In the past half decade, the Supplemental Draft has offered less than adequate talent. In fact, in order to find impactful players only 2007 fifth-round pick Jared Gaither and 2006 third-round pick Ahmad Brooks stand out, but even the latter took time to develop. Despite the lack of talent, at least one player has been selected every year in recent history excluding 2008, with multiple third-round picks used as of late (Terrelle Pryor, Jeremy Jarmon, and Brooks). Could a similar talent rise from this year's crop? Below are brief evaluations of players already committed to this year's Supplemental Draft (on July 12th) and the list will be updated throughout the week as more names are released.
TCU RB Ed Wesley (5'9/200/4.46)
Positives: Blessed with a thick build, Wesley uses his low center of gravity to break plenty of tackles. He may look top heavy at times, but Wesley consistently lowers his shoulders through the hole with both arms covering the football and frequently bounces off first contact. When the hole is there, he has no problem bursting through it and utilizes small movements at the second level instead of making himself an easy target by running straight ahead. These subtleties show Wesley keeps his eyes up, reading the defense and occasionally changing sides of the field on downfield runs to open space. Wesley does favor his lateral hop, but it is somewhat understandable because the movement certainly covers a lot of ground quickly. Career stats: 387 rushes for 2442 yards, 21 touchdowns. He only hauled in 22 receptions in three years of quality production for 314 yards and three touchdowns. 11 punt returns for 120 yards.
Negatives: Wesley is far too indecisive behind the line of scrimmage. If the running lane is not a clear path, he goes into a bit of a panic with plenty of wasted movement. As mentioned previously, Wesley favors the lateral hop, either to stretch well defended runs outside or to work back between the tackles. Too often he was tackled for a loss with his feet frozen. Wesley is game when getting physical in pass protection but is repeatedly pushed back on first contact. He is listed as having high 4.4 ability, but I did not see flashes of breakaway speed likely due to two reasons: he ran in plenty of trash at the second level while focusing on staying on his feet, and he constantly used quick movements to evade rather than trying to build speed and out run tacklers. Wesley missed three games last year due to a shoulder injury but finished the season strong.
Outlook: It is obvious Wesley is a tough runner that offers a nice base and low center of gravity to pick up extra yards after contact. However, his indecision behind the line of scrimmage is readily apparent, stutter stepping when a running lane is not clear. It undoubtedly does not look like patience. There is a lot to like past the line of scrimmage, where Wesley uses quick movements, vision, and power to pick up quality yards between the numbers. With that said, I prefer him over drafted running backs like Terrance Ganaway, Dan Herron, and Alfred Morris so a sixth- or seventh-round selection is possible but he certainly could go undrafted and sign on with a team as a free agent. It helps Wesley's cause that he is leaving TCU on his own terms for family reasons rather than off-field field issues forcing his decision, although no specifics were given.
Baylor WR Josh Gordon (6'3/220/4.43)
Positives: From the start it is apparent that Gordon offers a great combination of size and speed. Almost strictly lining up as an outside receiver, Gordon did most of his damage on bubble screens and when running sideline curls as a run/pass option for Robert Griffin III. There were flashes where he dealt with physical defensive backs downfield with persistence or a lean to evade. Even more impressively, Gordon showed glimpses of being a more than capable lead blocker on the edge, paving the way for long runs by a trailing Kendall Wright after a short screen. Unlike other long wide receivers, Gordon builds up speed fairly quickly and continues that straight line pace while tracking targets over his shoulder.
Negatives: As I stated before, Gordon lined up almost strictly as an outside receiver (when disregarding bubble screens where his job was solely to block). That is to be expected due to his 6'3/220 pound frame, but he is not the same quick twitch athlete as other Baylor wideouts. This is obvious when Gordon attempts to run after the catch, as he is almost a one move or straight-line runner that has difficulties bending or cutting to evade. This lower body stiffness is hidden in routes due to the limited route tree Gordon was asked to run in Baylor's fast paced offense. He tracks the ball well vertically and even left his feet on occasion but could not come down with the reception in traffic, failing to create that sliver of separation at the catch point. Most of all, Gordon faced an indefinite suspension at Baylor after the 2010 season after being charged in a Taco Bell drive-thru with possession of marijuana. He then transferred to Utah last year and was forced by rule to sit out last season.
Outlook: Gordon seems to be drawing the most media interest leading up to July 12 and I am left wondering why. Sure, he offers a 6'3 frame and is said to run a mid 4.4 forty, but to me the positives nearly end there. Straight-line speed is great, but he struggled to bend when changing directions on breaking routes, albeit a small route sample size at Baylor. There were times where Gordon was an efficient edge blocker, but just as often he showed little effort and overextended all the way to the ground. To top it off, there are multiple character questions that teams will have to answer in a short period of time. Gordon opted out of one problem by choosing to transfer following an arrest rather than working through the issue at Baylor. Then, instead of proving that the transfer was the correct decision by playing this season, he bolts to the NFL. So we are left with a prospect that hasn't touched the field in a game situation in over a year, has always been more of an athlete than receiver, and has unanswered off-field flags? Count me out. Team's overvalue draft picks, especially future selections, so I would be surprised if Gordon draws more than a sixth-round bid.