2016 Broncos Draft Updates – 2015 Midseason Edition

This morning, I did some considerable work at Over The Cap to get the site’s draft section set up for 2016.  Since it’s still fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share where the Broncos currently stand in multiple aspects.

Current Draft Slate

Round Notes
4 compensatory (Julius Thomas)
4 compensatory (Orlando Franklin)
5 from BAL (Gino Gradkowski trade)
6 compensatory (Terrance Knighton)
7 from SF (Vernon Davis trade)
7 from STL via HOU (Chris Clark trade)

The most important note I want to make comes from the 7th rounder acquired by trading Chris Clark to the Texans.  In doing research to properly align the rookie pools for 2016, I discovered that the 7th acquired is very likely the Rams’ original draft pick, and not the Texans’.  Here’s how it should work: the Texans traded their own 7th in 2014 to acquire Ryan Mallett.  Then, in 2015 they acquired the Rams’ 7th by sending them Case Keenum.  The Texans also hold a conditional 7th from the Jets in exchange for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but thanks to IK Enemkpali that’s likely to be upgraded to a 6th.  So by the process of elimination they only have the Rams’ 7th available to trade.

Also, for those of you that are still bitter for trading for a player that got cut before the regular season started, according to the current draft standings the Broncos would only move down 16 places in the middle of the draft as a consequence of acquiring Geno Gradkowski from the Ravens.  And the Broncos will have at least one, if not two, compensatory picks in between their original 4th and the Ravens’ surprisingly high 5th, so I think we can file that trade into the “it could have been much worse” folder.

Estimated 2016 Rookie Pool

As it stands now, the Broncos should expect to devote about $6.357 million of their 2016 cap to that year’s draft class.  That’s middle of the pack as far as rookie pools are concerned.  That number, of course, will be different come April, and the exact amount will be known once the Broncos’ season ends and the salary cap for 2016 is determined.  OTC’s numbers are currently working on an estimation of a $150 million 2016 salary cap.

Speaking of the cap, when 2015’s number is carried over, the Broncos are currently sitting at about $22 million for 2016.  I might write an update on 2016’s roster decisions since the last time I addressed this (especially since I may have underestimated how much cap space the Broncos have to work with) at a later date. So remember that when the rookie pool is subtracted from that, the team is sitting with about $15.5 million of available funds for other uses.

Compensatory Picks

The one and only thing for Broncos fans to continually watch at this point on this front is how many snaps Julius Thomas plays for the Jaguars for the remainder of the season.  By my current estimation, Thomas will need to play in at least 40% of all available Jaguars offensive snaps in order for Denver to get a 3rd round compensatory pick for him. And if I’ve underestimated the cutoff between the 3rd and 4th round, Thomas may need an even high minimum percentage to move into the 3rd.

Missing the first four games of the season with yet another injury didn’t help the Broncos’ cause.  The second four games have shown more promise however, with Thomas’s snap count percentages in those four games coming in at 51.0%, 73.0%, 53.7%, and 77.3%.  That four game average comes in at 63.7%–but when the four missed games are taken into account, his total snap count percentage is of course half of that (31.8%)–and that’s why his compensatory value is currently listed as a 4th.

But in doing the math, if Thomas can continue to average 63.7% of the offensive snaps the rest of the season (and he had 61.3% in 2014 despite also missing 4 games), his total season snap count percentage will be 47.8%–high enough to move into the 3rd round.  So a friendly message to Gus Bradley and Greg Olson: make sure Thomas gets out on the field! And to Scott Trulock; keep him healthy!