Each year, the NFL hands out 32 compensatory NFL draft picks among the 32 teams. However, that does not mean each team gets one. Some teams get two to four (the max a team can get), while others get none. The NFL has a certain formula to decide who gets these picks and for what round. The picks may be assigned for rounds 3-7.
The formula to decide compensatory picks is not publicly known, but there is some knowledge that has been released as to how it is decided. In the most basic explanation, a team is awarded compensatory picks when they lose more free agents than they sign in the previous offseason. Salary, playing time and postseason honors are also taken into consideration. So the compensatory picks this year are based off of the free agency that occurred during March and April 2014. There are also rules concerning which players factor into the formula.
Well, the only players who count in the formula are players whose contract ended. Since Ware and Montgomery were both released, they do not count in the formula. Neither would any player the Broncos had, but ended up cutting. Another rule also takes players signed during the season out of the equation, so the Broncos losing Jeremy Mincey in free agency would not count as he was signed during the season. The formula does not count players on the league minimum salary, either.
In the 2014 offseason the Broncos lost RB Knowshon Moreno, WR Eric Decker, G Zane Beadles, DE Robert Ayers, DE Shaun Phillips, DE Mincey, OLB Wesley Woodyard, CB Champ Bailey, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and S Mike Adams. Jeremy Mincey and Champ Bailey do not count in the formula as one was signed during the season and the other was cut from the team.
That, with signing only three players who counted in the compensatory pick formula, put them in a good position to receive the maximum four compensatory picks. Over-the-cap.com has released their projections for the compensatory picks and the Broncos received four in those projections.
According to the projections, the Broncos are set to receive a fourth round compensatory pick for losing Rodgers-Cromartie, a pair of sixth round compensatory picks for Moreno and Phillips and a seventh round for Ayers. The official compensatory picks will be handed out during an owner’s meetings in March. Until then, these are just projections.
On top of the compensatory picks the Broncos are set to have their own first, second and third round pick. They traded their 2015 fourth round, in a package to move up and draft Cody Latimer, to the San Francisco 49ers. They have their own fifth and own the fifth from the Chicago Bears, who traded the pick to the Broncos to move up in the fifth round. Denver owns their own sixth round pick and no seventh round pick after trading it to the New York Giants for K Brandon McManus.
If these projections hold true, that will give the Broncos 10 draft picks in the upcoming 2015 draft. Compensatory picks are untradeable between teams. So it would give the Broncos at least 4 picks and would give them flexibility in moving, up or down, with their other six draft picks.