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Thoughts on Draft Strategy

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  • 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.

  • #2
    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.


    Related Topics


    • RamsFanSam
      Positions of need vs. BPA
      by RamsFanSam
      This is always a debateable subject, positions of need vs. best player available. Myself, I waiver from round to round each draft. This year, we are guaranteed a top 2 pick, most likely a first overall. So, what do we do with it? Well, this is where I decide to do a little bit of prognosticating - in two different directions.

      As of this point, there is one name being mentioned as the best college player headed to the draft: Ndamukong Suh. That may change by the combine, but that's doubtful. His value right now is off the charts - kind of like having the Fridge William Perry's best years in a nice neat package with a dose of Nighttrain Lane as a garnish. Whether or not that will be how it turns out is still anyone's guess.

      So what happens if we draft him and this is how he looks after camp?

      We instantly have a respectable, feared defense. This season, we have seen Chris Long double teamed, James Lauraintis become a top-level MLB, and an aging DE in Little still viable. We have also seen some of the depth players (like Douzable and Scott) step up and make plays at times. Our run defense is OK, but not good enough. Our passing defense - well, to be honest, it sucks. With Long unable to get free on a regular basis, and the line being held back, as well as Little/Hall being covered, well, it's hard to keep those long passes from being completed against our secondary.
      With Suh out front, as well as Long, hopefully Carriker, Ryan, and whoever, we force other teams to CHOOSE who they want to take a chance on double teaming. Long's ability to break free would be increased, leading to a lot more pressure and sacks, forcing our opponents to get rid of the ball faster, or turn it over. Suh would also have the chance to get to the QB, and this would result in a ripple effect. With Long AND Suh both being watched, the rest of the D line would have better opportunity to penetrate the O line, resulting in more hurried passes.
      And the result of those hurried passes? A better performing secondary. That's right - when a QB is rushed on a pass, his accuracy drops. When his accuracy drops, the ball is NOT thrown "between the numbers", meaning more often than not, it's up for grabs.
      Add to this the addition to our run blocking Suh would bring - teams would be forced to look at running to the outside more - something that makes me nervous, as I am not sure we can cover the outside without upgrades.
      So, what do I see as a result? A huge improvement in our defense overall, since any QB with a second or more was shredding our D all of this season. Take that away, and we would have been winning several games in 2009.

      What if we decide to trade away our first pick?

      This is where it gets sticky. Depending on his value after the combine, we could get anywhere from an extra 2nd round pick to an existing player plus a late-round pick. For the sake of simplicity, let's use...
      -12-29-2009, 12:02 PM
    • Nick
      NFL Draft Countdown's Nov. 11 Mock Draft
      by Nick
      NFL Draft Countdown's Mock Draft
      Updated November 11, 2005

      Round 1

      REGGIE BUSH (RB, Southern Cal)
      -Going into the season it would have been hard to imagine a team with Brett Favre at the helm choosing this high in the draft, but you certainly can't blame their downfall on #4. The bottom line is that management did little to help Favre in the offseason, letting two Pro Bowl offensive lineman in Marco River and Mike Wahle get away, not to mention doing almost nothing to address a defense that was lackluster at best. I was a proponent of Green Bay choosing Aaron Rodgers in round one last year because it was time to begin preparing for life after Favre and Rodgers was a tremendous value where they landed him, but some of their other choices were very questionable at best. Ahman Green has been a fine player but he is set to become a free agent, hasn't performed as well in recent years and is now battling injuries which is why they may look to replace him with this pick. Reggie Bush is simply the most exciting, dynamic football player in the college game and a guy who scouts describe as "special", which is a term that isn't thrown around lightly. He will not only upgrade the running game but also provide a major boost as a receiver out of the backfield and as a return man as well. There could be a bidding war for teams interested in trading up for Matt Leinart here, but teams not in need of a quarterback will probably have Bush as the highest rated player on their board. This guy is an impact player.

      -This was supposed to be the year that Houston took a big step forward, but once again it was the same old story with the offensive line holding the team and franchise back. From the point when they took a chance on Tony Boselli in the expansion draft to the signing of Victor Riley this past offseason, the Texans have been in search of a top left tackle literally since their inception but have been unable to find anyone who can hold down the position. Because of this it is nearly impossible to get a read on the true progress of former #1 overall pick David Carr since he is getting sacked at a rate that is setting NFL records. The selection of D'Brickashaw Ferguson would put an end to this problem once and for all though and finally give the team the elite left tackle they, and Carr, have been dreaming of. A tremendous athlete for his size, Ferguson has everything you look for from the position and his name deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden. As long as Ferguson is available when they pick there really is no need to look at other options because it is crystal clear as to what the franchise needs to do. The only other potential consideration would possibly...
      -11-15-2005, 01:16 PM
    • Barry Waller
      Career Longevity Factors Into Early Picks
      by Barry Waller
      Even with free agency, a GM's ideal scenario is to draft a star and keep him for most of his career, at least the prime part.

      Because of the differences in position, the value of offensive and defensive linemen, and linebackers is elevated due to the length of time those guys can play at a Pro Bowl level.

      If a team hits on a running back, he's likely to have a 7 or 8 year run if he stays relatively healthy. Staying totally healthy and not missing games even when young is about impossible for a back.

      On the other hand, if you hit on a franchise QB, he'll be hitting his best days when that back is finshed. An example is Steven Jackson versus Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, all 2004 picks

      You can have a late 30s passer and have one of the best still, which maximizes that high pick.

      Similarly, a great offensive lineman will be going strong at 35. You draft one great one, an Orlando Pace, and you are good there in every draft for a decade.

      Defensive tackles also can be cornerstones of a team a comparitively long long time.

      Pass rushers usually are at their best till about 33, only a bit less than the DT group, and still a solid early value, longevity wise.

      Top Linebackers, due to the experience factor making them better as the physical part lessens, also can stay around a long time.

      Cornerbacks get pushed up because of the big need every year because those guys are often seeing big declines soon after age 30. They are one spot where the longevity thing doesn't have a big effect, due to the shortage of truly great corners.

      Wide receivers not only have relatively short primes, they like passers also can take two or three years to hit their stride, sometimes more, which lowers their overall value. They are also more likely to have one major injury turn them into shadows of what they were
      Same for tight ends, who go downhill even quicker than the wide outs due to the punishment they take.

      Safeties get hurt alot, often playing special teams, which ends up severely shortening their shelf life as well, leaving teams seemingly always needing them in every draft.

      While need and the talent level are obviously the main factors in who teams draft early, there is no doubt that the board is effected by the longevity factor of the position.
      -05-02-2014, 06:43 AM
    • Nick
      A rant about drafting based on past failures
      by Nick
      I hear Rams fans talk all the time about how the Rams need to either be hesitant or pass completely on drafting a defensive tackle early in the draft. The reasoning I'm questioning is when people say they should do this because of past failures in Pickett, Lewis, and Kennedy.

      Can someone explain to me how guys picked in 2001 and 2003 have any barring on the success of players to be selected in 2007? To me, this point of view is basically just fear of history repeating itself even though there have been numerous successful first round defensive tackles taken since that 2001 season.

      So are we supposed to believe that any player the Rams draft in round one at that position is somehow destined to not live up to his potential simply because he's a DT going to St. Louis? Are we supposed to believe that the Rams would find better fortune drafting a tackle later in the draft, one who either is less talented, has been less productive, or has less upside than the prospect we're passing on in round one?

      It's one thing to look at a player and say, "I'm not sold on him because of such and such that he displays or doesn't display." But to change your draft strategy based on past failure is a tactic that originates in fear and IMO is no way to improve your organization. Should we have not drafted Steven Jackson because we previously failed on Lawrence Phillips and Trung Canidate?

      I would encourage fans to judge prospects and form your opinions on who they are and their own merits, not who the Rams have previously drafted that have busted out.
      -03-25-2007, 12:06 PM
    • Goldenfleece
      Take on Needs
      by Goldenfleece
      Wide Receiver
      When to Target: Rounds 1-2, 4
      Players: Julio Jones, Torrey Smith, Greg Little
      Thoughts: In some ways, not much has changed for us since this time last year. It's not that we don't have talent. We just don't have a headliner. Jones would be ideal in the first, but if he's gone, I think Smith in round 2 is probably our best bet at landing a big play receiver with potential to be a starter. Hankerson seems to profile more as a possession guy, while questions about Baldwin's work ethic and open criticism of his coaching staff are serious red flags. Greg Little, on the other hand, has already done his time for inappropriate conduct and hopefully learned his lesson. The risk to reward ratio starts looking real good on him by the 4th round.

      Defensive Line
      When to Target: Early and Often
      Players: Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith, Cameron Jordan, Corey Luiget, Stephen Paea, Christian Ballard, Jabaal Sheard, Sam Acho, Drake Nevis
      Thoughts:A combination of age and depth issues make the DL a high draft priority. Both Head Coach Spagnuolo and Defensive Coordinator Flajole have built championship defenses anchored by defensive line greats such as Julius Peppers and Michael Strahan, so they know the value of the men in the trenches.

      The first round is loaded with defensive line talent, and several of the best will likely be off the board before we ever get a chance to pick. Quinn would be a premium value pick at #14 if he is still available. Smith is a little greener, but either would bring speed to the table to complement Long's technical prowess on the other side. Jordan is a player more in the same mold as Long, which would give a pretty beefy but less explosive look to our line. Luiget might be a little bit of a reach but seems to be creeping up boards. Paea would be a great round 2 value, Ballard only slightly less so, and there are a number of other players I'd be interested in later on.

      When to Target: Rounds 2-3
      Players: Raheem Moore, Quinton Carter, Deandre McDaniel
      Thoughts: Rumor has it the team let Atogwe walk because he was less than a perfect fit for the system, which called for more of an enforcer than a freelancer. However, his departure shifts safety from a position that might have been classified as adequate into the realm of serious need.

      Quinton Carter might be the answer, as he quickly made a name for himself as one of Oklahoma's more physical secondary players. There's a chance that Raheem Moore, whom many consider the best safety in this year's class, might also fall into round 2. Both can lay the wood but have the ability to cover as well. Deandre McDaniel is a less fluid player but has linebacker size, loves to hit, and has deceptive speed that lets him come out of nowhere for an interception (although his coverage skills are otherwise lackluster).

      Offensive Guard
      When to Target:...
      -04-10-2011, 09:01 PM