John McMullen - NFL Editor Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Talented Clemson left tackle Isaiah Battle is set to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft next month, and plenty of teams could show some interest.
Most draft observers believe Battle is a third-round talent right now and another solid season in Death Valley could have vaulted the Brooklyn native into the first-round conversation when it comes to the 2016 draft.
"Battle has terrific length on his 6-foot-6 frame and is quick to land hands on pass rushers to disrupt their attack," NFL Media draft expert Lance Zierlein said when discussing Battle's skill set.
There is one problem, though. Some close to the Clemson program believe Battle was on the verge of being kicked off the team for a third rules violation. He served a suspension in 2013 after punching a player, and another last season after being caught with marijuana when pulled over for speeding in June.
For what it's worth Battle claims he is entering the supplemental draft due to personal reasons.
"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. "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."
That career included 16 games started for the Tigers, including 11 last season when he was credited with 18 knockdown blocks by the Clemson coaching staff.
NFL teams rarely stick their toes into the water these days when it comes to the supplemental draft. In fact the last player taken in the process was Josh Gordon in '12 when the Cleveland Browns used a second-round selection on the troubled wide receiver.
On the surface Battle, who will be joined in the supplemental draft this year by a pair of West Georgia defensive linemen, pass rusher Darrius Caldwell and tackle Dalvon Stuckey, as well as North Carolina Central receiver Adrian Wilkins, seems like a logical fit in a few places.
Both Denver and Atlanta have to look hard at Battle because the Broncos recently lost left tackle Ryan Clady to a season-ending ACL injury, and the Falcons just parted ways with the oft-injured tackle Sam Baker.
Another possible under-the-radar fit is Philadelphia. The Eagles are set at the tackle position with All-Pro Jason Peters holding down the all-important left side and the ascending Lane Johnson, the No. 4 overall pick in '13. handling things at right tackle. Peters, however, is 33 and far closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Meanwhile, the team has penciled in veteran Allen Barbre as the replacement for Evan Mathis at left guard and Matt Tobin, a former undrafted free agent out of Iowa, as Todd Herremans' heir apparent at RG.
A talent upgrade would be welcomed on both sides of center Jason Kelce in the City of Brotherly Love and Battle is the type of athlete who could easily slip inside while developing as the long-term replacement for a player Peters.
You can argue Battle is not a "culture fit" for Chip Kelly, who pays a lot of lip service toward that kind of thing but a 22-year-old getting into a fight or smoking some weed while ignoring the speed limit might as well be jaywalking in today's liberalized social environment.
Like most young people the former Tigers left tackle has his warts but if a talent like this drops into the late-round range, taking him might be a "Battle" worth fighting.