The Vikings missed Taylor's influence on third downs and, given the injuries they suffered on the offensive line, they also missed Hicks' versatility to fill in at four of the five line positions. They were not irreplaceable in the big picture of things, but they were important cogs to the operation of the big machine.
On Friday, the Vikings were awarded two compensatory draft picks for losing Taylor and Hicks (insert "American Idol" Taylor Hicks reference here). The team got two of the 32 compensatory picks awarded – one in the sixth round (pick No. 200 and the eighth of the 32 compensatory picks – presumably for losing Taylor) and another in the seventh round (pick No. 235 and the 14th of the 32 picks – presumably for Hicks).
Three teams – New Orleans, Oakland and Seattle – got a compensatory pick even though they didn't suffer a net loss of free agents that factor into the complex formula used to rank net gain and loss.
Almost all of the picks come in the seventh round, but there were some higher picks made available. Carolina was awarded the last pick of the third round – which could prove pivotal since the second day of the draft will be two rounds and that pick (No. 97 overall) becomes the last pick of the day and perhaps very coveted. Tennessee and Green Bay were awarded picks at the end of the fourth round and Baltimore got two consecutive picks at the end of the fifth round.
For clarification, here is what earned the Panthers, Titans, Packers and Ravens such premium picks: Carolina lost Julius Peppers (and, technically, A.J. Feeley) and didn't sign anyone that qualified under the formula. Tennessee lost Kyle Vanden Bosch and Alge Crumpler and signed Jason Babin. The Packers signed nobody and lost Aaron Kampman. Baltimore signed nobody and lost Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards – one can argue that those two were each worth fifth-round picks.
The Vikings received one of the six sixth-round picks dispensed and one of the 21 seventh-round picks added to the draft pool.
Thanks to quirks in the formula, 11 picks were added to the end of the seventh round allotment to account for 32 compensatory picks – one for each team in the NFL. However, the picks are being divided among 23 teams, with nine receiving no picks – Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and St. Louis from the NFC and New York, New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Jacksonville from the AFC.
Carolina was the big winner, receiving three picks, while the Vikings were one of seven teams to receive two picks – along with Tennessee, Baltimore, San Diego, Philadelphia, San Diego and the New York Giants. Fifteen teams got one pick, including 11 teams whose picks come in the last 14 picks of the seventh round.
With free agency on hold, any additional picks coming the Vikings' way have to be viewed as a positive. More than ever, draft picks are currency in the NFL and give the Vikings have more chips at table to play with on draft weekend (even though compensatory picks can't be traded, they will feel more free with their moveable selections). Considering that Taylor and Hicks weren't resigned by the choice of the team, getting a pair of picks as compensation, especially before the seventh-round glut gets too deep, the Vikings should consider themselves fortunate the Bears and Redskins paid what they did for them.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.