When it comes to the draft, there are generally two schools of thought. The first is the best player available approach, also known as BPA. The second is to draft for need. In this article, I'll lay out the philosophies between the two approaches, when they are best used, and which one the New York Jets should use this coming offseason.
Best Player Available
The first approach is to draft the best player available when it's your turn in the draft. Each team comes up with a "big board" of their top 100 or 500 players, ranked in order of preference, regardless of position. Preference is determined by skill, fit, projections, any number of criteria. In addition, teams have separate boards based on positions, ranking, say, the top 25 quarterbacks in order of the same rankings mentioned above. Some teams take players completely off their board if they will, under no circumstances, take a player. For example, many teams took Vontaze Burfict off their board after his disastrous offseason last year, and many will take Tyrann Mathieu off their boards this season due to his own off-the-field issues.
When it's a team's turn to make their draft selection, if they're following the BPA approach, they'll simply take the next person on their list, that is, the best player available. There is some leeway of course, they might skip one or two if there's a particular need, but they'll generally just go down the list, cross of people when they're taken, and take the best one available when it's their turn.
Have you ever wondered why the New York Giants have so many pass rushers? It's because they don't care how many they have on their roster. If an impact player is on their board and he's a pass rusher, they'll take him, even though they already have half a dozen rushers on their team. Why? Because the best teams are dominant at different positions, and they don't miss a chance to fill up their depth with impact players, of which there are only so many.
This approach is the most common method. Teams that are either so riddled with holes that drafting for need, as you'll see below, won't help much in the big picture, follow this method, as do teams that are simply looking for playmakers, wherever they can be found. This is a good method for rebuilding a team, or for adding depth.
Draft for Need
The second approach is to draft for need. During the offseason, every team evaluates their roster and determines the holes on the depth chart, where there are weaknesses. In the draft, they'll often target specific players to fill those holes. For example, when the Atlanta Falcons traded the house to take Julio Jones, they decided, rightfully or not, that their biggest weakness by far was at wide receiver, and finding a complimentary pass-catcher for Roddy White. This approach is less common, and is generally only used by teams that have few remaining identifiable holes. It's a higher risk approach, because gambling about being correct about the holes, and the players used to fill them. In addition, it ignores depth to focus on a starting lineup.
I'll put it bluntly. The Jets are in no position to draft for need. They have more than just one or two holes. They're missing playmakers at every level, and as a result, they need to take a best player approach for, at a minimum, the first four rounds of the draft. After that, they can draft for need to fill any remaining holes, but the main approach should be just to find the best player at whatever position is available. I bring this up so that when people start to do mock draft or evaluate what the Jets needs are, you don't simply say, "We need an OLB in round one, QB in round two, RB in round three," etc. We need playmakers. Period. We're so weak in depth at just about every position that we can't afford to be picky and ignore playmakers for the sake of taking an inferior player just to fill one of the many holes. We're not one step away, unless of course there was a true franchise QB available.
What do you all think? Leave your comments below.