On July 11th the NFL's supplemental draft will take place, as a handful of collegiate athletes try to put checkered pasts behind them and make their way into the National Football League via the side door.
For those folks wondering, teams effectively "bid" picks in the next year's draft for players in the supplemental draft pool, with 2013 draft order being the tiebreaker.
For example, if the Oakland Raiders bid a third-round pick on a player and the Dallas Cowboys do as well, then the Raiders get that player, forfeiting their 2014 third-rounder in the process.
So, as NFL teams sift through this year's class in the hopes of finding the next Bernie Kosar (1985, first round) or Cris Carter (1987, fourth round), here's a look at the six players who have been declared eligible for the 2013 NFL supplemental draft.
O.J. Ross, WR, Purdue
Purdue wide receiver O.J. Ross was supposed to be a big part of the Boilermakers offense in his senior season, but as with all the players on this list, things didn't go exactly as planned.
The 5'11", 186-pound Ross, who caught 100 passes for 959 yards and six touchdowns over three seasons in West Lafayette, was suspended from the team before the 2011 Little Caesar's Bowl for academic reasons and then was finally booted from the team altogether in February of this year for violating team rules.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports wrote that Ross "possesses good quickness to make defenders miss and above average hands," but Rang also observed that without elite size or top-end speed, Ross may face an uphill battle garnering interest from NFL clubs.
However, while Ross may not be the fastest of players, that isn't to say that he has nothing to offer NFL teams. As the above highlight shows, Ross is a strong receiver, capable of breaking tackles and working over the middle of the field.
Wide receivers capable of doing significant damage from the slot are very much in vogue in the NFL right now, and Ross has displayed the ability to be productive against major-conference competition.
So, the youngster's skill set might motivate a team to burn a late pick on him, and the general consensus appears to be that Ross is the cream of this year's supplemental crop.
Dewayne Peace, WR, Houston
Despite missing three games last year for violating team rules, Houston wideout Dewayne Peace was the team's leading receiver in 2012, reeling in 54 catches for 602 yards and two touchdowns.
Peace's career with the Cougars came to an unceremonious end last month, as the 5'11" 190-pounder was kicked off the team after being declared academically ineligible.
As Rang points out, much like Ross, Peace is a quick but not especially fast wide receiver with good hands who was fairly productive in college.
With that said, wide receivers don't have to be blazing fast to be effective. In the above highlight, Peace demonstrates good agility and football acumen, dodging would-be tacklers and making good use of his blockers to turn a quick out into a big gain.
However, according to Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle Peace wasn't even slated to start as a senior.
If he isn't good enough to start in the new American Athletic Conference, then Peace is going to have a hard time convincing NFL teams to spend a supplemental pick on him, although he might be worth a sixth or seventh-round selection as a slot receiver.
Damond Smith, CB, South Alabama
Unlike the other players listed here, Damond Smith has already generated at least some level of interest from an NFL team.
According to Rang, Smith was offered a UDFA contract by the Green Bay Packers, who watched the youngster work out at Jacksonville State's pro day. However, the NFL determined that Smith should be made eligible for the supplemental draft, so now all 32 NFL teams will get a crack at him.
There's a good chance that at least one team will take a flier on Smith. At 5'11" and 185 pounds, Smith possesses ideal size to play outside in the NFL, and he has 4.4 speed to go along with it.
Smith also displayed considerable talent while on the field at Western Michigan, with Matthew Jones of NEPatriotsDraft.com stating that Smith "stands out for his speed, agility, and acceleration," and that he "looks very fluid and explosive in man coverage."
Smith also showed a knack for jumping routes in college. In this play, not only does he do that, but he also closes the play with a remarkable diving interception.
So, we've got great size, good speed and solid instincts. Throw in that Smith wasn't shy about stepping up in run support, and he would seem to be a lock to be selected, right?
Not really. Smith got into all kinds of trouble in school. As Graham Couch of mlive.com reported at the time, Smith was suspended at Western Michigan after fighting with a teammate...on the field during a game.
Then, after transferring to South Alabama, Smith was kicked off the team for violating team rules. The exact infraction wasn't specified, but Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk reports it was for failing a drug test.
Smith comes with a ton of baggage, but defensive backs with his size and physical ability don't grow on trees.
In an NFL where you can never have too many cornerbacks, some club may well roll the dice in the hopes that Smith is the next Janoris Jenkins, who was kicked off the team at Florida before transferring to North Alabama and then starring for the St. Louis Rams.
James Boyd, DE, UNLV
After a standout two-way high school career in California, James Boyd was a highly touted prospect when he joined the USC Trojans in 2010.
From there things went downhill quickly. Boyd switched from tight end to defensive end to quarterback and then back to defensive end, where he played sparingly as a freshman.
After repeatedly butting heads with head coach Lane Kiffin, according to Pedro Mouha of ESPN, Boyd left USC in the spring of 2011. Boyd sat out the 2011 season before transferring to UNLV, where he hoped to play quarterback.
However, the 6'5", 255-pounder wound up back at defensive end, recording 2.5 sacks for the Rebels in a rotational role.
Boyd's ability to succeed at both quarterback and defensive end in high school belies his athleticism. However, he remains very raw as a pass-rusher, and the fact that two of his sacks last year came against an FCS opponent (Northern Arizona) doesn't help his case.
Anything is possible, but if Boyd is going to stick in the NFL, it will most likely be as an undrafted free agent.
Nate Holloway, DT, UNLV
At 6'3" and 365 pounds, UNLV defensive tackle Nate Holloway has just the sort of girth that many teams running the 3-4 defense look for in a nose tackle.
He's a mountain of a man, just the sort of hole-plugger that 3-4 squads thirst for.
However, there just isn't much on Holloway's collegiate resume besides that bulk. In two years with the Rebels, Holloway managed only 28 total tackles, and academics were a constant issue.
As Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, Holloway was one of six UNLV players to leave the team in June of 2012, and the big man didn't play at all last year.
Holloway at least appears to have kept himself in shape during his time away from the game, and in this video he shows pretty good quickness for a man of his size.
It's still a long shot, however, that a player with his red flags and limited body of work will get serious consideration from NFL teams in the supplemental draft.
Toby Jackson, DE, Central Florida
The 6'5", 257-pound Jackson, like many of the players listed here, was a highly sought-after prospect coming out of high school, and he originally committed to play in the SEC at the University of Georgia.
However, academic issues prevented Jackson from enrolling in Athens. That led to an odyssey through the JUCO ranks that eventually landed Jackson at Central Florida, who he chose over the likes of Alabama and Tennessee, according to the school's website.
Jackson appeared in nine games in 2011 for the Knights, recording 14 tackles and blocking a punt. Then the academic issues that dogged Jackson throughout his collegiate career resurfaced, and he was declared ineligible for the 2012 season.
It's too bad, really, as when watching tape of Jackson's time at Navarro College in Texas, it's not hard to see why Nick Saban was interested in the youngster.
Repeatedly at Navarro, Jackson was able to use his impressive speed to get around the edge, flying past the offensive tackle before taking down the quarterback. Yes, that success came against JUCO competition, but there's an an old adage that says simply, "You can't teach speed."
Pass-rushers are at a premium in today's NFL, and Jackson would appear to have more than a little potential in that area, especially as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
The question now becomes whether an NFL team believes that potential and speed are worth a supplemental pick given his past troubles.
And that's the thing with all the players in this year's supplemental draft. They are all risk/reward types, players whose talent is mitigated by a golf course worth of red flags.
Unfortunately for most of them, those red flags will probably derail their NFL dreams before they ever really get started.
Because every NFL team is wary of hitting the ball into the water.
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