NFL Draft: BPA Approach or Fill Needs?


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

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?