The NFL Supplemental Draft pops up near the end of the slowest period on the NFL calendar every year in July, and there has been speculation that this go-around could feature significantly more players than usual because of COVID-19 potentially impacting the 2020 college football season.
While the supplemental draft itself is still set to go on as usual, Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reported the NFL has no plans to alter who it allows into the draft because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources: The NFL is letting it known that the supplemental draft isn’t expected to be significantly altered because of COVID-19. The narrative that they’ll be a flood of draft-eligible players allowed in the supplemental because the season may be altered isn’t true.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) May 7, 2020
What that means is, only players typically eligible for the supplemental draft will be allowed to enter it this year. Other (normal) draft-eligible players won't be granted special access due to COVID-19.
Therefore, players who could've entered the 2020 Draft but decided to return to school like Clemson running back Travis Etienne, Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, and Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade will reportedly not be eligible for this year's supplemental draft.
When is it?
The 2020 Supplemental Draft does not yet have a date set. However, last year it was on July 10. In 2018, it was on July 11.
What's the point of it?
It accommodates players in unique situations, most commonly being a collegiate player getting ruled ineligible for the upcoming season after the regular (April) draft, which, without the supplemental draft, would leave him in limbo for an entire year. If a player wants to be included in the supplemental draft, he files a formal petition to the league. It's not guaranteed that every applying player is admitted. Of course, players need to be at least three years removed from high school to be eligible for the supplemental draft.
How does it work?
The supplemental draft order is different from the regular draft order. Teams are separated into three groups based on the previous season; the first group is non-playoff teams that had six or fewer wins. The second group is non-playoff teams with more than six wins. And the final group is playoff teams. The order in those groups is determined by a weighted lottery, with the teams with the fewest wins given the best chance to win the earliest picks. Bids for players are submitted blindly by teams with the round that team would want to select a given player. The team highest in the draft order who submits the earliest-round bid for a player will be awarded that player. When that happens, that club forfeits a pick in the same round of the next year's regular draft.
As we get closer to July, we'll know the players applying and ultimately eligible for this year's supplemental draft.
Notable recent supplemental draft picks
Jalen Thompson, Cardinals, 2019, Round 5
Sam Beal, Giants, 2018, Round 3
Isaiah Battle, Rams, 2015, Round 5