Monday, July 28, 2014
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2014 NFL compensatory pick projections

Over the last 2 years, my friend Craig Turner has done compensatory pick projections very accurately for my former football blog. Last year, he correctly matched 24 teams with the correct round for which they received a pick. He projected an additional 5 teams to receive a pick, but missed by just one round. The 3 remaining picks he missed on were due to some gray area, which he learns from every year.

2014 NFL compensatory pick projections

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (left) and general manager Howie Roseman. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer )
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (left) and general manager Howie Roseman. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer )

Over the last 2 years, my friend Craig Turner has done compensatory pick projections very accurately for my former football blog. Last year, he correctly matched 24 teams with the correct round for which they received a pick. He projected an additional 5 teams to receive a pick, but missed by just one round. The 3 remaining picks he missed on were due to some gray area, which he learns from every year.

Since the NFL does not make the compensatory pick formula public, learning how to accurately project them for the entire league takes time and practice. Projecting comp picks is fairly complicated, and we'll go deeper into the methodology of projecting them later in the post. For a very basic (and slightly inaccurate) explaination of what compensatory picks are, you can check out the Wikipedia page on them here.

Compensatory picks are typically announced at the NFL owners' meetings, which occur this year from March 23-26.

First, for those of you who don't care at all about the methodology, let's just show the projections. From this point on, all the work shown was provided by Craig:

Compensatory Picks Awarded (round – team – player lost)

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Grading the Eagles' draft picks

3 – Pittsburgh – Mike Wallace

3 – Green Bay – Greg Jennings

4 – San Francisco – Dashon Goldson

4 – Baltimore – Paul Kruger

4 – Detroit – Gosder Cherilus

4 – Baltimore – Dannell Ellerbe

5 – Houston – Connor Barwin     

5 – New York Jets – LaRon Landry

5 – Baltimore – Cary Williams

5 – Atlanta – Brent Grimes

5 – Pittsburgh – Keenan Lewis 

5 – New York Giants – Martellus Bennett   

5 – Baltimore – Ed Reed

5 – Houston –  Glover Quin    

6 – New York Jets – Mike DeVito

6 – Green Bay – Erik Walden

6 – New York Jets – Dustin Keller

6 – New England – Patrick Chung

6 – Cincinnati – Manny Lawson

6 – St. Louis – Brandon Gibson

6 – New York Jets – Shonn Greene

7 – St. Louis – Bradley Fletcher

7 – Dallas – Mike Jenkins

7 – Cincinnati – Pat Sims

7 – St. Louis – Craig Dahl

7 – St. Louis – Rob Turner

7 – Dallas – Victor Butler

7 – Cincinnati – Bruce Gradkowski

7 – Atlanta – Will Svitek

7 – Atlanta – Christopher Owens

7 – San Diego – Shaun Phillips

7 - Dallas - Kenyon Coleman

Update: Thanks to Miguel@PatsCap.com for pointing out that the new CBA limits the number of compensatory picks to the number of teams in the league (currently 32).  As a result Buffalo and Oakland will not receive "net value" picks. In the previous list, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh would also be lost, and have since been omitted. However, this is dependent on how the NFL values the qualifying players, and which of the qualifying players is used when multiple 7th round value players are involved. One of the earlier listed teams could lose their pick instead. Atlanta is most in trouble, as they have three of the final seven picks in this projection.

Methodology (Warning: Extreme nerdliness lies below)

I will once again give credit to AdamJT13 for his blog, adamjt13.blogspot.com, which provides the most comprehensive guide to comp pick rules available. Without his work, these predictions would not be possible. If you are unfamiliar with the basic rules that affect comp picks, they are: 

1.  Lost players that are cut or not tendered as RFAs and ERFAs do not qualify.

2.  Lost players that were picked up during the season the year before do not qualify.

3.  Signed players that are released before midseason do not qualify.

4.  Players earning low minimum salaries do not qualify. 

5.  Each player signed cancels out one player lost. 

6.  The round of the pick awarded is primarily determined by the annual value of the contract signed.  Signed players cancel out lost players with equal contracts, then lower contracts, before canceling out higher contracts.

It should be noted that although the NFL admits publicly the basic rules above, NFL teams do not know the exact picks that they will be awarded. They have to make assumptions based upon past history, just as I have done.

This is the first year I can report that I was able to find all contract values. Yay internet! This incorporates two new items that we learned last year; that the rights to comp picks accompany the trade of a qualifying player, and that the system under the new CBA will continue to qualify players at lower salaries than it had previously done. This year I will hopefully learn another new piece to the puzzle. If a team loses four guys with 7th round value, but signs three guys with 7th round value, for which player is the comp pick awarded? This situation happened in a few cases this year, and with no reference point to work from, I assumed that the comp pick would be awarded for the lowest lost player’s salary. An error in this assumption would have the greatest potential effect on Pittsburgh, which could jump ten places in the 7th round if the highest-salaried lost player is used.

The order of picks in each round is based upon contract amount and playing time (number of snaps). AdamJT13 came up with a playing time equation, but he did not make it public, so I am just guessing here based upon recent history. I claim no accuracy on draft order within each round.

I originally awarded 36 normal comp picks this year.  This is the most picks awarded in a long time, reflecting a lot of player movement, which may be a result of teams unable to sign their own free agents due to salary cap restrictions. However, the NFL awards only 32, so a few teams at the bottom of the list (Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh) may not be receiving picks that they otherwise might have in a normal year.

Isaac Sopoaga, who was signed from San Francisco by Philadelphia, and then traded to New England, affected the San Francisco and New England calculations.  This was based upon how Drew Stanton (signed by the Jets from the Lions, and then traded to the Colts) was treated last year by the NFL.

Last year Phillip Wheeler was a qualifying player on his $715,000 salary after playing more than 1,000 snaps. This year I counted all players in the $700k-$800k range that played a significant number of snaps. The players I am least certain on are Mike Pollak, who was signed for $780,000 and played 68 snaps, and Luke McCown, who was signed for $840,000 and played 16 snaps. I used Washington's signing of Keyaron Fox in 2011 as the relevant history in this instance to count McCown. Atlanta also has two players with “voidable” contracts so their predictions could turn into a complete mess; more detail is provided later.

Three teams were given the maximum number of four comp picks: New York Jets, Baltimore, and St. Louis. None of them would have had a fifth pick if it was allowed. Third round picks are fairly rare, therefore the cut-off point for them is not easily decipherable.  There is a possibility Green Bay’s comp pick for losing Greg Jennings will be a 4th rounder.

Various team explainations

For the purpose of not making this exercise longer than it already is, there are no explanations for teams that did not get projected comp picks.

Atlanta

Lost: Grimes ($5.5m), V. Walker ($2m), Svitek ($1m), Owens ($1m), L. McCown ($840k), Sidbury ($780k – IR no snaps)*

Signed: Umenyiora ($4.25m)*, S. Jackson ($4m)

Baltimore

Lost: Kruger ($8.1m), Ellerbe ($7m), C. Williams ($5.7m), Reed ($5m)

Signed: None

Buffalo

Lost: Levitre ($7.8m), Rinehart ($1.75m)

Signed: Lawson ($3m), Branch ($3m)

Cincinnati

Lost: Lawson ($3m), Skuta ($1.5m), Sims ($1.5m), Gradkowski ($1.3m), J. Brown ($930k)*

Signed: Alex Smith ($880k), Mike Pollak ($780k – 68 snaps)*

Dallas

Lost: J. Phillips ($1.75m), Jenkins ($1.5m), Butler ($1.5m), Ogletree ($1.3m)*, Coleman ($1 million - IR)

Signed: Durant ($1.2m), Allen ($905k)*

Detroit

Lost: Cherilus ($6.9m), Avril ($6.5m), S. Hill ($3.8m), Durant ($1.2m)

Signed: Quin ($4.7m), Bush ($4m), J. Jones ($3.2m) 

Green Bay

Lost: Jennings ($9.5m), Walden ($4m)

Signed: None

Houston

Lost: Barwin ($6m), Casey ($4.8m), Quin ($4.7m), Forsett ($1m), Ball ($1m), D. Jones ($905k)

Signed: Reed ($5m), Lechler ($1.8m), G. Jones ($1m)

New England

Lost: Welker ($6m), Thomas ($3.5m), Chung ($3m), Woodhead ($1.8m)

Signed: Amendola ($5.5m), Sopoanga ($3.7m), Svitek ($1m)

New York Giants

Lost: Bennett ($5.1m), Umenyiora ($4.25m)*, Hixon ($1.2m), Blackburn ($1m)

Signed: Myers ($3.6m), J. Brown ($930k)*, Mundy ($780k), Murphy ($715k – 100 snaps)*

New York Jets

Lost: Landry ($6m), Keller ($4.3m), DeVito ($4.2m), Greene ($3.3m), Bell ($905k), Slauson ($815k)

Signed: Goodson ($2.3m), Barnes ($1.3m)

Oakland

Lost: Bryant ($6.8m), Wheeler ($5.2m), Myers ($3.6m), Goodson ($2.3m), Lechler ($1.8m), Shaughnessy ($1m), Mitchell ($725k)

Signed: Roach ($3.25m), Maiava ($2m), Walker ($2m), Sims ($1.5m), Jenkins ($1.5m), Porter ($1.2m), Hunter ($840k), Jennings ($630k)*

Pittsburgh

Lost: Wallace ($12m), K. Lewis ($5.1m), Mendenhall ($2.5m), Allen ($905k)*, Mundy ($780k)

Signed: Gradkowski ($1.3m)

St. Louis

Lost: Amendola ($5.5m), S. Jackson ($4m), Gibson ($3.25m), Fletcher ($2.6m), Dahl ($1.75m), Turner ($1.5m)

Signed: Long ($8.5m), Cook ($7.0m)

San Diego

Lost: Vasquez ($5.9m), Cason ($2m), V. Martin ($2m), Barnes ($1.3m), Jammer ($1.1m), A. Franklin ($1.1m), S. Phillips ($1m)

Signed: Cox ($5m), Freeney ($4.4m - IR), Dunlap ($2m), Woodhead ($1.8m), J. Phillips ($1.75m), Rinehart ($1.75m), Ohrnberger ($675k)*

San Francisco

Lost: Goldson ($8.25m), Jean-Francois ($5.5m), Walker ($4.4m), Sopoaga ($3.7m), Ginn ($1m)

Signed: Dorsey ($3m), Dawson ($2.4m), Dahl ($1.75m), Skuta ($1.5m)

More details

Last year all players on full-season IR were counted.  I followed that rule again this year, even though AdamJT13 noted that this was not always the case in the past.

The following players were listed above but were not counted in compensatory pick equations for the listed reasons:

• Mike Pollak, IND to CIN, low salary, too few snaps

• Josh Brown, CIN to NYG, did not play full season for CIN in prior year

• Kevin Ogletree, DAL to TB, cut before midseason

• Will Allen, PIT to DAL, cut before midseason, signed back with PIT

• Rich Ohrnberger, BUF to SD, low salary, too few snaps

• Lawrence Sidbury, ATL to IND, low salary, no snaps (full season IR)

• Rashad Jennings, JAC to OAK, low salary

Atlanta has the most variables affecting their situation. As is mentioned above McCown had a low salary and few game snaps, but I believe that he is just over the qualification threshold. Sidbury was signed for a little less, and did not play at all, so he was not counted. It would not matter if he did count, as Atlanta reached their four-pick limit. The Falcons also signed two players coming off of “voidable” deals. Stephen Jackson voided his contract in St. Louis, and the Giants voided their contract with Osi Umenyiora. I treated Jackson as a qualified player because it was not the team’s decision to lose him.  Umenyiora’s “voidable” deal was just a way to push money to the future for cap purposes, so I did not reward the team for losing him. If Jackson is not counted, it could give Atlanta another 7th round pick if they have not hit their limit. If Umenyiora counts as a signing, it would likely take away a 7th round pick, but there is a slight chance Atlanta could lose their 5th for Grimes.

In addition to the Umenyiora situation described above, the New York Giants have a few other players that could affect their situation.  Brandon Myers is consistently described as having a “voidable” contract, but in reality it is simply a deal with no guaranteed money remaining and a big salary bump in 2014 which is unlikely to get paid.  Louis Murphy signed for $715,000 but barely played, so I had no problem not counting him. Ryan Mundy is the big wild card. He signed for $780,000, a relatively low amount, and played 667 snaps. I think that qualifies him as a significant contributor to the team, and with players at barely higher salaries and much fewer snaps counted in past years, I think Mundy qualifies for the comp pick equations. If he does not, the Giants would receive an extra 7th round pick.

Oakland had a lot of activity.  Rashad Jennings was a useful pickup for them, playing half of the team’s offensive snaps, but he made far below the lowest previous salary for a qualifying player. I did not count him. I did count Jason Hunter, who made more money than Ryan Mundy with a similar number of snaps, and Mike Mitchell, who was a starter for Carolina at a similar salary as Phillip Wheeler, who qualified the previous year.

San Francisco lost players at higher salaries than they signed.  Dan Skuta and Craig Dahl may be good special teams players, but you wonder whether they could have obtained good special teams players with some potential for $1 million a year less each with the 5th round comp picks that were cancelled out by their signings.

And finally, since this is a Philly website, it's probably worth noting quickly here that the Eagles will not be rewarded a compensatory pick this year.

Jimmy Kempski Philly.com
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