Bill Belichick

  • The New England Patriots received four compensatory picks in the 2020 NFL Draft after losing many key players in free agency.
  • The compensatory pick system is designed to help teams being decimated by free agency losses.
  • These extra picks could improve the Patriots’ odds of drafting a player like Jalen Hurts, who will likely go early in the second round.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After a mass exodus of talent, the New England Patriots have an NFL-high four compensatory selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. That is the maximum number of compensatory picks that one team can receive.

This is the third time since 2010 that the Patriots have received the maximum number of compensatory picks.

The Patriots have 12 total picks in the 2020 draft, second in the NFL to the Miami Dolphins, who have 14. The Patriots’ compensatory picks are as follows:

  • 3rd round – 98th overall
  • 3rd round – 100th overall
  • 6th round – 212th overall
  • 6th round – 213th overall

They also still hold the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fourth-round compensatory pick — the 139th overall selection, which they received in the trade for tight end Rob Gronkowski.

While all these extra picks may seem excessive at first glance, New England will likely need an infusion of young talent after losing so many good players, including future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, in free agency.

Head coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio appear to be adhering to a strategy of stockpiling picks. The Patriots traded their first-round pick, 23rd overall, in exchange for the Los Angeles Chargers’ 37th and 71st overall picks.

Despite the Patriots’ historic success, or perhaps because of it, they have consistently been one of the largest beneficiaries of the compensatory draft pick system. They have received the fourth most compensatory picks in the NFL since the system began in 1994, with 39 total picks.

Their mastery of the compensatory pick system has helped the Patriots maintain their stranglehold on the NFL.

In the past five years alone, the Patriots have received 28.5 points of approximate value (AV) from compensatory picks, per Pro-Football-Reference. That is a higher AV than the average third overall pick.

What Are Compensatory Picks? How Do Teams Get Them?

As the name implies, compensatory picks are compensation for teams that lose more value in free agency than they add.

Value is determined by a formula from the NFL Management Council, which considers salary, playing time, and postseason awards. The exact details of the formula were finally revealed as a stipulation of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The formula is as follows:

  1. Take a free agent’s average dollar value per year (APY) of their contract.
  2. Subtract APY that doesn’t count (contract bonuses that are unlikely to be earned)
  3. Rank all free agents by APY in descending order
  4. Add 25 to 100 points based on the percentage of snaps the player played.
  5. Add 20 and 5 points, respectively, for All-Pro and All-Conference honors.

This results in 32 total compensatory picks which are doled out every year based on this formula. There are 15 total teams that received compensatory picks in 2020. Picks are generally distributed based on the following formula (although it is subject to change, as each free-agent class is different in size and value):

  • 3rd round: 95-100th percentile (the top 5% of free agents)
  • 4th round: 90-95th percentile (top 10%)
  • 5th round: 85-90th percentile (top 15%)
  • 6th round: 75-85th percentile (top 25%)
  • 7th round: 65-75th percentile (top 35%)

Free agents graded below the 65th percentile are not eligible for a compensatory selection.

How Do Compensatory Picks Affect NFL Draft, Season Odds?

Compensatory picks aren’t functionally different from any other draft picks, so their effect on both the regular season and NFL draft betting odds is relatively minor.

The added draft capital provided by compensatory picks can help improve a team’s outlook for the following season, or it can increase the likelihood of said team trading up in the draft.

In the 2020 Draft, for example, the Patriots could look to move some of their extra picks to trade up for one of the coveted players still on the board. For example, they could look to move up in the second round to draft Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The Patriots currently have the third shortest odds to select Hurts but could shorten those odds further by trading some of their picks to slide up in the draft.

Current odds on which team will draft Jalen Hurts:

  • Indianapolis Colts +300
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +550
  • New England Patriots +600
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +700
  • Carolina Panthers +1100

All Compensatory Picks In 2020

3rd Round

97. Cleveland (from Houston)
98. New England
99. New York Giants
100. New England
101. Seattle
102. Pittsburgh
103. Philadelphia
104. Los Angeles Rams
105. Minnesota
106. Baltimore

4th Round

139. New England (from Tampa)
140. Jacksonville (from Chicago)
141. Miami
142. Washington
143. Atlanta (from Baltimore)
144. Seattle
145. Philadelphia
146. Philadelphia

5th Round

178. Denver
179. Dallas

6th Round

212. New England
213. New England
214. Seattle

7th Round

247. New York Giants
248. Houston
249. Minnesota
250. Houston
251. Miami
252. Denver
253. Minnesota
254. Denver
255. New York Giants

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