The Colts And Compensatory Draft Picks: A History

Intro: The Indianapolis Colts recently learned they picked up an extra 2017 fourth-round draft selection via compensatory pick. How has the team historically fared with its compensatory picks? We take a deep look.

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INDIANAPOLIS —An extra draft pick? Sure, we'll take it.

That, give or take, was likely the reaction of new Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard on Friday upon hearing news that his team had been awarded a fourth-round compensatory pick in this year's NFL Draft, increasing the team's total draft picks to seven.

The whole compensatory pick process can seem messy, and it's even harder to explain. To quote the National Football League, "a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks." During the 2016 offseason, the Colts lost Coby Fleener, Jerrell Freeman and Dwight Lowery to free agency, and only gained back the likes of Patrick Robinson and Scott Tolzien.

Compensatory picks are then positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost — a formula developed by the NFL Management Council "based on salary, playing time and postseason honors" — and not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered.

Then, starting this year, teams have been granted to right to trade their compensatory picks, as well.

So got it all? Good.

Anyway, as the offseason really begins to kick into gear this week with the start of the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis — and then the start of free agency next week — it seemed like as good a time as any to take a detailed look back at the Colts and their compensatory pick history over the years — at least since 1994, when this process began.

In all, counting this year's selection, the Colts have received 22 compensatory picks since their first one, quarterback Mike Cawley, in 1996. They've received as high as a third-round compensatory pick on one occasion (defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock in 2007), and have, in all, had four fourth-round, three fifth-round and seven sixth- and seventh-round compensatory picks in all.

Some of these names over the years will jump off the page; others will elicit a response of, "Who?!" or "Ohhhh, yeahhh. That guy." So, with that being said, let's take a look at the Colts' complete compensation pick history to date:

1996: Mike Cawley
Quarterback, James Madison University
Sixth round, 38th pick (205th overall)

Cawley came to the Colts as the greatest quarterback in JMU history, and was seen as a player who could throw as well as run. But his NFL career didn't quite pan out; he was released by the Colts during training camp his rookie year in 1996, and then signed with the Atlanta Falcons and spent seven weeks on their practice squad that season. In 1997 he spent some time during the offseason with the Detroit Lions before signing to play in the Canadian Football League. In 2000, he got his final NFL stint, this time with the Buffalo Bills, where he spent the entire offseason before being waived during final roster cuts. He would end his career playing for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL.

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1998: Cory Gaines
Defensive back, Tennessee
Seventh round, 42nd pick (231st overall)

Gaines — who had 162 career tackles, nine passes defensed and had one interception that he returned 57 yards for a touchdown in his college career — was just a one-year starter for the Volunteers, but had done enough to warrant a look by the Colts in the 1998 draft. But Gaines would be waived during training camp that year, and his only other NFL shot would be with the Baltimore Ravens, though he would play in no regular season games. Gaines also played for the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe.

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1999: Corey Terry
Defensive end, Tennessee
Seventh round, 44th pick (250th overall)

Terry, another Tennessee product, would be cut by the Colts after the preseason of his rookie season, and was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars a couple months later, playing in eight games and being credited with a forced fumble. He would be cut by the Jaguars during the next preseason, but then signed to their practice squad. In October 2000, he was signed to the New Orleans Saints' active roster, where he would spend that season before being cut the following offseason. In all, he played in 15 career NFL games with the Jags and Saints.

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2003: Makoa Freitas
Tackle, Arizona
Sixth round, 35th pick (208th overall)

Freitas, a Honolulu, Hawaii, native, had a promising start to his career, playing in 12 games with six starts (spelling an injured Tarik Glenn) at left tackle his rookie season with the Colts in 2003, who would go 12-4 and advance to the AFC Championship Game. He then played in all 16 games, albeit with zero starts, in 2004, before being placed on IR before the 2005 season began with a right foot injury. He was released by the team during training camp in 2006 and wouldn't play another down in the NFL.

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2005: Matt Giordano
Defensive back, California
Fourth round, 34th pick (135th overall)

Giordano was really the Colts' first splash when it came to their compensatory picks, as he would play nine years in the league, primarily as a backup, in Indianapolis (2005-08), Green Bay (2009), New Orleans (2010), Oakland (2011-12) and finally St. Louis (2013). He was a key backup member of the Colts' secondary in their 2006 Super Bowl season, playing in 12 games with one start, and started four games the following season, collecting two interceptions, one of which he returned 83 yards for a touchdown. In all, Giordano would play in 116 career games with 30 starts and collect 141 total tackles, 11 interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, 19 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one sack.

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2005: Tyjuan Hagler
Linebacker, Cincinnati
Fifth round, 37th pick (173rd overall)

Hagler also built himself a nice five-year career, all with the Colts. He would play in 50 total games with 19 starts, collecting 107 tackles, two sacks, one interception, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries from 2006-10. Hagler was also a member of the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl champion team, playing in nine games that year, and recovering two fumbles during that playoff run. Perhaps Hagler's most memorable play for the Horseshoe was Dec. 19, 2010, when he returned an onside kick 41 yards for a touchdown and the game's clinching score in the Colts' 34-24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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2006: Antoine Bethea
Defensive back, Howard
Sixth round, 38th pick (207th overall)

Bethea is undoubtedly one of the two most successful compensatory picks by the Colts in their history — and he's still going. In his now 11-year NFL career, Bethea has been one of the more consistent safeties in the league, as he has played and started in all 162 games in which he has played, collecting 766 tackles, 19 interceptions, one defensive touchdowns, 62 passes defensed, 18 quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. A three-time Pro Bowl selection (2007, 2009 and 2014), Bethea was also a key member of the Colts' Super Bowl-winning team, starting 14 games as a rookie in 2006. He is currently entering the final season of a four-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. But, perhaps most importantly, Bethea has been an outstanding player in the community, which will continue to be his legacy after his playing days are over.

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2007: Quinn Pitcock
Defensive tackle, Ohio State
Third round, 35th pick (98th overall)

Pitcock has the distinction of being the Colts' highest-ever compensatory pick to this point, though he would battle through some personal issues after a promising rookie year — his only full season in the NFL. After playing in nine games with one start in 2007 — finishing with 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits — Pitcock stunned many by deciding to retire from the game at the age of 24. He would attempt a comeback two years later, signing with the Seattle Seahawks, and then the next year with the Detroit Lions, though he wouldn't see the field with either organization, before retiring for good.

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2007: Clint Session
Linebacker, Pittsburgh
Fourth round, 37th pick (136th overall)

Session would become one of the key playmakers of the Colts' second Super Bowl appearance of the 2000s, this time in 2009, when he played in, and started, 14 games for Indy as they would fall to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV. In his five-year NFL career — playing from 2007-2010 with the Colts and then the 2011 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars — Session would play in 57 total games with 41 starts and rack up 218 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four interceptions — one of which he returned for a touchdown — eight passes defensed, six quarterback hits and forced six fumbles.

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2007: Michael Coe
Defensive back, Alabama State
Fifth round, 36th pick (173rd overall)

Coe would play in just one season in Indianapolis in 2007 before bouncing around the rosters of the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys through the 2012 season. He played in 38 total games with one start, and had 16 total tackles, four passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. Coe would also play a season with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

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2008: Steve Justice
Center, Wake Forest
Sixth round, 35th pick (201st overall)

Justice never really panned out, though he played in eight games with one start his rookie season in 2008. He would be let go by the Colts during final cuts before the 2009 season, and then signed with the Carolina Panthers to start the 2010 offseason. He would be waived with an injury designation by the Panthers in the middle of the preseason that year and wouldn't play for another NFL team. Justice would eventually play three seasons in the UFL.

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2008: Mike Hart
Running back, Michigan
Sixth round, 36th pick (202nd overall)

Hart was selected by the Colts after becoming Michigan's all-time leading rusher (5,040 yards), though he wouldn't find the same amount of success in Indianapolis, primarily as one of the team's backups. He played thee seasons with the Colts from 2008-10, and in 21 games, with one start, he had 71 rushes for 264 yards (3.7 yards per attempt) with two rushing touchdowns, while adding 12 receptions for 97 yards. His NFL career would end after his release by the Colts at the start of training camp in 2011, and he would immediately begin his college coaching career.

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2008: Pierre Garçon
Wide receiver, Mount Union
Sixth round, 39th pick (205th overall)

Garçon joins Bethea as the two most successful compensatory picks in the team's history. A gem of a find from the Division III ranks, Garçon would get the chance to learn under Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and showed improvement his final three seasons in Indy, finishing with 70 receptions for 947 yards with six touchdowns his final year with the Colts in 2011. He would sign with the Washington Redskins as a free agent the following season and lead the league with 113 catches, while adding 1,346 yards and five touchdowns that year, and has been a consistent threat in D.C. since. In all, Garçon has played in 132 games with 115 starts, catching 564 passes for 7,068 yards and 37 touchdowns. Garçon also has the distinction, as you can see above, of catching the final touchdown thrown in Peyton Manning's Colts career.

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2009: Terrance Taylor
Defensive tackle, Michigan
Fourth round, 36th pick (136th overall)

Taylor would never play a single game with the Colts — or in the NFL, for that matter — as he was cut by the team at the end of the preseason the year he was drafted. The Carolina Panthers, and then the Detroit Lions, would sign him to their practice squad later that season, and he was cut after spending the first four months of the offseason with the Lions in 2010. Taylor has kept his football dream alive ever since as a force in the Arena Football League, however, where he has played five seasons and collected 22.5 sacks, 15 forced fumbles and two interceptions — as well as a defensive touchdown — in his AFL career, according to ArenaFan.com.

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2010: Kavell Conner
Linebacker, Clemson
Seventh round, 33rd pick (240th overall)

Conner worked his way into a productive four-season career with the Colts from 2010-13, starting 36 of 52 total games and collecting 236 tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack. His best year came in 2011, when he had 104 tackles and started 15 of 16 games in Indy. Conner signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent in 2014, and played two seasons there — playing in 26 games with 10 starts — before he was released in March of last year. He would be signed by the Baltimore Ravens at the start of training camp last year, but was released before the regular season got underway.

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2010: Ray Fisher
Defensive back, Indiana
Seventh round, 39th pick (246th overall)

The Colts signed Fisher out of Indiana to compete for the team's returner job, which was ultimately won by Devin Moore, and Fisher was let go during final cuts. He would try his hand as both a returner and a receiver in the Canadian Football League before his playing career came to an end.

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2012: Vick Ballard
Running back, Mississippi State
Fifth round, 35th pick (170th overall)

Ballard was the Colts' primary starting running back in his rookie season in 2012 (joining fellow rookie quarterback Andrew Luck that year), playing in all 16 games with 12 starts, and putting in a solid 211 rushes for 814 yards (3.9 yards per carry) with two touchdowns, while also catching 17 passes for 152 yards and another score. But after tearing his ACL after just one game the following season — and then tearing his Achilles during training camp in 2014 — Ballard would eventually be cut loose by the Colts in 2015. He was signed to a futures deal with the New Orleans Saints last February, but was released in May.

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2012: LaVon Brazill
Wide receiver, Ohio
Sixth Round, 36th pick (206th overall)

Brazill was clearly a talented player, but he would get caught up with multiple violations of the league's substance policy, and would be cut after two seasons with the Colts in 2012-13. He played in 15 games his rookie season in 2012, catching 11 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, but would be suspended four games to start the 2013 season. He would then become a key receiver down the stretch for Indy that year, catching two touchdowns in a late-season game against the Bengals, and then doing it again in the playoffs against the Patriots, but he was handed his second suspension — this time for 10 games — the following training camp, and would be let go. He has since tried to revive his career by playing in the CFL.

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2012: Chandler Harnish
Quarterback, Northern Illinois
Seventh round, 46th pick (253rd overall)

Harnish became "Mr. Irrelevant" of the 2012 NFL Draft (as the final pick that year), but the Bluffton, Ind., native, was able to stick around a little bit over the course of his first two seasons in Indy, primarily as the team's practice squad quarterback. He would spend a couple months on the practice squad in Minnesota in 2014 before he was signed by the Arizona Cardinals during the 2015 offseason, though he was cut during training camp that year. Harnish never got the chance to play in a regular-season NFL game.

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2013: Justice Cunningham
Tight end, South Carolina
Seventh round, 48th pick (254th overall)

Cunningham, who was darn-near the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2013 NFL Draft class, hasn't been able to stick on a roster since the Colts selected him in 2013. Released during final cuts his rookie year, Cunningham would be re-signed to the practice squad, and then signed to the Colts' active roster and made his only NFL reception to date in his only regular-season game in 2013, before Indianapolis cut him once again in late-November. The then-St. Louis Rams signed him to their active roster for the 2014 offseason, released him during final cuts, and then he was a constant on their practice squad in 2014 and 2015. He would be released during final cuts once again with the now-Los Angeles Rams last September.

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2015: Denzelle Good
Tackle, Mars Hill
Seventh round, 38th pick (255th overall)

Good certainly has potential to be a gem of a pick out of Mars Hill for the Colts. He played in six games with four starts his rookie year in 2015, and then won the team's starting right guard job heading into the 2016 season, when he would play 12 games with 10 starts, though his year would be marred by multiple injuries (back/knee/shoulder/concussion). Good enters 2017 again as a candidate to fight for one of the starting jobs along the Colts' offense line at right guard or maybe even right tackle.

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.

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