Steelers Eyeing OL In Supplemental Draft

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
By Paul Eide
Steelers Fever Columnist


If you weren't aware that the NFL's second draft of the 2007 off season was set to take place this Thursday, July 12th you probably aren't alone. Since its inception in 1977, only 35 players have been selected and in eight of those years, no picks were used and no available players were selected.

Here's how it works: Draft order is broken down into three sections which are "weighted" based on a team's record. First are the teams that had six wins or fewer the previous season. Next are teams with that didn't make the playoffs but had more than six wins. The final section is comprised of the 12 teams that made the playoffs. The team with the worst record receives a "weighted" advantage over the following team in its section, and so on until it reaches the team with the best record in that particular section.

There are seven rounds in all just like the regular NFL Draft. In whichever round a team makes a selection, it will forfeit a pick in that same round in the NFL Draft the next April.

After the order is determined each team submits to the league, via e mail, the name of the player they are interested in, as well as the round they would like to choose them in. The team that submits the highest bid is awarded rights to the player. If more than one team bids a pick from the same round, the team with the highest pick in the round wins out. Teams are not forced to participate and many of them do not.

While the Supplemental Draft may appear to some as somewhat unnecessary, almost cryptic exercise, a quick glance at a few notable past selections speaks of the talent that has been and can be available at the right time.

All-Pro wide receiver Cris Carter was selected by the Eagles in the first round in 1987; Bernie Kosar was selected in the first round by the Browns in 1985; wide receiver Ron Moore was selected in the first round by the Jets in 1990; All-Pro defensive tackle Jamal Williams was selected in the second round by the Chargers in 1998 and offensive tackle Mike Wahle was selected in the second round by the Packers in 1998.

One reason Steelers fans may want to pay attention to the results of the lesser known of the two Drafts is because the team has taken an active interest in Nebraska offensive lineman Chris Patrick. Patrick began his college career as a defensive end but was eventually moved to the offensive line and became the Huskers starter at left tackle last season. Patrick performed well enough in '06 (versus top pass rushers such as Lawrence Jackson of USC and Quentin Groves of Auburn amongst others) to be forecasted as a third or fourth round selection in the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft.

"Ever since my performance at my Pro Day, I've talked to over 20 teams and that means the thorough interview process," said Patrick, whose individual workout performance raised some eyebrows and caused his stock to soar.

"I heard I ran the 40 anywhere from 5.1 to 5.3 which is as fast as any of the offensive linemen selected in the NFL Draft. I benched 225 pounds 31 times after I did all my offensive line drills including my 40, but I've done it 39 times before on a previous occasion."

Because of his size (6' 4 1/2", 305 lbs) Patrick knows he doesn't possess what NFL teams term "ideal size" to play left tackle, but has proven in the past that he can do so successfully. More than anything though, he just wants to help a team win.

"I faced Adam Carriker every day in practice and he was the best defensive lineman in the Draft," said Patrick. "Going against a guy like him that frequently, it makes you a better lineman and NFL teams take note of that. But I'm willing to play any position. I can play tackle, but I can also play guard so that's just another valuable asset that I can do. A team can put me wherever they want and I can bring multiple things to the table because of my versatility."

When asked about a possible destination on draft day this Thursday, the Steelers were one team that he named as showing serious interest.

"My agent has been talking to the Steelers quite a bit recently. They have a situation going on with their line right now. One of their guards (Alan Faneca) isn't very happy and I've heard some rumors about that, but you never really know," said Patrick. "Almost all of the teams on the east coast are interested in me. I've talked to teams on the west coast, so whatever happens. If I had to guess I'd say it would be one of the teams on the east coast, though I couldn't tell you who."

No matter where he ends up, Chris Patrick sees the opportunity to play in the NFL as something he has tremendous respect and appreciation for, dispelling the myth that the only players available in the Supplemental Draft are those who are academically ineligible or simply put, uncoachable malcontents.

"I don't really favor any one team over another in a huge way, I think it's just an honor to be going through this process and I am ready to bust my butt and do the best I can for any organization that selects me."