The 2014 NFL supplemental draft came and went Thursday. For the second year in a row, zero players were selected.
Hall of Famers in Reggie White and Cris Carter, along with a Pro Bowler in Bernie Kosar, are some of the notable names selected via the supplemental draft who became NFL stars.
However, given how popular pro football has become in the modern era and the intense, unprecedented evaluation involved in every organization, it comes as little surprise that there haven't been any picks lately.
ESPN's Seth Wickersham and SI.com's Doug Farrar weighed in on the uneventful supplemental draft:
If no one is drafted, did a draft exist? #SupplementalDraft— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) July 10, 2014
My column on the Supplemental Draft: (No, really. That's the column)— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) July 10, 2014
Most prospects entering the supplemental draft come with some sort of baggage. Carter was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles due to substance abuse problems before turning everything around and shining for years as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Interestingly enough, Carter came out to criticize the most recent supplemental draft pick in Josh Gordon.
"It's gut-wrenching for me to say this," said Carter on the Mike & Mike radio show, per ESPN.com's Pat McManamon. "I really believe the only thing that's going to help the kid is if they release him."
The Cleveland Browns' use of a second-rounder to land the league's leading receiver from last year showed how transcendent of a talent Gordon was. He backed it up on the gridiron in 2013, but the off-field concerns that led him down the supplemental avenue in the first place have caused Gordon's apparent demise this offseason, punctuated by a recent DWI charge.
Another player tied to the Buckeye State in former Ohio State star quarterback Terrelle Pryor cost the Oakland Raiders a future third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft.
Pryor has always had a world of talent but has still not gained any traction as a long-term NFL starter under center. Now he's in Seattle, playing backup for the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
An era of escalation has stretched across the NFL, with one of the most notable areas being the draft and the process that surrounds it.
Mock drafts and expert analysis have created unprecedented interest. The amount of resources at an NFL team's disposal, not to mention the perpetual proliferation of technology and social media climate, makes the evaluation process more rigorous, extensive and thorough than it's ever been.
To condense that down: Teams have a better idea of what they're getting in prospects than at any other time in NFL history. Given how much energy, manpower and time each franchise sinks into talent evaluation and personnel decisions, why take a flier in the supplemental draft on such a dicey investment?
Case in point: One of Thursday's four eligible players, massive Virginia-Lynchburg defensive lineman LaKendrick Ross, isn't conditioned well enough. Ross' agent, Glen Lansky, confirmed as much after his client wasn't chosen, per NFLDraftScout.com (via CBSSports.com's Rob Rang):
He is not going to sign with a team for at least a couple of weeks. He is just not in shape. When he worked out for the scouts (July 7) he said he would do a couple of things and wound up doing everything and it was obvious he just isn't in shape yet.
There are some teams interested, but he started working with a trainer today and realistically it will take at least a couple of weeks for him to take part in a serious workout for a team. He is focused on this, but it will take time.
To borrow from prolific Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (h/t GoodReads.com): "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."
As the league continues to expand its influence and overall breadth, there are more facts available regarding players. It eliminates some of the guesswork that makes evaluating so tricky and subjective, even if it becomes more trivial and riddled with the minutiae.
Less theorizing. More data.
With the parity that exists in the NFL and how much talent can be found in the later rounds of the regular NFL draft, though, teams had little motivation to use one of their precious selections from 2015. Odds were even longer that a supplemental player would be selected this year in particular, given the depth of the 2014 class and the resultant quality of the undrafted free-agent pool.
That specific argument can't be applied to 2013, yet the principle is still the same. All 32 teams had months to turn over every stone on any player they desired. Unless a superb player like Gordon comes along, it's often not worth taking the risk. There's a whole new crop of prospective pros to evaluate in the next year, and a more proven commodity is likely to be found.
The bottom-line, business-first mindset is a widely recognized paradigm in the NFL. The supplemental draft has reflected that in its past two editions with a universal reluctance to act. It should continue to exemplify that ideology in the forthcoming years.