I often think about draft strategy as it is something that I'm extremely interested in. After lots of thought, this is the best draft approach I could come up with, and I think it's a good one.
Ultimate Goal: win the Super Bowl.
How: obtain maximum value from every cent you have under the salary cap and spend most if not all of your money. Some may say (and I would've at a time said this as well) pass the ball, and defend the pass. Brian Burke at advancednflstats.com has done extensive research on the topic, and clearly shows these are the most important factors to winning in the NFL. This chart is clear evidence to support this. And I say, I wholeheartedly agree. But the way to win is still about obtaining the most value from the money you spend under the cap. The theory that you pass the ball and defend the pass just changes the value of certain positions eg. QB, CB, OT, and pass/rusher (DE in a 4-3 and OLB in a 3-4).
How this affects draft strategy: positions that affect the passing game more should be more highly valued, whilst maximum VALUE should still be the ultimate goal of every pick.
Actual proposed draft strategy: BPA with a few twists and stunts. Firstly, QB's value is insanely higher than any other position. The effect Peyton Manning has on the game relative to Patrick Willis is (this is an EXTREME estimate) IMO roughly 5 to 1. The point is QB is by far the most important position on the field. Also important are CB, OT, and DE/OLB. I've heard people make the argument for WR, but I don't buy it all TBH. Secondly, value can be maximized in the draft by taking the BPA. Draft boards should organized into tiers of similarly graded players and these grades should be based on the expected production over the potential draft pick's rookie contract. Also affecting the rank on a team's big board is position. A starting caliber QB has similiar value to an excellent prospect at OG (roughly, this is an example). When it comes to a team's turn to draft, they should a) consider a trade down if there are many players of the same tier on the board left, to a position where it is CERTAIN there will be at least one of the players currently on the board of the highest value (for example if there are 3 OG's, 4 WR's, and a FB left at the highest tier available, they should attempt to trade down no more than 7 spots, as this will net them the last remaining OG or WR at this tier (obviously this is not always possible) and maximize value or b) take the BPA at a position of need. This is the key. There are different levels of need. They are -
- Need a starter
- Need a future-starter (current starter "old" (old varies by position, 30 isn't old for a pocket QB that has shown good durability throughout his career)
- Need depth
- No need (QB always has a need due to the high trade value)
This means if there are for example 1 CB, 1 OT, and 1 pass-rusher left at the highest graded tier on your board, CB is grade 1 need, OT is a grade 2 need, and pass-rusher is a grade 2 need, you should by my draft approach take the CB. Also, if you swap out the OT for a FB, and the CB for a C, you should take the pass-rusher.
Conclusion: What I have stated here is nothing special or new, it's just what a lot of people have already said, with my preferences on all the little things set in stone, written out to give a rock solid picture of what to do come draft day. Btw, my opinion on trading up is simple - don't. Trading up should only ever be done for a QB, and even then with no more than a 3rd round draft choice. No one can project player success at the NFL level accurately enough to ever trade up, anyone who does is ignorant. Also I have different standards for different positions, at QB, OLB, CB, and OT you only don't need a starter if you have an excellent young player at the position. At every other position, you're fine with a JAG really.
Note: I could see my trade up strategy coming under heavy criticism, with people saying "but what if Patrick Peterson's there at 7, and it would only take a 4th rounder (just an example, I don't know if a 4th would actually get us that far) to move up". And to this I say, there have been lots of "can't miss, elite prospects" that have busted. Don't get caught up in the hype. Does anyone remember Aaron Curry, the so-called safest prospect in the draft, how's that working out for you, Seattle? Also, I want to note I obviously don't think this strategy is perfect, but I DO think it gives any team that employs it the best chance to win. Also to note is that the teams that most closely resemble this draft strategy are the perennially winning teams. Just saying.
Please comment on anything you disagree with here, as I realize this might be a controversial topic, but no haters!