I find one of the more interesting things to do is to select a specific criteria and create an all-star team based on that. I’ve done that with the best fielding lineup of catchers and the best players included as a player to be named later in a trade. But while researching a separate article, I was reminded of the Supplemental NFL Draft and started to wonder who would be the best players that entered the league via that route.
For those who aren’t familiar, the supplemental draft is a route for players to enter the league after missing out on the regular NFL Draft, whether the reason for missing be for disciplinary, academic, or just their own fault. It’s been in place since 1977. Currently, the order for the supplemental draft is created using a lottery-type system after a player that will be named later gamed the system in 1986 to get to the team he wanted.1 The order is often no issue as most teams don’t make any selections in the supplemental draft because to do so forfeits a pick in the same round of the next, usually more valuable, NFL Draft.
One final thing to take into account is the 1984 supplemental draft. This was the year that the NFL lost out on a lot of talent because of the USFL’s successful attempt to lure players away from the NFL. Using this extra draft, the NFL picked players that were on USFL rosters in the event that the USFL folded, which it did in 1986, allowing for an orderly transition of all the new players to the NFL.
Here is the starting eleven on the offensive side of the ball for the All-Supplemental Draft team.
Quarterback – Steve Young (1984)
Ah technicalities. The #1 pick from the 1984 USFL-based supplemental draft allows this team to look much stronger. Selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-1, the scrambler out of BYU stands alone for the starting QB of the All-Supplemental Draft team.
After the USFL folded in 1986, Young joined his drafting team, Tampa Bay and scuttled there for two years before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a second and a fourth round draft pick. I won’t bore you with his story because if you’re here you know that Young beat out Montana eventually. But to drive his spot atop this list home, in case you think the next man should stake a claim, Young led the league in completion percentage five times and touchdown passes four times. That is to say nothing of his running ability.
Backup – Bernie Kosar (1985)
This is the aforementioned player that caused the current randomized order of the supplemental draft. By not declaring for the regular NFL Draft, Kosar and his agent maneuvered to have the Browns trade for the #1 supplemental selection (almost worthless) in order to rig the deck for Kosar to Cleveland.
Despite having a solid career and starting 108 career games, Kosar has no chance of unseating Young as the starter for the All-Supplemental Draft team. Kosar becomes the only true option if you take out the anomalous 1984 supplemental draft.
Running Back – Kevin Mack (1984)
We are going to skip “full back” and play in a nice modern three-wide set. Competing with fellow USFL draftee, Mike Rozier, this was a close call for Kevin Mack. Mack played two years longer and had more yards and touchdowns, despite playing primarily at the full back position.
Mack’s rookie year, at age 23, was by far his best, averaging five yards per carry and thumping his way to 1,104 yards rushing and 297 yards receiving with 10 total touchdowns. Though carrying on for nine seasons total, all with Cleveland, Mack only cleared the 1,000 yard plateau once.
Rozier was the #2 overall pick in the infamous 1984 supplemental draft, but Mack out played him in all respects in his nine-year career even though he was considered a full back.
Wide Receiver – Cris Carter (1987)
A hall of famer is certainly not going to be beaten out on this list, especially when they didn’t come from the 1984 supplemental draft. After it was found out that Carter signed a contract prior to his senior season with a sports agency, he was ruled ineligible and found himself in the supplement draft instead of the regular draft.
After being drafted with the third pick in the fourth round of the ’87 supplemental draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, Carter spent three lackluster years in the city of brotherly love. The Minnesota Vikings picked him up in 1990 and never looked back. Carter lead the NFL in receiving TDs three times and in receptions once.
The eight-time Pro Bowler started 16 games in nine-straight campaigns for the purple and gold and deserves the #1 receiver position on the All-Supplemental Draft team.
Wide Receiver – Gary Clark (1984)
A part of the ’84 class, Gary Clark was a deep threat at 5’9” and 173 lbs., averaging 15.5 yards per reception over his career. He never led the NFL in any category, but had five seasons over the magic 1,000 yard mark.
Clark spent eight years as a Washington Redskin after being drafted in the second round before moving on to Arizona and Miami to finish out his career.
Wide Receiver – Rob Moore (1990)
Sacrificing their first-round selection in the next draft, the New York Jets selected Rob Moore with the first overall pick of the 1990 supplemental draft. Moore led the league in receiving yards in 1997 for Arizona with 1,584 yards.
Despite his size, Moore was never much of a touchdown producer at 6’3”, 203 lbs., catching 49 over his ten with the Jets and the Cardinals.
Tight End – John Davis (1994)
With the second overall selection of the fifth round, the Dallas Cowboys selected tight end John Davis of Emporia State. This position was rather…barren, but Davis did start 26 of the 81 games he appeared in.
The 6’4” tight end was anything but a “move” or pass-catching tight end, but he was able to carve out a solid career from the fifth round of 1994 supplemental draft.
Left Tackle – Gary Zimmerman (1984)
Hello again 1984, how we missed you. Another hall of famer this time as Gary Zimmerman would be the top pick to play the “blind side” despite a lefty starting at QB. Playing 12 seasons at the cornerstone position, Zimmerman played eight-straight seasons between Minnesota and the Denver Broncos without missing a start.
Left Guard – Mike Wahle (1998)
Coming out of Navy, Mike Wahle playd a bit of left tackle before he transitioned to left guard for the remainder of his career starting in 2001.
Center – Tom Dixon (1984)
After playing for the Michigan Panthers of the USFL, Tom Dixon was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round, pick 52, of the draft. Dixon is the only center to have been drafted through the supplemental draft system, though he never played a snap in the NFL.
Right Guard – Derek Kennard (1984)
Derek Kennard spent the first five seasons of his career trying to fit in as a left guard or center. After finding a home in New Orleans, and eventually Dallas, Kennard found a second career for himself. The 285 lbs. lineman and has started 122 of 134 of his games.
Right Tackle – Don Maggs (1984)
The only other tackle to have a decent career in the NFL, Maggs was taken by the Houston Oilers in 1984 with the second pick, 29th overall, of the supplemental draft. After starting 45-of-48 games in his last three years with Houston, Maggs moved on to Denver in 1994 before retiring after that.
There you have it, the All-Supplemental Draft Team, well the offensive side of the ball anyway. Stay tuned for the defensive side coming tomorrow.