Last week, the NFL handed out 33 compensatory picks to be used in the upcoming NFL draft. That annual announcement yields two pieces of insight. First, it gives all of us a quick reminder of the teams in this league who actually have any idea what they're doing, given that teams who acquire comp picks are the ones who mostly stay out of free agency and have valuable talent they can afford to lose. Second, we learn the final draft order, barring trades. The compensatory selections round out the selection order, giving us our first full look at when each team will pick in the 2016 draft.
With the draft order in mind, we can figure out which teams have the most and least to work with on draft day in terms of available capital, given their picks and what each pick is worth. The pick values come from Chase Stuart's draft value chart, which uses historical estimates of value to place an expected return on each of the first 224 selections in a given draft. The information is essentially what you would think: The teams selecting at the top of the draft have the most draft capital and the ones at the bottom of each round have the least. You don't need an estimate to figure that one out.
What's far more interesting here is figuring out which teams have done the most to accrue or give away capital heading into the draft, because that often provides insight into how general managers are trying to build their teams. To figure that out, I rebuild the draft order by removing all the compensatory picks, returning any selections voided by the league to their original teams, and undo any trades involving draft picks. Each team ends up with their original seven picks. I calculate the draft capital they would have held with those seven picks, compare it to their actual draft assets heading into April's draft, and find the difference between the two.
Let's start by running through the five teams who have added the most draft capital to their coffers here in early March. (These figures may change as teams deal picks between now and the draft, of course.) This top five is based upon the percentage by which a team improved upon their baseline draft capital. It starts with a familiar face ...
Most draft capital added
Original draft capital: 53.8 points
Actual draft capital: 60.1 points
Difference: 6.3 points (11.7 percent)
The Ravens keep doing Ravens things. They picked up two fourth-rounders and a sixth-rounder as compensatory picks from losing free agents last offseason, and moved up from a fifth-rounder to a fourth-rounder by trading the Broncos center Gino Gradkowski, who subsequently failed to make Denver's roster. (The Broncos did make the pick less valuable by winning the Super Bowl, presumably out of spite for the Gradkowski trade.)
The Ravens don't pick this high very frequently, of course. The last time they had a top-10 pick was in 2008, when they traded the eighth pick to the Jaguars for four selections so the Jags could move up and draft Derrick Harvey. Several of those picks would be traded again and the Ravens would eventually come away with Joe Flacco and Tavares "T-Good" Gooden.
Original draft capital: 44.7 points
Actual draft capital: 51.3 points
Difference: 6.6 points (14.8 percent)
Unlike most of the teams in this top five, the Rams are missing two of their original picks. They're down a fifth-rounder after selecting offensive tackle Isaiah Battle in last year's supplemental draft, and they sent a seventh-rounder to the Texans for Case Keenum, who currently sits atop the Los Angeles depth chart at quarterback. Yeah, so much of that preceding sentence feels weird.
Fortunately for the Rams, they have the most valuable traded pick (besides the Miami-Philadelphia first-round swap) in the draft heading their way: the 43rd selection from the Eagles, courtesy of last year's Sam Bradford trade. The net of all of Philly's trades these past few weeks has basically been to get themselves back to even in terms of draft capital; they have 46.4 points worth of assets after starting with 45.6 points.
Original draft capital: 52.7 points
Actual draft capital: 60.8 points
Difference: 8.1 points (15.4 percent)
If you're wondering why the 49ers and their $58 million in cap space appear to have earmarked the free-agent period as the right time for a particularly long nap, this is part of the answer. Under Trent Baalke, the 49ers have placed a heavy emphasis on acquiring as many draft picks as possible, frequently trading down while attempting to procure extra compensatory picks each offseason. You can take issue with Baalke's execution, or his desire to stick to that strategy this year given the threadbare nature of his current roster, but history tells us that he's right to pursue picks in bulk.
If Baalke and Chip Kelly do eventually turn things around in San Francisco, all of these extra picks will help. The 8.1 points of draft assets they've added is a larger raw total than anybody else in this year's draft. The 49ers picked up fourth-, fifth-, and two sixth-round compensatory picks, to which they'll add a fifth and two more sixth-round picks from trades. Two of those traded picks came from San Diego when the Chargers traded up to grab Melvin Gordon in the first round last year, a deal that hasn't worked out for them so far.
Original draft capital: 33.3 points
Actual draft capital: 38.6 points
Difference: 5.3 points (15.9 percent)
While the Broncos might not have had this free-agent period turn out the way they planned, they should be in line to receive a bevy of compensation picks in 2017. That goes with the healthy stash they've acquired for the 2016 draft. John Elway & Co. picked up a third-rounder for Julius Thomas, a fourth-rounder for Orlando Franklin and a sixth-round pick for Terrance Knighton. (They're already in line for two third-round picks in 2017.) Those picks alone are worth an even nine points of draft capital, roughly equivalent to the 56th pick in the draft on its own. That's not enough to get a franchise quarterback, but it's going to help the Broncos to retool their roster as they try to defend their title in 2016. And if the Broncos do end up trading for Colin Kaepernick, the extra picks will make it easier to swallow the cost of doing business.
Original draft capital: 36.5 points
Actual draft capital: 42.5 points
Difference: 6.0 points (16.4 percent)
Atop the leaderboard, though, is a team that Ted Thompson rebuilt on a bed of extra draft picks. The Packers generally treat their picks as a precious resource and rarely invest in free agency, and while that may anger some more shortsighted Packers fans, it leaves the Packers with one of the league's more perennially stacked rosters. Green Bay has kept its seven picks and added a pair of fourth-rounders for losing cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency. Recent Packers fourth-rounders have included rotation linebacker Jake Ryan and starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, so these picks wield more power in Thompson's hands than they do in most.
Most draft capital lost
And then, of course, there's the flip side: Here are the teams who have lost the most draft capital versus their would-be stash of original selections. This year, it's heavy on teams who have lost draft assets in a less usual way: They've been docked picks by the NFL.
Original draft capital: 50.2 points
Actual draft capital: 45.3 points
Difference: 4.9 points (9.8 percent)
While the Dolphins still have seven picks, they've bizarrely swapped first-rounders with the Eagles as part of the trade that sent Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to Miami, a deal that Philadelphia likely regarded as a favor and should have required the Eagles to send extra draft compensation, not the Fins. Miami also drops some by virtue of lacking even a single compensatory pick, which isn't much of a surprise. The Dolphins haven't received a comp pick since 2013. They'll finally pick one up next year by virtue of Olivier Vernon's departure ... just in time for compensatory draft picks to be tradable.
Original draft capital: 36.8 points
Actual draft capital: 33.1 points
Difference: 3.7 points (10.1 percent)
The Steelers basically gave away two picks at the bottom of their draft in August, sending a fifth-rounder to the Eagles for Brandon Boykin and a sixth-rounder to the Jags for Josh Scobee. Boykin failed to crack the cornerback rotation and played 24.7 percent of Pittsburgh's defensive snaps before hitting unrestricted free agency, while Scobee kicked the Steelers out of a victory against the Ravens before being released.
Pittsburgh did pick up a sixth-rounder as a comp selection, but the seventh-rounder they got from the Giants for Brad Wing is seen as a sub-replacement pick (as are all picks after 224) and has zero draft value.
Original draft capital: 42.2 points
Actual draft capital: 37.3 points
Difference: 4.9 points (11.6 percent)
The Falcons also are missing fifth- and sixth-round picks, albeit under very different circumstances. Their sixth-rounder went to the Titans for free-agent disappointment Andy Levitre, who subsequently signed a restructured deal to stay with the Falcons. He wasn't much better in Atlanta. Their fifth-rounder, meanwhile, was taken away by the NFL as punishment for piping crowd noise into the Georgia Dome. Let's remember that the blame for the noise was pinned on director of event marketing Roddy White and that the Falcons somehow had a guy in their front office with the same name as their star wideout. Or maybe the more famous Roddy White really just wanted to be an event planner all along.
Original draft capital: 35.6 points
Actual draft capital: 30.9 points
Difference: 4.7 points (13.2 percent)
This gap amounts to the Chiefs lacking compensatory picks and missing their third-rounder, which was nabbed by the NFL as punishment for tampering with Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin. The league additionally fined the Chiefs $250,000 for contacting Maclin during the open negotiating window before free agency when teams are otherwise only allowed to contact the agents for impending free agents. If your head is spinning, you're not alone: The Chiefs were stripped of a draft pick for illegally tampering during the legal tampering period.
Original draft capital: 35.0 points
Actual draft capital: 25.9 points
Difference: 9.1 points (26.0 percent)
And then, far away from the pack, there are the Patriots. They've lost nearly twice more of their draft capital as anybody else in football, even after acquiring a third-rounder and three sixth-rounders as compensatory picks. That helps account for New England's missing fifth-rounder, which was sent to the Texans for backup wideout Keshawn Martin and a sixth-rounder, but it does little to make up for the huge hole in New England's draft.
The Pats are down a first-rounder (and a fourth-rounder in 2017) as part of the punishment for last year's Deflategate saga. It's the second time the Patriots have been docked a first-rounder during Bill Belichick's reign, having lost their 2008 first-round pick in the Spygate scandal. That pick alone is worth 13.2 points of draft capital.
Here is a chart on draft capital leaguewide: