The NFL’s best kept secret is their formula for determining how compensatory picks are dished out to NFL teams every offseason.  Evidence surfaces each year that suggests the NFL doesn’t even share this formula with front offices around the league, and even the best general managers are often caught by surprise at the results.

So, it stands to reason that any prediction this hack blogger makes should come with a grain of salt, especially considering we don’t really know if the formula changed, like so many other things, as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Still, I’ve had success with these predictions in the past, and the possibility of being wrong has never stopped me before… so why should it now?

The NFL hands out 32 extra picks each year which are determined by unrestricted free agents that have left a club versus unrestricted free agents that are joining a club.  The formula is thought to take into consideration each players prior contract, their new contract, their age, their production during the current year, and numerous other factors.

WHO THE VIKES LOST

Tarvaris Jackson (2 year, $8 million deal)

Sidney Rice (5 year, $41 million deal)

Ray Edwards (5 year, $30 million deal)

Ben Leber (1 year, $1.25 million deal)

Frank Walker (1 year deal)

Lito Sheppard (Undisclosed contract)

NOTE:  Fahu Tahi and Jimmy Kennedy remained unsigned so they shouldn’t count.  Madieu Williams was cut by the Vikings instead of seeing his contract expire, so he shouldn’t count.

WHO THE VIKES ADDED

Charlie Johnson (3 year, $10.5 million deal)

Remi Ayodele (3 year, $9 million deal)

Devin Aromashodu (1 year deal)

NOTE:  Donovan McNabb was obtained via a trade and Michael Jenkins had been cut by the Falcons, so neither should count against the formula.

PREDICTION

First off, every year the NFL awards “supplemental compensatory draft picks” at the end of the seventh round when they don’t hand out 32 regular compensatory picks in rounds three through seven.  Given that the Vikings are likely going to be between second and fourth in the draft order, they have a good chance at getting one of these, and could possibly end up drafting “Mr. Irrelevant” to close out the 2012 Draft.

Now, it is obvious that the contracts of Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards dwarf everything else listed.  Neither have had fantastic years, but their age and size of their contracts should net the Vikings at least some compensation.  In fact, I think these are the only two players for whom the Vikings will receive compensation, with the contracts given to Charlie Johnson and Remi Ayodele cancelling out the loss of Tarvaris Jackson and the remainder of that group.

My official prediction is that the Vikings will receive three extra draft picks in April.  A fourth rounder, a sixth rounder, and a seventh rounder.

If more information becomes available regarding this topic, I will be sure to keep you all updated.