There are 4 key elements to drafting well: BPA, NEED, Positional Depth, and Positional Value.
BPA is good in that it gets you the best graded player. So there is little risk in the “bust” label. Team’s have a hard time recovering from drafting a “bust”. However, drafting exclusively BPA has problems. What if you’re already loaded at that particular position? Floyd is still a good prospect, but he made very little impact to the offense in 2012. Do you draft another high rated WR this year? What about drafting high graded Guards? SILBs? Punters? What if there are tons of prospects at the same position? There has to be more to it than just drafting the BPA.
NEED is also an important factor. If you don’t have a LT, and there is one available at your pick, then at the very least you have someone to play the position. Filling holes on your team is key during the off season. However NEED has glaring flaws too. What if you grab a LT that has a way lower grade then, say a RB named A.P.? You don’t pass on rare talent to fill a NEED. “Reaches” occur often due to exclusively filling NEED. Players never seem to shake the “reach” label and GMs hardly recover from that blunder.
Positional Depth in the draft is sorely underrated. If the market is flooded with RBs, even if you want one you can always wait till later and get another one cheaper. True, his grade might be lower, but you probably filled another position and get a higher rated player there. For example, let’s say the draft is flooded with RBs and limited on LTs. So which scenario is better? Draft a 91 RB in the 1st and an 85 LT in the 2nd? Or draft a 90 LT in the 1st and an 88 RB in the 2nd? You average an 88 in the first scenario and an 89 in the second. So the latter gives greater reward on the whole.
Positional Depth is further complicated when there are entire tiers flooded with a position. This year for example, there are a bunch of 80+ graded QBs. They all seem to fall into the 2nd to 3rd round slots. This creates a window of opportunity. While some teams are lurching to pick one up, you can grab another position of need and still land a leftover one in the next round. However, you can’t wait until the 4th because the window will have already closed. You have to know the anticipated draft position the best you can.
Positional Value is understood by most GMs, but not many fans. There are just some positions that are far more important than others. Which do you draft in the 2nd, an 85 rated QB or a 90 rated Punter? A team would be ridiculed forever if they chose the latter. Sure, that’s an extreme example, but it frames the argument. Gs and SILBs also seem to fall into the categories of: easy to fill, easy to “coach up”. In other words, the market is flooded with potential prospects. So drafting Warmack early this year is going to make coaches sweat, because his position is the least important position on offense. Yes, he’ll be good. Let’s go so far as to say he’s a guaranteed HoF. But let’s also say that Eric Fisher is a guaranteed HoF. Who do you draft? LT is far more important in today’s offense than G is. Therefore, Positional Value must be accounted for.
With the Oline it’s even more complicated because other guys can play multiple positions. So you have a domino effect that can bump off the worst player. Say you draft Fisher at LT. Well, you aren’t going to sit Levi so he moves over to RG. That bumps Snyder out of the starting rotation, praise the Lord. So let’s say Fisher is a 95, Levi is a 70, and Snyder is a 40, you aren’t replacing a 70 with a 95. You’re replacing a 40 with a 95. Huge IMPACT.
If you account for all 4 then I think you have a more well rounded view of who to draft. I call it IMPACT value. By balancing BPA, NEED, Positional Depth, and Positional Value you should be able to determine which player is going to make the most IMPACT for your team at the best price.
Last year is a great example of what NOT to do. I’d say we had 4 other potential prospects to draft at #13: DDC, Reiff, Ingram, and Hightower. For arguments sake let’s say they all graded out lower than Floyd (they didn’t, but w/e). Floyd still is the worst pick. Why? First of all, because he was only going to replace an 80 graded WR in Roberts (which he didn’t anyway). We got a minimal upgrade at WR2 (theoretically). Secondly, there were plenty of WRs to be had later. They could have filled another position of NEED and still landed a good WR2 in the 3rd. (Hilton?) Third, and this is the most important, we had glaring deficiencies at LT, RG, SILB, and WOLB. Since LT and WOLB are far greater positions of value, Reiff or Ingram should have been weighed against Floyd. There is no way Floyd should have been considered to make a greater IMPACT than those two. That was foolish. Even then I’d argue that DDC or Hightower would have made a greater IMPACT than Floyd. Just look at last year’s RG spot or our production against the run at SILB. Pathetic. (When you take a look at Roberts production the argument gets even more frustrating)
And that's what any team needs, IMPACT.