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Assessing Impact as well as Talent

The debates have raged hot and heavy, fast and furious. BPA vs. Need, OT vs. DE vs. CB. FA strategy, etc.

Everyone has an opinion while most have reams of data and lacking that - innuendo to support it.

A side note on that. There are several well-informed posters that utilize in-depth metrics to advance or counter arguments for or against certain player choices. Aside from the famous 'lies, damn lies and statistics' quote I have always been left uneasy with reducing so many variable, intangibles to a formulaic expression. Recently read the following from PFR founder Doug Drinen explaining their Approximate Value metric:

AV is not meant to be a be-all end-all metric. Football stat lines just do not come close to capturing all the contributions of a player the way they do in baseball and basketball. If one player is a 16 and another is a 14, we can't be very confident that the 16AV player actually had a better season than the 14AV player. But I am pretty confident that the collection of all players with 16AV played better, as an entire group, than the collection of all players with 14AV.

As I've stated many times, stats are highly illuminating, designed to reduce as much of the subjective to objective measurement as possible, the value of which is indisputable. But time and time again, I struggle with the use of statistical measure as an absolute expression in football. Especially for individual contributors. This seems to make the case that their true value is in relative assessment which I completely understand.

That out of the way, now onto the point of this exercise - take our Top 3 Draft 'choices' as they currently appear to be trending: OT, DE or CB. Assume for the purpose of this discussion, each player will become an upper tier/above average player - a solid contributor in Season 1, long-term, 2 contract starter. Let's not make them elite, but keep them where they are. My question: In this scenario, doesn't position impact and value over time become the overriding considerations? In addition to performing their own function at a high level, what other positions do they impact positively?

You could make the case any position makes it's entire unit better, so this is limited to the position it impacts most: 

  • OT > QB - a better Tony Romo? Sign me up!
  • DE > LB - a better A Spencer? Good but not great.
  • CB > S - a better whoever? Actually, I'd rather have an Above Average S make my CB's better than the other way around. Hell, we even had average Safety's do that the past few years. That's the way PIT, GB, and to some extent BAL/IND are built, as was NE not that long ago. What do they all have in common - SB winners of the Last/Lost Decade, perennial playoff contenders. The Prime Time argument fails here as well, can't take a best of all-time and make that the baseline for the case. Unless you think Peterson compares favorably, then I'm all ears.

Care to argue not allowing the most important position on the team to perform better, or in our case, stay ambulatory for the whole season? I'm listening. Of course,  the discussion returns to Talent - who presents at each position the best combination of short and ling-term upside, factoring as well as the potential to impact the whole for the greatest good?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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