Mark Craig: Compensatory picks great, but not for Vikings

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 3, 2014 - 11:54 PM
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Former Dallas Cowboys guard and Hall of Famer Larry Allen was one of the first and best compensatory picks ever, selected in the second round in 1994.

Photo: LM Otero • Associated Press,

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Unlike their impact on some of the NFL’s perennial contenders, compensatory draft picks haven’t done much to compensate the Vikings since the concept and mysterious distribution formula were born 20 years ago.

For starters, the Vikings haven’t had a compensatory pick higher than the fourth round.

Secondly, they have had only 16 total. The Ravens, who didn’t even exist the first two years of compensating picks, have had an NFL-high 41. That’s eight more than runners-up Dallas and Green Bay.

Thirdly, three of the Vikings’ four highest compensatory picks became Shawn Worthen, Cedric James and Ed Ta’amu.

Who?

Exactly.

Worthen and James, teammates at Texas Christian, were back-to-back picks (130-131) in 2001. They lasted a combined nine games over one season. James, a receiver, was taken 103 spots higher than Cincinnati’s T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

A year later, Ta’amu, a guard from Utah, was taken 132nd overall. After being cut in training camp, he was out of football for three years before starting a lengthy Arena Football League career.

According to the NFL, compensatory picks are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Teams losing more and/or better free agents to other teams than they acquire are compensated.

“I don’t know how the formula works, to be honest with you,” said Jon Gruden, ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl-winning coach. “But we never went into free agency saying, ‘Let’s let Bobby and Billy go so we can get a compensatory pick to replace him.’ ”

Although the formula isn’t public knowledge, it’s obvious some teams understand it well and use it to their advantage. Exhibit A: the Ravens with General Manager Ozzie Newsome.

Seven months ago, the Ravens had four picks, including three in the top four rounds. They had traded their seventh-rounder for Colts center A.Q. Shipley and their fourth- and fifth-rounders for Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe.

Today, through the magic and mystery of compensatory picks, the Ravens have doubled their picks to eight and their number of picks in the top four rounds to six.

Yes, 15 months after winning their second Super Bowl, the Ravens received the maximum number of four compensatory picks. They got an extra pick in the third round (No. 99), two in the fourth (Nos. 134 and 138) and one in the fifth (No. 175).

The formula was based on last offseason, when the Ravens lost four key members of their Super Bowl champion team — Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Cary Williams and Dannell Ellerbe — to free agency while signing nobody noteworthy.

In many cases, Newsome gets more in compensatory consideration for used veterans that cost him considerably less to acquire when they were new. Ellerbe, for example, was signed as a rookie free agent, while Williams arrived via Tennessee’s practice squad.

“Our approach is we come to a threshold of what we think the player’s [maximum] value is in Baltimore,” Newsome said years ago at the NFL combine. “When it goes beyond that, then we don’t mind them going out the door.”

Compensatory picks can’t be traded. But the expectation of four compensatory picks this year is what allowed Newsome to trade his own picks for two starters, Shipley and Monroe, the eighth overall pick in 2009.

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Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland - LP: J. Lester 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 4
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 3
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 8 FINAL
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 3
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
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2014 preseason     
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Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
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Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
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Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
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