Before I get into specifics about wide receiver Josh Gordon, I wanted to highlight some of the positives and negatives with the NFL Supplemental Draft:
-Typically you can get a player a round or two higher than they’d go in the draft the following April (assuming they would have a productive final season), making it a great ‘buy low’ option
-You get value for that pick a year early, no other team is really getting value for their draft picks next year, this season. While some might point to cases where future picks were traded for a veteran, remember those are short term fixes as the team inherits a far larger contract and likely fewer years of team control. In situations where multiple picks are traded for one, so the value is split amongst those picks. Even in the case where a team trades a future selection straight up for a draft pick in the current year, typically they are paying a higher round value, i.e. when the Panthers traded a 2011 2nd rounder for a late 3rd round pick in 2010. That is the opposite value level.
-In addition to getting the pick a year early, you are also likely to get high value in the actual pick year, since the player will already have a year in the system.
-That pick reaches free agency a year early, every other 2013 2nd-7th round draft pick won’t hit free agency until after the 2017 season, a supplemental pick will be eligible after 2016.
-They are behind the curve, since they aren’t selected till mid-July, they will have missed a number mini-camps and OTA’s, not to mention 2 and a half months of learning the playbook. That lessens their chance for impact early.
-The picks are riskier. Typically if a player is in the Supplemental Draft, they are in (or have been) some sort of trouble, whether it is legal or academic it can be a red flag. In addition, these picks are not vetted nearly as well. You have one less year of evaluation, and may not have gotten the scouts full attention given that they weren’t a senior and didn’t appear to be a priority junior. Also there isn’t the same All-star game, Combine and Pro Day circuit, that helps weed out quite a few potential busts. You just aren’t going to have the time to typically get the same level of information you would for that particular pick in the following draft.
The names of the players eligible for the Supplemental Draft came out today and the consenus quickly became clear that the best name from the group is wide receiver Josh Gordon from Baylor. Now to the heart of the matter is whether or not the Redskins should submit a pick for Gordon in the draft on July, 12th.
Gordon is expected to generate interest in the 3rd to 4th round range, and it is easy to see why. He is expected to measure in at over 6’3″ and 225 lbs, with his speed rumored to be about 4.4. In 2010 (as a true Sophomore) he finished with 42 receptions, 714 yards, 7 TD’s and a 17.0 ypc average. Despite being on a team that featured Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams (a potential top 50 pick next April), Gordon more than held his own. And according to some scouts might have the highest upside of the bunch. While Wright and Williams saw their numbers (and stock) increase this past year, Gordon remains a bit of a mystery, as he had to sit out due to transferring, after a drug arrest got him kicked off the Baylor squad.
Gordon carries some risk, but he could also carry a pretty big reward for the Redskins. His size/speed combo could be a major addition to the Redskins, who generally lack size among their receivers. While currently the Redskins can feel pretty confident about their receiving corps for 2012, things could get a little murky by 2013. Santana Moss‘s contract is probably untenable given their potential cap issues, which could leave a sizable void if Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson (both recovering from injury) can’t step up. 2013 will also be Morgan’s final year as his contract voids after the season, leaving the Redskins fairly shorthanded at receiver. Given the likely cap issues, and what they’ve invested so far, the Redskins likely won’t be able to spend significantly on the position for at least a couple of years, and really can’t afford to use their 2nd or 3rd round picks the next few seasons on the position. This means, one way or another the Redskins will likely need to go bargain shopping for receivers after this season, and Gordon could easily represent the best value the Redskins are likely to see in the bargain bin.
Typically I’d be against giving up future selections given the Redskins pick and pick value deficit, until after the Robert Griffin deal is paid off, but this could be an exception. In this case the Redskins could be a player more valuable than what the pick is worth, which can help make up for that deficit. Despite their being some talk of a team using a 3rd round pick on Gordon, I’m guessing the 4th round will be the more likely target, and that would be the pick I’d use (note: I wouldn’t do the 3rd rounder, even if it was thought you might miss out on him). The Redskins can also trade back in either the 2nd or 3rd round to pick up an extra 4th next year, to further make up for the lost value.
The other reason I think this could make some sense for the Redskins is the Baylor factor. Assuming they don’t hate each other for some reason, Gordon could be a very interesting fit with Robert Griffin. They spent two years playing together at Baylor, so Griffin can give the Redskins great insight into Gordon. Also that familiarity could help both Gordon and Griffin develop quicker. Also, given how intense the Redskins pursued and evaluated Griffin, they should have better insight and sources in the area on Gordon than most NFL teams.
So what do you think? Is Josh Gordon worth using a 2013 4th round pick on to basically stash away for a year?