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How does the supplemental draft work and what does it mean for the Patriots?

Related: Bill Belichick, Patriots should break with tradition in the 2019 supplemental draft

New England Patriots Offseason OTAs Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Happy draft day, everyone: the NFL will hold its 2019 supplemental draft later today! The lesser publicized version of the ‘regular’ draft takes place every year and serves as an additional opportunity for college players — typically those facing eligibility questions — to enter the league. That being said, the supplemental draft is noticeably different from the one taking place in late April both in terms of procedure and players being available.

As a result, teams rarely use it to bring talent on board at this stage of the offseason. The New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick, for example, have yet to add a player that way. Other teams have been similarly reluctant as only fourteen men heard their names called in the supplemental draft this century. Just two of them, Ahmad Brooks and current Patriot Josh Gordon, made a Pro Bowl in their careers.

With all that in mind, let’s dig a bit deeper into today’s event.

Date and Time

Wednesday, July 10, 1:00 p.m. ET


While the ‘normal’ draft ranks teams from worst to best to establish a picking order, the supplemental draft is a bit more complicated. It basically works like this: the league separates all 32 teams into three tiers. Teams with six or fewer wins enter one of them, non-playoff teams another, and playoff teams the third. The NFL then runs a weighted lottery system — teams with fewer wins have better odds — to determine the order.

This order becomes important because teams essentially bid on players: if a club wants to add one of the available candidates, it submits a round in which it would like to draft him. The team with the highest bid is awarded the player and will subsequently have to give up a corresponding selection in next year’s draft. If two or more teams bid the same round on a player, the predetermined draft order decides who gets him.

If a player does not get selected through this process, he enters free agency just like any other undrafted rookie.

Available Players

This year, five players are available in the supplemental draft:

TE Devonaire Clarington, Northland Community College (6070, 230 lbs): Clarington possesses an intriguing frame as a potential developmental tight end. But while he recorded 48 catches for 916 yards and 11 touchdowns at Northland, he will likely not hear his name called today given his obscure background — he was ineligible to play at Texas and subsequently bounced around four junior colleges in three years — and rather raw skillset.

LB Shyheim Cullen, Syracuse (6000, 225 lbs): Primarily a special teams player that started four games as a Sam linebacker in 2018, Cullen led Syracuse with five tackles in the kicking game last season. On top of it, the versatile but undersized defender also added 31 tackles on defense as well as a sack and a pass-breakup. The Patriots reportedly attended Cullen’s pro day last week, but will probably not invest a draft pick.

CB Bryant Perry, St. Francis (6000, 180 lbs): After starting his college career at Mesabi Range College, Perry transferred to St. Francis in 2018. He appeared in nine games for the team and registered 24 tackles and three pass-breakups. Like the first three players on this list, he is not expected to hear his name called given his smaller stature and limited athletic skills.

WR Marcus Simms, West Virginia (6000, 195 lbs): Simms is an intriguing candidate, and one of two players who may hear their names called today. After seeing only irregular action during his true freshman season, he developed into a core player in West Virginia’s passing attack over the last two seasons: in 2017 and 2018, the wideout caught 81 passes for 1,362 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also brings considerable experience as a returnman to the table.

FS Jalen Thompson, Washington State (6000, 190 lbs): Thompson has the best chance of getting picked in the supplemental draft given his combination of experience — he was a three-year starter before losing his eligibility due to the purchase of an over-the-counter supplement — and skill: he registered a pair of interceptions and 10 pass-breakups in 2018, and was an honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team.

Patriots Perspective

As noted above, the Patriots under head coach/de facto general manager Bill Belichick have never selected a player in the supplemental draft. It would therefore not be a surprise if 2019 was more of the same, even though two players might be worth a late-round investment: Simms for the developmental upside he would add to New England’s wide receiver corps, and Thompson for his proven skill and experience.

All in all, the Patriots have the following nine draft picks available (potential compensatory selections cannot be used to pick a player in the supplemental draft):

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 4 (via Chicago Bears)

Round 6

Round 7

Round 7 (via Atlanta Falcons)

Round 7 (via Philadelphia Eagles)

The Patriots using one of their first three selections on Simms and/or Thompson would be a surprise, but a round six/seven investment might be worth a shot.