The NFL had some unexpected “buzz” over the weekend, breaking through the slowest part of the offseason as Dane Brugler of The Athletic announced the NFL Supplemental Draft will be returning this summer for the first time since 2019.
The supplemental draft is a niche topic, as the NFL is not required to hold it every year and teams are not required to make selections. Only one or two supplemental selections are usually made in these drafts, if any.
Here are some FAQ’s on the supplemental draft, and an opportunity to ask additional questions below. Finding answers on this topic is surprisingly difficult, but I will certainly do my best!
How is eligibility determined?
Prospects have to petition the league for eligibility, the rules of which are largely circumstantial. If a player’s collegiate availability has been adversely affected or if a player was simply late to petition for traditional NFL Draft eligibility, they can apply for the supplemental draft.
It’s important to note that according to NFL Football Operations, a prospect’s eligibility for the traditional draft includes being at least three years removed from high school and using all of their college availability. Although it’s become more commonplace for collegiate stars to declare themself draft-eligible once they’ve met the three-year requirement, it’s important to note that these are technically exceptions that NFL Player Personnel staff must approve if their collegiate eligibility isn’t fully exhausted.
Although this isn’t the easiest information to find, it appears that the NFL remains strict on the three years removed from high school requirement (or an international equivalent to high school or a junior football program).
How is the draft formatted, and how are selections made?
As so few eligible players are available in the supplemental draft each year, teams don’t make their selections in the traditional draft manner. It’s instead formatted like a fusion of a silent auction and waiver wire . If a team wants to select a player, they submit a “bid” that stakes a selection in the next year’s draft at the round they offer. The waiver wire component occurs if multiple teams offer a selection in the same round for the same player. For example, if the Texans and the Chiefs both submitted second round bids for a prospect, the Texans would have priority since they weren’t a playoff team in 2022. The Texans would win the player, and lose their 2024 second round pick.
The waiver order is determined by categorizing all teams into three groups based on their previous season performances, assigning priority to the worst performing groups, and holding a lottery within the groups to determine the final order. The three different tier groups are:
- Teams that won six or fewer games
- Teams that won more than six games but missed the playoffs
- Teams that made the playoffs
How is player compensation determined?
This is a tricky question, and one I’m still trying to pinpoint.
If a player is selected with a second round bid, the team loses their following year’s second round pick, and the player is assigned a second round wage from that current season. Where exactly a player’s compensation will fall within that given round’s wage scale isn’t clear. Jalen Thompson was selected in the 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft by the Cardinals with a fifth round bid, but despite the Cardinals having the highest draft slot in 2019, his pay was closer to a player selected in the middle of the fifth round. The best guess I could offer is that the player is given the average wage allotted within the round he was “selected” in.
Have any impactful Chargers been selected in the Supplemental Draft?
The Chargers have drafted a total of three players in the history of the supplemental draft, making it an unlikely tool for Telesco to turn to this offseason.
However, a fan favorite was acquired in 1998 using a second round bid. Jamal “The Wall” Williams entered the supplemental draft when he was declared academically ineligible for his senior season, and he and Mike Wahle highlighted an unusually talented supplemental draft class of two.
Charger fans will also recognize names like Paul Oliver, a 2007 selection with a fourth round bid, as well as Jared Gaither who was selected by the Ravens with a fifth round bid in 2007 and eventually signed with the Chargers in 2011. The Chargers also selected Billy Mullins in 1980 with a ninth round bid, but he was traded to the Bears the following season.
Who is currently eligible for the 2023 Supplemental Draft?
Only one player has submitted an application and received approval from the league. Purdue wide receiver Milton Wright missed last season due to academic ineligibility, and is now hoping to find a place on an NFL roster. Wright broke out in 2021 with a 57-732-7 line, starting in all 12 games for Purdue, and was expected to be the team’s number one receiver in 2022. Instead, he was dropped from the program once his academic ineligibility was announced.
There is still time for additional prospects to apply, and we will continue to monitor if any additional players become eligible.
Be sure to comment below with any additional questions or comments you have on the supplemental draft.