Vikings awarded fifth-round compensatory

The Vikings received a fifth-round compensatory pick in this year's draft for their 2009 free-agent losses. That could be helpful in adding to the roster during what is anticipated to be a deep draft in April.

After last year's draft, Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman was excited to have his full complement of picks for 2010. Add one more to the tally after the NFL announced the compensatory picks Monday.

The Vikings will receive a fifth-round compensatory pick for their losses in free agency last year. In 2009, the Vikings lost center Matt Birk and safety Darren Sharper in free agency and gained cornerback Karl Paymah.

Compensatory picks are based on playing time, salary and postseason awards. The Paymah signing ended up cancelling out the Sharper loss. Birk's salary with Baltimore apparently was worth a fifth-round pick, according to the closely guarded NFL formula for determining the 32 compensatory picks.

Interestingly, if the Vikings had landed wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh last year in free agency, they probably wouldn't be receiving any compensatory picks this year because his signing would have cancelled out the Birk loss.

Compensatory picks can't be traded, but with two picks now in the fifth round, the Vikings' original fifth-round pick could be used as ammunition to move up in the earlier rounds of the draft if they desire.

While Spielman doesn't like losing draft picks, he isn't opposed to moving up in the middle rounds to grab a player the team covets. In fact, he did it last in the fifth round when the Vikings traded their original fifth-round pick and a seventh-round pick to move up and draft linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who ended up becoming a starter in Week 14 after middle linebacker E.J. Henderson fractured his femur. Brinkley became the only Vikings rookie to play in all 16 regular-season games.

Spielman also moved up in the middle rounds of the 2007 draft, his first with the Vikings. He traded away a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick to move up in the fourth round and draft defensive lineman Brian Robison, who has been a valuable rotational pass-rusher at defensive end and tackle ever since.

"When we feel that strongly about players, as long as you have some chips, whether you use them for a player or you use them to get to someone that you think is a pretty unique talent where you're picking him at, then that's what those chips are for," Spielman said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. "That's why you like to keep all your chips."

With the Vikings being limited in free agency this year, adding an infusion of young talent through the draft will be critical. It helps that this is expected to be one of the deepest drafts in years, maybe even decades.

"On the defensive side of the ball it's probably the deepest draft I've seen in eight years, particularly at defensive tackle and in the defensive backfield," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. "If you need a DT, a corner or a safety, you can get a quality player deep in the third, fourth, fifth round."

That could well work to the Vikings' advantage on the third day of the draft this year.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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