In 1977, the NFL introduced the supplemental draft to give players a chance to enter the league without having participated in the regular event taking place earlier during the offseason. This ‘other’ draft produced some noteworthy talent over the last 42 years — from Bernie Kosar to Cris Carter to Josh Gordon — but saw only a small number of players get selected: in total, just 45 men heard their names called on the supplemental draft days.
Two of those players joined the New England Patriots, but neither of them had any noteworthy success with the club.
The first supplemental draft pick by the organization was made in 1981, when it invested an eleventh-round selection in a wide receiver from the University of Rhode Island. Chy Davidson joined a position group led by Stanley Morgan and Harold Jackson that would have benefitted from additional depth and talent — two things the Patriots’ new rookie ultimately failed to provide.
Not even two months after getting picked by the team, Davidson was let go again without having appeared in an actual game. He then moved to Washington first to play for the city’s NFL franchise and then for its USFL counterpart, but again was unable to make an impact. In 1984, he eventually joined the New York Jets for whom he appeared in four games over two seasons. Davidson’s NFL stat sheet reads as follows:
4 in-game appearances, 1 kickoff return, 9 yards
None of those statistics were accomplished with the Patriots — a distinction Davidson shares with the club’s second supplemental draft choice, J’Juan Cherry.
In 1999, Cherry became the lone player selected during the extra draft: New England added him to a cornerback group led by All-Pro (and future Hall of Famer) Ty Law and veteran Steve Israel. With the draft taking place just before the start of the regular season, Cherry essentially made the Patriots’ roster by default: he signed his deal on September 9, six days after getting drafted with a fourth-round selection, and was activated on September 20.
After joining the team’s roster, the Arizona State product was a game-day inactive for the first three weeks of his NFL career. He did dress for the Patriots’ mid-October games against Miami and Denver but did not see the field in either contest. Three days after New England’s game against the Broncos, New England placed Cherry on its injured reserve list due to a hip issue. The next offseason and under new head coach Bill Belichick, Cherry was cut.
His career in the pros ended with him having played a grand total of zero snaps.
The most success New England had with a supplemental player was actually with the aforementioned Josh Gordon. The Cleveland Browns invested a second-round draft pick in the Baylor product in 2012, but traded him to the Patriots in 2018 after numerous suspensions. Gordon appeared in eleven games for his new team, and caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns, but ended his season with another ban.
Nevertheless, the Patriots will continue working with the now 28-year-old: the club placed a restricted free agency tender sheet on him earlier this offseason, and will reintegrate him into the team once he is allowed to return off his current indefinite suspension. Gordon will therefore likely be able to add to his résumé as the most successful player in New England’s history to enter the league via the supplemental draft.