Each year, the Supplemental Draft occurs in mid-July as a way for prospects who didn’t declare for the draft the year before, but are either set to suspended for a meaningful amount of time or have an impending infraction that will severely hurt their stock in the future.
Because of how quickly this process begins (mid June) and ends (July 12th this year), it leaves scouts and GMs scrambling for information and left with brief, non-in depth scouting reports and background checks. Most times, these prospects are either riddled with character issues and/or aren’t NFL worthy.
However, former Baylor and Utah receiver Josh Gordon is certainly worth the NFL’s time. And after watching two games during his time at Baylor and hearing reports that he looked equally (if not better) at Utah, I broke down Gordon as best I could on limited and older film.
Built the Part of an NFL Receiver
Just by looking at his raw numbers, it’s hard not to be impressed by his natural 6′,4, 220 pound listed size. And on film, he looks the part, built well in the upper half and not fragile in his legs the way some lanky receivers can get.
In my 2013 NFL Draft scouting, just four receiver prospects at 6’4 or bigger caught my eye as draftable talents. Players with his size with his long arms don’t come around very often at receiver. And even more rare, few can run and move in the short area as well as he does.
Natural Talents Jump Off Film
For a 6’4 receiver, Gordon shows great explosiveness in the open field. Flashed as a kick returner in some of the games I saw, he gets to his top speed quickly, runs smoothly and doesn’t have much wasted movement to get upfield. While his length doesn’t allow him to be dominant as a downfield runner through traffic, he does have the body control and balance to avoid and bounce through traffic, something that could especially improve with NFL added bulk.
As a receiver, he grabs the ball away from his body smoothly and has natural steps to transition upfield. He doesn’t have dynamic turn and run ability after the catch, but never really had the chance to thrive in that area thanks to a lot of hitch routes arriving late thanks to a mis-timing quarterback (Robert Griffin as a sophomore).
Finally, his blocking ability really was apparent on film. He delivers a pop, extends, and finishes blocks (rare compared to most college big talent receivers). He also showed composure and focus on his blocks, keeping his hands in tight, keeping his feet upfield, not losing leverage vs. cornerbacks towards the play side, and not committing penalties.
Concerns Still Linger
In Baylor’s very simple 2010 offense, Gordon didn’t have a chance to develop as a route runner what such ever. A majority of his routes as the “X” receiver were vertical routes, 5-10 option hitches, or quick screen plays. That lack of route development is a concern and something that will take time in the NFL.
And while his blocking ability and run after catch break-tackle ability showed some power as an athlete, he didn’t seem to have a consistent physicality to his game, especially as a downfield route runner. He was bumped off his route at times against lesser cornerbacks, and wasn’t able to get the downfield separation that a receiver for his size should thrive with.
Don’t forget the reason he’s in the Supplemental Draft: Off the field issues. He was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2010 while at Baylor, which was a main reason he decided to transfer. Now, he’s left Utah for undisclosed but likely not ideal reasons.
Adjustment to the NFL
As I said in last year’s Supplemental Draft preview , joining an NFL team in July isn’t easy for a player’s development. The team that does take you doesn’t know a whole lot about your talents, they have to teach you an offense other rookies have had for 3 months, and you haven’t had the chance to work out with NFL teams.
Gordon won’t make an impact by opening day, that’s for sure. He hasn’t played an actual game in over a year, and may not be in ideal conditioning. And, don’t forget he doesn’t have great route polish and doesn’t have NFL physicality yet.
That being said, Gordon has a chance to make an impact as a rookie, obviously depending on which team he ends up on. Because of his potential impact late in year one and high ceiling as a prospect to eventually be an NFL “X” receiver, his value as a prospect puts him around a 2nd rounder. I’d compare him to Greg Little (2011 draft pick to the Browns) or Stephen Hill (2012 draft pick to the Jets) as a prospect, and both went in that area.
With a 3rd round grade and thanks to the fact NFL teams generally drop a grade, teams will start to consider him in the late 3rd to early 4th round area, with the 4th round probably his most likely.
Here are five teams that could consider him:
New England Patriots
-Always tough to figure out how they’re going to use their picks, a dynamic playmaker to stash sounds like Belichek’s MO.
-History of taking troubled talents, plus they have an extra 2nd rounder thanks to the Carson Palmer trade. Could consider a 2nd or a 3rd rounder for him.
-Obviously lack depth at receiver, plus they have an extra 3rd rounder thanks to the Brandon Marshall trade. They were interested in another troubled receiver last year: Justin Blackmon.
-Extra 3rd rounder in 2013, plus they could use another athletic playmaker for Cam Newton.
-Extra 4th rounder in 2013, plus they may need to find a developmental replacement for Percy Harvin. Worth the gamble.
UPDATE July 6th: Background Information
For all the Background Information and Character Check, check out our full article dedicated to it.
I spoke with someone at Utah in the Athletic Communications Department. Here’s what they said on Josh Gordon:
“It wasn’t the right situation for Josh so we parted ways.”
Not anything special, but it still left some concerning issues. What made it not the right situation for JOSH? And the “we” in the parted ways leads me to believe it wasn’t just Josh leaving the program: they wanted him out. Just trying to get as much out of the minimal information I can.
However, someone in close to the Baylor football program was much more helpful. Keep in mind that these comments are made without bias. The person does not still have contact with Gordon, and Gordon was dismissed from Baylor University. Gordon has little to zero connection to Baylor as of now outside of still keeping in touch with some coaches.
“I’ll tell you what I’ve been telling the NFL: Josh is a great kid, super talent, just bad decisions. All the coaches here liked him.”
“It seemed he got along with everyone on the team and I can’t think of any point where he was in confrontation on field or off. If football is all he has to focus on, then he’ll thrive because he knows this is his last chance. I’ve gotten a lot of calls from NFL scouts about him, so I know there’s interest.”