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Should Rams take a chance on WR Milton Wright in the Supplemental Draft?

Should the Rams place a bid on Purdue WR Milton Wright in the NFL’s Supplemental Draft?

NCAA Football: Indiana at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams added 14 rookies in the NFL Draft back in April in addition to an undrafted free agent rookie class of 24. If the Rams want to add another rookie to their roster, they’ll have another chance to do so as the NFL’s Supplemental Draft makes its return in July.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to rules in the NCAA, the Supplemental Draft hasn’t taken place since 2019 when the Arizona Cardinals selected safety Jalen Thompson.

Rams general manager Les Snead has dipped into the Supplemental Draft pool before when he selected offensive tackle Isaiah Battle out of Clemson in 2015. Battle spent two years on the Rams’ practice squad.

While it didn’t work out for the Rams and Battle, wide receivers Josh Gordon and Chris Carter were both selected in the Supplemental Draft. Gordon had a strong start to his career, but it was derailed after a handful of suspensions. Carter meanwhile went on to get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

There’s another top-rated wide receiver entering the 2023 Supplemental Draft and that’s Purdue’s Milton Wright. Wright was declared academically ineligible for the 2022 college season when he was expected to take over for David Bell. Bell was taken in the third-round by the Cleveland Browns in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Following a 2021 season in which Wright had 57 receptions for 732 yards and seven touchdowns, he was expected to be the top option for the Boilermakers. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition. Instead of Wright taking over as Purdue’s number one wide receiver, Charlies Jones stepped up into Bell’s place. Jones was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth-round last April.

Unlike the actual draft, hundreds of players don’t sign up for the Supplemental Draft. The Supplemental Draft is reserved for a handful players who didn’t declare for the NFL Draft. These players typically run into eligibility issues for the following college football season for academic or disciplinary reasons.

While Wright was declared academically ineligible, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good player. According to Pro Football Network,

“Wright uses his large frame and length effectively at the catch point and rovides his quarterback with a sizeable target range, as you’d hope for his measurements. A sure-handed, reliable receiver with few drops and a high first-down conversion rate, (Wright) tracks the ball effectively without wasting energy or momentum, including jumping at the catch point and high-pointing the ball. He sells his role well, whether it’s blocking or serving as the pick man on a combination route. (Wright) sells his routes as best he can, including double-moves, allowing him to win against off-coverage.”

His big games in 2021 came against Northwestern when he had eight receptions for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Wright also had 98 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State.

It’s fair to question whether the Rams actually need another wide receiver. Just this offseason they’ve drafted Puka Nacua and then signed Tyler Johnson and Demarcus Robinson. However, an argument could be made that it just means Sean McVay and Snead aren’t content with the depth that they currently have. Would they have signed Johnson and Robinson if they were pleased with the depth on the roster at the wide receiver position?

The Rams signed Allen Robinson last offseason to be the physical wide receiver that can win 50-50 matchups on the outside much like Odell Beckham Jr. did in 2021. Now, Wright isn’t Robinson or Beckham, but among wide receivers with at least 75 targets in 2021, he ranked 34th in the nation in contested catch percentage.

This is the type of “X” wide receiver that the Rams have been looking to add to their offense and the cost likely wouldn’t be that much.

There’s no draft order in the Supplemental Draft. If a team wants to select a player, they place a round bid. If the team wins the bid, they forfeit that pick the following year.

Los Angeles is currently projected to have three sixth-round picks next year. With the “hit-rate” as low as it is in the sixth-round, there’s not a lot of risk in “bidding” a sixth-round pick for Wright.

Much like most sixth-round picks, if the player is able to contribute an any way, it’s great. If not, it’s just another sixth-round pick.

With Wright, the Rams would get another player that can compete for depth at the wide receiver position. In the case that another team bids a fifth, the Rams don’t lose anything. If he gets beat out during training camp, Wright could get placed on the practice squad as well. There’s really no downside in taking a chance here.

Players in the NFL Supplemental Draft typically get more attention than deserved simply because there isn’t much else to talk about this time of year. However, with the talent that Purdue has pushed through at the wide receiver position the last few years, Wright could be the exception. The Supplemental Draft will take place on July 11.