Josh Brent looks to have been worth a seventh round pick in the 2010 supplemental draft. Could the Cowboys find a similar bargain this year?
In the midst of the pre-pre-season doldrums, there is very little for the followers of the Dallas Cowboys, or NFL fans in general, to chew on. We look for any development whatsoever to seize out interest and provide a topic for discussion and argument. As Dave noted last week, there is one interesting item coming up, the NFL Supplemental Draft is happening on Thursday.
But let's back up just a step. What is the supplemental draft? Well, for those who aren't sure about how this works, here are the rules, according to the NFL CBA:
If a player who was not eligible for the Draft in any League Year becomes eligible after the date of the Draft, he will be eligible to be selected in a Supplemental Draft, if the League elects to conduct such a Draft, on or before the seventh calendar day prior to the opening of the first training camp that League Year. No player may elect to bypass a Draft for which he is eligible to apply for selection in a Supplemental Draft. Any Club that selects a player in a Supplemental Draft must forfeit a choice in the same round in the next succeeding principal Draft.
Everybody clear on that? OK, for those who are not familiar with legalese, or the closely related language, bureaucratese (which I do speak fluently), here it is in plain English: Sometimes college players, who are not eligible at the time of the primary draft, will become eligible for some reason, after the draft but before the NFL teams get into training camp. If these players choose, they can declare themselves as available for a supplemental draft. If there are players available in a given year, the league can then choose to have a supplemental draft (it is not required, and the league could just tell eligible players to wait for the next regular draft).
The NFL has to hold this draft at least a week before training camp starts. If the supplemental draft is held, the teams will go through seven rounds. If a team selects a player this way, they give up their spot in the next year's draft for the corresponding round they used to make the supplemental pick. There are only a handful of players available for this each year, so the teams have to decide not only if they want one of them, but how much they are willing to spend (how high a draft choice they give up next year). This is all done electronically (which I assume means online, as opposed to the old, archaic method of doing it by phone that was used in the dark ages) and should be done very quickly.
Hopefully, that explains how it all works.
Who is available, and who the Cowboys might be interested in, and even more after the jump.
Dallas used the supplemental draft to good effect in 2010, spending a very reasonable seventh round pick to acquire Josh Brent (since the team still managed to wind up with two seventh round picks in 2011). And he is the fourth best player to come out of that year, with Dez Bryant, Sean Lee and Sean Lissemore the guys ahead of him. And just to compare, the other players chosen in the 2010 draft were Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Sam Young, and Jamar Wall. I think no one can take issue with how this has worked out, with Josh becoming Jay Ratliff's primary backup. It is a great example of how to use the supplemental draft economically and efficiently.
So the question now becomes whether Dallas is interested in any of this year's eligible players. There are eight:
- Boise State DB Quaylon Ewing
- Utah WR Josh Gordon
- Syracuse RB Adam Harris
- Iowa State OT Adrian Haughton
- Carson-Newman LB Larry Lumpkin
- Georgia DE Montez Robinson
- McMurray WR Houston Tuminello
- TCU RB Ed Wesley
According to various reports, the Cowboys have definitely shown interest in two names on the list, Josh Gordon and Larry Lumpkin.
Almost from the moment Gordon declared, he was linked to Dallas as a possible solution for the third wide receiver spot. He has some pretty impressive credentials, having caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns in his last college season. And he fits the physical profile that Dallas seems to want, leading to a belief that he will be taken very quickly in the supplemental draft.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon is a physical specimen with 4.4 40 speed. One NFL scout told ESPN's Adam Schefter that he believes Gordon, who was Baylor's No. 1 receiver in 2010 over Titans first-round pick Kendall Wright, could go as high as the second round.
However, you may already be picking up on some slight issues here. Although Gordon is listed as a Utah player, he actually played his games at Baylor before transferring. He never set foot on the field with his new team. missing the entire 2011 season after the transfer, which came following a drug-related suspension.
He left Baylor last summer after being indefinitely suspended following an arrest for marijuana possession in a Taco Bell drive-through. He transferred to Utah but never played for the Utes, entering the supplemental draft due to financial reasons.
This raises the whole RKG issue at Dallas. While it can be argued that most cars in a Taco Bell drive-through late at night are occupied by people under some kind of influence, it still does beg the question of what he did to call attention to himself. However, as has been brought up before, RKG does not mean choirboy. If Gordon has learned his lesson and is prepared to put the right effort into playing ball, he might still be a possibility for Dallas. Part of the equation is just how much faith the team has that the answer for the third wideout is already on the roster - and with Jason Witten and Felix Jones as other pass-catching options, how big a deal is that third spot, outside providing needed depth behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant?
The price would then be the major question. As mentioned above, he could cost a second round pick, and other reports maintain that he will not last past the third.
While Gordon was mentioned as a possible target for Dallas as soon as his name came out, Lumpkin has just surfaced as someone the team is interested in. The Cowboys, along with the Denver Broncos, have been reported to be seeking information on him. A player who also put up some nice numbers (94 tackles, including 10 for a loss), although at a small school, he has at least as many red flags as Gordon. Like Gordon, he transferred from another school, in this case Alabama A&M (not an NCAA powerhouse in itself). And he did not have a good reputation there.
But according to his position coach at Alabama A&M, Jay Martin, it's not all peaches and cream with Lumpkin.
"Larry was a playmaker for us, but he had a lot of issues," Martin said. "He was constantly late for meetings and he would miss practice at least one day a week.
"He was very undisciplined. He would have helped us, but he didn't want to be here."
A quick read of the situation would indicate that Lumpkin is a bit of a long shot, given some of the talent that Dallas has at linebacker. Gordon, however, is more intriguing. A player who made a mistake in his personal life strikes me as a better risk in the team's eyes than one who has rotten work habits and on-field motivation.
But that is not the biggest issue that should influence the decision. It is the cost of using those draft picks. If Gordon is indeed going to take a second or third-round pick to acquire, then I think the cost is too high. As some of my fellow writers have documented, 2013 looks to be an excellent draft in quality and depth for outside linebacker, safety, and quarterback - all of which are likely needs the Cowboys can address. Does the team want to give up a high draft pick this year for a player with some pretty hefty baggage, or hang on to that pick and look at what is available in the next draft?
My opinion is simple: Pass in the supplemental draft until at least the sixth round. Then you might want to consider if a player is worth a low cost pick, like Josh Brent was. Oddly, using my logic, Lumpkin would be a more likely option than Gordon, since the latter is almost certainly gone by then. But that is how I would play things. With a draft coming up that could very nicely match up with some of your biggest needs, do not risk a very valuable high draft pick on a player with multiple issues, no matter what his measurables are. Come the sixth, maybe, or especially the seventh round, look and see if there is a good project to take a flyer on. Otherwise, hang on to those picks.