NFL cancels 2020 supplemental draft due to Covid-19 pandemic

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill was among the players thought to be considering the supplemental draft, which was cancelled by the NFL in a memo sent to all 32 teams Wednesday. © Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Rang

The NFL has canceled its annual summer supplemental draft, per a memo sent out to the NFL’s 32 teams and independently confirmed by NFLDraftScout.com.

“It was the right thing to do, in my opinion,” one long-time high-ranking scout for an NFC team shared with NFLDraftScout.com upon learning of the news.

“The whole point is to give players who have lost eligibility an opportunity. Just like how [the pandemic] shut down Pro Day workouts for the regular spring draft, the lack of accurate measurements and medicals would not have given clubs a real idea of what a player could do. Players with a chance at being drafted will get drafted higher [next spring] when the league better knows who and what they are investing in."

High profile players such as Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard and Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill – two running backs worthy of early round consideration – have been the subject of all sorts of speculation after both stars voiced their displeasure with initial tepid responses from authorities to the Black Lives Matter movement and the disproportionate amount of violence and jailing of blacks in this country.

Others speculated that possible cancellations (or delays) of the college football season could create a mass exodus of players flooding the NFL.

The league wisely doesn’t want to threaten its relationship with the NCAA which essentially runs a free minor league program for them.

Any players who had applied to the league for admittance into the draft will not be treated as free agents but will instead retain their eligibility to NFL teams in next spring’s 2021 draft – many of the top prospects which we are breaking in our daily Countdown to Kickoff summer series.

The supplemental draft has been a nearly annual occurrence since 1977 when the Seattle Seahawks made another running back – Al Hunter from Notre Dame – a fourth round pick. The vast majority of the 46 players selected during the 29 drafts since have gone on to relatively ho-hum careers in the NFL with some notable exceptions, including Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, longtime Cleveland Browns star quarterback Bernie Kosar, former Ohio State Buckeyes turned NFL wideout Terrelle Pryor and infamous linebacker and TV personality Brian Bosworth, among others.

Former Washington State safety Jalen Thompson was the only player selected last year, getting picked in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals got terrific value in Thompson, who played in 15 games as a late addition, recording 57 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception.

The supplemental draft is very different from the televised spectacle the April player selection show has become. The entire process is done via a lottery and email. Teams are broken into three groups based on their won/loss records from last year and a lottery is conducted the morning of the draft, which typically takes place in mid-July. Clubs reply back to the league office with the round tender they’d place on an eligible player with the highest bidder receiving his rights and forfeiting the pick used in the corresponding April draft. All eligible players not drafted would normally then be street free agents free to sign with any team. 

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