Evaluating OTC’s 2016 Compensatory Draft Picks Projection

The official list of the compensatory picks for the 2016 NFL Draft came in about 10 days early this year, and I am quite happy with how it compared with my own projection.  As always, here is the post-mortem evaluation to see what I got right and wrong, and what I can improve upon.

TeamRd.Compensated PlayerUnadjusted APY
DET3Ndamukong Suh$19,047,500
NE3Darrelle Revis$14,000,000
SEA3Byron Maxwell$10,500,000
DEN3Julius Thomas$9,100,000
GB4Tramon Williams$7,000,000
BAL4Pernell McPhee$7,575,000
SF4Chris Culliver$8,000,000
BAL4Torrey Smith$7,050,000
DAL4Jermey Parnell$6,400,000
DEN4Orlando Franklin$7,100,000
GB4Davon House$6,125,000
CLE4Buster Skrine$6,250,000
BUF4Da’Norris Searcy$5,937,500
ARI5Dan Williams$6,250,000
SEA5James Carpenter$4,775,000
CLE5Jabaal Sheard$5,500,000
CLE5Brian Hoyer$5,250,000
SF5Perrish Cox$5,000,000
SD5Eddie Royal$5,000,000
NE6Vince Wilfork$4,500,000
BAL6Owen Daniels$4,083,333
DET6Nick Fairley$4,500,000
SF6Frank Gore$4,000,000
DAL6Bruce Carter$4,250,000
SF6Dan Skuta$4,100,000
NE6Shane Vereen$4,016,667
SEA6Malcolm Smith$3,250,000
DAL6Henry Melton$3,750,000
DAL6Justin Durant$3,600,000
BUF6CJ Spiller$4,000,000
DEN6Terrance Knighton$3,450,000
PIT6Brice McCain$2,750,000
NE6Akeem Ayers$3,000,000
Compensation over 33-pick limit; not awarded
BUF7Erik Pears$2,300,000
CLE7Miles Austin$2,300,000
SEA7O’Brien Schofield$1,700,000
DEN7Jacob Tamme$1,600,000
CIN7Marshall Newhouse$1,425,000
BAL7Tyrod Taylor$1,116,667
DET7Kellen Davis$950,000
KC7Thomas Gafford$950,000
KC7Kevin Vickerson$950,000
CAR7net value283.3%
  • Highlighted in green, I got 26 of the 33 (more on that in a moment) comp picks for the correct player and the correct round.  Additionally, I can say for sure that I correctly projected five other eligible comp picks that failed to make the 33-pick limit.  This includes Tyrod Taylor, despite a Ravens source saying that the team expected to get a comp pick for him.
  • Highlighted in yellow, there were 5 comp picks in which I had the correct player, but was off by one round.  In all cases, this was a case of slightly missing the cutoff points between the 5th & 6th rounds, and the 6th & 7th rounds.
  • Highlighted in blue, there were 2 comp picks that I did not project as being awarded, but had anticipated in an altering scenario in which there was a possibility that they could happen.  These picks resulted from the following three misses:
    • Because Charles Clay did not qualify, Buffalo got a 4th for Da’Norris Searcy.  Thankfully, due to Olivier Vernon’s recent adventures with the transition tag, this is one I was able to catch just in time.  We now know for sure that while transition tagged players once counted in the formula as recently as 2007, they no longer do. Thus, the Dolphins were indeed wise to rescind their tag on Vernon to ensure eligibility for a 3rd round comp pick for him in 2017.
    • Because Alex Carrington did not qualify, Buffalo got a 6th for CJ Spiller.
    • Because Seyi Ajirotutu did not qualify, San Diego did not get a 6th for Ryan Mathews.
  • Highlighted in red, I thankfully had no awarded comp picks that were unanticipated misses by me.  However, there is one miss that did not make the 33-pick limit that I did not anticipate.  Jerome Felton did not qualify, despite showing up as a UFA on the official press release. This opened up an eligible 7th round comp pick for Erik Pears that just barely missed the cut.  It is my belief that this came from a renegotiation to his prior contract with the Vikings that gave Felton a player void for his final year.  Such moves should lose a player’s eligibilty to become a CFA, first discovered with Laveranues Coles in 2010.
  • The unhighlighted rows are eligible comp picks failing to make the 33-pick limit that, unfortunately, no information was provided upon in the official press release, as there usually is.  I’m quite confident, however, that Cincinnati was indeed eligible for a 7th for Marshall Newhouse, and that Carolina was eligible for a net value 7th.  I’m less confident in either of the Kansas City picks, though.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with how this results came out.  In particular, I believe that I’m on the right track with my hypothesis that the cutoffs between rounds are based on percentiles with relation to the leaguewide rosters at the end of the regular season.  I’ll need to refine some of those cutoffs further to get them in line for projections in 2017 and beyond.  This will take some time, but as I compare 2016’s comp picks to 2015 hopefully I can get closer.  There are also some snap adjustment tweaks I need to make as I didn’t have all of the comp picks in the right order, but those were very minor errors and none of them caused a player to be projected in the wrong round.

For the record, here were my errors on some of the cutoffs:

  • 5th/6th: Originally projected at $4,210,067 adjusted APY, it must have been at least $4,580,000 (Vince Wilfork), but no lower than $4,990,000 (Eddie Royal).
  • 6th/7th: Originally projected at $3,014,251 adjusted APY, it must have been at least $200,000 lower to fit in Brice McCain and Akeem Ayers as 6ths. Unfortunately, since there’s no information on players after them, I’ll have to look solely at the 2015 comp picks further to get a good idea here.
  • 7th/Qualifying: Originally projected at $733,838 adjusted APY, it must have been at least $778,000 (Alex Carrington not qualifying), but no higher than $822,000 (Sam Acho qualifying).

To wrap this up, there were two unusual results of the 2016 compensatory picks, one that I expected, and one that I didn’t:

  • The real shocker was that 33 comp picks were awarded instead of 32.  I don’t believe there has ever been a number of comp picks awarded that did not match the number of teams in the league.  I’m completely stumped on why this happened, and if anyone has any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.  (And no, it had nothing to do with the Patriots’ forfeited 1st rounder for Deflategate, let alone any conspiracy theory that the 33rd pick being New England’s was somehow a mea culpa by the league.  Remember, Kansas City and Atlanta also forfeited picks due to rulebreaking.  Furthermore, when the Patriots forfeited their 1st rounder in 2008 for Spygate, 32 comp picks were awarded as usual.)
  • What I did possibly anticipate on several instances, however, was that this would be the first year in which no 7th round compensatory picks were awarded.  This is due to a record number of eligible compensatory picks (anywhere from 41 to 43), and it’s probably why the press release didn’t bother with listing out all the teams that missed out on lower comp picks.  It could also be evidence, as I’ve said before, that more and more teams are working the compensatory formula to their benefit.  Because there were no 7th round compensatory picks, that will mean that, unless they trade the pick, Mr. Irrelevant will be drafted by the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos.
  • PaulfromnorthMO

    Could the reason for 33 comp picks be simply that every thing was awarded above the 7th round?

    • Nick

      That sounds like a pretty good reason to me, since 33 picks and no 7th rounders were both unprecedented until today. Thanks!

  • theowl

    Cheers!

  • The 33 picks is odd. The CBA is pretty clear that the comp picks awarded is equal to the number of teams in the league. I would think the NFL and NFLPA would have had to come to some agreement for upping the number.

    • theowl

      Stl and LA last year! 33!

      • Kevin78

        That’s funny.

    • Nick

      Who do you think would push for the change? My guess would be the league since it’s one less player that can choose his own team, but I’ll listen to any hypothesis.

    • Kevin78

      Didn’t see this comment. Posted CBA language elsewhere.

  • Dan Kunze

    I have been reading your columns here for some time now, and you have done a great job sleuthing this out!

    • Nick

      Thank you!

  • Kevin78

    That’s definitely weird about 33 comp picks. Here is the CBA

    17

    ARTICLE 6

    COLLEGE DRAFT

    Section 2.

    Number of Choices and Eligibility:

    (a)

    The Draft shall consist of seven rounds, with each round consisting of

    the same number of selection choices as there will be Clubs in the NFL the following

    League Year, plus a maximum number of additional Compensatory Draft Selections

    equal to the number of Clubs then in the League, with such Compensatory Draft Selec-

    tions reserved for Clubs losing certain Unrestricted Free Agents. Each Draft shall be

    held between February 14 and June 2, on a date which shall be determined by the Co

    mmissioner.

    —————-
    My reading of that is that there should only be 255 selections this year, which appears to be the same thought that you had.

    Maybe we have a phantom team in the league right now.

    • slashsnake

      Got with the NFL and here’s their response..

      “The CBA limits the number of compensatory picks to the number of teams in the league. Under the terms of an agreement between the NFL Management Council and the NFLPA, a 33rd compensatory selection was authorized for 2016.

      The additional pick was allocated to Buffalo as the final selection of the 4th round. Last year, Buffalo executed an offer sheet with Miami’s transition player, which Miami declined to match. Buffalo then signed the player and, consistent with past practice, was charged with a compensatory free agent gained. As a result, Buffalo’s net loss position was reduced, and the club relenquished a 4th round selection to which it would otherwise have been entitled.

      By agreement, Buffalo’s 4th round selection was restored by adding a 33rd compensatory choice to this years draft. No club that was entitled to receive a compensatory pick prior to the addition of the 33rd pick lost it’s selection. Nor will any club’s selection be relegated to a lower round as the result of the additional pick. ”

      So Charles Clay.. lol you were right. Hope that helps!

      • slashsnake

        By the way, love you guys work there!

      • Nick

        Thank you very much! If you’re at liberty to disclose, what arm of the NFL did you reach out to in order to get this response?

        • slashsnake

          No problem, I was curious as well and came here first to see if someone knew why. I have a buddy who’s a pretty good national beat writer for the NFL. Asked him and he wasn’t sure either but curious too and said he’d email the league and find out. Got that to me the next AM.

  • GJ

    “that will mean that, unless they trade the pick, Mr. Irrelevant will be drafted by the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos.”

    I thought Comp picks couldn’t be traded this year. The first draft they can be traded in is 2017.

    • LittleOtterPaws

      The last pick in the draft is not a compensatory pick.