Thoughts on Draft Strategy
1. On Drafting Need Versus Value:
(a) In general, I advocate using the draft to load up on talent regardless of position, while relying on free agency and/or trades to address immediate needs. However, there are lots of nuances to consider.
(b) Often, certain tiers seem to emerge within a given draft. If you have the option of drafting any of several players of comparable skill, it makes sense to factor in need as a tie-breaker. This is particularly relevant to the Suh vs. Bradford debate.
(c) Drafting for need makes more sense in the mid-rounds once you have arrived at the point that the players available may or may not be able to beat out the worst players on the current roster. At this point, you have to factor in a combination of talent and availability of competitive slots on the roster.
2. On Quarterbacks:
(a) No single player is as important to the success of the defense as the quarterback is to the success of the offense. Nor is any other offensive player as important to the success of the offense.
(b) If you're drafting a starting quarterback, there is little point in drafting a guy you have graded as a second or third round value. A developmental quarterback is typically third string and may not make it on the field all year. You draft a quarterback in rounds 2-3 if the need is a few years down the road and if the gamble doesn't pay out, you will still have time to identify other options before your current starter is gone.
(c) By the same token, it's not worth spending a first round pick on a quarterback unless you think he can start for the next decade. For example, you could argue that there was no quarterback in 2007 worth drafting as a starter--Jamarcus Russell? Brady Quinn? John Beck? Tyler Thigpen? Trent Edwards? It doesn't matter if he's the best quarterback in the class if he's not going to being able to offer what the team needs.
3. On Defensive Tackles:
(a) I buy into the whole "Planet Theory" to some degree. For those not familiar, the theory is that men who weigh in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. and are athletically gifted are inherently rare and therefore at a premium in value.
(b) Even with all of the teams running a 3-4 these days, there don't seem to be enough quality 4-3 DTs to go around. Last year, there were only 3 DTs who had 6 sacks, which should emphasize just how impressive it is when a Kevin Williams or Warren Sapp can come in and put up double digit sacks from the inside. If Suh really is of similar calibre, it's hard to say when we might have an opportunity to acquire such a player.
(c) Despite the rarity of the DT, one has to put the value in perspective. The Jaguars had two great DTs when Henderson and Stroud were on the roster, but their overall pass rush was still lacking in the years leading up to Stroud's departure. Similarly, Minnesota's pass rush has been a relative weakness even with Pat and Kevin Williams in the lineup. DTs also have a critical role in run defense, but it's the Manning-led Colts that are going to Super Bowls, not the Henderson-led Jaguars. It's the Brees-led Saints, not the Williams-led Vikings.
4. On Rams Needs
(a) We don't have a lot of entrenched starters. What we do have are a lot of young and hopefully rising talents. So a game-breaking wide receiver is of great value to us, but a mid-round receiver who might eventually break into the starting lineup just gives us more of what we already have.
(b) Conversely, a high end runningback would be a luxury pick at this point, while a mid-round back with some upside could be a sound investment.
(c) One of the advantages of picking at the top of the second round is that we can take advantage of biases about positional value. Every year a few players perceived to be first round values drop into the second round, but this is particularly common for non-pass-rushing linebackers and offensive linemen other than tackles. This means that we may have the pick of the litter at certain positions, just as we did last year when we took Laurinaitis and the year before when we took Avery.
Re: Thoughts on Draft Strategy
You make some excellent points in here. One of the best posts I've read in a while.
3c I hadn't thought of before but is a good point.
4a is something I have brought up before and I agree with wholeheartedly.
4b is the same logic applied in reverse.
So is 2b, though I think that it needs to be stressed given the position we're in.