The Draft: BPA Vs. Need


The 2010 NFL season is over and despite the lack of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as of this writing, the 2011 NFL draft will go on as scheduled on April 28-30th at the Radio City Hall, N.Y. Make no mistake, this event is the building block of all NFL teams. Owners of these teams send all of their brain trusts to the college combine to try and determine who, of the hundreds of college prospects will best fit their team and help them win the coveted Super Bowl.

So within there lies the 100 million dollar question sports fans. As a GM of a NFL team what type of methodology do you employ? Should you take the Best Player Available (BPA) or draft who you feel is the best at the position of your greatest need? Or do you possibly use a mixture of the two? Ideally, the BPA would be a player of the position of your greatest need, or your team is in the unique position that you can afford to draft the BPA, regardless of position. Simple statistics tell us that is unlikely to occur. So, what do you do? The debate is older than which came first, the chicken or the egg, and each side has its followers, and each side has coaches who have won Super Bowls, or became NFL analysts on television providing advice on “how not to draft”.

Let’s take a brief look at this years’ possibilities, first for Carolina who is currently on the clock and then to Miami, who is scheduled to pick 15th.
Carolina had a record of 2-14 last year and scored less than 200 points and gave up more than 400. Both were the worst in the division. In an effort to rebuild, Carolina has hired a new HC and has various needs on each side of the ball, including a QB. Do you take the BPA or greatest need? Arguably, the greatest need is QB and some mock drafts have the Panthers taking Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. However, should you decide to take the BPA, many analysts believe that to be Patrick Peterson, a CB out of LSU.

Peterson has been described by analysts as being the “cleanest” player in the draft. “Clean” meaning there are no areas of concern. Keep in mind, a CB HAS NEVER been a first overall pick in the NFL.
One factor that makes the decision making for the draft so difficult aside from the obvious unknown is how much weight do you give every position? Surely, the QB position is given more weight than a kicker. If both the QB and kicker rated a 9 out of 10 for their perspective positions and you needed both, you would most likely draft the QB, right? But what if it was an ILB or CB and the QB only rated a 7. Makes for a difficult decision, doesn’t it. The coach who believes in the BPA takes an ILB or CB who rates at a 9 over a 7th rated QB every time. Let’s take a look at the Dolphins situation.

Miami is “scheduled” to pick 15th and does not have a second round pick. Rumor has it they will try and move down to recoup the 2nd round pick, but for now, let’s assume they pick at 15. If you have read articles on Phinphanatic or other Fin related sites, you are probably aware of the needs for the team. Most will agree they are (in no particular order), offensive linemen, running back, tight end, linebacker, possible QB and safety. It seems the nose tackle and center positions have been solidified through recent signings.



So, as Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano, what do you do? Obviously, it is impossible to know who will be available, but that is why they have a draft board that has been created after thousands of hours of watching film, workouts and meetings. Let’s assume the top two or three QB’s are off the board. Is there another QB worth the reach? Not in my opinion, there isn’t. Personally, if I couldn’t move down, I take a lineman, probably Pouncey, who I consider the BPA at a position of need. However, many mocks have the Fins taking RB Mark Ingram out of Alabama, and a case for the recent Heisman Trophy winner can certainly be made. What do you do?