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Pats could have interest in supplemental draft

There has been very little action taking place around the league in recent days, but July 10 will bring a minor event that could eventually have some relevance for Patriots fans: the annual supplemental draft.

Every year since 1977 the NFL has held a supplemental draft for players who for a various reasons missed out on the deadline to declare for the regular draft or had suddenly found their college eligibility expired.

NFL.com's Gil Brandt recently had an interesting piece with some background on the subject, citing former Notre Dame running back Al Hunter as the first supplement pick (by Seattle in 1977).

Since then, 32 players have been chosen over a span of 26 drafts. The process is simple: the teams pick in the same order as they did in April, with each club deciding whether they want to select a player. The process continues through each round (1-7) and teams can use all, some or none of their picks.

If a team uses its first-round pick, it loses its first rounder in the subsequent draft. For example, the Patriots took cornerback J'Juan Cherry in the fourth round in the 1999 supplemental draft. That meant New England forfeited its fourth-round pick in the 2000 draft.

Over the years there have been eight first-round selections. Included among that group are big-name players such as quarterbacks Bernie Kosar and Steve Walsh, linebacker Brian Bosworth and wide receiver Rob Moore.

This year's crop is made up of six players: Defensive tackle Jason Cedeno of Northeastern Oklahoma State, defensive ends Earl Cochran (Alabama State) and Noah Happe (Oregon State), running back Tony Hollings of Georgia Tech and wide receivers Donovan Morgan (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Brad Pyatt (Northern
Colorado).

The most intriguing name (both overall and for the Patriots) is Hollings. The former defensive back successfully made the switch to running back and was shredding opposing defenses through four games until he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season.

According to Brandt, at just a hair below 5-11 and 223 pounds with 4.47 speed, Hollings possesses the speed/power combination that NFL personnel men love. In just four games he had 92 carries for 633 yards and a mind-boggling 11 touchdowns.

The Patriots backfield is getting to be crowded with the addition of Michael Cloud, but Hollings might be worth taking a gamble on. Antowain Smith will almost surely carry the bulk of the load in 2003 but if Hollings proves he's recovered from the injury he could be a long-term alternative. If the Patriots could get him with a fifth- or sixth-round pick, he might turn out to be a steal.

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