This is your quasi daily reminder that prospect hype is often a practice in building up a player only to watch him fall. We see this every April when there are only a select few players who seem like they’re capable of elite production immediately, and there are flaws around nearly every other first-round pick, and inevitably a significant percentage of them become busts.
That’s the cycle of NFL life between mid February at the Scouting Combine, and late April. We realize that there’s an immense amount of hearsay and speculation, and for the most part we approach every scouting report with the required amount of guarded optimism.
But I fear we let down that guard down a bit in July, mostly because we’re not used to having to care much about the supplemental draft. So when a Josh Gordon comes along and he’s ready to save the world, we hear that he’s the best prospect in the loser draft in 15 years, an assessment from Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline that I’ve refereed to several times over the past few days because of the intrigue scouting reports like that one have created. Gordon’s widely been viewed as a player worthy of a second- to third-round pick, which is prime draft real estate for a wideout who hasn’t played in two years.
So please, Albert Breer, take us back to reality:
Maybe the hype around Gordon is entirely justified, and maybe the hobbled but still impressive Gordon we saw yesterday at his Pro Day will grow into a contributor quickly. And maybe there are teams with a dire need at wide receiver who will willfully overhype and overpay for Gordon, just to take a blind, desperate swing.
Maybe, but that doesn’t mean the price they pay is the price Gordon is worth, especially not as a supplemental pick.
The cloud of hype makes us forget how difficult it is to even make a roster as a supplemental pick, let alone play a meaningful role. It’s mid July, so offseason workouts are long over, putting the supplemental draft rookies far behind their counterparts who went through the normal process back in April. That includes being behind in the competition for spots on the depth chart, and their comprehension of the offense/defense.
Len Pasquarelli spoke to Tony Hollings. You likely don’t know that name because he was an irrelevant running back, but he’s an important player in the rich and distinguished history of the supplemental draft. When the Texans sacrificed a second-round pick to take Hollings in 2003, at the time he was the highest player chosen in the supplemental draft since 1999.
What did he do with that title? He appeared in 23 games (starting just one) and had 102 rushing yards. Hollings compared being a supplemental draftee to being the kid in school who’s way too far behind, so far that catching up feels hopeless.
“It’s hard, because you’re kind of like the kid who starts classes a month or two (into the semester). You’re behind from Day One.”
Cris Carter is the supplemental draft hero story. The Vikings legend was taken in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft, and then had a career with was kind of alright, finishing with 13,899 receiving yards, 1,001 receptions, and 130 touchdowns. But nearly half (19) of the 41 players who have been selected in the supplemental draft never started a single game, and 10 didn’t appear in a game at all.
That’s some cold, hard reality for our uber prospect of the day. Good luck, Josh.
Pic via Bloguin