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Clemson OT Battle likely to be picked in supplemental draft

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The Sports Xchange

For the first time since the Cleveland Browns invested a second-round pick in wide receiver Josh Gordon in 2012, a player will be selected in the NFL’s annual supplemental draft.

At least, that’s the early opinion of one highly ranked NFL scout after 6-foot-6, 290-pound left tackle Isaiah Battle announced Thursday that he will be leaving Clemson early.

“Big upside athletically,” the scout wrote in a text message. While the scout wouldn’t go so far as to give a round projection, he expected that clubs would “definitely” be interested in the 22-year-old native of Brooklyn, N.Y., assuming that Battle checks out medically and character-wise.

While the supplemental draft has become a catch-all of sorts for prospects with off-field issues that endangered their eligibility, Battle’s choice to leave school early for a shot at the NFL apparently came due to family obligations.

“I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL supplemental draft,” Battle said in statement released on Clemson’s website Thursday. “I want to thank everyone at Clemson, especially coach (Dabo) Swinney and the assistant coaches, for what they have done for me the last three years. I also want to thank my teammates. They have all had a big impact on my career.”

While Battle referenced “family matters,” a citation for marijuana possession on June 11 might have had something to do with his departure as well. According to The Clemson Insider, the pot ticket was the third strike for Battle, who was suspended in 2013 for punching an opposing player and again last season for disciplinary reasons.

Battle played in 27 games for the Tigers over the past three seasons, starting 11 of 12 games a year ago and 16 contests overall.

Before investing a draft pick, teams will, of course, want to investigate Battle closely.

Physically speaking, Battle’s combination of height, arm length (35 inches) and easy mobility will certainly intrigue the NFL. He is still pretty raw, showing only average functional strength at this time and too often bending at the waist rather than at the knees, which leaves him vulnerable to the bull rush and counters back to the inside. He’ll need time to iron out the wrinkles and get stronger, but the traits are there to warrant at least middle-round consideration.

“We appreciate all that Isaiah has done for the program the last three years,” Swinney said. “He has made great progress in his development and has been a big contributor to our success the last three years, especially in each of the last three bowl games when he had outstanding games against very talented defensive lines from LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. We wish him well in his pursuit of a professional career.”

The supplemental draft is very different than the traditional draft held each spring. The supplemental is carried out via e-mail among teams, and there is a limited number of prospects available. In fact, in the 38-year history of the supplemental draft, just 42 players have been selected — Gordon, quarterback Bernie Kosar (Cleveland, 1985), wide receiver Cris Carter (Philadelphia, 1987) and linebacker Brian Bosworth (Seattle, 1987) are the most recognizable names.

Various players have publicly announced their intention to enter the 2015 supplemental draft, but the league has yet to make an official announcement. Even the date of the draft hasn’t been declared, though it generally comes on the second Thursday in July.

Any team that uses a supplemental draft pick would then lose the corresponding selection in the next year’s draft. The selection order will be determined shortly before the draft and historically has not been released to the public.

Rob Rang (@RobRang) is an analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, owned and distributed by The Sports Xchange, in cooperation with CBSSports.com.


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