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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Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 3rd Prd 8:36
San Jose 3
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
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Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
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Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
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 NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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