Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports

Cardinals receive compensatory draft pick

The Arizona Cardinals were one of 16 NFL teams awarded a compensatory draft choice for the 2017 NFL Draft.

Arizona Cardinals' general manager Steve Keim has compiled a strong resume of building his roster through the NFL Draft with middle and late round steals and on Friday, Keim learned he'll have an additional opportunity to do so in 2017.

On Friday evening, the NFL announced that 16 teams, including the Cardinals, were awarded compensatory draft selections for the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Arizona's compensatory selection comes toward the end of the fifth round of this year's draft, as the Cardinals gained the 179th overall selection and the 36th choice in the fifth round of the draft. 

Compensatory draft choices are awarded to teams for net free agent losses the year before. Compensatory draft picks were implemented in 1994 as a means for smaller market and lower spending teams to have additional opportunities to compete with higher spending organizations, but because of revenue sharing and the league's salary cap, there isn't a significant difference between the league's highest spenders and lowest spenders like there is in other sports like basketball and baseball.

According to Cardinals.com, the Cardinals actually qualified for four compensatory selections based on the NFL's formula, but because the maximum amount of compensatory draft choices in a given year is 32, Arizona did not receive the three additional selections it was hoping to pick up.

Last offseason, the Cardinals lost six free agents and only gained two, offensive lineman Evan Mathis and safety Tyvon Branch. Both Mathis and Branch finished the 2017 season on Arizona's injured reserve list. 

Of the five players the Cardinals have selected during the fifth round of the NFL Draft under Keim's watch, four are still with the organization, including 2015 fifth round pick J.J. Nelson, who set career-highs with 34 receptions, 568 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season.

Other notable late-round draft choices the Cardinals have benefitted from during Keim's tenure include 2013 sixth round selection Andre Ellington, and 2016 sixth round pick Harlan Miller, who played well late in his rookie season after spending the majority of the year on Arizona's practice squad.

After being awarded a compensatory pick, the Cardinals now have eight selections for the 2017 NFL Draft, with two of those coming in the fifth round. Arizona's first round selection is the 13th overall pick in the draft, which is the highest the team has chosen since 2013, when the Cardinals took offensive guard Jonathan Cooper with the seventh overall pick.

This is the first year in which compensatory draft choices are eligible to be traded. 


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