It’s a running gag whenever we reach this point of the offseason. We post a ‘mock draft’ of the NFL Supplemental draft with about 255 picks that all say “No selection made.” That joke makes the rounds because, in most seasons, there aren’t any draftable players that declare for the supplemental draft. It’s usually cast offs who end up suspended from their team or college reserves who are making a final stab at a possible NFL career. The 2018 Supplemental Draft, however, is far different.
Sam Beal, CB, Western Michigan
The most notable player entering the Supplemental Draft is Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal. Beal entered the 2019 draft season ranking anywhere from CB2 to CB5, in either event looking at a potential first or second round pick. With prototypical NFL size and a projected athletic profile, Beal is the top corner in the MAC and was on his way to being one of the best in college football. Beal is likely to go in the first three rounds of the supplemental draft, and is a worthy selection for any team looking to upgrade their secondary. He petitioned for eligibility for the Supplemental Draft due to academic issues.
Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech
At 6-foot-3, Alexander was an early favorite at the start of the 2017 season to possibly go early in the 2018 NFL Draft, despite character concerns stemming from a 2016 suspension for marijuana. 2017 was not great for Alexander, and he decided to return to Virginia Tech for another season. Unfortunately, he was ruled academically ineligible, so he declared for the Supplemental Draft.
Opinions vary on Alexander’s athletic ability. There are reports that he ran a sub 4.50 40-yard dash and posted a 41” vertical, but some question his ability to explode in coverage and keep up with receivers (the latter seems to stand out far more in the tape I’ve watched, though it’s admittedly from his poor 2017 season). Alexander was projected as a late-round pick during the 2018 draft cycle and would likely only command a sixth or seventh-round draft choice in the Supplemental. His positional ambiguity, being considered a possible safety convert, may improve his chances of selection.
Brandon Bryant, FS, Mississippi State
Bryant has not officially applied for the Supplemental Draft, but is expected to in the coming days. What sets Bryant apart from the other possible selections is possession of undeniably elite speed. Considered one of the fastest players in the nation, Bryant is coming off a down year in 2017, but his speed, along with prototypical NFL size, puts him in prime position for a late-round selection in the Supplemental Draft. A high-upside pick with little risk, his likely entry into the Supplemental Draft is due to academic issues.
Should the Lions bite?
With Darius Slay, Teez Tabor, Nevin Lawson, Quandre Diggs, DeShawn Shead, and others, the Lions possess a very deep corner grouping. Likewise, Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson lead a safety group that also has third-round rookie Tracy Walker and mid-round pick Miles Killebrew vying for spots. Depth isn’t as much of an issue as quality at this point, which is why the Lions should consider this Supplemental Draft class very carefully. Pro Football Focus’ Brett Whitefield posited several times leading up to the draft that cornerback was not only a sneaky position of need, but potentially a glaring one.
Nevin Lawson posted a down year, while Quandre Diggs seems to be likely a full-time move to safety. DeShawn Shead was injured in 2017 while Teez Tabor disappointed as a rookie, especially considering how strong the class as a whole was. While Tabor has looked bright in camp thus far, the Lions spent a great deal of time and energy looking to improve the cornerback position before settling for Shead and re-signing Lawson.
As a prospect, Sam Beal is superior to every Lions cornerback on the roster during their respective draft classes, and comes without the injury concerns that Tabor (hamstring) and Slay (meniscus) entered the NFL with as well as Lawson (dislocated toes) and Shead (ACL) have dealt with as pros. Would it be wise of the Lions to spend a second-round pick on another cornerback, potentially leaving them with only one pick in days 1 and 2 of 2019 (the Lions lack a third in the Da’Shawn Hand trade up)? Should they consider one of their late-round picks on a high upside, but raw prospect like Alexander or Bryant?
Beal is one of the best cornerbacks I have watched from the 2019 draft class, but it’s a risky proposition banking a second-round pick on a rookie who’d be mostly rotational in Year 1. Spending a late-round flyer on one of the other two is less risky, but my personal grade on Alexander is not great and Bryant is almost entirely athletic projection.
What do you think, Lions fans? Let us know in the comments if you think the Lions should get a jump on locking down the secondary for years to come by taking a risk in the 2018 Supplemental Draft.