The NFL is going to conduct the 2019 installment of the supplemental draft later this week, and there is an interesting player available out there at the safety position, an area of weakness in terms of depth for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. Jalen Thompson out of WSU recently learned that he would not be eligible to play in 2019, so he elected, late, to declare, and the consensus is that somebody, at some point, is going to take him.
Will it be the Steelers? It’s as good a time as any to remind you that they have never taken a player, ever, in the supplemental draft, which has been around since 1977. 45 players have been drafted in this way since then, and it has included some significant players, so it should not be regarded as a waste of resources by any means.
The most notable player would have to be Cris Carter, whom the Philadelphia Eagles took with a fourth-round pick in 1987. He was one of three players taken in the supplemental draft that year, which is the second-most ever taken in a single draft, behind the five players selected in 1989.
Prior to last season, no players had been selected since 2015, when the St. Louis Rams used a fifth-round pick on tackle Isaiah Battle, who is currently a free agent and has not been on a 53-man roster since 2017. Prior to that Josh Gordon in 2012 was the last taken.
But two players were drafted last year—cornerbacks Sam Beal in the third round by the New York Giants and Adonis Alexander in the sixth round by Washington—so perhaps that is an indication that teams are willing to use this resource again. It was the first time since 2010 that multiple players were selected.
But, again, none of these selections have come from the Steelers. As a matter of fact, they are one of just four teams in the NFL who have never made a selection in the supplemental draft, and two of them are the expansion teams of the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other team that has never selected a player in the supplemental draft is the Indianapolis Colts. Every other team has taken at least one player since 1977.
It’s worth noting that the Steelers have already given up a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft as part of the trade with the Denver Broncos to move up 10 spots in the first round to select Devin Bush. Even though they anticipate getting a high (hopefully third-round) compensatory pick for him, that may still preclude them from giving up a pick for something generally non-essential.