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Best Supplemental Draft Picks in NFL History

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Since 1977, the NFL has hosted an annual supplemental draft, which is meant to provide a chance for players who had eligibility issues to be selected. However, it is widely overlooked because only 43 total players have been picked. And in many years, zero players were selected. This year’s draft begins on Thursday, so let's take a look at some of the best supplemental picks in NFL history, and how they ended up there

(listed chronologically):

Best Supplemental Draft Picks in NFL History

Bernie Kosar, QB (1985, 1st round)

Kosar is considered the most bizarre supplemental draft pick because of how it all unfolded. The former Miami quarterback graduated early and stated his desire to play for his hometown Browns. However, if he was to declare for the NFL Draft, the Vikings seemed destined to take him. So, he didn’t declare until after the deadline, making him only eligible for the supplemental draft, where the Browns were in line to take him. In 12 seasons, mostly with the Browns, Kosar passed for 23,301 yards with a very respectable touchdown to interception ratio of 124-87. Certainly not an elite player, he was definitely very respectable, and eventually earned a Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys.

Cris Carter, WR (1987, 4th round)

After signing with an agent (a NCAA violation) before his senior season, Carter was suspended for the year. Thus, he decided to enter the supplemental draft that season, and the Eagles took him in the fourth round. During his first three seasons with the team, he progressed significantly, becoming a primary end zone weapon. However, a battle with addictions to drugs and alcohol cost him a chance to continue his career in Philadelphia. The Vikings picked up Carter after his release from the Eagles, where he spent 12 years and cemented his legacy as a Hall of Famer. In his 16-year career, he hauled in 1101 catches for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns.

Jamal Williams, NT (1998, 2nd round)
After a great junior year at Oklahoma State, Jamal Williams was ready to continue with another impressive season. However, he was declared to be academically ineligible after the Draft, so he decided to enter the supplemental one. In his career, including 12 seasons with the Chargers, he went to three straight Pro Bowls as a nose tackle. He was especially important in the position in their 3-4 defense, as he was often regarded as one of the best in the league at the position. Williams’ ability to contain the middle was especially important, as he racked up 344 career tackles.

Ahmad Brooks, LB (2006, 3rd round)
It seems hard to realize that Brooks was a supplemental pick because he has been so productive in the NFL. However, he was dismissed from the Virginia for off-the-field issues. His career started off slow, as an injury sidelined him for his second season, after being named the team’s starting linebacker. But since then, he has been excellent as a starter for the 49ers, with whom he made the Pro Bowl with in 2013. In his six years with the 49ers, he has notched 39 sacks and 195 tackles as part of a stout, playoff-caliber defense. 

Josh Gordon, WR (2012, 2nd round)
After dealing with a marijuana problem in college that forced him to be suspended and ultimately to transfer, Gordon continues to have the same problems in the NFL. However, after he was drafted in the supplemental draft after sitting the year out at Utah, he made a strong impact in his first season with the Browns. Then in 2013, he dominated by recording a league-high 11646 yards to go along with nine touchdowns. Gordon seemed destined for greatness, but only played in five games in 2014 after testing positive for marijuana and pleading guilty to a DWI. And 2015 will be another year for Gordon to watch from afar, as he was suspended for its entirety for alcohol use, which was banned during his substance abuse program. Yet, Gordon clearly has the skill to be one of the league’s best receivers, and only time will tell if he makes it back in the league.

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