What To Expect: A Look Back At Past Compensatory Picks


IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys were awarded three compensatory picks in this year's NFL draft, as was announced at the league's owner meetings in Orlando, Fla.

None of the three picks can be traded, and all three picks come in the seventh round, which limits the front page potential of the news. Though, as has already been discussed, the Cowboys now have 11 picks in this year's draft to use in attempting to revamp their roster.

It might not seem like it in recent years, as the Cowboys have held just three compensatory picks since 2006. But the awarding of compensatory picks began in 1994, and this year's three picks gives Dallas 32 in that time span.

Those picks have come from all over the spectrum of the draft board, from the second round to the far reaches of the seventh. The Cowboys have definitely uncovered some solid production – even a Hall of Famer – with those 32 picks.

But in examining all 32, the evidence points to low expectations for this year's three extra selections.

Larry Allen is the unquestioned, runaway success story among the Cowboys' compensatory selections.
He was taken in the second round, No. 46 overall, in 1994 – Dallas' first-ever compensatory pick. Allen's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame says everything about the value discovered there.

That skews the numbers just a little bit, however. Allen is by far the highest-ever compensatory selection for Dallas, as he was taken in the second round. The Cowboys' next-highest compensatory picks were wide receiver Stepfret Williams, taken 94th overall in 1996, and cornerback Kenny Wheaton, also taken 94th overall in 1997.

Among the 29 compensatory picks that have been selected by the Cowboys, 12 were taken in the fourth round or higher. They made moderate to good impacts. Third-round pick George Hegamin, taken in the same draft as Allen, started 10 games on the offensive line in four seasons. 

Williams had 340 receiving yards and a touchdown in two seasons, while Wheaton notched 28 tackles and a pick in 22 games. Defensive end Peppi Zellner, a fourth-rounder in 1999, recorded 74 tackles and six sacks in 17 starts during his four seasons with the Cowboys. Third-rounder Willie Blade made 14 starts at defensive tackle in his one season on the roster.

The Cowboys' most-recent compensatory pick was Matt Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2012. Injuries in both his first and second seasons have kept him off the field to this point in his career.

The numbers skew a bit for the 17 picks in the fifth round or later – as would be expected. Of those 17 selected, 12 made the initial active roster. However, only five of those 12 were with the team for more than two full seasons. [embedded_ad]

Most notable among those are sixth-round safety Izell Reese, kicker David Buehler and tight end John Phillips. Reese appeared in 56 games with 15 starts as the No. 188 overall selection in 1998. He played four seasons and recorded 65 tackles and seven interceptions.

Buehler made just 75 percent of his field goals during an up-and-down three-year stint with the team, after he was taken in the fifth round of 2009. Phillips taken roughly 30 picks later in the sixth round, played in 48 games at tight end with 30 catches for 218 yards and two scores.

Six of the Cowboys' past compensatory picks were seventh rounders, and none of them amounted to much.

Defensive tackle John Nix, drafted No. 240 in 2001, saw action in 30 games and recorded 17 tackles. Offensive tackle Char-ron Dorsey, also taken in 2001 (No. 242), played nine games in two years, starting two. Baylor offensive lineman Kelvin Garmon, taken 243rd in 1999, started 21 games before he was traded to San Diego.

A trio of seventh rounders from 1998 – running back Tarik Smith, guard Antonio Fleming, and tight end Rod Monroe – never registered a game for the team.

It remains to be seen how this batch of seventh round picks will fare. There's a precedent for finding production in these situations,  but it doesn't exactly give cause for optimism.

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