The NFL Draft is this weekend, and there is plenty of excitement from fans to see who their team will pick. For the Indianapolis Colts, this year's draft is a crucial one and their six picks are incredibly important.
The biggest and most interesting story is, of course, who the team will or should draft. Another storyline that some have wondered about, however, is how much it will take the Colts to sign their six draft picks. Over the Cap recently ran a very nice breakdown of the rookie pool and how much each team's draft class will cost, and the Colts' rookie pool number for their six picks comes in at $5,000,459 - right around what we've been estimating (we've substituted $5 million for the rookie pool this offseason).
It is important to note, however, that during the offseason only the top 51 players on the 90-man roster count toward the salary cap. That means that, when a rookie is signed, he either replaces someone already among that top 51 or the rookie doesn't count against the cap this offseason (only their prorated bonus would count). Looking at the numbers with that in mind, Over the Cap came up with an effective cap cost - in other words, the cap space that the signings would take up once the class was all signed - and for the Colts that number came in at $2,300,459. It's likely that the rookie class won't take up as much cap space initially as many people thought, then.
Of course, it is important to realize that the top-51 rule only counts during the offseason, but either way, with the rookie contracts basically set already, draft classes don't take up a huge part of the salary cap anymore. Take, for instance, the Colts' first round pick. Over the Cap calculates that the value for the number 18 overall pick this year will be a four-year, $10,410,242 deal with a $5,771,084 signing bonus, and the rookie would make $1,892,771 in year one.
The Colts have an estimated $17,499,791 in salary cap space currently, meaning they have plenty of room to sign their draft class without any concern. Keep in mind that some of this year's available cap space will likely be taken up by Andrew Luck's extension, and it's possible that the Colts will try to dump some extra money into this first year if they have the space. Either way, though, they'll be able to sign their draft picks with no problems this year.