What are compensatory picks in the NFL draft? Explaining bonus selections.

What are compensatory picks in the NFL draft? Explaining bonus selections.


There will be 257 selections this year at the 2024 NFL draft.

Thirty-four of those, more than a full round’s worth of draft picks, will be compensatory picks. Basically, these are draft picks given to a team that has lost more or better players in free agency. Special compensatory draft picks are also distributed to teams who have minority assistants or personnel executives hired as head coaches or general managers of other teams.

This season, 14 different teams were rewarded compensatory selections at the 2024 NFL draft, which will be held in Detroit.

Here’s everything you need to know about compensatory picks at the 2024 NFL draft.

What are compensatory draft picks in the NFL draft?

Essentially, in simplest forms, compensatory draft picks are awarded when a team has lost more or better players in free agency than it acquires. These compensatory draft picks made within Rounds 3 through 7.

There’s an entire appendix in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement that explains the compensatory draft pick system in detail. The system establishes “compensatory free agents” (CFAs) as unrestricted free agents who sign with a new team and are “ranked within the top 35% of all League players,” based on a proprietary grading metric stipulated in the CBA. That formula includes player salary (base salaries, signing bonuses, performance and salary escalators, etc.), awards or individual honors (All-Pro teams, etc.) and playing time.

Based on the CFA’s performance in the grading system, they are given a point value. Then, based on the number of CFAs a team lost and acquired — while also factoring in the quality of those CFAs — the compensatory draft picks are rewarded.

The NFL’s management council developed the compensatory draft pick grading formula.

There was an amendment in 2020 CBA mutually agreed upon by the NFL and the NFL Players Association that also awards compensatory draft picks to teams who see a minority assistant coach or personnel executive be hired as the head coach or primary football executive of another team. These special compensatory draft picks are rewarded with the aim to promote equal employment opportunities.

Who is getting compensatory draft picks in the 2024 NFL draft?

Here’s a breakdown of each of the 34 compensatory picks in the 2024 NFL draft.

Round Overall Selection Team
3 96 Jaguars
3 97 Bengals
3 98 Eagles
3 99 Rams
3 100 49ers
4 133 49ers
4 134 Bills
4 135 Ravens
5 168 Saints
5 169 Packers
5 170 Saints
5 171 Eagles
5 172 Eagles
5 173 Chiefs
5 174 Cowboys
5 175 Saints
5 176 49ers
6 209 Rams
6 210 Eagles
6 211 49ers
6 212 Jaguars
6 213 Rams
6 214 Bengals
6 215 49ers
6 216 Cowboys
6 217 Rams
6 218 Jets
6 219 Packers
6 220 Buccaneers
7 253 Chargers
7 254 Rams
7 255 Packers
7 256 Jets
7 257 Jets

Who are some of the best compensatory draft picks in NFL history?

This list, unquestionably, starts with the greatest player of all time. In the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, with the No. 199 overall selection, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Tom Brady out of Michigan to be the backup to Drew Bledsoe, a pick that would upend the history of the league. Brady — a three-time Associated Press Most Valuable Player, seven-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player — holds the NFL record for career passing yards (89,214), passing touchdowns (649) and dozens of other statistics. But that’s just the start.

With the final selection of the second round in the 1996 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles took safety Brian Dawkins out of Clemson, No. 61 overall. Dawkins was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a four-time All-Pro and an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018. Dawkins played 16 seasons and compiled 1,147 tackles, 37 interceptions, 26 sacks and was one of the game’s premier enforcers at the position while he was in the league.

Long-time Dallas Cowboys and — later in his career San Francisco 49ers — guard Larry Allen became the first-ever compensatory selection to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Taken No. 46 overall in the second round of the 1994 NFL draft, Allen became an instant mainstay on a Cowboys offensive line that helped lead the team to a Super Bowl 30 championship. Allen was selected to 11 Pro Bowls in 14 seasons and had a stretch of six-consecutive first-team All-Pro nominations (1996-2001).

More recently, some impactful players taken with compensatory selections include Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, former Broncos safety Justin Simmons, 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk and Vikings and former Packers running back Aaron Jones.

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