by Frank Barone
For any NFL team, a successful draft starts with a good scouting department that is making the evaluations of players. However, you also need a coaching staff that believes in your personnel department so they give these young players a chance to play.
A team that does not have the proper communication between the scouting department and the personnel director and its coaches is the ultimate draft disaster waiting to happen.
There are a couple of different philosophies that teams take into the draft:
You can simply try to draft the best athlete:
This is the most common draft theory, where the “best athlete” implies you are taking a guy for their overall athletic ability–their speed, strength, etc. –regardless of position. This is also known as drafting the “best player available.” Drafting the BPA is based on the fact that drafts are not primarily about fixing specific weaknesses on the team for upcoming year, but instead is part of a longer term team-building process.
Another key philosophy is to know if a player is a proper fit for your team:
In this philosophy, the players that you are looking to draft will fit into the the system and scheme of the team. If you are looking to implement a 3-4 defense or to emphasize a power running game, you need to draft accordingly.
Of course, when a team makes its pick, there is often not such a clear talent gap between several players and there may be a few players with a similar ranking, and that’s when that team can pick and choose with a hybrid BPA/Need philosophy.
Most fans, including myself, start with an assessment of their team’s weaknesses and let that drive their draft preferences. We tend to identify college players at the weakest positions on our current team as the players they need to pick in the draft.
Teams aren’t always thinking along those lines, and it’s not always a bad thing, overall. If a team drafts to its strength, it is possible to create a super-unit that might make all other units on the team better.
To put this in relation to the Jets situation, and assuming the status quo on any possible trades, I have no problem if Paul Tagliabue announces on Saturday, “With the 26th pick in the First Round of the 2005 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Matt Roth, Defensive End, Iowa.” Roth, though being drafted at a position of strength on the Jets, brings come with a great work ethic, legendary intensity, and a blue-collar mentality.
A defensive end rotation with John Abraham, Matt Roth and Shaun Ellis, with all three bringing their specific strengths to the defensive end slot, is the super-unit I can envision. It may be somewhat of a oversimplication, but whatever team controls the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football wins games in the NFL.
Predicting any teamâ€™s draft success is so difficult–that is why it is called a crapshoot. You need to trust in good talent evaluators to get you the right personnel for your system and, maybe most of all, be lucky.
The option to build on the strength of the team is a philosophy that I take from the business world that I think can be applied to a football organization, and its strategy to the draft, that will result a successful team.