Cleveland Browns rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon is emerging as a go-to guy for his team, but general managers in the NFL didn't need him to play well to know that supplemental draft picks can be worth the risk.
Former Minnesota Vikings great and soon-to-be Hall of Famer (should be, anyways) Chris Carter was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles as a fourth-round pick in the 1987 supplemental draft. Three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jamal Williams was taken as a second-round pick in the 1998 supplemental draft. Current pass-rushing stud for the San Francisco 49ers Ahmad Brooks was selected in the third round of the 2006 supplemental draft.
Heck, Gordon isn't even the first Browns player to make a big impact as a supplemental draftee: Bernie Kosar was selected in the 1985 supplemental draft—albeit under suspicious circumstances (h/t NFL.com).
Players that find themselves being looked at in the supplemental draft come with risks most of the time—either off-field issues or injury concerns.
In Gordon's case, he found himself in the draft because of character concerns stemming from his time at Baylor where he was dismissed from the team (h/t NFL.com). As a result of these character issues, the Browns ended up paying a second-round pick next year for his services this year.
The reason the Browns were willing to put up such a high pick for him is due that—if not for his off-field question marks—Gordon would have been a sure-fire first rounder thanks to his combination of size, speed and receiving talent.
In five games so far this season, Gordan has started three. He has caught nine passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns—both against the New York Giants in Week 5.
If he ends up becoming a bust (slim chance) or his off-field problems—multiple failed drug tests—resurface (more plausible), the Browns would be out a second-round draft pick.
While that's nothing to sneeze at, every draft pick comes with risks, and any player can either be a bust or a break-out performer. If a guy is good enough to play in this league, the NFL will find a way to get him on the field. And, while it's not exactly commonplace for supplemental draftees to make a huge splash in the NFL, it's not as rare as you might think.
Gordon isn't breaking new ground here. He's just one in a long line of players who have earned their way onto the playing field via the supplemental draft.
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