NFL Supplemental Draft Pool Starting to Take Shape
The NFL supplemental draft is a second chance of sorts.
It gives NFL teams one last chance at adding a young and talented player to their roster, while offering collegiate players whose football careers have been derailed (often by their own stupidity) a chance to revive their dreams of playing in the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns have had substantial success in the supplemental draft, most famously with quarterback Bernie Kosar in 1985 and as recently as a year ago, with wide receiver Josh Gordon.
This year's edition of the supplemental draft will be held on July 11, and already at least one player has thrown his hat into the ring.
The 6'5" 259-pound Jackson was a highly touted JUCO recruit when he signed to play at Central Florida, and after playing sparingly as a junior, big things were expected of him in 2012.
However, personal problems and academic issues led to his dismissal from the team, and Jackson told Damond Talbot of NFL Draft Zone that ever since he's been working hard to get his career back on track.
I lost my cousin and grandfather within a three month span and that caused me to lose focus in school which ultimately led my dismissal from the UCF football team. Since then I’ve been grinding to get myself in tip top shape and pursuing my long life dream of becoming an NFL football player.
Jackson has significant natural ability as a pass rusher, which could lead some NFL team to take a late flier on him.
Jackson is the only player to officially declare for the supplemental draft so far, but there are a couple of other prospects who might be of interest to NFL teams.
Those prospects include troubled running back Michael Dyer, who helped lead Auburn to a national title as a true freshman.
Dyer topped 1,000 yards on the ground twice for the Tigers, but a series of failed drug tests led to his transferring to Arkansas State. However, an arrest for speeding and carrying a weapon ended his time at ASU before he ever played a snap.
The 22-year-old still has two years of eligibility left and has indicated he would like to resume his collegiate career, but no FBS schools have expressed an interest. If that doesn't change in the next few days Dyer could declare for the supplemental draft, as he told Joe Schad of ESPN that with his troubles in the rear-view mirror he's now firmly focused on playing football.
I think God is going to allow me to get my life back to where it's supposed to be. I think I'm going to play ball again. I think I'm going to be everything I was supposed to be. I don't want to be a person who ends up as a nothing. My heart and my dreams are still alive. They're still there.
It's not out of the realm of reason that Jackson might also be joined in the supplemental draft by one of the nation's leading receivers from two years ago.
That would be Nick Harwell, who ranked second in the nation with 97 catches for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns at Miami (Ohio) in 2011.
Harwell's junior season was a relative disappointment, and the disappointment continued when he was dismissed from the team in the spring after being arrested for theft and criminal damage after an altercation with his girlfriend.
Harwell had hoped to enroll in summer classes, graduate, and then play the 2012 season at the University of Kansas under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule, which allows players who have completed their undergraduate studies to play right away after transferring.
However, Miami has refused to rescind his suspension from school and allow him to complete his studies, citing his four previous arrests in Oxford according to Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star.
Harwell has retained an attorney in an effort to resolve the impasse, but if the two sides can't quickly strike a deal, it's possible that Harwell might decide to take his chances in the supplemental draft rather than sit out the 2013 season.
Were that to be the case, then he'll join Jackson (and possibly Dyer) as talented young men looking for a second chance to fulfill their dreams of playing in the NFL.
As Gordon showed in 2012, sometimes those dreams really do come true.
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