While July's supplemental draft lacks the sizzle of April's NFL talent search, the "mock draft" projections are just as fun to do.
There are, after all, only eight players available in the 2012 supplemental NFL draft, and I've received no indication from any league source that the majority of them will be selected.
Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon will be, however, and therefore is the focus of this post. I do share my thoughts on the other two players I believe have a shot at being drafted -- Carson Newman linebacker Larry Lumpkin and TCU running back Ed Wesley -- a bit lower in the post.
Back to Gordon, polling league sources over the past 24 hours, I've narrowed the list of teams that I believe to be seriously interested in Gordon to be the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins.
Cleveland, Miami and Minnesota clearly have significant needs at the receiver position as well as the young quarterbacks to build around. The fact that the Dolphins have two third round picks next season gives the club added flexibility and may make them the favorite.
For all of Gordon's physical talents, however, he remains a very raw prospect who struggles with getting off press coverage and was limited to running mostly vertical routes for Baylor. He is not ready to come in and play considerable snaps as a rookie, which is I question how much "bang for their buck" one of these three teams would get with Gordon... at least in 2012.
The hype surrounding Gordon has grown as the draft has approached.
By now, you know he's 6-3, 224 pounds and despite not having much time to prepare ran an impressive 4.52-4.55 second 40-yard dash while catching every pass thrown his way. You've probably read all about his statistics... The fact that he caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010 despite sharing the ball with 2012 first round pick Kendall Wright (Tennessee Titans) and Terrance Williams, another terrific prospect with legitimate first round possibilities in 2013.
What you may not have known, however, is that all seven of Gordon's scores came in a six game stretch during the middle of the season when Baylor played TCU, Rice, Kansas, Texas Tech, Colorado and Kansas State. Over the next four games in which Baylor matched up against the more talented secondaries at Texas (two catches for 23 yards), Oklahoma State (three-29), Texas A&M (three-35) and Oklahoma (two-13), he caught a combined 10 passes for exactly 100 yards.
There is no denying Gordon's talent only that he may need some talent ahead of him to ease his transition, which is why the Cowboys and Redskins make a lot of sense.
As far as the round projection, I believe Gordon has the talent to warrant second or third round consideration. There seems to be a significant number of teams pretty wary about Gordon's dedication, however, so I believe he'll slip a bit further than most expect and into the 4th or 5th round.
Of the remaining prospects, I believe that Lumpkin is a unique enough athlete that a team could bite in the seventh round. The New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks were the only two teams to attend his Wednesday Pro Day. Both clubs have concerns at linebacker and play the type of aggressive scheme that fits Lumpkin well.
Wesley has the vision and lateral agility to be a productive complementery back. Running backs at his size (5-8, 196) lacking breakaway speed (4.67), however, aren't likely to earn a selection in the supplemental draft. I've been led to believe that there are five or six teams that have already expressed enough interest that he'll get a chance as an undrafted free agent, perhaps with the Detroit Lions or Green Bay Packers.
The other five players eligible in the 2012 supplemental draft are Boise State defensive back Quaylon Ewing, Syracuse fullback Adam Harris, Iowa State offensive lineman Adrian Haughton, Georgia defensive end Montez Robinson and McMurray wide receiver Houston Tuminello.
Unlike the April draft, the supplemental draft is carried out via email between the NFL and its 32 teams. The order from the preceeding year is used loosely. The 32 teams are split into three groups of playoff teams, near playoff teams and the teams that won six or fewer games a season ago. Teams within these three groups are then placed into a lottery determining the final order. In much the same fashion as a silent auction, teams simply email in the round in which they'd like to tender a prospect. The team does not know until the league responds back as to whether their tender was high enough to "win" the player.
Should a team elect to invest a pick in the 2012 supplemental draft, they will lose their corresponding pick in the 2013 April draft.
The supplemental draft takes place Thursday.