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From DeflateGate to tampering, how 4 teams forfeited picks in the 2016 NFL Draft

The Patriots lost their first-round pick due to the DeflateGate scandal, but they're not the only team forfeiting a draft pick this year.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Forfeited draft picks are a rare occurrence in the NFL, but they do happen -- just not as frequently as they did this year. In fact, the 2016 NFL Draft will have four teams forced to give up a pick due to various infractions. This is the biggest amount of lost picks since 2012, when the New Orleans Saints' BountyGate fallout was just beginning.

Most of the time, a pick is forfeited due to the rules of the supplemental draft -- a team that chooses to wager a pick on a player must give up that pick in the next year's regular draft. Since the supplemental draft is such a minor part of the offseason, teams that do use this mostly give up low sixth- or seventh-round picks, with few exceptions.

In a vacuum, being forced to vacate a draft pick may not be a big deal, particularly if it's in the late rounds. However, picks are precious assets to NFL teams, especially those trying to rebuild through the draft. Losing even a fifth-rounder could cost you the chance to find an under-the-radar gem.

Let's take a brief look back at the history of forfeited picks in the 2010s, before diving into which teams are losing picks this year.


Dallas Cowboys, seventh round -- Forfeited for supplemental draft pick in 2010, used on Josh Brent.
Chicago Bears, seventh round -- Forfeited for supplemental draft pick in 2010, used on Harvey Unga.

It's the seventh round, so losing these picks wasn't a huge price. The most notable name to come out of the seventh round in 2011 was linebacker Malcolm Smith, who went on to be named the MVP of Super Bowl 48.


New Orleans Saints, second round -- Forfeited as punishment for the bounty scandal.
Oakland Raiders, third round -- Forfeited for supplemental draft pick in 2011, used on Terrelle Pryor.
Detroit Lions, sixth round -- Forfeited due to tampering violations.

The Saints' bounty scandal punishment began with this year's draft, when they were forced to give up a second-rounder, which ended up being the No. 59 selection. Players available at that spot included guard Kelechi Osemele, cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Trumaine Johnson and wide receiver Rueben Randle. Considering how badly New Orleans' defense deteriorated over the years, having either Hayward or Johnson certainly would've helped.

The Raiders gambled a third-rounder to take Pryor, who was then traded to the Seattle Seahawks after three years. That ended up being the No. 78 spot in that year's draft.

The Lions' tampering violation could've cost them more, but ultimately losing the sixth-rounder didn't harm them too much. There weren't many players taken in that round who went on to do anything in the NFL.


Cleveland Browns, second round -- Forfeited for supplemental draft pick in 2012, used on Josh Gordon.
New Orleans Saints, second round -- Forfeited as punishment for the bounty scandal.

This is where the BountyGate punishment really hurt the Saints. By losing the No. 45 spot in the 2013 draft, they lost the chance to take any of these three top linebackers still available (Kevin Minter, Kiko Alonso, Jamie Collins), and their defense might look a lot different in 2016. But even if they didn't go with a defensive player, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Travis Kelce were all on the board as well.

The Browns already got their offensive weapon with Gordon, but he's still serving an indefinite suspension that cost him the entire 2015 season. Cleveland could have taken any of the players the Saints missed out on with the No. 39 pick, in addition to having the chance to draft Kawann Short.

There were no picks forfeited in either of the 2014 or 2015 drafts.

* * *

This year's infractions are mostly minor, but there's still a relatively high number of teams forfeiting a pick. Here are the four teams affected in the 2016 draft:

New England Patriots, first round

Everybody knows the story here. The DeflateGate saga continues to drag on, with Tom Brady's four-game suspension reinstated earlier this week. But at least one punishment has remained the same since it was first handed down last May -- the Patriots lost their first-round pick, along with a fourth-round pick for 2017.

Normally, New England would be drafting at No. 29 this year after it lost in the AFC Championship. Instead, the first round will have just 31 picks, and the No. 32 pick rolls straight into the second round, where the Cleveland Browns will draft.

Kansas City Chiefs, third round

Amid all the madness of the first week of free agency, the league office dropped this bombshell -- the Chiefs were stripped of this year's third-round pick (No. 91 overall) and a 2017 sixth-round pick. This was punishment for tampering with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last year. The Chiefs allegedly signed Maclin during the "legal tampering period," which is one of the few things you can't do during a "legal tampering period." The team filed an appeal but Roger Goodell upheld the penalties.

Atlanta Falcons, fifth round

Now we're getting to the silly part of team infractions. The Falcons got busted for piping in artificial crowd noise at the Georgia Dome during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. This is a thing that nearly every fan base accuses its rival team of doing, but nobody has been docked draft picks for it until now. Owner Arthur Blank didn't even try to deflect the accusations, calling the whole incident "embarrassing" and "nowhere near the standards by which we run our business."

The Falcons will lose a fifth-round pick this year, giving them just five draft picks to work with this spring. This will just make life harder for second-year head coach Dan Quinn as he tries to rebuild the team in his image.

Los Angeles Rams, fifth round

The Rams' forfeited draft pick is the most benign of the lot this year. In 2015, they used a fifth-round pick in the supplemental draft to select offensive tackle Isaiah Battle. Naturally, they couldn't use that pick in this year's draft.

Battle is an intriguing enough prospect, but he spent most of his rookie year on the Rams' practice squad. He's extremely raw and had some off-field issues at Clemson. It wasn't a terrible gamble for the Rams, who could still use help on the offensive line, but it's possible they could've signed him as an undrafted free agent and kept a draft pick. Whether he's worth the draft pick remains to be seen.