Compensatory picks add extra element to draft strategy

Posted March 25, 2011 @ 8:03 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The next Tom Brady might have been awarded today. Yes, back in 2000, Brady was a sixth-round pick of the Patriots, a pick they did not own when the offseason began that year.

Each year since 1994, the NFL has awarded compensatory picks to teams that had net losses in free agency the year before as another form of competitive rebalancing. For the past decade, there have been 32 additional picks awarded each draft, picks that are tacked onto the ends of rounds three, four, five six and seven.

You could field a pretty solid team from the 320 compensatory choices over the past decade. Players such as Pierre Garcon, Marques Colston, Josh Sitton, Ahmad Bradshaw, Antoine Bethea, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Yeremiah Bell have come out of this pool. And though a quick scan down the list of players in recent years might not boggle the mind as far as stardom is concerned, don't overlook the significance of these additional choices to teams' overall draft strategies.

The formula for determining which teams get the picks is not released by the NFL, but teams that sign fewer free agents than they lost are eligible to earn picks. Then the league factors in the quality of the free agents the team has lost, the statistical impact in the first season a player has on his new team, postseason awards and the contracts those players signed. The latter, financial element was factored in to prevent a team from not being compensated if it lost a major free-agent star who did not play the following season because of injury.

Some teams factor in this net loss when they allow free agents to walk. The Ravens (23) and Patriots (19), for instance, are two of the teams with the most compensatory picks since 2001, and it's no coincidence that those two teams are known for two things: financial responsibility in the free-agent market and good drafting.

The Ravens have added players such as RB Chester Taylor, FB Ovie Mughelli, OT Tony Pashos, QB Derek Anderson, P Sam Koch, RB Le'Ron McClain and S Haruki Nakamura in that time. The Patriots have been less successful with their compensatory picks but were able to draft OT Nick Kaczur and rotational DL Myron Pryor and Brandon Deaderick. They also took C Ted Larsen last year, and though he was cut in camp, he went on to start 11 games as a rookie with the Bucs.

Of course, sometimes it's not just about the extra picks but the flexibility they allow. Although compensatory picks cannot by rule be traded, it allows teams the freedom to move other picks with more comfort.

"They can be a bonus," one pro personnel director said. "You have a pretty good idea what (picks) you might get, and when you get them, you can be more open to trading other picks and manipulating the draft. You factor that in when you (make trades)."

Having those picks can lead to making successful picks elsewhere. But it also can lead teams to take more risks with the compensatory choices.

"I have seen it," the director said. "I have seen teams take the so-called risk-reward guys in those slots. Maurice Clarett was (a compensatory pick). So was (Bengals RB) Bernard Scott, whom we didn't have on our board because of character (concerns)."

Some teams barely have had a taste of these extra choices. The Browns (one compensatory pick since 2001), Saints (two), Texans (three; their first draft was in '02) and Chiefs and Cardinals (four picks apiece) have had the fewest in recent years. And other than the Saints' success in the 2006 and 2009 seasons, it's perhaps no surprise that these teams have not been perennial winners in the past decade.

Friday, the league announced those picks for April's draft, and only one third-rounder was awarded — to the Panthers for losing DE Julius Peppers. Considering the Panthers are missing their second-round pick (No. 33 overall) because of a horrible Draft Day trade with the Patriots last year, don't think they weren't counting on this selection. It might bring them a rookie starter. There were only two picks each awarded in Round Four (Titans and Packers) and Round Five (both to the Ravens).

Last year was overall a slow year for big free-agent movement because of the uncertainty surrounding the labor situation. From 2001 to '10, there had been an average of 2.8 compensatory picks in Round Three, 4.1 in Round Four, 4.0 in Round Five, 6.2 in Round Six and 14.9 in Round Seven, so Mr. Irrelevant is a compensatory pick every year. Two years ago the Chiefs did themselves pretty well by landing a good kicker in Ryan Succop with the final pick of the draft. If executed well, these are not throwaway picks.

The next Brady could be ready to be taken with one of these choices this year.

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Following is a breakdown of the compensatory selections for the past 10 years:

YEAR TEAM POSITION PLAYER ROUND PICK #
2010 Bengals CB Brandon Ghee 3 96
2010 Titans LB Rennie Curran 3 97
2010 Falcons OG Mike Johnson 3 98
2010 Bengals LB Roddrick Muckelory 4 131
2010 Steelers CB Crezdon Butler 5 164
2010 Falcons WR Kerry Meier 5 165
2010 Steelers LB Steven Sylvester 5 166
2010 Vikings LB Nathan Triplett 5 167
2010 Chargers QB Jonathan Crompton 5 168
2010 Packers OG Marshall Newhouse 5 169
2010 Panthers CB Jordan Pugh 6 202
2010 Jaguars CB Scotty McGee 6 203
2010 Panthers QB Tony Pike 6 204
2010 Patriots C Ted Larsen 6 205
2010 49ers WR Kyle Williams 6 206
2010 Titans S Myron Rolle 6 207
2010 Colts LB Kavell Conner 7 240
2010 Titans DT David Howard 7 241
2010 Steelers DT Doug Worthington 7 242
2010 Eagles DT Jeff Owens 7 243
2010 Eagles S Kurt Coleman 7 244
2010 Seahawks WR Jameson Konz 7 245
2010 Colts CB Ray Fisher 7 246
2010 Patriots DE Brandon Deaderick 7 247
2010 Patriots DT Kade Weston 7 248
2010 Panthers CB Robert McClain 7 249
2010 Patriots QB Zac Robinson 7 250
2010 Raiders S Stevie Brown 7 251
2010 Dolphins LB Austin Spitler 7 252
2010 Buccaneers DE Erik Lorig 7 253
2010 Rams LB Josh Hull 7 254
2010 Lions WR Tim Toone 7 255
2009 Patriots LB Tyrone McKenzie 3 97
2009 Bengals TE Chase Coffman 3 98
2009 Bears WR Juaquin Iglesias 3 99
2009 Giants TE Travis Beckum 3 100
2009 Chargers OG Tyronne Green 4 133
2009 Chargers RB Gartrell Johnson 4 134
2009 Titans OT Troy Kropog 4 135
2009 Colts DT Terrance Taylor 4 136
2009 Steelers RB Frank Summers 5 169
2009 Patriots OT George Bussey 5 170
2009 49ers QB Nate Davis 5 171
2009 Cowboys PK David Buehler 5 172
2009 Titans RB Javon Ringer 5 173
2009 Titans WR Domnique Edison 6 206
2009 Patriots DT Myron Pryor 6 207
2009 Cowboys TE John Phillips 6 208
2009 Bengals RB Bernard Scott 6 209
2009 Titans S Nick Schommer 7 242
2009 Redskins WR Marko Mitchell 7 243
2009 49ers DT Ricky Jean-Francois 7 244
2009 Seahawks S Courtney Greene 7 245
2009 Bears OG Lance Louis 7 246
2009 Seahawks DE Nick Reed 7 247
2009 Seahawks TE Cameron Morrah 7 248
2009 Bengals DT Clinton McDonald 7 249
2009 Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings 7 250
2009 Bears WR Derek Kinder 7 251
2009 Bengals WR Freddie Brown 7 252
2009 Jaguars WR Tiquan Underwood 7 253
2009 Cardinals OG Trevor Canfield 7 254
2009 Lions TE Dan Gronkowski 7 255
2009 Chiefs PK Ryan Succop 7 256
2008 Redskins OT Chad Rinehart 3 96
2008 Bengals WR Andre Caldwell 3 97
2008 Falcons S Thomas DeCoud 3 98
2008 Ravens OG Oniel Cousins 3 99
2008 Eagles CB Jack Ikegwuonu 4 131
2008 Bills TE Derek Fine 4 132
2008 Ravens OT David Hale 4 133
2008 Titans LB Stanford Keglar 4 134
2008 Packers OG Josh Sitton 4 135
2008 Chargers RB Marcus Thomas 5 166
2008 Giants DE Robert Henderson 6 199
2008 Eagles LB Joe Mays 6 200
2008 Colts C Steve Justice 6 201
2008 Colts RB Mike Hart 6 202
2008 Eagles LB Andy Studebaker 6 203
2008 Dolphins FB Lex Hilliard 6 204
2008 Colts WR Pierre Garcon 6 205
2008 Ravens S Haruki Nakamura 6 206
2008 Bengals TE Matt Sherry 6 207
2008 Ravens RB Allen Patrick 7 240
2008 Panthers OT Geoff Schwartz 7 241
2008 Redskins DE Rob Jackson 7 242
2008 Bears LB Joey Larocque 7 243
2008 Bengals DE Angelo Craig 7 244
2008 Dolphins DE Lionel Dotson 7 245
2008 Bengals WR Mario Urrutia 7 246
2008 Bears OT Kirk Barton 7 247
2008 Bears WR Marcus Monk 7 248
2008 Redskins S Chris Horton 7 249
2008 Panthers OG Mackenzy Bernadeau 7 250
2008 Bills S Kennard Cox 7 251
2008 Rams LB David Vobora 7 252
2007 Chargers LB Anthony Waters 3 96
2007 49ers DT Ray McDonald 3 97
2007 Colts DT Quinn Pitcock 3 98
2007 Raiders WR Johnnie Lee Higgins 3 99
2007 Steelers DE Ryan McBean 4 132
2007 Falcons TE Martrez Milner 4 133
2007 Ravens LB Antwan Barnes 4 134
2007 49ers DT Joe Cohen 4 135
2007 Colts LB Clint Session 4 136
2007 Ravens FB Le'Ron McClain 4 137
2007 Steelers CB William Gay 5 170
2007 Patriots OT Clint Oldenburg 5 171
2007 Chargers WR Legedu Naanee 5 172
2007 Colts CB Michael Coe 5 173
2007 Ravens QB Troy Smith 5 174
2007 Ravens LB Prescott Burgess 6 207
2007 Patriots RB Justise Hairston 6 208
2007 Patriots OT Corey Hilliard 6 209
2007 Seahawks WR Jordan Kent 6 210
2007 Packers TE Clark Harris 7 243
2007 Falcons FB Jason Snelling 7 244
2007 Buccaneers CB Marcus Hamilton 7 245
2007 Buccaneers RB Kenneth Darby 7 246
2007 Patriots OG Mike Elgin 7 247
2007 Rams DT Keith Jackson 7 248
2007 Rams WR Derek Stanley 7 249
2007 Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw 7 250
2007 Jaguars LB Chad Nkang 7 251
2007 Jaguars OT Andrew Carnahan 7 252
2007 Bengals S Nedu Ndukwe 7 253
2007 Raiders WR Johnathan Holland 7 254
2007 Lions CB Ramzee Robinson 7 255
2006 Jets S Eric Smith 3 97
2006 Broncos WR Domenik Hixon 4 130
2006 Steelers OG Willie Colon 4 131
2006 Ravens RB P.J. Daniels 4 132
2006 Steelers DT Orien Harris 4 133
2006 Packers OT Tony Moll 5 165
2006 Ravens TE Quinn Sypniewski 5 166
2006 Steelers TE Charles Davis 5 167
2006 Eagles LB Omar Gaither 5 168
2006 Titans DT Jesse Mahelona 5 169
2006 Buccaneers TE T.J. Williams 6 202
2006 Ravens P Sam Koch 6 203
2006 Eagles DT LaJuan Ramsey 6 204
2006 Patriots OG Dan Stevenson 6 205
2006 Patriots DT Le Kevin Smith 6 206
2006 Colts S Antoine Bethea 6 207
2006 Ravens CB Derrick Martin 6 208
2006 Buccaneers LB Charles Bennett 7 241
2006 Rams OG Mark Setterstrom 7 242
2006 Rams OG Tony Palmer 7 243
2006 Buccaneers TE Tim Massaquoi 7 244
2006 Titans LB Spencer Toone 7 245
2006 Titans RB Quinton Ganther 7 246
2006 Lions LB Anthony Cannon 7 247
2006 Bills OG Aaron Merz 7 248
2006 Seahawks WR Ben Obomanu 7 249
2006 Redskins LB Kevin Simon 7 250
2006 Texans WR David Anderson 7 251
2006 Saints TE Marques Colston 7 252
2006 Packers DE Dave Tollefson 7 253
2006 49ers S Vickiel Vaughn 7 254
2006 Raiders WR Kevin McMahan 7 255
2005 Titans WR Brandon Jones 3 96
2005 Broncos CB Domonique Foxworth 3 97
2005 Seahawks LB LeRoy Hill 3 98
2005 Chiefs P Dustin Colquitt 3 99
2005 Patriots OT Nick Kaczur 3 100
2005 Broncos RB Maurice Clarett 3 101
2005 Rams OG Claude Terrell 4 134
2005 Colts S Matt Giordano 4 135
2005 Titans WR Roydell Williams 4 136
2005 Panthers C Geoff Hangartner 5 169
2005 Patriots LB Ryan Claridge 5 170
2005 Panthers S Ben Emanuel II 5 171
2005 Eagles OG Scott Young 5 172
2005 Colts LB Tyjuan Hagler 5 173
2005 49ers WR Rasheed Marshall 5 174
2005 Panthers OT Joe Berger 6 207
2005 Cowboys S Justin Beriault 6 208
2005 Cowboys OT Rob Petitti 6 209
2005 Rams P Reggie Hodges 6 210
2005 Eagles OT Calvin Armstrong 6 211
2005 Raiders DE Ryan Riddle 6 212
2005 Ravens QB Derek Anderson 6 213
2005 Raiders OT Pete McMahon 6 214
2005 Eagles DT Kenyonta Marshall 7 247
2005 49ers TE Patrick Estes 7 248
2005 49ers TE Billy Bajema 7 249
2005 Rams QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 7 250
2005 Rams FB Madison Hedgecock 7 251
2005 Eagles LB David Bergeron 7 252
2005 Buccaneers WR Jeremiah Russell 7 253
2005 Seahawks OT Doug Nienhuis 7 254
2005 Patriots TE Andy Stokes 7 255
2004 Bengals LB Landon Johnson 3 96
2004 Eagles S J.R. Reed 4 129
2004 Rams LB Brandon Chillar 4 130
2004 Eagles OG Trey Darilek 4 131
2004 Jets OT Adrian Jones 4 132
2004 Titans LB Rob Reynolds 5 165
2004 49ers S Keith Lewis 6 198
2004 Ravens WR Clarence Moore 6 199
2004 Texans LB Charlie Anderson 6 200
2004 Rams QB Jeff Smoker 6 201
2004 Jets DE Trevor Johnson 7 234
2004 Jets RB Derrick Ward 7 235
2004 Jets S Rashad Washington 7 236
2004 Rams TE Erik Jensen 7 237
2004 Rams OT Larry Turner 7 238
2004 Titans C Eugene Amano 7 239
2004 Saints LB Colby Bockwoldt 7 240
2004 Titans FB Sean McHugh 7 241
2004 Eagles RB Bruce Perry 7 242
2004 Eagles C Dominic Furio 7 243
2004 Ravens WR Derek Abney 7 244
2004 Raiders TE Courtney Anderson 7 245
2004 Ravens OG Brian Rimpf 7 246
2004 Broncos RB Brandon Miree 7 247
2004 Texans QB B.J. Symons 7 248
2004 Jaguars DE Bobby McCray 7 249
2004 Broncos QB Bradlee Van Pelt 7 250
2004 Packers C Scott Wells 7 251
2004 Buccaneers CB Lenny Williams 7 252
2004 Giants DE Isaac Hilton 7 253
2004 Chargers OT Carlos Joseph 7 254
2004 Raiders LB Andre Sommersell 7 255
2003 Eagles DE Jamaal Green 4 131
2003 Jaguars RB LaBrandon Toefield 4 132
2003 Buccaneers C Austin King 4 133
2003 Ravens FB Ovie Mughelli 4 134
2003 Seahawks LB Solomon Bates 4 135
2003 Dolphins WR J.R. Tolver 5 169
2003 Rams CB Shane Walton 5 170
2003 Bears DT Tron LaFavor 5 171
2003 Rams CB Kevin Garrett 5 172
2003 Ravens OT Tony Pashos 5 173
2003 Bears RB Brock Forsey 6 206
2003 Giants CB Frank Walker 6 207
2003 Colts OT Makoa Freitas 6 208
2003 Dolphins OT Tim Provost 6 209
2003 Cardinals LB Tony Gilbert 6 210
2003 Giants WR David Tyree 6 211
2003 Packers OT Brennan Curtin 6 212
2003 Dolphins S Yeremiah Bell 6 213
2003 Dolphins DT Davern Williams 7 248
2003 Giants C Wayne Lucier 7 249
2003 Ravens C Mike Mabry 7 250
2003 Rams LB Scott Shanle 7 251
2003 Chiefs S Willie Pile 7 252
2003 Packers WR DeAndrew Rubin 7 253
2003 Rams TE Richard Angulo 7 254
2003 Giants WR Kevin Walter 7 255
2003 Packers WR Carl Ford 7 256
2003 Packers LB Steve Josue 7 257
2003 Ravens S Antwoine Sanders 7 258
2003 Bengals DE Elton Patterson 7 259
2003 Lions WR Travis Anglin 7 260
2003 Bears OG Bryan Anderson 7 261
2003 Raiders WR Ryan Hoag 7 262
2002 Bills S Coy Wire 3 97
2002 Cardinals DE Dennis Johnson 3 98
2002 Vikings OG Ed Ta'amu 4 132
2002 Titans LB Rocky Boiman 4 133
2002 Lions DE John Taylor 4 134
2002 Packers RB Najeh Davenport 4 135
2002 Seahawks TE Ryan Hannam 5 169
2002 Dolphins WR Sam Simmons 5 170
2002 Seahawks OT Matt Hill 5 171
2002 49ers DT Josh Shaw 5 172
2002 Ravens WR Javin Hunter 6 206
2002 Ravens RB Chester Taylor 6 207
2002 Cowboys WR Deveren Johnson 6 208
2002 Ravens S Chad Williams 6 209
2002 Bears TE Bryan Fletcher 6 210
2002 Cowboys TE Bob Slowikowski 6 211
2002 Falcons OT Kevin Shaffer 7 244
2002 Giants LB Quincy Monk 7 245
2002 Jaguars S Steve Smith 7 246
2002 Jaguars PK Hayden Epstein 7 247
2002 49ers OT Kyle Kosier 7 248
2002 Bills WR Rodney Wright 7 249
2002 Buccaneers TE Tracey Wistrom 7 250
2002 Bills FB Jarrett Ferguson 7 251
2002 Lions TE Matt Murphy 7 252
2002 Buccaneers WR Aaron Lockett 7 254
2002 Buccaneers C Zack Quaccia 7 255
2002 49ers CB Teddy Gaines 7 256
2002 Redskins RB Rock Cartwright 7 257
2002 Panthers CB Brad Franklin 7 258
2002 Lions OT Victor Rogers 7 259
2002 Bills LB Dominique Stevenson 7 260
2001 Cowboys DT Willie Blade 3 93
2001 Jaguars S James Boyd 3 94
2001 Bills OT Jonas Jennings 3 95
2001 Seahawks S Curtis Fuller 4 127
2001 Seahawks OT Floyd Womack 4 128
2001 Rams TE Brandon Manumaleuna 4 129
2001 Vikings DT Shawn Worthen 4 130
2001 Vikings WR Sedrick Jones 4 131
2001 Giants WR Jonathan Carter 5 162
2001 Patriots S Hakim Akbar 5 163
2001 Bills TE Dan O'Leary 6 195
2001 Bills CB Jimmy Williams 6 196
2001 Rams WR Francis St. Paul 6 197
2001 Packers TE David Martin 6 198
2001 Titans OT Adam Haayer 6 199
2001 Patriots CB Leonard Myers 6 200
2001 Titans LB Keith Adams 7 232
2001 Jaguars S Marlon McCree 7 233
2001 Buccaneers DE Joe Tafoya 7 234
2001 Jaguars WR Richmond Flowers 7 235
2001 Falcons WR Quentin McCord 7 236
2001 Seahawks DT Kris Kocurek 7 237
2001 Bills DT Tyrone Robertson 7 238
2001 Patriots LB T.J. Turner 7 239
2001 Cowboys DT John Nix 7 240
2001 Jaguars DT Randy Chevrier 7 241
2001 Cowboys OT Char-ron Dorsey 7 242
2001 Chiefs DT Terdell Sands 7 243
2001 Chargers S Robert Carswell 7 244
2001 Browns WR Andre King 7 245
2001 Cardinals TE Tevita Ofahengaue 7 246