I am not necessarily talking about positions I would like to see filled. I am talking about the quality of players the team should be taking. There is nothing scientific about this. These are just what I expect a player to be able to do.
First Rounders: I expect these guys to be stars, among the best at their respective positions. Darrelle Revis, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and Nick Mangold fit this mold. The first round is when most of the best are on the board. You need to net a difference maker there. These guys should be able to start right away and become among the best within a few years.
Second Rounders: I expect second round picks to be able to contribute in a meaningful way right out of the gate and to eventually become above average starters. David Harris would fit the bill here.
Third Rounders: I think third rounders should be able to serve as role players immediately, even if they only help on special teams. Within a few years, they should be capable starters. You would replace them with a superstar if you could, but you do not view their position as a need. Shonn Greene would be an example.
Fourth Rounders and Beyond: As much as we make big deals about busts and late round steals, the experts get it right more than they get wrong. This will be the topic of future posts, but there are just not many difference makers available in late rounds. Anybody you find who can contribute in any way is something of a bonus. If somebody can be a starter or even a star, you have found gold.
There are two types of players I like to see my team take in the mid to late rounds. The first is a player at a nonpremium position, like fullback, punter, and kicker. These guys tend to not get selected early. You can frequently find the best player at his position late in the Draft and be able to lock it down for the next decade.
The second type is the project player. There should be something that makes him stand out. Maybe he has blazing timed speed but is unrefined. Maybe he was extraordinarily productive in college but played at a small school against suspect competition or does not have great measurables. The best models go early. This is a spot to find somebody with raw tools you can develop or somebody who was overlooked but plays more impressively than you might think watching him work out in shorts. There are too many safer picks to go with this route in early rounds, but the late rounds constitute the time to roll the dice.
What are your expectations for Draft picks?