The NFL's annual summer "second chance" supplemental draft takes place Thursday with six prospects eligible, half of whom have legitimate hopes of being selected.
Calgary wide receiver Rashaun Simonise and Purdue nose guard Ra'Zahn Howard have generated the most interest from scouts this summer, with each drawing multiple teams to recent pro day workouts. Former Mississippi cornerback Tee Shepard is hoping to make a lasting final impression on talent evaluators, opting to work out in Oxford on Wednesday.
Virginia Tech long snapper Eddie D'Antuono, Sam Houston State running back Jalen Overstreet and Concordia (Ala.) edge rusher Cameron Walton are also eligible.
Frankly, none of this year's eligible prospects are as gifted as Isaiah Battle, a tackle from Clemson who the then-St. Louis Rams selected in the fifth round of the NFL's supplemental draft last year. In fact, some NFL sources believe that no players will be selected for the third time in four years.
Let's take a look at each of the prospects who will be available to all 32 teams on Thursday.
Simonise, a Vancouver, British Columbia native who starred for the University of Calgary in 2015, is probably this year's best bet at getting drafted. He tied for the nation's lead with 11 touchdowns among 65 catches for 1,306 yards overall last season. Like several of this year's prospects, he declared for the supplemental draft because he was ruled ineligible for 2016 due to academics.
Six teams attended Simonise's pro day workout in Calgary on Monday. Those clubs, according to a report from the Canadian Press, included the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
According to a source within these clubs, the 6-foot-5 Simonise came in 10 pounds heavier than the 190 pounds he was listed at on the Dino's official website, clocking in at 4.60 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Simonise posted a 35-inch vertical, a 10-foot-3 broad jump and eight reps on the 225-pound bench press, and also ran routes and caught passes as part of the workout.
Simonise used his combination of height and build-up speed to terrorize defenses in 2015, scoring his 11 touchdowns in just eight games. However, he is quite raw as a route-runner, with much of his production coming via verticals and quick screens. Simonise shows vision, agility and strength to break tackles but just average balance and explosion out of his cuts.
The change in physicality in the NFL will be something else scouts will have to take into account with Simonise. The rules in Canadian football are different than those in the NCAA and the NFL, allowing receivers to get a running start as the ball is snapped. As such, Simonise has very little experience dealing with press coverage, which would hamper the long strider's ability to get to top speed quickly.
Nine teams reportedly attended Howard's pro day in New Jersey last week. Feedback from some of the clubs who attended the workout was that Howard was out of shape. Video of his workout shows the 6-2, 325-pound Howard laboring through bag and shuttle drills. He reportedly was clocked in the 5.2s in the 40-yard dash and had a 24.5-inch vertical jump.
Howard started 10 of 11 games last season for the Boilermakers, registering a career-high 23 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He posted a total of 47 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks over 29 games at Purdue.
Despite his underwhelming statistics and workout, teams could be intrigued with Howard's natural bulk and athleticism. He is surprisingly quick off the ball and uses an over-arm swim move effectively to penetrate the line of scrimmage. When he keeps his pad level low, Howard can anchor effectively as well. It is a skill-set which could be especially valued by proponents of the 3-4 alignment who may see Howard as a developmental nose guard.
As his statistics suggest, Howard does not offer much as a pass rusher, showing only phone-booth quickness and limited ability to change directions efficiently enough to pursue outside of the tackle box. He has a bad habit of standing up at the snap of the ball, negating his own power due to a lack of leverage. Howard struggled with his weight in the past, at one time ballooning to more than 350 pounds. He was suspended in January by Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell and held out of spring activities due to academics.
Given that he initially signed with Notre Dame as part of a celebrated 2012 recruiting class, Shepard may be the most familiar name to college football fans -- or flight crews for that matter.
The well-traveled Shepard spent time at Holmes Community College (Miss.), Ole Miss and Miami (Ohio) in the years since, with his best season (54 tackles, six pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one interception) taking place at the JUCO level in 2013.
While he may have more frequent flyer incentives than interceptions over his college career, Shepard does come with enough size (6-1 and 180 pounds, according to his official Rebels bio) and athleticism to warrant a closer look from scouts.
Of the remaining prospects, Overstreet is considered the most talented. The 6-2, 212-pound running back rushed for 840 yards and seven touchdowns for Sam Houston State last year, catching 10 passes for another 66 yards and even throwing a 25-yard touchdown. Overstreet comes with significant baggage, however. He was kicked off the team at Texas by Charlie Strong and has had three run-ins with the authorities since, including an indictment in May on a felony charge of credit card abuse.
D'Antuono is a three-year starting long snapper with excellent size (listed by the Hokies at 6-7, 267 pounds).
Size, strength and level of competition questions are the concerns for Walton, a 6-3, 230-pound edge rusher who opted for the supplemental draft after Concordia dropped its football program.
SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT PRIMER
The supplemental draft is very different from the media bonanza that occurs each spring. It is carried out via e-mail among teams and is not televised. The selection order is different as well.
The teams are slotted into three groups based on their won/loss percentage the previous year and are then placed in a lottery, with the official order not being released to the public.
Teams interested in selecting a player contact the league via email with a list of the prospects they would draft and the round in which they would take them. If awarded the player, the team loses its corresponding selection in next spring's draft. The draft is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET. With few worthwhile candidates, the whole thing could be over within just a few minutes.
The supplemental draft was originally created for players who had lost their eligibility between the primary NFL Draft in April and the beginning of the next season. Typically, they are players who ran afoul of the law or failed to keep up with their academic obligations, such as the case with Howard.
A total of 43 players have now been selected since the draft's inception in 1977. Among the most notable supplemental selections were quarterback Bernie Kosar (Cleveland, 1985), wide receiver Cris Carter (Philadelphia, 1987), linebacker Brian Bosworth (Seattle, 1987) and wide receiver Josh Gordon (Cleveland, 2012).
Players who are not drafted are considered street free agents and are eligible to sign with any interested club. Simonise, as a native Canadian, is also eligible for the CFL's 2017 draft next May.
--Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, a division of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.