Evaluation Of The 2023 Compensatory Picks Projection

The 2023 compensatory draft picks were released today. As always, upon seeing the official release it’s proper to judge how my projection did against it.

TeamRdCompensated Departure
ARI3Christian Kirk
WAS3Brandon Scherff
NE4J.C. Jackson
LAR5Von Miller
ARI5Chandler Jones
DAL5Randy Gregory
GB5Marquez Valdes-Scantling
LAR5Austin Corbett
NYG5Evan Engram
SF5D.J. Jones
LV5Zay Jones
TB5Jordan Whitehead
DAL5Connor Williams
LAR5Sebastian Joseph-Day
NE6Ted Karras
MIN6Mason Cole
DAL6Cedrick Wilson Jr.
ARI6Chase Edmonds
LV6Casey Hayward
WAS6Tim Settle
SF6Arden Key
KC6Byron Pringle
KC7Jarran Reed
LAR7Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
TB7O.J. Howard
SF7Raheem Mostert
NYG7Keion Crossen
SF7K’Waun Williams
GB7Chandon Sullivan
NO7Net Value

Highlighted in green, I got 24 of 32 comp picks correct with the correct player and the correct round. This includes a correct projection of a net value pick to New Orleans, which lost and signed an equal number of CFAs. However, this is one of my worst number of completely accurate comp picks projected, and it can be attributed to vastly overestimating how many leaguewide players the compensatory free agents were judged against. I had projected about 1,978 players would be considered, but in order to make the official release work, the NFL Management Council considered far fewer players, somewhere around the 1,900 mark. This is by far the smallest leaguewide pool that is on record as long as OTC has been projecting compensatory picks. Further investigation will be needed to determine exactly why this pool was so low for 2023.

On a brighter note, despite this massive miss on the size of leaguewide players, it almost entirely explained the number of misses I had, and once I made this single change in the program, almost all the picks lined up as expected. There was only one incorrect pick, highlighted in red, that I did not anticipate as a possibility. This was the Rams getting a 5th round comp pick for the departure of Sebastian Joseph-Day instead of a 6th rounder. This miss can be attributed to a data error on OTC’s part. In the gamebooks, Joseph-Day was credited as “S. Joseph”, causing Joseph-Day’s snaps to be missed in the database. Data integrity in the gamebooks is a longstanding problem; for an example, if you didn’t watch this game, try to figure out on your own in this gamebook which snap counts belong to Jonathan Jones and which ones belong to Jack Jones.

There was also only one pick, highlighted in yellow, that I had the correct player for, but was off by one round. This was Kansas City’s comp pick for the departure of Jarran Reed, whose contract just barely fell below the 6th/7th round cutoff.

Highlighted in blue, there were six picks that I incorrectly projected that changed cancellations, but they were misses that I anticipated might happen. Five of these six can be attributed to the overestimation of the leaguewide pool described above, and these changes are as follows:

  • The New York Giants got a 5th for the departure of Evan Engram instead of a 6th for the departure of Lorenzo Carter, due to Mark Glowinski’s contract being valued as a 6th instead of a 5th.
  • Minnesota got a 6th for the departure of Mason Cole instead of a 5th for the departure of Tyler Conklin, due to Conklin’s contract being valued as a 6th instead of a 5th.
  • Oren Burks did not qualify as a compensatory free agent against San Francisco, opening up a 7th rounder to the 49ers for the departure of Raheem Mostert, and depriving the Packers of a 7th for Burks’s departure.
  • Mike Hughes and Brandon Bolden did not qualify as compensatory free agents in favor of Kansas City and New England, depriving both those teams of 7th rounders for their departure. Because the lack of their compensation created only 30 regular compensatory picks, two supplemental compensatory picks were awarded to the first two teams in order of what the 8th round would be–Chicago and Houston.

The sixth one of these misses, however, needs extra explanation. This is the conundrum of how the compensatory formula would judge Von Miller’s contract in the Rams’ cancellation charts. It has long been established that CFAs with ten or more accrued seasons can only award a team a maximum of a 5th round compensatory pick. What was not clear, however, was whether such a player’s contract had such a maximum valuation in the cancellation process.

Consultation with sources that OTC considers reliable suggested that in the cancellation, the contracts of 10+ accrued season veterans would be considered at their normal value, which for Miller’s would have easily been in the 3rd round. When strictly considering Miller’s contract as a 3rd round value, this is what the strict calculation of the top of the Rams’ cancellation chart would spit out:

Von Miller3$20M
Darious Williams5$10MAllen Robinson4$15.5M

However, this does not make good sense.

Allen Robinson’s contract had long been projected to have been valued in the 3rd round, but an injury riddled season limited his snap counts to where the contract’s valuation fell to the 4th round. But had it been valued in the 3rd round, by the standard cancellation rules his contract would have cancelled out Miller’s contract, and not that of Darious Williams. This could have created a perverse result for the Rams where had they signed Robinson to a contract with a higher APY, they could have gotten a higher comp pick for Williams’s departure had his contract been valued in the 4th round.

In the end, this did not matter for the Rams, as due to further consultation with the sources OTC considers reliable, the overestimation I made in the leaguewide pool that CFAs are judged against also caused Williams’s contract to be valued in the 5th round–the same round as the limit that the Rams could have gotten for Miller’s departure. However, in my opinion this strict calculation clearly goes against the spirit of the compensatory formula, potentially creating a situation where a team could be punished for limiting the APY when signing a compensatory free agent in efforts to avoid canceling out a higher valued comp pick, and I would advise the NFL Management Council to account for this case and correct it accordingly.