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How does the NFL's supplemental draft work?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills haven't been frequent participants in the NFL supplemental draft, selecting only two players over the years and none since 1989.

But they could take a shot Thursday. The Bills were one of 21 clubs to watch former Baylor receiver Josh Gordon's workout Tuesday, and he's up for bids.

The Bills wouldn't mind some receiver help, especially on the outside, where Gordon's skill set belongs. The Bills did draft speedster T.J. Graham in the third round, but they previously had their eyes on veteran Robert Meachem in free agency. Gordon might help the Bills hedge their bets for Chan Gailey's spread offense moving forward.

Since supplemental activity is rare, let's take a refresher course on how the process works.

The pool is comprised of players who didn't enter the regular draft but whose circumstances have changed and don't want to wait another year. Various reasons range anywhere from graduating early to being kicked off the team to financial hardship.

The draft order is determined by a weighted system. Teams are broken down into three categories: six victories or fewer (10 teams, counting the Bills), all others that didn't make the playoffs (10 teams) and those that did make the playoffs (12 teams).

Within those tiers, a draft order is computed, with the worst teams having the best shot of getting to the front of the line within their group.

Clubs interested in any supplemental-draft prospect then submit to the NFL a bid, declaring what round they want to select him. The highest bid awards the prospect to that team, which then will lose the corresponding choice in next year's draft.

For instance, when the Oakland Raiders bid a third-round draft choice for Terrelle Pryor in last year's supplemental draft, they lost their third-round draft choice in April.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |