BOSTON (CBS) — Normally, compensatory draft picks could be treated like lottery tickets. Determined by a convoluted formula and doled out in the later rounds, compensatory picks don’t frequently translate to successes for teams.
But because the Patriots have Bill Belichick for a coach, their compensatory picks typically have a better chance of turning into valuable pieces who make meaningful contributions despite their low draft status.
On a case-by-case basis, the Patriots’ history with compensatory picks under Belichick is no stronger than any other team. But the coach made a pretty good selection with a compensatory sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft when he took Michigan quarterback Tom Brady. That pick alone reversed the course of the franchise and transcended all of the team’s misses with compensatory picks, so if anyone knows their value, it’s Belichick.
He also drafted wide receiver David Givens with a compensatory seventh-round pick (253rd overall) in the 2002 NFL Draft. Givens helped the Pats win two Super Bowls in 2003-04 as the No. 2 wideout behind Deion Branch.
If you need a more recent example of a compensatory pick that has worked out, it appears that Belichick found a nice little player in linebacker Elandon Roberts. The Patriots drafted Roberts out of the University of Houston with a compensatory sixth-round pick (214th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Per NFL rules, players who are currently unrestricted free agents as of Wednesday no longer count toward future compensatory draft picks. So the Patriots do not stand to gain any compensation if running back LeGarrette Blount or wideout Michael Floyd sign with new teams; it’s also why they could find new teams by the end of the week. (UPDATE: Due to using a rare free-agent tender, the Patriots would get a compensatory draft pick for LeGarrette Blount if he signs with a new team before the start of training camp.)
However, the Patriots do still stand to gain (or lose) a number of compensatory picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here’s a look at how next year’s Patriots draft picks shake out so far, with a little help from Nick Korte of Over The Cap.
– Projected to receive a compensatory fourth-round pick as compensation for the Colts’ signing of free-agent defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
– Projected to receive a compensatory fifth-round pick as compensation for the Green Bay Packers’ signing of free-agent tight end Martellus Bennett.
– Will send either a third or fourth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles as compensation for the 2016 Eric Rowe trade. If Rowe plays more than 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, the pick becomes a third-rounder (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss).
Considering the Patriots’ cornerback depth chart in 2017, you can reasonably expect their compensatory pick for the Rowe trade to be in the fourth round rather than the third. But that would still give the Patriots one extra 2018 pick as of Wednesday, eight total. They’re on track to have two fifth-round picks; as Matthew Slater, Dan Koppen, and Marcus Cannon have proved, those picks aren’t necessarily useless.
Perhaps more importantly, the Patriots still have their first and second-round picks for 2018 after a shockingly small draft class in 2017. But Brady alone will always show the potential that you can have with compensatory picks. Especially after the thin class of players they got from the 2017 draft, Belichick can’t have enough of them – and he may not be done making moves.