At least one player has been taken in each of the past four supplemental drafts, and last year Cleveland used its 2013 second-round pick to get former Baylor WR Josh Gordon. Gordon led the Browns in receiving yards (805) as a rookie and showed that he can be a playmaker at the NFL level.
Using a pick that early in the supplemental draft is risky because the eligible players frequently come with some kind of baggage. Gordon was no exception. Baylor dismissed him in 2011 and in June, the NFL suspended him for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating its substance abuse policy. It remains to be seen whether the two-game suspension is the last bump in the road for Gordon or if poor off-the-field decision-making will continue to be an issue.
The risk doesn't appear to be worth the reward when it comes to bidding an early-round pick on any of the six players available in Thursday's supplemental draft. There is a good chance the four-year streak comes to an end this year. On the other hand, teams may take a chance and put in a late-round bid for one or more of these prospects.
Here are the six eligible players:
Damond Smith, CB, South Alabama
Smith spent two seasons at Western Michigan, where he got into a fight with a teammate during a game when he was a sophomore. He served a one-week suspension as a result and though he returned to the lineup for three games, he left the team later in the season. The following year he transferred to South Alabama, where he played in four games before he was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team and departmental rules. He did not play in 2012. A team still may be willing to take a chance with a late-round bid. While he needs to work on his footwork, Smith has the quickness and toughness to contribute in the NFL if he can stay out of trouble and improve his technique.
Toby Jackson, DE, Central Florida
Jackson is a junior college transfer who failed to record a sack in his first season with the Knights in 2011 and then missed the 2012 season with academic issues. He has some talent and upside as he signed initially with Georgia before academic issues caused him to go another route.
At around 6-4 and 260 pounds, he has the frame to develop into an adequate run-stopper and flashes decent burst rushing off the edge. He also moves well enough to be considered as a 3-4 OLB conversion candidate.
Nate Holloway, DT, UNLV
Holloway missed the 2012 season because of academic issues, and considering his size -- 6-3 and 365 pounds -- his time away from the game is cause for concern. He also doesn't offer much as a pass-rusher. Holloway has the potential to develop into an effective nose tackle because his quick first step, size and strength make him tough to move off the ball with one man.
O.J. Ross, WR, Purdue
Purdue suspended Ross for academic reasons before the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl and for a violation of team rules in early 2013. He has the hands, awareness and enough burst to develop into an adequate sub-package receiver. He also returned kickoffs his first two seasons at Purdue.
The downside is he's not a big-play threat after the catch, downfield or in the return game. And as much as there is to like about the way he catches the ball away from his frame, he doesn't have elite hands. He can drop passes, and last year Michigan returned a ball that bounced off his hands for a pick-six.
Dewayne Peace, WR, Houston
Peace is a former junior college transfer who has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2013 season and served a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules in 2012.
He has adequate burst and he's not afraid to work the middle of the field. He shows good vision after the catch but doesn't have the second gear to run away from pursuit or get behind NFL coverage. His hands are an even greater concern. He fights the ball and can take his eye off it when trying to make something happen after the catch.
James Boyd, DE, UNLV
Boyd originally signed with USC, where he played tight end, quarterback and defensive end, but a knee injury and academic issues derailed his career as a Trojan.
He transferred in 2011 to West Los Angeles Community College, where he did not play football, and then to UNLV, where he moved from quarterback to defensive end late in the spring of 2012. He flashed active hands and good athletic ability against Northern Arizona in 2012, but the fact is he's a developmental prospect who shows just adequate closing speed on tape.