The Minnesota Vikings weren't expecting to receive any compensatory picks in the 2015 NFL draft. In the end, their suspicions were correct.
The Vikings were not among the 14 teams to receive one of the 32 compensatory picks awarded for the 2015 draft. The NFL announced compensatory choices on Monday night, giving a league-high four to Denver, Seattle and Kansas City. It's worth noting that playoff teams received 22 of the 32 compensatory picks. That's a tacit endorsement of the build-from-within method the Vikings are trying to emulate; the best teams in the league seem to be stocking their rosters with young talent, signing their franchise players, letting others leave through free agency and reaping extra picks for continuing the cycle. Players, their agents and their union might not like that, but the NFL is effectively subsidizing a certain type of roster building.
At any rate, the Vikings signed Linval Joseph and Captain Munnerlyn a year ago and lost Kevin Williams, Jared Allen and Toby Gerhart in free agency. With Joseph and Munnerlyn playing significant roles for the Vikings, though, the NFL didn't deem the Vikings' 2014 free-agent losses as being worthy of a compensatory pick.
General manager Rick Spielman has talked, though, about how the Vikings have stayed out of the unrestricted free-agent market in part because there are other ways to get players without losing a chance at compensatory picks. There's a reason the Vikings pushed so hard for Michael Johnson; in addition to being a good fit for their defense, Johnson had been released by Tampa Bay. As a "street" free agent, he wouldn't have hurt the Vikings' chances at a compensatory pick in 2016 if they signed him. As it was, the Bengals brought Johnson back and got a compensatory pick for losing him a year earlier.
The Vikings haven't lost any headliners in 2015, but the only unrestricted free agent they've signed is backup quarterback Shaun Hill. Players like Christian Ponder, Jerome Felton, Jasper Brinkley and Vlad Ducasse might not amount to much individually, but taken as a whole, they could be enough to get the Vikings an extra choice or two in 2016, particularly if players like Felton and Brinkley get large chunks of playing time in Buffalo and Dallas.
Considering the Vikings have received only 17 compensatory picks since 1994 -- tied for the eighth fewest in the league -- and mainstays like Baltimore, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and New England are near the top of the list, it doesn't hurt to try, particularly if the Vikings don't see any must-haves on the open market.