Western Michigan was poised to enter the 2018 season with a highly-regarded potential NFL prospect to anchor its defense on, but it appears that will not be the case in the upcoming season.
Cornerback Sam Beal, a projected first or second round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, applied to be eligible for the 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft on Wednesday.
According to WWMT’s Western Michigan reporter Andy Pepper, Beal failed to meet credit requirements to become academically eligible. Instead of petitioning the NCAA to grant him eligibility, Beal has decided instead to test the waters of the seldom used NFL Supplemental Draft.
Just got off phone with @CoachTimLester regarding today’s Sam Beal news: Beal didn’t earn enough credits this academic year to be eligible in ‘18. *Could have earned enough in summer, but would have had to petition NCAA for eligibility.— Andy Pepper (@APepperWWMT) June 6, 2018
Since 2010, only five players have warranted a selection in the event. In the supplemental draft, teams bid for players in an auction-style manner. The NFL team declares which round it would draft the player in a normal draft, and other franchises can bid for an earlier draft round. Once the selection is finalized, the team that drafts the supplemental draftee forfeits a pick in the specified round in next April’s NFL Draft.
Most notably, the Browns landed Josh Gordon in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft after the Pro Bowl receiver transferred to Utah following an indefinite suspension from Baylor.
Gordon was the next-to-most recent player selection in the supplemental draft, which often occurs in July (no formal date has been announced at the time of this writing). Since Gordon, only the Rams have participated by drafting Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle in the fifth round in 2015.
Cris Carter, selected by Philadelphia, is the only Hall of Famer to originate from the supplemental draft. However, a total of eight players’ careers have culminated in Pro Bowl appearances.
Beal will likely fall in the first three rounds of the supplemental draft, considering he was slated to be one of the premier defensive backs in the upcoming 2019 class. At six-foot-one, 190 pounds, his frame is desirable among corners, especially when his speed and pass break-up ability are also factored into the equation. Beal deflected a team-high 10 passes in the 2017 season, while additionally recording two interceptions and a forced fumble with the Broncos.
In fact, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller mocked Beal as a potential first-round selection for the 2019 NFL Draft as of April 30.
WMU’s second-year head coach Tim Lester expressed his feelings on Beal’s decision to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports:
“He was a joy to coach. I wanted to coach him one more year. When it comes to talent and work ethic, he’s one of the best I’ve ever been around. I’m looking forward to watching him at the next level.”
Beal’s application to enter the NFL is not finalized yet, but it is unlikely the cornerback returns to Western Michigan for his senior season given his current eligibility situation.