Evaluation of the 2024 Compensatory Picks Projection

On March 8, the 2024 compensatory draft picks were released, with a correction released on March 11 that will be described in detail below. As always, upon seeing the official release it’s proper to judge how my projection did against it.

TeamRdCompensated Departure
JAX3Jawaan Taylor
CIN3Jessie Bates III
PHI3Javon Hargrave
SF4Jimmy Garoppolo
BUF4Tremaine Edmunds
BAL4Ben Powers
NO5David Onyemata
GB5Allen Lazard
NO5Marcus Davenport
PHI5Isaac Seumalo
PHI5Andre Dillard
KC5Andrew Wylie
DAL5Connor McGovern
NO5Kaden Elliss
SF5Samson Ebukam
LAR6Baker Mayfield
PHI6T.J. Edwards
SF6Charles Omenihu
JAX6Arden Key
LAR6Matt Gay
CIN6Hayden Hurst
SF6Azeez Al-Shaair
DAL6Dalton Schultz
LAR6A’Shawn Robinson
NYJ6Nathan Shepherd
GB6Jarran Reed
TB6Sean Murphy-Bunting
LAC7Drue Tranquill
LAR7Nick Scott
GB7Dean Lowry
NYJ7Mike White
NYJ7Dan Feeney
Over 32-pick limit; not awarded
JAX7Chris Manhertz
DAL7Noah Brown
JAX7Marvin Jones
GB7Robert Tonyan

Highlighted in green, I got 27 of 36 comp picks correct with the correct player and the correct round. This includes a correct projection Jacksonville, Dallas, and Green Bay missing out on four comp picks due to being over the 32 limit. The NFL Management Council (NFLMC) acknowledged that all three teams missed these picks, and while it did not acknowledge how many, it remains my observation that the Jaguars missed out on two picks. Despite several upcoming errors in the projection with regard to the round number, I also accurately projected the number of comp picks that each team would receive for all 32 awarded comp picks.

Highlighted in yellow, there were 3 comp picks I got the correct team to, but was off by one round due to a minor miss on the round cutoffs. I again overestimated the total number of leaguewide players. I had used 1,965 for the number in the projection, but to make these comp picks line up, the number needed to have been closer to about 1,846. This downgraded two 5th rounders to the 6th round (the Rams for Baker Mayfield going to Tampa Bay, and the Eagles for TJ Edwards going to Chicago) and a 6th rounder to a 7th rounder (the Rams again for Nick Scott going to Cincinnati).

But Scott’s contract falling to the 7th round, while not beneficial to the Rams, ended up being beneficial to the Bengals, and that begins explaining the 6 comp picks that I missed and did not anticipate that I would beyond minor cutoff estimation misses. That resulting in Scott canceling out another 7th round valued contract in Samaje Perine, upgrading a Bengals projected pick to the 6th round for Hayden Hurst going to Charlotte for a season. The same cutoff miss also helped the Jets upgrade a 7th to a 6th, as I believe that the contract of Mecole Hardman (who the NFLMC did acknowledge as counting both in favor of and against Kansas City due to trading back for him) was also valued as a 7th rounder, opening up a 6th for Nathan Shepherd going to New Orleans.

I am also marking the Bucs’ upgraded 7th to 6th in red, even though I had anticipated that it could happen. The reason why is that this miss cannot be accounted for solely by a cutoff miss. Instead, I missed that incentives had been earned by both Sean Murphy-Bunting ($600,000) and Mike Edwards ($1.5 million). It was necessary for both contracts to be moved up to the 6th round in order for a 6th to be awarded to Tampa Bay, as one of these two players had to be cancelled out by Mayfield, leaving the other one open for a 6th rounder. As an aside, I had missed incentives on a few other players as well, most notably $1 million to Drue Tranquill that put the order of the 7th rounder going to the Chargers at the top of other 7th rounders, so I need to continue to be more diligent in making sure all earned incentives are accounted for.

However, regarding the remaining three misses in red, all involving the location of the 3rd/4th round cutoff, this did not make sense to me at all when the initial official release occurred on March 8–to the point that I immediately expressed concern that the NFLMC made an error on this cutoff. As I had shared on Twitter at the time, in order for this cutoff to work, the top 5% of leaguewide players would have had to include, at most, only 62 players–as follows:

But if the 3rd/4th round cutoff was really at 62 players at most, that would translate to a total leaguewide number of players of 1,240–far, far too low from the approximate 1,846 to make the other round cutoffs come even close to working.

This difference was visibly notable with the 49ers and Bills only getting 4th rounders instead of 3rd rounders. But I also observed that depending on where the cutoff should have been, it could have also negatively impacted the Bengals, because if the cutoff was between Jessie Bates III and Orlando Brown Jr. on the list above, they would not cancel each other out–Brown would instead cancel out the 6th round valued departure of Vonn Bell, and upgrade that 6th to a 3rd for Bates leaving for Atlanta.

On March 11, the NFLMC issued its correction. To much joy from Bengals fans, Cincinnati did get a 6th upgraded to a 3rd. But to much consternation to Bills and 49ers fans, the San Francisco and Buffalo picks remained ensconced in the 4th round.

So what happened here? According to Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk, in a memo sent to all teams the NFLMC only acknowledged an error in the honors part of the calculation. What must have happened is that it erroneously omitted Bates’s naming to the Pro Bowl, moving his contract up just enough to make the 3rd round.

But, in stating that “[w]e have confirmed that there were no other errors in the calculation”, the NFLMC flatly denied that there was any error in how it calculated the 3rd/4th round cutoff. Furthermore, the NFLMC is insistent that this cutoff must indeed be around that 62 player area. This can be proven by the fact that they ranked Cincinnati’s 3rd rounder ahead of Philadelphia’s 3rd for Javon Hargrave going to San Francisco. As you can see in the chart above, even when including Bates’s Pro Bowl honors, the difference between he and Hargrave is very close–close enough that tiebreakers in ranking could have gone Bates’s way.

Given that the NFLMC refuses to acknowledge a cutoff error, I’m left with going back to the drawing board on how it is valuing certain contracts near the top of the list in the compensatory formula in order to make a proper top 5% cutoff work in the 3rd round. Some ideas have been proposed to me, and it’s hopeful that this could discover something new about how the compensatory pick formula works.