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RS Head to Head – NFL Supplemental Draft: Still Valuable?

With the Supplementary Draft having no-one picked for the 3rd year of the last 4, our writers examine whether it still has a role to play.

The supplementary draft has become irrelevant
argues Nathan Hards

For the third year out of four, the supplementary draft has passed by with no signings. Then as soon as they become free agents, the teams swarm in. In four years, only one player has been drafted through the supplementary system. This has rapidly become an irrelevant system that is only used by teams that are absolutely desperate after a terrible spell of injuries, or after they got taken to the cleaners in the normal draft.

Sure, the players need to have the chance to get drafted, having personal lives that prevent them from being considered for the draft can be an inconvenience, but if they were serious they wouldn’t have these problems.

What inevitably happens is that the draft goes by with no activity, two or three of them get signed, then go onto the practice squad, before fading into obscurity. Very few players ever become real prospects out of the SD, and the NFL clearly treats it as such. Surely the system has proved itself to be out of touch by now? Swapping a draft pick for next years prospects in exchange for a blind stab at a guy that couldn’t get into the normal draft, in case some other team offers more money in free agency? Then pop them straight into the practice squad? No thanks.

They should just let the teams allocate from free agency in a bidding system. Give them an extended period for negotiations with rookie prospects from FA, and let the teams fight it out. They’ll be glad of the attention, and very few teams would consider this system “losing out”.

The Draft takes place because it enables the teams to enter into a levelled playing field with equal opportunities for bargaining and leverage. Nobody is going to drop a shot at a college player next year, in exchange for a shot at someone who couldn’t make it this year. If they do, that should be a warning flag right away. What you’re saying right there is, “I don’t have the players I need to compete next season”, and you’re just grabbing the guys that are left over, in the hope that they won’t steal your truck before they top 500yds.

Alright, that last point was flippant. Not all players in the SD are criminals, but there are common themes as to why players are made ineligible for the main draft, and criminal records are a major theme among them. This year alone saw Jalen Overstreet go unsigned due to Credit card fraud charges hanging over him.
Surely the NFL should  be looking at why players miss the draft, what drives that behaviour, and how to stop it in the future?

The Supplementary Draft is still valuable to the NFL
argues Rebecca Rennie

This is pretty straight forward. Firstly, it’s not something that is there for the heck of it. The supplemental draft has very specific reasons for existing, for players whose circumstances or college & academic eligibility have changed since the January deadline to declare for the regular draft. A lot can happen in six months and it gives those young men an opportunity following unforeseen circumstance.

There’s no doubt that in some of those cases it can be due to negative reasons brought on themselves, but if they aren’t under any legal restrictions, they have the right to enter the league as much as any other player who has had troubles in the past. It’s up to the NFL teams to determine what to read into those issues, as it is with any player they debate on selecting in April – if they are concerned, grade him lower or don’t pick him at all, same as anyone else.

This year, none of the 6 prospects eligible were chosen. At least 2 at the time of writing have joined teams afterward as undrafted free agents. So, why not scrap the draft and just let them leave their schools and join a team that wants them as a free agent? They are rarely selected anyway. Well, financial reasons for one thing. If a player is good enough to use a draft pick from next year on them, which there have been even if only a handful recently, then they will be negotiating an appropriate contract in the range of those selected in that round, the same terms of contracts and securities which free agents don’t get to the same extent.

That’s the franchises and players’ perspective. Moving on to the fans. I’d understand complaining about the supplemental draft if it was taking up endless time on sports networks and discussions for weeks building up to it, profiling these fringe prospects. Maybe if on the day they made a big deal of it, hosted a huge over the top event with hours of build up with a star-studded panel then dramatizing the announcement of any picks at a podium. But they don’t. The supplemental draft is conducted away from the media, done by email very briefly and quickly between team front offices and the NFL. It’s a minor blip on the radar on one day of the year at a slow time of the year before training camps start in the biggest lull time period of the off-season. Is it really that intrusive? For many this year it came and went without evening noticing it had taken place. Hardly getting in the way of your regular viewing. Should you not be interested, it’s a minor news item mentioned for a minute on NFL Network or ESPN. It’s an article you don’t have to click on or can skip over.

I get the impression that the kind of person who complains about the supplemental draft is the kind of person who goes about life seeking out things they can complain about. It has genuine reasons for existing, and doesn’t encroach on other goings on (of which there are practically none at this time of year anyway). So, get rid of the supplemental draft? Why? Give me a break.

RS Head to Head – NFL Supplemental Draft: Still Valuable?

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