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2013 Supplemental Draft: Welcome To Baggage Claim

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NFL teams aren't likely to find today the kind of catch that Josh Gordon was in last year's supplemental draft. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.
NFL teams aren't likely to find today the kind of catch that Josh Gordon was in last year's supplemental draft. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

Radio City Music Hall, for the moment, stands empty, awaiting final preparations for the arrival of “America’s Got Talent” later this month. Chris Berman is resting his backbackback, getting ready for Monday’s Home Run Derby.

There will be no fans gallery chiding the commissioner. No one sweating it out in the green room. No clock counting down.

As Thursday morning dawns, we don’t even know who’s on the clock.

Still, it’s Draft Day for 32 NFL teams and six potential picks. Or should we say, it’s Supplemental Draft Day, which, for virtually the entire football-centric world, feels a lot like Thursday.

And it’s not a particularly intriguing Supplemental Draft Day, even by Supplemental Draft standards. Only 42 players have ever heard their name called on Supplemental Draft Day, many of whom wound up with undistinguished careers in the NFL. To date, there have been about 35 busts for every Hall of Fame bust (even though technically Cris Carter – the lone Hall of Famer who entered the NFL via the supplemental draft – won’t take up residence in Canton until August), far more Terrelle Pryors than Pro Bowlers.

Make no mistake. There’s no Josh Gordon in this year’s pool. Only a bunch of so-called prospects who carry more questions than Alex Trebek.

Every one of the six players available Thursday is here for the same reason – he has lost the opportunity to play college football. For some, it’s an academic shortcoming, for others some degree of misbehavior. With the spectre of the Aaron Hernandez aftermath, it’s not a good time for players with character concerns to be trying to land a job in the NFL. And this year’s group is pretty much a walking Baggage Claim – you claim one, you go home lugging some baggage.

Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And 32 beholders will determine if there’s anyone available worth sacrificing a pick in next year’s actual draft.

So, let’s introduce you to the Supplemental Six-Pack, the guys whose names you are not likely to hear again today:

James Boyd, DE, UNLV: Boyd enters the draft as a potential 4-3 DE, though barely more than a year ago, he was practicing at quarterback. When he started his college career back at USC, the coaches had no idea where to put Boyd, who practiced at D-end, quarterback and even tight end. Last year, after finally settling on a position, he had a couple of sacks and broke up seven passes. He is may catch on as a free agent, but he’s far too raw for any team to forego even a late-round draft pick for.

Nate Holloway, DT, UNLV: Holloway appeared in 25 games over the 2010 and 2011 seasons, racking up a combined 28 tackles and 3.5 TFL. Then, last summer, he left the program somewhat abruptly – even though one newspaper suggested he’d likely compete for a starting job -- forcing him to miss the entire 2012 season. There’s simply not enough body of work that would convince someone he could make the leap to the next level.

Toby Jackson, DE, UCF: Jackson also didn’t play in 2012, having left his team last summer for what reportedly were academic issues. But then his resume is not the null set that Holloway’s is. He was signed out of high school by Georgia and was recruited out of junior college by Alabama; clearly, Mark Richt and Nick Saban once liked what they saw from Jackson, which speaks to his potential. And game footage from his time at Navarro College (where he was the defensive MVP in the 2010 JUCO national championship game) suggests he has a decent repertoire of pass rush moves. He showed a speed rush, a spin move and the ability to cross the face of his blocker. It would not be a total surprise if someone took a sixth or seventh round flyer on him.

Dewayne Peace, WR, Houston: Peace isn’t the former UH player originally expected to wind up in this supplemental draft. Turns out it wasn’t the Cougars’ leading rusher (Charles Smith, instead, transferred to West Virginia) to enter this mix but their leading receiver. However, once he was declared academically ineligible, as ESPN reported back in June, Peace needed a new place to play. He’s unlikely to warrant selection on Thursday, but he could wind up catching on with a West Coast system, some team looking for receivers to work underneath and make catches in traffic.

O.J. Ross, WR, Purdue: Back in February, Ross was suspended indefinitely for some undisclosed violation of team rules. He’d been suspended once already (he missed the 2011 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl), and so this latest infraction cost the Boilermakers their top returning receive for goodr. Like Peace, Ross isn’t particularly big or particularly fast; downfield threats these guys are not. Still, Ross might find a home in the slot somewhere and could potentially return punts. He’s shifty and has the ability to make people miss, but is that enough for anyone to snap him up today? 

Damond Smith, CB, South Alabama: As far as pure talent goes, Smith is the prize of this draft class. He’s a physical corner who can blitz, will fight through blocks to support the run game and makes tackles. He probably could even play a little safety. But then there is the character question. Smith, once the top-rated CB prospect in the state of Michigan (back in 2009), started his career at Western Michigan. Then, an on-field alteraction with a teammate got him benched and then allegedly dismissed. His career at South Alabama was similarly short-lived, as a failed drug test reportedly cost him his roster spot. He’ll be unpolished when he gets back on the field, but Smith will get back on the football field somewhere – even if it’s not through the supplemental draft.