The NFL Draft may be in the rear-view mirror, but the NFL’s Supplemental Draft is suddenly on the horizon. In essence, it’s an opportunity for underclassmen who are now ineligible for the upcoming college football season and wish to declare for a potential career in the NFL.
The Draft order is exactly the same (meaning the Eagles have pick number 24), but where a player lands is based on the bid. Teams will part ways with a future draft pick in order to attain one of the declared players and the lowest-seeded team who has submitted the highest round draft pick, will claim him for that price.
There are several players who carry an intriguing background and skillset, but one stands out from the crowd in relation to the Eagles; defensive back Jalen Thompson.
The 6’0, 195 lbs Junior seemed destined for a huge season at Washington State, until he lost his final year of eligibility due to a violation of of the NCAA’s substance rules. Thompson reportedly purchased an over-the-counter supplement that was not a steroid, but violated the policy.
So long as Thompson can prove to teams that this was indeed the case, there’s every reason to believe that there will be interest come the Draft next week.
Thompson started every game at Safety for the Cougars last year, finishing fourth on the defense in tackles and led the team in passes defensed, garnering All-Pac 12 recognition in the process. In 39 games for Wazzou, he’s racked up a whopping 191 solo tackles and 6 interceptions.
As someone that can line up in the nickel and over the top, he brings versatile value to the table. He may lack the desired physicality to play Safety full-time as of right now, but he could be a very strong developmental prospect…leading to a very interesting conversation surrounding the Eagles.
As we all know, Philly isn’t exactly stacked with depth at Safety and it was sorely tested last season. Malcolm Jenkins faces an uncertain future, with no guaranteed money and two-years left on his current deal, while Rodney McLeod endured a huge restructure during the offseason. Beneath them lie Tre Sullivan and Blake Countess…oh, and Andrew Sendejo.
Prior to his release, Sendejo was one of the Vikings’ longest-tenured players, starting 61 games since he was signed back in November of 2011. After his season came to an end following a groin injury sustained against the Eagles in week 5, the future looked bleak. His contract carried a $5.5M option and given how deep the Safety market suddenly became, that kind of money (which would put him inside the top 25 at his position) didn’t interest Minnesota, given their depth.
However, Sendejo has been a starting strong safety for quite some time now, totaling 31 passes defensed, 7 picks and a forced fumble, to go with his 432 tackles.
Known as a hard-hitter, Sendejo is a true tone setter in the secondary and while he may not carry the same reputation as some of the more notable free agents, he will be among the more ‘bang for your buck’ available. Prior to his injury, he was coming off of a career-high 80 tackles in 2017, along with a career-best 7 passes defensed.
Interestingly though, if the Eagles cut Sendejo, they can claim back a projected 4th-round compensatory pick in 2020. So in a hypothetical scenario where the Eagles bid a fifth-round selection for Thompson, and that bid wins, they could cut Sendejo, essentially moving up one round in next year’s Draft and switching Sendejo for developmental talent.
This all comes down to how much the team value Sendejo. In 2018, the third Safety role pretty much vanished with the team trying to negate the loss of Rodney McLeod, leading to Corey Graham playing in over 60% of snaps. He played in 35% in 2017, with Jaylen Watkins playing in 16.3%, when the roles were not influenced by injury.
If Sendejo is going to play in maybe 25% of defensive snaps, would Thompson provide that much of a drop in production? It’s an interesting discussion, and one that when weighed up against what is essentially a player swap, is even more so.
Not only that, but let’s not forget that Andre Dillard, the team’s first-round selection this year, came out of the same college. Perhaps the Eagles will have some insight into the person behind the facemask that other teams wont.
The Eagles can claim back a fourth-round selection by cutting Sendejo, essentially giving them free reign on a day-three draft pick bid without much in the way of immediate consequence.
Will Howie Roseman, one of the most forward-thinking GM’s in the league, attempt to pull another fast one on the rest of the NFL, or does it make sense to just sit and wait patiently, knowing you have a proven veteran to fill a void that until now, only a proven veteran has filled?
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports