The NFL Supplemental Draft is used to select college players who have lost their eligibility or missed the NFL Draft deadline. It began in 1977 and has only seen 32 players drafted in the first 26 years. The format has evolved, with teams now bidding on players and losing a pick in the following year’s draft based on the round the player is selected in.
The National Football League (NFL) Supplemental Draft is an infrequently used option for selecting college players who generally have lost their college eligibility to play football. The supplemental draft is usually held during the summer, but it is not uncommon for no players to be drafted.
The first supplemental draft occurred in 1977, when Notre Dame running back Al Hunter was ruled ineligible to play college football. The 1977 NFL Draft had already taken place, but rather than wait until the 1978 Draft and force Hunter to miss an entire football season, the NFL elected to have a Draft specifically for him.
The Supplemental Draft is now primarily used for players with eligibility issues or players who miss the NFL Draft deadline for one reason or another. However, selections in the Supplemental Draft are rare. Only 32 players were drafted in the first 26 years of the Supplemental Draft, compared to the more than 200 players drafted each year in the NFL Draft.
The format of the supplemental draft has evolved over the years. In the beginning, NFL teams would draw names from a hat to determine order. Then each team would have the option to select a player or pass. What discouraged teams from drafting players, aside from the scarcity of players eligible for the supplemental draft, was the fact that any pick used would result in the loss of a pick in the following year’s draft. If a player was selected in the fourth round of the supplemental draft, that team will forfeit their fourth round pick in the next draft.
The order for the Supplemental Draft is now determined by the previous year’s NFL Draft. The team that picks first in the regular draft gets the first chance to pick in the supplemental draft. Rather than going through pick after pick, with most teams going through, teams are required to bid on any player they wish to draft in the supplemental draft. However, teams have an incentive to make the offer reasonable, as they will lose a pick the following year based on which round a player is selected in. So if a team makes a second round bid on a player, they will receive that player if no team has made a first round bid on him and if no team they picked before it has made a bid for the second round on him.