These days, if you’re looking for a pro football fix, you’re pretty much left with the NFL’s Supplemental Draft, which is slated for later this month. Of course, comparing the supplemental draft with the NFL draft is like comparing a toy car with a Ferrari.

Finding supplemental draft success stories isn’t easy. It’s been quite a while since the ‘supp draft’ was turning out players like Miami’s Bernie Kosar and Steve Walsh, Ohio State’s Cris Carter, Alabama’s Bobby Humphrey and Syracuse’s Rob Moore in the late 80s. Since then, there have been solid players here and there but no consistency. In fact, the only one that really stands out in the past decade is Baylor’s Josh Gordon, who, ahem, turned out to have character issues.

It made me wonder if all such players that wind up on the post-draft scrap heap have obvious character warts, since so few ever get drafted and fewer still make a real impact. I reached out to six scouts this morning with just that question. Answers mostly confirmed my thesis, though some were mixed.

  • One scout said that in the “75-90 % range” of cases, it’s either character or an NCAA-related issue such as a player who was waiting on an eligibility ruling that came in late.
  • Another scout said most supp draft prospects are “not necessarily bad people,” though he allowed that sometimes such players are bad apples.
  • One strongly disagreed, calling my thesis way too broad. “I’ve never seen a study but personally I don’t believe that would be a very factual statement,” he said, and indicated that he feels most players in the supp draft are victims of circumstances beyond their control.
  • Another agreed with me, confirming that it’s “usually the case” that the player in question has off-field problems that are significant.
  • The final one I corresponded with said he wouldn’t say 90 percent had character issues, but said probably half did. “Lots of warts with supplemental drafting,” he admitted.

I guess the reason most teams pass on supplemental draft prospects is more because they don’t make the grade on the field than off the field. As always, however, character goes into each evaluation, and might tip the balance. How much is hard to determine.