Draft picks are for the birds, especially if you are the Ravens and the Seahawks.
Under general manager Ozzie Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens have long been one of the league's best drafting teams. A big part of their success is due to their strategy of "betting the field" -- the craps wager that covers seven of the 12 dice results. You also could call it "stuffing the ballot box" or "stacking the deck."
However you want to refer to it, it is all about trying to improve the odds of finding good players.
“We look at the draft as, in some respects, a luck-driven process," Baltimore assistant GM Eric DeCosta told MMQB. "The more picks you have, the more chances you have to get a good player. When we look at teams that draft well, it’s not necessarily that they’re drafting better than anybody else, it seems to be that they have more picks. There’s definitely a correlation between the amount of picks and drafting good players.”
The Seahawks, who followed up the Ravens' Super Bowl win in 2012 with their own last season, use the same strategy. To this point, however, they have done it a little differently.
The Ravens have won two Super Bowls in the last 15 years and been competitive in nearly every season during that stretch because they amass draft picks. They do it largely by using the league's scales of justice: draft choices received as compensation for losing key free agents.
The Ravens actually plan their free agency strategy around the comp pick formula, letting top free agents go so they will yield a pick in the next draft. The strategy, which also helps the salary cap, has yielded Newsome's Ravens the most comp picks in the league since 1996 (when the Ravens were born of the Cleveland Browns).
For the second straight year, the Ravens have four extra picks due to free agent losses the previous year. Over the past four years, the Ravens have made 33 draft selections -- five over the standard number -- but they also have spent a few picks moving up in the draft and also acquiring veteran players.
The Seahawks have made 39 picks during Schneider's four-year tenure -- thanks mainly to his penchant for trading down.
"I think we do a great job throughout the draft of trying to acquire picks and making those decisions along the way, whether or not (we) want to just sit and pick or if we’re going to move back and try to acquire more picks," Schneider said. "I think we have a track record where we tried to acquire as many picks as we possibly can.
"At the top of the draft, you’re excited about the players and everything, but then the further you get into the draft you wish you had more picks toward the end because there are quality players there that you know the coaching staff could work with and coach up. So you always want as many picks as you can (get)."
Next year, the Seahawks will reap the same benefits as the Ravens due to their free agency losses this offseason: Seattle is expected to get the maximum four comp picks, giving the team 11 overall.
Just like the Ravens, who have made moves based on their comp-pick projections, the Seahawks have the flexibility to draw from their 2015 pool to add to their haul in this week's selection meeting.
Of course, the Hawks might prefer to try to add picks in this draft by trading down, while keeping those 11 choices next year.
After all, as the Ravens and Hawks will tell you, draft picks are for the birds.