Feb 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik speaks during a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft: BPA Approach or Fill Needs?


As New York Jets’ fans, we spend a lot of time talking about John Idzik. Before that, it was Mike Tannenbaum, Terry Bradway, the list goes on. We talk about who they will pick, or in the past, have picked, in the NFL Draft.

But it is not something unique to our team by any means. Since the beginning of drafting, fans of all teams have debated about whom to draft, and looked back on the picks years down the line. But, if you look closely at the argument, it actually is pretty straightforward. No matter who the players or the GM’s in question are, there really only comes one philosophical question regarding the draft……

Which is the better way to go, the BPA (Best Player Available) approach or Fill Needs?

We will talk about both approaches, including positive and negatives, and then think about what WE would do if we were the general manager.

You have the option that sounds logical, the one that “fills needs”. This is the way to go, right? You know what is wrong with your roster, so head to the draft room, and look at the best way to fill those needs. Seems like a smart idea.

And it is. Filling needs is a very nice way to go. It’s methodical and organized. You look at your team, see what you need, and choose players to fill those needs. It’s a quick way to fix your roster.

The problem is the players that you could miss out on. Going for needs can be too rigid, if not done correctly. Going this way can turn a general manager’s blind eye to an otherwise more than worthy player. The biggest example of this, including John Idzik’s moves from last year, was Sheldon Richardson. Had John possessed the stubbornness to the level that people might think, he never would have chosen Sheldon Richardson. See, when you go BPA, you might get a guy with wonderful talent. Is he the right guy? Maybe not.

Another major issue of the “Needs” system, is the fact is very unforgiving. What do I mean by that? I mean this, if you are going to the store to get the best “razor” available. You have used he others, and the others all scratch you, and have drawn blood, to varying degrees, when used. If you are picking the best one, you had better be right. Otherwise your mornings are going to be spent with a great deal of pain.

Same story with this system of drafting. If you are picking for a need, you had better be correct with the choice you make. Otherwise, you might head off to camp with Stephen Hill while Alshon Jeffrey is putting up big numbers for Chicago.

You have to be careful going BPA as well. A great player may get chosen, but here to, you could leave an important player on your board, and one that can help your team to boot.

So, which way is better? How should a team go about it?

To me, it’s a case by case issue. It depends upon how many choices you have. The more you have, the more leeway you have to go BPA. If you only have a small group of choices, it makes more sense to draft for need.

What do you guys think?

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Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft New York Jets

  • Paul Newbold

    The John Idzik motto has become “We’ll use Free Agency to meet need and the draft to build the team. We will draft BPA”. We all heard this when he arrived, it makes sense, its a solid approach, and for the most part he has stuck to that plan. We had a huge need for receivers last season, John picked through what he could afford and signed them. He still had a number of “needs” going into last year’s draft, yet by passed some of them and grabbed Richardson (BPA), we all know how that worked out. This season he obviously saw “needs” at QB, CB, OL, and RB, he signed players accordingly. If he holds true to a simple “Best Player Available approach to this draft, then it is anyone’s guess who they draft at #18! If one of the top QB’s or DT’s fall to #18, does that require us to take them? It is just not that simple….need has to weigh into the equation at some point! NYJETS.COM has an interesting interview with Idzik and the scouting team on their site. It’s an interesting video, Idzik doesn’t of course commit to anything, but if you read between the lines, it may give you some insight into his approach. At one point he talks of running through the scenarios prior to the draft, he talks of trading up and trading down and how he would approach such a move. Drafting a NFL player is not a science, with either approach there are no guarantees! I think a well balanced approach of drafting for need and drafting the best player available makes more sense then solely one of the other two approach’s….the trick is ….in the end….knowing when to use each approach…and coming away with talent that will improve the team! Ace this draft John!! Good Luck! We need talent!!

  • Bob

    Been arguing about BPA for years. Matt Millen used BPA. The Raiders need OL, LB, D Line, WR. So, at number five take the best out of this list.

  • Frank Antonelli

    This really isn’t rocket science. If you look at the successful franchises they all pick BPA. If a player is on the board that is clearly better than a prospect that would fill a need is then you select the clearly better player. Where it gets a little tricky is when the grades are pretty close. At that point you have to make a decision and you may select the player that fits your needs better. However, when there is clearly a fairly significant difference the BPA approach works best.

  • AC

    Its obviously a mixture of both, and the better you are, the more easily you can pick BPA. Bob speaks of Millen’s approach of drafting BPA, the only problem was, they had too many needs so that approach was not feasible. As we know and written below, nothing is guaranteed so who you may think is the BPA, might be the WPA, or at best average. We have 12 draft picks, so I assume some will be used to fill needs, others will be to used to pick the best available. With so many picks, I think we are in position to either make a trade to move up or to trade away some picks to get picks in future drafts which is the more likely scenario. It could be a very quiet trade. Regardless, I think the secondary is a MAJOR issue with this team, along with the many other ?’s. Especially with a brutal schedule playing at least 7 top tier QBs. Don’t be surprised if a corner or safety is drafted in the first round, Idzik buttfumbled on the secondary in free agency, and it may be a bigger issue than the offense next year. I understand the argument of why we shouldn’t have overpaid for a corner, and the rest of that jazz, but the fact is we have Peyton, Brady twice, Stafford, Cutler, Rothelisberger, Rivers to name a few Qbs throwing at a bunch of no name secondary players right now. And if you were going to give the same money to Patterson that was paid to Cromartie, why not just keep him? At least you know what you are getting when he is healthy. I honestly am not expecting much from this season because our defense needs a stronger secondary to compete with our schedule. And even if we draft the best CB in the draft, usually CBs are not NFL ready right out of the box as we saw last year and with many other players. Don’t get your hopes up Jet fans, keep the expectations down, that way there is only upside surprises.