The Supplemental Draft provides an opportunity for promising prospects to find a home with an NFL team. The list of eligible players are athletes who could not participate in the regular draft due to reasons that range from academic deficiencies to disciplinary problems.
Like the regular draft, teams with poor records are given priority over teams who played in the post-season. Teams submit preferences for players and the round in which they would like to select their players of choice. Why wouldn't a team go for a player in the supplemental draft? Well, if they choose to acquire a player, they need to give up the corresponding pick in the 2016 Draft. The players who aren't chosen will be free agents.
Seven players were eligible for the supplemental draft this year:
Isaiah Battle, offensive lineman, Clemson
Darrius Caldwell, defensive end, West Georgia
Eric Eiland, defensive end, Houston
Sean McQuillan, tight end, Connecticut
Kevin Short, defensive back, Kansas
Dalvon Stuckey, defensive tackle, West Georgia
Adrian Wilkins, wide receiver, North Carolina Central
The reasons these players are in the supplemental draft range from having bad grades to bashing a guy's face in. Kevin Short left Kansas for personal reasons after first joining the team at the beginning of the 2014 season, according to Kansas.com.
Darrius Caldwell and Dalvon Stuckey both left West Georgia to play for Arizona State, but neither saw playing time due to academic ineligibility. Sean McQuillan was slated to be the captain of the Connecticut team in 2015 until he inflicted "significant facial injuries" on his roommate, resulting in a felony charge.
Adrian Wilkins would have been ineligible for the upcoming season at NCCU. The reasons for his ineligibility were not specified. Eric Eiland played a full season for Houston in 2014 after playing four years of minor league baseball. It was not apparent what landed him in the supplemental draft.
OT Isaiah Battle of Clemson has perhaps the most buzz of all the supplemental players with numerous outlets predicting he will find his NFL home on July 9. Battle was suspended in 2013 after punching an NC State defensive back during a game. Amid other disciplinary problems, including marijuana possession, Battle became a father this summer and and said his departure from Clemson was to address "family matters."
Supplemental draft players can be a risk. The last team to take advantage of the supplemental draft was the Cleveland Browns in 2012 when they chose Josh Gordon. The former Baylor wide receiver was in the supplemental draft because of marijuana-related discipline problems. The General Manager at the time, Tom Heckert, said via ESPN, "We hope he plays right away." The Browns gave up their 2013 draft pick for Gordon who, alas! and alack! surprise, surprise!, is currently facing a year-long suspension for drug use. The Cowboy's 2010 supplemental draft pick Josh Brent ended up killing teammate Jerry Brown in an accident that was the result of driving while intoxicated.
Still, for teams that have lost so many players in the offseason that the coaches might have to double as players (ahem, cough, 49ers), the supplemental draft could be an attractive option even if it means giving up a pick in the 2016 draft and acquiring a player with character problems. Mark Eckel NJ.com reported that the Eagles, Giants, and Jets could use help on their o-line and Battle could be their man. Meanwhile, an unnamed source in his article said, "I'll be surprised if he's not taken" and predicted he would go to the Falcons.
The Steelers' roster is currently well-stocked particularly on the offensive line, so there is no reason to think that they would participate in this years supplemental draft, especially if it would mean forfeiting a pick next year and taking on someone with documented behavioral challenges.