Bears, Cowboys add depth during supplemental draft

by | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst

With the Chicago Bears' busy offseason -- landing Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor in free agency -- and the Dallas Cowboys making a splash in the April draft with the addition of wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round, it appeared both teams were content with their rosters entering training camp.

In Thursday's supplemental draft, they added to their rookie depth at the cost of a seventh-round draft choice.

To add depth at running back, the Bears picked up BYU's Harvey Unga with the 12th pick. (Getty Images)  
To add depth at running back, the Bears picked up BYU's Harvey Unga with the 12th pick. (Getty Images)  
The Bears upgraded their depth at running back by selecting BYU's Harvey Unga with the 12th pick, then took Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Price-Brent with the 30th overall in the seventh round.

Two players eligible for the supplemental draft -- Truman State running back Vanness Emokpae and Northwestern State running back Quentin Castille -- were not drafted and are considered free agents.

The Bears were one of 24 teams that traveled to Provo, Utah, for Unga's Pro Day workout July 8 and had flown him in for a private visit and physical in the days prior to that event.

The Bears' decision to draft him does come as a bit of a surprise considering Chicago's crowded backfield. Matt Forte looked like a future star in 2008 with 1,715 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season. With his production dipping significantly in 2009 (1,400 yards, four TDs), the Bears aggressively signed former Minnesota Vikings standout Taylor early in free agency (four years, $12.5 million, $7 million guaranteed). In addition to Forte and Taylor, the Bears liked what they'd seen of Kahlil Bell late in the year -- he finished second on the team with 220 rushing yards -- and have Garrett Wolfe and undrafted rookie Brandon Minor on the roster.

The Cowboys were also a surprise bidder for Price-Brent. They were not among the 18 clubs reported to have attended Price-Brent's workout.

He has the size to project to nose guard at 6-2, 321 pounds, but struggles holding up to double-team blocks and had relatively poor strength numbers during his July 7 Pro Day workout. The strength questions caused some 3-4 teams to remove him from consideration.

Given that the Cowboys boast one of the league's best nose guards in Jay Ratliff, Price-Brent can be afforded time to become acclimated to the NFL.

Much of the pre-draft hype focused on Unga, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher for BYU. In part, the unusual circumstances that led to his petitioning the league for eligibility for the July draft created added attention.

Unga leaves BYU as the Cougars' career leader with 3,455 rushing yards and was a three-time Mountain West Conference honoree. He was named the Mountain West's Freshman of the Year following a dazzling 2007 season in which he broke the conference records in rushing yards (1,227) and all-purpose yardage (1,840) and has averaged over 1,100 rushing yards a season since.

He was expected to once again be the Cougars' primary offensive threat in 2010 until Unga withdrew from classes at BYU in April after admitting that he'd violated the school's strict honor code. BYU's honor code calls for students to refrain from the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and disallows students to engage in premarital sex.

Unga's fiance, Keilani Moeaki, gave birth to the couple's first child -- a son, Jackson, -- on July 4. Moeaki, a former starter on the women's basketball team, also left BYU. The 6-1, 244-pounder is a powerful back with natural running skills. He has good vision, the lateral agility to sidestep tackles, and the leg drive to churn out the tough yards in short-yardage situations, but, as he demonstrated at his July 8 Pro Day, he has only marginal straight-line speed (4.63-4.73). He has the soft hands to contribute as a third-down receiver, which might have appealed to new offensive coordinator Mike Martz in Chicago.

Despite good size and experience in a pro-style offense, Unga needs work as a pass blocker. He's also struggled with durability. Unga missed the 2006 season with a hip injury and has struggled with deep muscle bruises and ankles injuries.

Price-Brent started 20 games at defensive tackle in Illinois' traditional 4-3 front. His massive frame made him tough to move, but he didn't contribute much in terms of statistics. Starting all 12 games last year, he posted 29 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and three forced fumbles.

Despite his ideal nose guard frame, as he demonstrated during his July 7 workout on the Illinois campus, however, Price-Brent currently lacks the upper body strength to hold up against double-teams, only posting 22 repetitions of 225 pounds -- less than any defensive tackle weighing at least 295 pounds invited to the 2010 NFL Combine.

Price-Brent applied for the supplemental draft after being found academically ineligible for the 2010 season. He served 30 days in jail in 2009 for a DUI.

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 because of academics or legal troubles.

Including Unga and Price-Brent, there have been nine players selected in the supplemental draft this decade. Of the nine, Baltimore's selection of former Maryland offensive tackle Jared Gaither in the fifth round of the 2007 draft is the highlight. Only two players drafted via the supplemental have been honored with a Pro Bowl invitation in the past twenty years. Each, former San Diego (and current Denver Bronco) nose guard Jamal Williams and former Packer, Panther and Seahawk guard Mike Wahle, were drafted in 1998. Williams was invited to the Pro Bowl following the 2005-2007 seasons as a member of the Chargers. Wahle, as a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2005, also made the team.

Since its inception in 1977, a total of 40 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 is carried out via e-mail among teams. The teams, slotted into three groups based on their won/loss percentage the year previous, contact the league with a list of the players they'd draft and the round in which they'd take them.


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