How the Chiefs likely lost the compensatory pick due for Steven Nelson
By Matt Conner
When the NFL releases its annual compensatory pick list for the NFL Draft, the Chiefs are predicted to be without due to a series of unfortunate moves.
The science on exactly how the National Football League arrives at its annual list of compensatory picks is inexact—or at least unknown. Every year, teams are given a list of picks to be made after each round—beginning in the third round—based on the quality and quantity of free agents lost from the previous year. Yet how exactly the league decides who receives what compensatory pick remains hidden.
There are, however, great attempts made at guessing how the NFL will judge the free agent losses and production from the previous year and we can largely gauge how teams will fare based on this list. The fine folks at Over the Cap run an annual list projecting compensatory picks for the next year, and by and large, their results are fairly accurate.
This year, they have the Kansas City Chiefs going without a compensatory pick, although on paper, it looks as if the Chiefs should lay claim to something given the losses versus gains from free agency in the previous year. Last year, the Chiefs gained a 6th round choice with the loss of defensive tackle Bennie Logan putting them over the top when other imports and exports cancelled each other out. That pick became running back Darwin Thompson.
This season, the Chiefs were originally predicted to earn a mid-round pick for the loss of cornerback Steven Nelson to the Pittsburgh Steelers. At this point, however, Over the Cap doesn’t see things that way. Let’s take a closer look.
Qualifying free agents lost (based on contract, production, etc.):
- Mitch Morse – The Chiefs starting center went to the Buffalo Bills
- Steven Nelson – The Steelers signed away one of K.C. outside corners
- Demetrius Harris – The Chiefs backup TE followed John Dorsey to Cleveland.
- Chris Conley – The Jaguars added the Chiefs wide receiver in FA.
Qualifying free agents gained:
- Tyrann Mathieu – The former Texans safety ended up voted team MVP.
- Alex Okafor – The veteran defensive end signed to help anchor Spags new line.
- Damien Wilson – The former Cowboys LB bolstered the team’s run defense.
- Bashaud Breeland – A one-year signing turned into an incredible find.
Based on the way OtC sees these signings, they all cancel out and leave the Chiefs without a single compensatory pick. What’s frustrating for the Chiefs is that they lose a pick based on how other teams handled their rosters.
Two former Chiefs signed by other teams would have provided potential compensatory picks for K.C. if only things would have worked out. Spencer Ware joined the Indianapolis Colts in training camp and looked like he might be the veteran brought in to work in tandem with younger players like Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. Instead, he was injured and placed on IR. From there, he asked for his release and that ruined any chance for a compensatory pick. (Although he did join the Chiefs for the stretch run.)
Then the pressure shifted over to Jordan Devey, a former offensive lineman who signed with the Oakland Raiders. Early in this season, Devey had turned into a starter for the Raiders along the line due to injuries and Over the Cap’s Nick Korte wrote that his continued presence would open things up for the Chiefs in terms of projected comp picks.
Unfortunately, the Raiders placed Devey on injured reserve in early October, which put an end to his season and the Chiefs hopes of gaining any extra picks—unless, that is, the NFL surprises everyone by crediting them more than what projections tell us.
While any potential comp pick was bound to be a late round one for the Chiefs, it would have helped for a draft class that currently only has five picks. Brett Veach traded away the team’s original second round, sixth round, and seventh round picks, leaving them with only four originals along with the second round selection of the 49ers (Dee Ford trade).