Save for the 1984 supplemental draft conducted by the NFL as a fail safe for the possible – and eventual – collapse of the USFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers have never made a selection in the league’s “bonus” pool.
Maybe that changes this year.
At the least, there’s one player the team should be doing their homework on.
Washington State safety Jalen Thompson announced he’ll declare for the draft after finding out he became ineligible for his senior season at WSU. The reason is unspecified but according to a statement provided by the Cougars, he violated NCAA rules.
Statement from WSU re: Jalen Thompson:
“Washington State University safety Jalen Thompson will not return for his senior season after losing his final year of eligibility due to a violation of NCAA rules. Thompson has entered the NFL Supplemental Draft set for later next month.”
— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynMcIntyr) June 29, 2019
While most players who enter the supplemental draft are unlikely to be drafted with off field concerns that are generally greater than on-field talent, Thompson is likely to be taken by someone. A three year starter at free safety, he’s recorded six interceptions over the last two years while recording 11.5 TFL and recovering five fumbles.
Though I’ll admit I haven’t watched his tape yet, outside sources are unanimous the talent is there. For Pittsburgh, there’s also a clear need. Safety depth is one of the weakest spots of the team especially at free safety. Backing up Sean Davis, entering a contract year himself, is Jordan Dangerfield. Safety was the one position the team failed to address during the draft and the UDFAs they brought in, neither of whom can be counted on to make the team, are strong safeties.
If there’s a time to roll the dice, this is probably it.
Of course, the odds are still going to be low, just as they are in trying to predict any one team in a situation like this. Pittsburgh shipped a 3rd round pick in 2020’s draft in order to move up for Devin Bush and might be unwilling to give up another “future” pick in the same offseason. Or maybe they get unlucky and another team jumps them. Supplemental drafts work the same as the main one. Teams go in order round by round, either picking a player or far more likely, passing on the chance to do so.
Two players were taken in last year’s draft. The New York Giants burned a third round pick on CB Sam Beal while Washington used a 6th on CB Adonis Alexander. They were the first supplemental players drafted since 2015 but it sounds likely Thompson will join that list when the draft is held sometime in July. Last year, it was conducted on July 10th. (Update: It appears this year’s draft will also be held July 10th)