While the NFL Draft is five months away and Patriots fans are more focused on the playoffs than the draft, I thought I would give an update for the Patriots possible compensatory picks. The Patriots are currently scheduled to receive a 3rd round compensatory pick from the Browns for LB Jamie Collins and a 5th round compensatory pick for losing Akiem Hicks to the Chicago Bears in free agency. Over the Cap does a great job every year of projecting the NFL's compensatory pick formula. They also added a cancellation chart to make things easy for the average NFL fan to grasp.
The Patriots first comp pick depends on Alex Mack being able to play 80% of his remaining snaps from Week 9 through the end of 2016 for the Atlanta Falcons according to Nick Korte. So far, so good as hes near that number with three games to go. With the Falcons in a tight race with the suddenly resurgent Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, Mack will play every down if healthy. Mack has played 98% (832/846) of his team's snaps through 13 games. For the Patriots to get that comp pick, Mack needs to play out the next two weeks at the minimum since I don’t know the exact playing time threshold yet. Since November 1st, he has played 95.68% of his team’s snaps on offense. If he maintains that pace through 2 more games, the percentage of snaps played for the last 8 games would be 83.97% even if he doesn’t suit up for Week 17. If the Browns are awarded a 3rd round pick, it goes to the Patriots. The pick is projected to be the 103rd pick in the draft.
The other comp pick that the Patriots would likely receive would be the 185th pick, or the 7th pick of the 5th round comp picks. Hicks signed a 2-year, $10M deal with the Bears due to his desire to play for the Bears. Hicks has been one of the Bears best defenders on a defense that’s been solid overall. Hicks has the 2nd most snaps of all their defenders with 85.97% (760/884) of snaps played. In terms of playing time necessary, Hicks should easily clear that number since the playing threshold for a 5th round comp pick is less than for a 3rd. Even if Hicks doesn’t play a down, he will have played 69.85% of the Bears defensive snaps. This pick is pretty much in the bank, although exact order won’t be completely determined until after the season is over.
With the NFL allowing teams to trade compensatory picks, this adds a whole new layer to the draft. It will be curious to see how it affects it when it begins late April, early May of 2017. The Patriots will have two comp picks to work with in 2017 if Mack can survive two more games for the Falcons. Bill Belichick is very good at maneuvering the board to get as much value out of each pick as he possibly can and adding two more picks to the possible pool adds more possibilities for the Patriots.