No one plays the compensatory-pick game better than Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens, and they proved it again in this year's draft.
Granted, it's far too early to tell whether the Ravens comp picks this year -- cornerback Tray Walker, tight end Nick Boyle and offensive lineman Robert Myers -- will amount to anything with the team.
But having those three picks in his pocket essentially gave Newsome the flexibility to make what might have been the most critical move of the draft -- jumping up three spots to select tight end Maxx Williams in the second round.
Williams fills a major need for the Ravens, and if he was indeed snatched away from the Steelers' grasp, as many reports have suggested, well, all the better for the Ravens if Williams proves to be as good as advertised.
To jump three spots, from No. 58 to No. 55 -- the Steelers were picking at No. 56 -- the Ravens gave up their No. 58 pick and also a fifth-round pick (No. 158). And the reason they had that fifth-round pick to give was because they were sitting on two fifth-round compensatory picks (which cannot be traded).
Newsome lets key free agents walk away each offseason knowing that the Ravens will be compensated with draft picks for the next season. Sure enough, after losing Arthur Jones, Michael Oher and Corey Graham two years ago, the Ravens were rewarded with three additional picks in the 2015 draft.
It's also one reason he prefers to mine the waiver wire for talent; players who have been cut don't count against the comp-pick formula.
Since 1994, the Ravens have been awarded 44 compensatory picks, by far the most in the league. (Green Bay is second at 35.) It's simple probablity that Ravens resident math whiz John Urschel -- himself a comp pick -- can appreciate: The more picks you have, the more likely you are to "nail the pick," as assistant GM Eric DeCosta likes to say. Kyle Juszczyk and Rick Wagner were both comp picks in 2013. And the less costly it is if you swing and miss.
The Ravens can expect several more compensatory picks next year after losing free-agent starters Torrey Smith, Owen Daniels, Pernell McPhee and Darian Stewart.
McPhee typifies how the Ravens play the comp-pick game. Taken as a comp pick in 2011, McPhee developed into a front-line player and signed a big free-agent deal with the Bears, which will generate another comp pick next season for the Ravens.
The cycle continues.
Granted, the Ravens don't always let their free agents go, and the salary cap plays a huge role in that decision-making as well. But any wounds from losing a homegrown star such as Smith are eased knowing an extra draft pick is on the way.
Come next year's draft, Ozzie Newsome will be loaded with draft picks again thanks to the compensatory-pick process. It's one of the many ways he and the Ravens play the NFL Draft as well as anyone.