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Compensatory Draft Picks From 2003 to 2013

Here’s a good story from Jenny Vrentas about compensatory draft picks in the NFL. The NFL provides extra picks to teams who lose more unrestricted free agents than they sign, and no team has manipulated the system quite like the Ravens.

The NFL’s formula for doling out these compensatory picks is a secret, but in general, the best players and the players signed to the biggest deals yield the best draft picks the following year, although compensatory picks are limited to rounds three through seven. Last year, Baltimore lost Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, and Cary Williams to other teams; as a result, the Ravens now have an extra pick at the end of the third round, two at the end of the fourth, and another at the end of the fifth. The maximum number of compensatory picks a team can receive in a year is four, so Baltimore and Ozzie Newsome fared about as well as possible under the system.

The Jets are the only other team that will receive four compensatory picks in the 2014 Draft. New York lost Dustin Keller, Matt Slauson, Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene and LaRon Landry. Teams get credit for their net free agents lost: with a max of four picks, the Jets could go out and sign two UFAs from other teams in 2013, and that’s exactly what John Idzik did by signing Mike Goodson and Antwan Barnes. As a result, the Jets will get a 4th and three 6th rounders.

Since the actual NFL formula is a secret (and may be tweaked from year to year), nobody knows exactly how the picks will be awarded in any season (Philly.com has a very good article about the process).  One thing to keep in mind is that not all free agent signings will hurt a team in the compensatory picks game.  As Vrentas notes about the Ravens decisions during free agency:

They added receiver Steve Smith and tight end Owen Daniels, but since both players had been cut by their previous teams, they don’t count in the league’s compensatory picks formula. Nor do players signed after June 1, which helped the Ravens last year, when they filled a void at inside linebacker by signing Daryl Smith on June 5.

I did my best to compile all compensatory picks from 2003 to 2013.1 Then, I assigned the appropriate AV draft value to each slot to see which teams have fared the best over that time frame when it comes to receiving free picks.

This analysis ignores 2014, but the Ravens easily lead the pack in both picks awarded and draft value awarded.  Take a look:

RkTmPicksPick Val

By my count, eight players taken with compensatory picks from ’03 to ’13 have made a Pro Bowl: Le’Ron McClain (Baltimore), Ovie Mughelli (Baltimore but made the Pro Bowl with Atlanta), Antoine Bethea (Indianapolis), Dustin Colquitt (Kansas City), Derek Anderson (Baltimore, but made the Pro Bowl with Cleveland — no really, I swear this happened), Scott Wells (Green Bay), David Tyree (Helmet School of Arts), and Yeremiah Bell (Miami). The best player to have been selected with a compensatory pick in the last decade was probably Marques Colston, although he has never made a Pro Bowl.

The table below shows all the players I’ve identified as compensatory picks (I may be missing some). I’m deliberately showing only 5 rows so as to not bog down the page, but you can change that number to 100 using the dropdown box, and then use the arrow key to see the rest. And, of course, the table is fully searchable.

2013395HOUSam Montgomery0
2013396KANKnile Davis3
2013397TENZaviar Gooden1
20134130BALKyle Juszczyk0
20134131SFOMarcus Lattimore0
20134132DETDevin Taylor2
20134133ATLLevine Toilolo0
20135166MIACaleb Sturgis2
20135167GNBJosh Boyd1
20135168BALRicky Wagner2
20136201HOURyan Griffin1
20136202TENKhalid Wooten0
20136203BALRyan Jensen0
20136204KANBraden Wilson0
20136205OAKStacy McGee3
20136206PITVince Williams5
20137239PHIDavid King0
20137240CINReid Fragel0
20137241SEAJared Smith0
20137242SEAMichael Bowie4
20137243ATLKemal Ishmael0
20137244ATLZeke Motta1
20137245DETBrandon Hepburn0
20137246SFOCarter Bykowski0
20137247BALMarc Anthony0
20137248TENDaimion Stafford1
20137249ATLSean Renfree0
20137250MIADon Jones1
20137251CINT.J. Johnson0
20137252SFOMarcus Cooper3
20137253NYGMichael Cox0
20137254INDJustice Cunningham0
20124128MINRhett Ellison2
20124129OAKMiles Burris7
20124130BALChristian Thompson0
20124131NYGBrandon Mosley1
20124132GNBMike Daniels4
20124133GNBJerron McMillian2
20124134MINGreg Childs0
20124135DALMatt Johnson0
20125168OAKJuron Criner1
20125169BALAsa Jackson0
20125170INDVick Ballard5
20126203NYJRobert Griffin0
20126204CLEEmmanuel Acho0
20126205CLEBilly Winn8
20126206INDLaVon Brazill3
20126207CARBrad Nortman4
20127240PITDavid Paulson1
20127241GNBAndrew Datko0
20127242NYJAntonio Allen5
20127243GNBB.J. Coleman0
20127244NYJJordan White0
20127245CLETrevin Wade1
20127246PITTerrence Frederick0
20127247CLEBrad Smelley0
20127248PITKelvin Beachum9
20127249ATLTravian Robertson1
20127250SDGEdwin Baker1
20127251BUFJohn Potter0
20127252STLDaryl Richardson7
20127253INDChandler Harnish0
2011397CARSione Fua4
20114130TENJamie Harper1
20114131GNBDavon House4
20115164BALChykie Brown2
20115165BALPernel McPhee8
20116198NYGTyler Sash1
20116199KANJerrell Powe2
20116200MINRoss Homan0
20116201SDGStephen Schilling2
20116202NYGJacquian Williams10
20116203CARZachary Williams0
20117234SDGAndrew Gachkar4
20117235MIAJimmy Wilson7
20117236MINStephen Burton0
20117237PHIGreg Lloyd0
20117238TAMDaniel Hardy0
20117239SFOMichael Person0
20117240PHIStanley Havili1
20117241OAKDavid Ausberry1
20117242SEAMalcolm Smith11
20117243NORNate Bussey0
20117244CARLee Ziemba1
20117245BUFMichael Jasper0
20117246CINJay Finley0
20117247DENJeremy Beal0
20117248CLEEric Hagg3
20117249ARIDeMarco Sampson0
20117250SFOCurtis Holcomb0
20117251TENTommie Campbell4
20117252DALBill Nagy2
20117253WASChris Neild2
20117254HOUCheta Ozougwu0
2010396CINBrandon Ghee2
2010397TENRennie Curran1
2010398ATLMike Johnson2
20104131CINRoddrick Muckelroy2
20105164PITCrezdon Butler1
20105165ATLKerry Meier0
20105166PITStevenson Sylvester5
20105167MINNate Triplett0
20105168SDGJonathan Crompton0
20105169GNBMarshall Newhouse21
20106202CARJordan Pugh4
20106203JAXScotty McGee0
20106204CARTony Pike0
20106205NWETed Larsen16
20106206SFOKyle Williams6
20106207TENMyron Rolle0
20107240INDKavell Conner19
20107241TENDavid Howard0
20107242PITDoug Worthington0
20107243PHIJeff Owens0
20107244PHIKurt Coleman14
20107245SEAJameson Konz0
20107246INDRay Fisher0
20107247NWEBrandon Deaderick9
20107248NWEKade Weston0
20107249CARRobert McClain6
20107250NWEZac Robinson0
20107251OAKStevie Brown8
20107252MIAAustin Spitler5
20107253TAMErik Lorig2
20107254STLJosh Hull3
20107255DETTim Toone0
2009397NWETyrone McKenzie1
2009398CINChase Coffman0
2009399CHIJuaquin Iglesias0
20093100NYGTravis Beckum2
20094133SDGTyronne Green16
20094134SDGGartrell Johnson0
20094135TENTroy Kropog0
20094136INDTerrance Taylor0
20095169PITFrank Summers1
20095170NWEGeorge Bussey0
20095171SFONate Davis0
20095172DALDavid Buehler2
20095173TENJavon Ringer5
20096206TENDominique Edison0
20096207NWEMyron Pryor4
20096208DALJohn Phillips2
20096209CINBernard Scott9
20097242TENNick Schommer1
20097243WASMarko Mitchell0
20097244SFORicky Jean-Francois8
20097245SEACourtney Greene5
20097246CHILance Louis12
20097247SEANick Reed3
20097248SEACameron Morrah2
20097249CINClinton McDonald10
20097250JAXRashad Jennings15
20097251CHIDerek Kinder0
20097252CINFreddie Brown0
20097253JAXTiquan Underwood9
20097254ARITrevor Canfield0
20097255DETDan Gronkowski1
20097256KANRyan Succop13
2008396WASChad Rinehart18
2008397CINAndre Caldwell12
2008398ATLThomas DeCoud33
2008399BALOniel Cousins0
20084131PHIJack Ikegwuonu0
20084132BUFDerek Fine2
20084133BALDavid Hale19
20084134TENStanford Keglar2
20084135GNBJosh Sitton53
20085166SDGMarcus Thomas0
20086199NYGRobert Henderson0
20086200PHIJoe Mays16
20086201INDSteve Justice1
20086202INDMike Hart3
20086203PHIAndy Studebaker9
20086204MIALex Hilliard3
20086205INDPierre Garcon36
20086206BALHaruki Nakamura10
20086207CINMatt Sherry0
20087240BALAllen Patrick0
20087241CARGeoff Schwartz11
20087242WASRob Jackson9
20087243CHIJoey LaRocque1
20087244CINAngelo Craig0
20087245MIALionel Dotson0
20087246CINMario Urrutia0
20087247CHIKirk Barton0
20087248CHIMarcus Monk0
20087249WASChris Horton9
20087250CARMackenzy Bernadeau23
20087251BUFKennard Cox2
20087252STLDavid Vobora8
2007396SDGAnthony Waters2
2007397SFORay McDonald30
2007398INDQuinn Pitcock2
2007399OAKJohnnie Lee Higgins9
20074132PITRyan McBean11
20074133ATLMartrez Milner0
20074134BALAntwan Barnes10
20074135SFOJoe Cohen1
20074136INDClint Session18
20074137BALLe'Ron McClain13
20075170PITWilliam Gay29
20075171NWEClint Oldenburg0
20075172SDGLegedu Naanee13
20075173INDMichael Coe2
20075174BALTroy Smith6
20076207BALPrescott Burgess3
20076208NWEJustise Hairston0
20076209NWECorey Hilliard9
20076210SEAJordan Kent0
20077243GNBClark Harris3
20077244ATLJason Snelling21
20077245TAMMarcus Hamilton1
20077246TAMKenneth Darby4
20077247NWEMike Elgin0
20077248STLKeith Jackson0
20077249STLDerek Stanley1
20077250NYGAhmad Bradshaw37
20077251JAXChad Nkang1
20077252JAXAndrew Carnahan0
20077253CINNedu Ndukwe14
20077254OAKJohnathan Holland0
20077255DETRamzee Robinson1
2006397NYJEric Smith16
20064130DENDomenik Hixon17
20064131PITWillie Colon33
20064132BALP.J. Daniels0
20064133PITOrien Harris2
20065166BALQuinn Sypniewski2
20065167PITCharles Davis0
20065168PHIOmar Gaither25
20065169TENJesse Mahelona1
20066202TAMT.J. Williams0
20066203BALSam Koch16
20066204PHILaJuan Ramsey4
20066205NWEDan Stevenson0
20066206NWELe Kevin Smith5
20066207INDAntoine Bethea48
20066208BALDerrick Martin5
20067241TAMCharles Bennett0
20067242STLMark Setterstrom5
20067243STLTony Palmer0
20067244TAMTim Massaquoi0
20067245TENSpencer Toone0
20067246TENQuinton Ganther3
20067247DETAnthony Cannon3
20067248BUFAaron Merz1
20067249SEABen Obomanu10
20067250WASKevin Simon0
20067251HOUDavid Anderson7
20067252NORMarques Colston65
20067253GNBDave Tollefson6
20067254SFOVickiel Vaughn0
20067255OAKKevin McMahan0
2005397DENDomonique Foxworth16
2005398SEALeRoy Hill39
2005399KANDustin Colquitt18
20053100NWENick Kaczur30
20053101DENMaurice Clarett0
20054134STLClaude Terrell6
20054135INDMatt Giordano16
20054136TENRoydell Williams10
20055169CARGeoff Hangartner35
20055170NWERyan Claridge0
20055171CARBen Emanuel3
20055172PHIScott Young1
20055173INDTyjuan Hagler13
20055174SFORasheed Marshall0
20056207CARJoe Berger15
20056208DALJustin Beriault0
20056209DALRob Petitti9
20056210STLReggie Hodges5
20056211PHICalvin Armstrong0
20056212OAKRyan Riddle1
20056213BALDerek Anderson20
20056214OAKPete McMahon0
20057247PHIKeyonta Marshall0
20057248SFOPatrick Estes0
20057249SFOBilly Bajema2
20057250STLRyan Fitzpatrick44
20057251STLMadison Hedgecock2
20057252PHIDavid Bergeron0
20057253TAMJ.R. Russell0
20057254SEADoug Nienhuis0
20057255NWEAndy Stokes0
2004396CINLandon Johnson28
20044129PHIJ.R. Reed2
20044130STLBrandon Chillar23
20044131PHITrey Darilek1
20044132NYJAdrian Jones12
20045165TENRobert Reynolds2
20046198SFOKeith Lewis7
20046199BALClarence Moore2
20046200HOUCharlie Anderson8
20046201STLJeff Smoker0
20047234NYJTrevor Johnson4
20047235NYJDerrick Ward25
20047236NYJRashad Washington3
20047237STLErik Jensen0
20047238STLLarry Turner1
20047239TENEugene Amano29
20047240NORColby Bockwoldt12
20047241TENSean McHugh2
20047242PHIBruce Perry0
20047243PHIDominic Furio0
20047244BALDerek Abney0
20047245OAKCourtney Anderson6
20047246BALBrian Rimpf3
20047247DENBrandon Miree0
20047248HOUB.J. Symons0
20047249JAXBobby McCray24
20047250DENBradlee Van Pelt0
20047251GNBScott Wells59
20047252TAMLenny Williams0
20047253NYGIsaac Hilton0
20047254SDGCarlos Joseph0
20047255OAKAndre Sommersell0
20034130TAMLance Nimmo0
20034131PHIJamaal Green1
20034132JAXLaBrandon Toefield5
20034133TAMAustin King3
20034134BALOvie Mughelli6
20034135SEASolomon Bates2
20035168TAMSean Mahan24
20035169MIAJ.R. Tolver0
20035170STLShane Walton0
20035171CHITron LaFavor0
20035172STLKevin Garrett2
20035173BALTony Pashos37
20036206CHIBrock Forsey2
20036207NYGFrank Walker14
20036208INDMakoa Freitas7
20036209MIATim Provost0
20036210ARITony Gilbert5
20036211NYGDavid Tyree5
20036212GNBBrennan Curtin0
20036213MIAYeremiah Bell39
20036214HOUKeith Wright0
20037247CARCasey Moore0
20037248MIADavern Williams1
20037249NYGWayne Lucier9
20037250BALMike Mabry0
20037251STLScott Shanle42
20037252KANWillie Pile3
20037253GNBDeAndrew Rubin0
20037254STLRichard Angulo2
20037255NYGKevin Walter36
20037256GNBCarl Ford0
20037257GNBSteve Josue0
20037258BALAntwoine Sanders0
20037259CINElton Patterson1
20037260DETTravis Anglin0
20037261CHIBryan Anderson0
20037262OAKRyan Hoag0

Finally, let me conclude with one of the best lines in Vrentas’ article. It comes from Eric DeCosta, Baltimore’s GM-in-waiting and the guy at the top of the list of every owner who just fired his GM every January.

“We look at the draft as, in some respects, a luck-driven process. The more picks you have, the more chances you have to get a good player,” DeCosta says. “When we look at teams that draft well, it’s not necessarily that they’re drafting better than anybody else, it seems to be that they have more picks. There’s definitely a correlation between the amount of picks and drafting good players.”

Guarding against overconfidence is really important, and DeCosta seems to understand that. And I don’t think he’d disagree with my article questioning whether certain teams really are better at drafting than others.

  1. Why 2003? The compensatory pick scheme began in 1994.  That year, the Eagles received a pick at the end of the first round for losing Reggie White.  The 2002 draft was a bit funky because the Texans received several supplemental picks in the middle of rounds, so the 2003 cutoff was a result of me being lazy.  By limiting the sample from ’03 to ’13, I was able to label all picks after 32 in each round as compensatory picks — which works, in theory.  Of course, you then need to include compensatory picks that are earlier than 32 in a round because a team used a supplemental draft pick in the prior year.  I’ve done that, but it’s a bit tricky, and there’s a non-zero chance I’ve erred.  That’s why I’ve presented the full list in this post. []
  • Nice article, as usual. I’d probably call Sitton the best player, but that is just a matter of preference. I get the logic behind implementing the compensatory picks, but I have always found it a little unfair that a team is rewarded for not being able to hold on to a free agent. Especially in one of those case where you have a cheapskate GM or an inept/insane coach.

    Also, I expected Washington to be the worst. Oops.