The Supplemental Draft is upon us, a time of year that generally has had a fairly big name or two in each of the past three years. This year, however, none of the six eligible prospects are locks to be selected.
Despite the prospects lack of elite talent, I have evaluated each of these prospects (despite the bottom three prospects having limited game film available) as well as done background research that includes calling the players, coaches, SIDs, and agents to gather information.
The final verdict? There could be four guys from this list that stick in the NFL in some way, shape, or form. And OJ Ross of Purdue has a solid opportunity to be selected.
For those of you who don’t know, the Supplemental Draft works like a bid process. If a team wants a player, it “bids” a round draft pick. If no one else bid that high of a draft pick, the team gets the player and forfeits that round pick in the next year’s draft. If two team’s place the same round grade bid on a player, last year’s draft order is used to break a tie. Here is the Supplemental Draft’s history.
1. OJ Ross, WR, Purdue, 5'10, 185
Hailing from Florida in high school, the four-star receiver prospect OJ (Oliver Lamont Jr.) Ross started four games as a true freshman, ten as a sophomore, and eleven as a junior. He was suspended for the team’s 2012 bowl game, and was reported to have violated “unspecified team rules violation”. After working with the team in spring practices, he was told by the new coaching staff (led by Darren Hazzell), that he had lost his scholarship, at which point he decided to train in Florida and enter the Supplemental Draft. He had been in good standing with the past staff, with no prior issues with drugs, alcohol, or criminal activity in college.
Ross is a slippery route runner and after catch runner, adjusting his body to evade big hits as well as slide under defensive backs downfield. He’s quick to work upfield in space, and his shiftiness likely translates best to a slot receiver role and as a returner (which he did in college). He exchanges his feet quickly in short routes, allowing for ample route definition and the ability to flip his head back to the quarterback quickly and in an athletic position. His routes appear patient and composed as he works downfield, working best with posts, comebacks, hitches, and drag routes mostly, though he’s run a bit of everything thus far. He does need to regain his balance and explode to the ball better against man coverage, and isn’t always as physical initially to gain separation on the outside or off press.
Ross had his private workout on July 9th, where seven NFL teams arrived to evaluate him as he went through all the normal Combine drills. Each of those seven teams has been in contact with Ross over the past two weeks since his eligibility was finalized.
Team Predictions: 7th ROUND to Miami, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis
2. Dewayne Peace, WR, Houston, 5'11, 190
Peace has had a battle against playing cornerback since he entered college football, which provided his biggest reason for having four colleges on his resume. Initially starting out at Michigan, he decommitted from the school after learning they planned to move him to cornerback. Instead, he went to Arizona who, after a season, also tried to make him a cornerback. A year at the junior college at Blinn College (the school Cam Newton made well known) gave him the opportunity to play for the Houston Cougars, where he was one of the team’s feature receivers in 2012. Set to return as the team’s leading receiver in 2013, Peace found out during spring practices that he was ruled academically ineligible at Houston. As I spoke with a member of the Houston staff, he made it clear that the coaches would not be receptive to speaking about Peace, and that he won’t be drawing rave reviews from his now former coaches. This was his first academic issue at Houston.
Peace is a bit more physical than Ross in all facets, showing some willingness to be effective as a blocker and getting separation initially off the line. He uses his hands well off the line, and controls his feet well as he gets to his route break. He has smooth change of direction, and is able to adjust his body well to the ball. However, he doesn’t have great stop-start ability, lacks ideal field vision as a runner, has some build up time before he’s truly an explosive runner, and doesn’t grab the ball away from his body at an overly high level. Combining his past issues, the way he left Houston, and his limitations as a receiver, and Peace may have a tough time sticking in the NFL, despite having the talent to do so.
Team Predictions: Undrafted to New York Jets, Baltimore, Chicago
3. James Boyd, DE/OLB, UNLV, 6'5, 265
A highly recruited prep prospect, Boyd started his career at USC. He redshirted his first year, and had a knee sprain during his redshirt year. Considered a quarterback, tight end and a defensive end at USC, Boyd appeared in just two games before transferring to West Los Angeles City College. Set to be a quarterback at UNLV in this past year, he was switched to defensive end after spring practices and played in just 4 games.
He hasn’t had any injuries in his career dating back to high school. Based on his athletic upside as a speed rusher on the edge, he’s a very raw talent that an NFL team will likely give a chance to after the draft. I wouldn’t rule out a team taking a flyer on him in the 7th round, but more than likely, he’ll get a chance in a workout after the “draft” is over.
Team Predictions: Undrafted to New York Jets,
4. Damond Smith, CB, South Alabama/Western Michigan, 5'11, 186
Smith nearly was signed by NFL teams after this past year’s draft, as teams thought he didn’t have remaining eligibility. But the one time Western Michigan cornerback (who was once in trouble for fighting a teammate) and eventual Southern Alabama transfer was ruled to have another year of eligibility before he was forced out at his new school this spring. While he doesn’t play with consistent pad level in his back pedal, can give up short catches easily thanks to lacking ideal body control and body placement in short zone situations, he does possess plus explosiveness as a tackler and when closing down on plays. He extends away from his body well, and has natural long field speed and explosive qualities, all of which should intrigue at least a few NFL teams.
Team Predictions: Undrafted to Cleveland, Atlanta, Detroit
5. Toby Jackson, ILB, Central Florida, 6'5, 256
The one-time 9th ranked defensive end in the country in 2008, Jackson was forced to go through the junior college ranks, signing with Navarro College in Texas. By 2010 (his second year at the school), he lead the team to a National Championship game, earning MVP honors. Originally signed with the Georgia Bulldogs, Jackson eventually changed his commitment to UCF, despite ample SEC, Big 12, and ACC interest. He played in 9 games at UCF in 2011 before being ruled ineligible in 2012 for academic reasons. For his size (6’4, 260), he’s a plus athlete, likely having a 30+ vertical jump and running in the 4.7s. He’s balanced and controlled laterally in the short area, and breaks down to finish tackles well in space. When he’s had the chance to sink and make plays in linebacker settings (as the option pitch man, on delayed stunts, etc.), he’s looked solid, likely giving him the possibility of contributing earliest as a 3-4 inside linebacker.
Team Predictions: Undrafted to New York Jets, Indianapolis, Jacksonville
6. Nathan Holloway, DT, UNLV, 6'3, 365
Holloway hasn’t played in a game since 2010, in which he played in all 13 games. A high school running back (surprising for a listed 6’3, 365 defensive tackle), he’s had academic issues throughout his college career that has forced him to miss the past two seasons. Despite flashing the short area body control for a nose tackle prospect, it’ll be an uphill battle for Holloway to get a serious NFL opportunity.
Team Predictions: Undrafted to Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, New York Giants