As expected, the Broncos gained four compensatory picks for the 2015 Draft, giving them 10 selections overall. Denver received one fourth-rounder, a sixth-rounder, and two seventh-rounders. Our draft choice tracker has been updated accordingly.
The team has its own selections in the first, second, third, fifth, and sixth rounds, within which they will pick 27th or 28th. Denver dealt away their own fourth-rounder to move up for Cody Latimer last year, and their seventh-rounder went to the Giants in exchange for Brandon McManus. They also have Chicago's fifth-rounder, acquired in a move out of the fourth round in 2014.
The extra picks are the league's way of helping offset net free agent losses from the prior offseason. Based off Nick Korte's most recent calculations, Denver's comp picks are for the departures of Zane Beadles, Wesley Woodyard, Shaun Phillips, and Robert Ayers, in that order.
John Elway has expressly set out to gain compensatory picks, and that strategy seems to have carried through to this offseason, as two of the Broncos' biggest signings (try not to laugh) were of street free agents (Vance Walker, Shelley Smith). Per Korte, Denver is currently in line to gain a third-rounder (Julius Thomas), fourth-rounder (Orlando Franklin), and two sixth-rounders (Terrance Knighton, Nate Irving) in the 2016 Draft.
Although compensatory picks may not themselves be traded, Denver's stockpile of them may encourage them to deal away their other choices, either to move up in 2015 or to add more picks in 2016. Even for a team in as much transition as these Broncos are, it's nearly impossible for a squad coming off a 12-win season to find room on the 53-man roster for 10 draftees.
And if any of those rookies make a significant contribution in 2015, it will be something of a departure from the past two seasons for Denver. Of the team's 13 selections from the 2013 and 2014 Drafts, only last year's first-rounder, Bradley Roby, has provided a major impact. Sly Williams did start 13 games in 2014, but only saw 435 snaps over that stretch.
Elway has suggested several times since firing John Fox that he expected to see Denver's young players developed more actively, and getting more playing time. But that's easier said than done, especially when a team has Super Bowl aspirations and faces a schedule as difficult as Denver did in 2014. Back when the firing was still being called a "mutual parting of ways," Fox was described as wishing for more of a hand in crafting the roster. But therein lies the classic battle between a coach who wants and needs to win now, with a general manager who must be equally if not moreso focused on the future.
Of course, there's also the question of whether Elway & Co. are drafting the right players. This point is underscored by the recent mass exodus from Elway's one great draft class, the 2011 crew that included Orlando Franklin, Julius Thomas, and Rahim Moore, along with Nate Irving. From that nine-man class, only Von Miller and Virgil Green remain, while Quinton Carter is a current free agent.
Those departures add to the pressure on Elway to draft players who can contribute immediately, and to Gary Kubiak's staff to get those rookies incorporated, all while introducing entirely new schemes on offense and defense.
The Duke is wise to copy habitual comp pick hoarders like Baltimore, Green Bay, and New England. But now he's going to have to show he can also draft like those organizations on a regular basis, starting next month.