INDIANAPOLIS — When an NFL team effectively builds its roster through the draft, then every pick is valued like gold. When the 2019 NFL Draft arrives this spring, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard might just look like a prospector.
According to OverTheCap.com, Ballard and the Colts are projected to receive a fourth-round compensatory pick in the upcoming draft in late April.
On top of the extra second-round selection that they already own this year stemming from a trade with the New York Jets in 2018, that would potentially give the Colts nine picks going into the draft — potentially four within the first 100 picks, and six or seven in the top 150.
Deciding which teams teams are rewarded compensatory picks is a loaded process, but it can be simplified. According to OTC:
"As the NFL explains, compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lose more or better compensatory free agents than they acquire. The number of picks a team can receive equals the net loss of compensatory free agents, up to a maximum of four. Compensatory free agents are determined by a secret formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. Not every free agent lost or signed is covered by the formula."
In the instance of the Colts' potential fourth-round compensatory pick, they would be receiving it for the loss of 2018 free agent wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a reported $9.6 million contract. The Colts did not sign a similar-type free agent during the offseason who neared that salary or on-field production.
Last year, the Colts entered the 2018 draft with nine picks, but when all was said and done and trades had been made, they had acquired and used 11 total picks.
Because the Colts are in the playoffs and have made it into the second round, they will be picking in the mid-to-late 20s of each round at the earliest as it stands now. The second-round pick that they hold from the Jets is the third overall pick of the round, No. 35 overall.
ESPN's Football Power Index projects the Colts to hold the 26th draft slot in the upcoming draft, but of course that would also mean that their season ends this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs. The deeper the Colts advance in the playoffs, the later most of their picks will come in each round.
While again these selections are not official — how the playoffs shake out and rewarded compensatory picks will affect the order — this is where we could see the Colts standing:
- Round 1, No. 25-32
- Round 2, No. 35 (from the Jets)
- Round 2, No. 57-64
- Round 3, No. 89-96
- Round 4, No. 121-128
- Round 4, No. 129-137 (projected compensatory pick)
- Round 5, No. 153-160
- Round 6, No. 185-192
- Round 7, No. 217-224
*In relation to the compensatory pick, in 2018 there were nine combined compensatory picks added in the third and fourth rounds, so this projects from that total.
Of the Colts' 11 draft picks in 2018, all of them made the roster. With the exception of wide receiver Deon Cain, who was placed on Injured Reserve with a torn ACL before the season, the other 10 have all been active during the season. First-round pick Quenton Nelson and second-round pick Darius Leonard were even named First-Team All-Pro for their performances.
The Colts led the NFL in opening-day rookie starters in 2018 with five, which was also the most in the Indianapolis era. Of their 11 draft picks, they appeared in 133 games, starting 67 (50.4 percent).
Draft picks are valued so high in the Colts organization because they're not put to waste. With the right selections, you can be drafting starters into Day 3 of the draft, and your picks may pan out to be elite-level players like Nelson or Leonard.