have to work harder to learn the new offense, but he has the talent to be a good one.

Q: With all signs pointing to the Atlanta Falcons doing everything in their power to obtain Ray Edwards when the lockout is lifted, do you think that the organization will also try to make a run at signing Nnamdi Asomugha? Dunta Robinson was not that impressive last year, and a shutdown corner such as Asomugha would be a huge upgrade.

Keith in Marietta, Ga.

A: I can't see any team being able to afford two cornerbacks as costly as Robinson and Asomugha. Once the CBA is agreed upon, the salary cap might be $120 million, $7 million less than 2009. To put more than $20 million a year into two cornerbacks doesn't work at those numbers.

Q: Where do you see DeAngelo Williams playing once the lockout ends? Will he stay in Carolina? Will he go to Miami? I don't expect Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown to be back, and I'm sure the Dolphins would love a complement to rookie Daniel Thomas. Do you see Miami as a fit for DeAngelo Williams?

Jordan in York, Pa.

A: I don't think he will go anywhere. The Panthers are willing to overpay to keep players they like. Keeping Williams is a priority. Although that might give him great leverage in asking the Dolphins and other teams for big dollars, the Panthers might outbid everyone to keep him. I still think the Dolphins will bring back one of their two runners -- either Ricky Williams or Brown. If that happens, they need a quick, smaller back to fill out the backfield. They will have their inside-the-tackle runners if Williams or Brown pairs up with Thomas.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer