NFL scouts are characterizing Thursday's Supplemental Draft as being as rich in prospects as any in nearly 20 years. That's a stark contrast to last year, when the Supplemental Draft was canceled due to a lack of eligible prospects.
NFLDraftScout.com has learned this year's crop features eight players, including a handful of prospects that one NFL scout, speaking on the condition of anonymity, referred to as "legitimate athletes worthy of consideration."
|Jeremy Jarmon shows Tim Tebow his specialty talent. (Getty Images)|
Former Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon is considered the crown jewel, though Texas Tech defensive end McKinner Dixon, Tennessee safety Demetrice Morley and Kansas State wide receiver Deon Murphy also show NFL-caliber athleticism on film.
Western Kentucky linebacker Blake Boyd, Central Michigan offensive lineman Pete McMahon, Southern Mississippi receiver Torris Magee and Florida State receiver Corey Surrency aren't likely to be drafted, but could earn a workout with teams.
Designed to be an avenue into the NFL for "special case" players, the Supplemental Draft was originally created for players who had lost their eligibility to play collegiate football between the regular April draft and the beginning of the next season. Many "special case" players had lost their eligibility due to academics or legal troubles.
Since its inception in 1977, a total of 37 players have been selected via the Supplemental Draft. Among the most notable selections were quarterback Bernie Kosar (Cleveland, 1985), wide receiver Cris Carter (Philadelphia, 1987) and linebacker Brian Bosworth (Seattle, 1987).
Unlike the televised April draft, the Supplemental Draft is carried out via e-mail among teams. The teams, slotted into three groups based on their won/loss percentage the previous season, contact the league with a list of the players they'd draft and the round in which they'd take them. Any team that uses a Supplemental Draft pick would then lose the corresponding selection in the NFL Draft the following April.
The eight prospects eligible for the Thursday's draft are ranked and profiled below:
DE Jeremy Jarmon, Kentucky
Representatives from 18 NFL teams flew to Jarmon's pro day workout last week. Jarmon, 6-3 and 278 pounds, was clocked between 4.79-4.83 seconds in the 40-yard dash and impressed at least one front-office executive in attendance.
"I think he worked out well," Vinny Cerrato, vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins, told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "He ran well and was in good shape. He needs to get a little stronger, but he represented himself well. He's a great kid, solid in the locker room. He's smart. He's got all of the intangible things."
Jarmon was named an Honorable Mention All-SEC selection last season by the Associated Press after registering 38 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as a junior. Those numbers pale in comparison to Jarmon's career highs from a year earlier, when he had 62 tackles and 13.5 sacks.
Jarmon ranks third all-time at Kentucky with 17.5 career sacks and had been within striking distance of Oliver Barnett's 26 had he not tested positive for a banned substance during the spring.
The banned substance, widely reported to be an over-the-counter dietary supplement, led to Jarmon being suspended for one season, which exhausted his eligibility because he redshirted as a freshman. UK's appeal of the suspension was denied.
A veteran of 31 career starts, Jarmon has already graduated with a degree in political science and is highly recommended by the UK staff despite the suspension.
Jarmon considered leaving after his junior season, applying to the NFL Advisory Committee and receiving a fourth- to fifth-round grade. He's not an explosive edge rusher, but uses his hands well and locates the ball quickly. Scouts would like to see him improve his strength, but feel he can contribute immediately.
WR Deon Murphy, Kansas State
The Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2007, the 5-10, 170-pound Murphy led the conference in punt return average (17.5 yards) and caught 57 passes for 605 yards and five touchdowns in his first season after transferring from Coffeyville Junior College.
Murphy struggled to develop into a more complete receiver in his second season, finding the going tougher without Jordy Nelson drawing attention on the other side. Murphy caught 37 passes for 555 yards and six touchdowns in 2008.
Murphy's straight-line speed and elusiveness could help teams looking for help in the slot or on special teams. A tendency to look up-field before securing the ball and struggles to beat press coverage, however, concern teams.
It is believed that Murphy left Kansas State early due to personality conflicts with coach Bill Snyder. The respect NFL teams have for Snyder could keep Murphy from being drafted, though his big-play ability will likely cause several teams to try to sign if he isn't drafted.
DE McKinner Dixon, Texas Tech
Expected to be the Red Raiders' leading returning sack artist, Dixon finished last season with nine sacks and 11 tackles for loss and appeared poised for a breakout senior campaign. After his second suspension for academics, however, coach Mike Leach dismissed Dixon from the team.
Dixon, 6-3, 250 pounds, has good burst off the snap and flashed playmaking ability early in his career, posting 29 tackles and six sacks in 2005 as a true freshman. Dixon didn't play in 2006 due to his first academic suspension and moved on to Cisco Junior College in 2007 (where he posted 68 tackles and nine sacks) before signing back with the Red Raiders last year.
A bit of a 'tweener, Dixon lacks the bulk and strength most 4-3 teams are looking for at defensive end, but flashes the agility to potentially make the switch to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. His burst off the snap could warrant a late-round selection or at least a free-agent contract, but his academic struggles and May arrest for driving without insurance and with an open container is certain to cause teams concern.
DB Demetrice Morley, Tennessee
An elite prep prospect who infamously proclaimed that he'd "be the biggest thing to hit Tennessee since Elvis," Morley was expected to be the superstar who former teammate Eric Berry has instead become. Morley played in every game over his first two seasons, racking up 66 tackles and three interceptions (one returned for a score).
An academic suspension forced him back to his home state of Florida, where he was arrested for strong-armed robbery. He earned his way back to the Volunteer program and re-emerged as the team's starting free safety last season, posting 42 tackles, two more interceptions and another touchdown.
Characterized by scouts as instinctive and big enough to handle free safety but athletic enough to potentially move back to cornerback, Morley has NFL talent. Considering former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and new coach Lane Kiffin both chose to suspend Morley, he'll have a hard time convincing NFL decision-makers of his reliability.
WR Corey Surrency, Florida StateSurrency has been characterized by those close to the Florida State program as a player capable of playing at the NFL level. Estimated at 6-5, 220 pounds and running the 40-yard dash in the low 4.5s, he certainly has the size and speed scouts are looking for. Surrency tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns on just 12 catches overall for 237 yards last season.
Surrency, who played only one year at FSU, transferred from El Camino Community College in California last summer. He lost a year of eligibility because he played for the Florida Kings, a South Florida semi-pro team, after he turned 21 and before he went to El Camino, invoking a rarely used NCAA rule that stipulates that any players participating in any professional sports after their 21st birthday but before enrolling in college shall lose a year of eligibility in that sport.
Surrency has a laundry list of character concerns, including being suspended twice in his one year in Tallahassee. He also turns 25 this year. His upside, however, could be significant enough to warrant a look by some clubs.
Surrency dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, and has limited time on the football field. A Christian program designed to assist troubled youths helped him to enroll and play at El Camino JC in 2007. An impressive season there (34 catches for 649 yards and five touchdowns) made him one of the more highly recruited JUCO prospects in the country. Surrency picked Florida State over a host of other programs, including LSU, Oregon, West Virginia, California and Louisville.
OLB Blake Boyd, Western Kentucky
A three-year starter who originally signed with Louisville, Boyd was forced to make himself eligible for the Supplemental Draft due to academics. An instant starter for the Hilltoppers, Boyd enjoyed his most productive season in 2006, earning second-team All-Gateway honors with 70 tackles. He led the team in sacks (three) and tackles for loss (nine) last season and finished second in total tackles (67).
The 6-3, 250-pound Boyd has the size teams want at strong-side linebacker, but is only an average athlete with limited upside.
OL Joe McMahon, Central Michigan
An NJCAA All-American at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill., McMahon signed with Iowa State before transferring to Central Michigan. Forced to sit out a season due to the NCAA transfer restrictions, McMahon was only eligible for practice with the Chippewas, though he impressed the coaching staff enough to earn the team's offensive scout team player of the year honors.
He developed into a key component on the offensive line in 2008, alternating between right guard and center while starting 12 of 13 games. He was being counted on as a starter next season, but was forced into the Supplemental Draft due to academics.
McMahon's size, technique and versatility are enough that he could earn a tryout, but isn't likely to be drafted.
WR Torris Magee, Southern Mississippi
At 6-2, 214 pounds, Magee has the size NFL scouts are looking for, and in 2007 he appeared well on his way toward earning their attention. Magee led the team with 44 receptions for 632 yards as a redshirt freshman, but slumped to only 10 catches for 86 yards early last year before abruptly leaving the team on Oct. 23. The reason for his departure was quickly discovered as Magee was arrested for suspicion of burglary a day later. His off-field behavior will likely keep him from generating any interest from NFL teams.
Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.