Since 1994, the Arizona Cardinals have received only 16 compensatory picks for the NFL Draft; a number that will increase by just one this year after it was officially announced that the Cards will receive the final pick in the upcoming draft.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) March 24, 2015
The Cardinals also received the final pick in the draft in 2001, a selection they used on BYU tight end Tevita Ofahengaue.
While the final player selected in the draft — commonly and aptly referred to as “Mr. Irrelevant” — doesn’t often find his way on the active 53-man roster once the season begins, it certainly never hurts to have an extra pick in your back pocket if you’re running an NFL front office.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams through an equation that assigns value to the unrestricted free agents a team loses against the unrestricted free agents a team signs from the previous year. Hence, the Cardinals’ 2014 free agent signees are factored in to the equation. The 2015 additions and departures are not.
Often times, compensatory picks — like “Mr. Irrelevant — don’t pan out, but every once in awhile a team strikes gold. This was the case for the Cardinals in the 1998 NFL Draft, when they used the 226th overall selection in the seventh round to draft an undersized safety from Arizona State named Pat Tillman.
The 2015 NFL Draft will be held April 30-May 2 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.