While it might not be the most traditional way of acquiring talent, teams have the ability to bring in some high-upside players through the NFL supplemental draft.
The league created the event for players who have seen their circumstances change—often regarding their eligibility with their college teams—since the regular NFL draft.
Hall of Famer Cris Carter is the most successful player to join the league through this process, but there have been a handful of notable prospects in recent years, including Josh Gordon, Ahmad Brooks and Terrelle Pryor.
Although there are only a few players eligible each year and it's possible no one gets selected, here is what you need to know heading into Thursday's draft.
2016 NFL Supplemental Draft
Date: Thursday, July 14
Time: 1 p.m. ET
|Eddie D'Antuono||LS||Virginia Tech|
|Jalen Overstreet||RB||Sam Houston State|
Unlike other drafts where teams have to wait their turn to take someone they are interested in, the entire process of the supplemental draft is through blind bidding.
As explained in the rules, per NFL.com:
Teams do not have to participate in the supplemental draft; if they choose to do so, they may bid for the player by telling the league the round in which they would like to take a specific player. If no other club bids on that player, they are awarded the player and lose a pick in the following year’s NFL Draft that corresponds with the round in which they were awarded the player. If multiple teams submit bids for the player, the highest bidder is awarded that player and loses the corresponding draft pick.
Basically, if you want to bid on a prospect with a fifth-round pick and you are the highest bidder, you get that player but will have to forfeit your 2017 fifth-round selection in the regular draft.
In the event two teams bid on the same player in the same round, the reverse order of the standings from the previous season decides the winner, similar to the draft or waivers.
Ra'Zahn Howard, DT, Purdue
While it's a challenge for any player to earn a roster spot out of the supplemental draft, Ra'Zahn Howard might have the best chance to make an impact.
Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported that Howard is the only player "expected" to be taken in this draft, with two general managers saying he'd go in Rounds 5-7:
Howard is a prototypical nose tackle in a 3-4 defense thanks to his size at 6'3", 325 pounds. He started for Purdue this past season, racking up 23 tackles and one sack. The numbers usually aren't going to be eye-popping for a defensive tackle, but he knows how to make up for it by clogging lanes and taking on blockers to improve the running game.
While the Boilermakers didn't have a lot of defensive talent to take advantage of Howard's presence, the defensive tackle could make a bigger impact in the NFL.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Howard will be in this draft because of academic reasons, so teams will have to decide whether this will affect him going forward. But his upside might make him worthy of a draft pick.
Tee Shepard, CB, Ole Miss
It was a wild college career for Tee Shepard, who intended to play for Notre Dame out of high school but ended up at Holmes Community College. From there, he joined Ole Miss but dealt with a toe injury that kept him off the field.
After playing sparingly when healthy, he decided to leave the program and transfer to Miami (Ohio), per Daniel Paulling of the Clarion-Ledger. Shepard had explained in a statement why he left Mississippi:
The injuries and challenges I have overcome the last few years have taken away my love for playing the game of football. I will always love this team and cheer them on as they compete for a championship. I want to especially thank (Rebels head) Coach (Hugh) Freeze for showing me what unconditional love is like.
Instead of finishing up his career with the RedHawks, however, he will try to make the jump to the NFL.
Considering Shepard was a high-4-star recruit out of high school and community college, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, he has plenty of upside scouts might find interesting.
Rashaun Simonise, WR, University of Calgary
NFL teams don't often look to Canada for prospects, but they might make an exception for Rashaun Simonise.
Darren Wolfson of KSTP provided some important information on the young receiver:
Even without any other knowledge, there are likely teams willing to take a chance on a player with that combination of size and speed. A 6'5", 207-pound player who can burn opponents down the field could be a serious deep threat, even without improving as a route-runner.
Of course, Simonise has shown he can be a quality receiver. According to NFL.com's Chase Goodbread, he finished last season with 65 catches for 1,306 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. While the competition is not quite the same as Division I football, he clearly knows what he is doing on the field.
It might take some time for the receiver to acclimate to the NFL, but his potential could be worth a draft pick.
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