Trust. Your. Board. These three simple words are a staple of both analyst and fan alike while discussing the NFL Draft each year.1 Another way people commonly refer to this method is to select the best player available (BPA). ESPN and NFL Network will even have a running board at the bottom of their broadcast showing the Top 5 players they believe are available at each pick.
The more difficult portion is figuring out what a BPA draft really entails. Is there need weighted? Is there positional value weighted? What about red flags from either character or injury? There is a reason the draft is as much art as science. General managers are weighing all of these potential outcomes and doing their best to figure out how it plays into their team dynamic.
However, here is one way the Browns could utilize this strategy.
- No trades unless the strategy is specifically geared around trades.
- Demonstrate multiple options at each pick within the confines of the strategy.
- Use a MSM Big Board to demonstrate feasibility of picks.
- Select picks at the Browns four picks in Round 1 and Round 2.
Using the DraftTek Big Board for this week.
The Draft Strategy
There are a two basic but radically different ways of executing a BPA draft.
One is to assume the front office has already weighted character and injury risks, while rewarding positional value into the grading system. They have developed a big board internally and simply stick to that board. If there is an urgent need for a starter- at say right tackle- the team refuses to ignore their board and draft the next best tackle if one is not warranted at their selection. Of course, if they believe they do need one, then trades come into play.
The other way is to take the players who the front office believes will become the best NFL players regardless of positional value or any possible red flags associated with them (to a degree). Ray Farmer is famously thought to have done such in his first draft. While the first round results were disastrous (Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel), Farmer did find some value on Day 2 of the draft (Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Terrance West).
The mock draft selections below are a slight combination of these two methods but lean a bit towards the latter.
No. 1 Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The best player in this draft, and the best defensive player in many drafts. This one is easy, so let’s move along.
Myles Garrett finished in the top three among edge defenders in overall grade in all three years of collegehttps://t.co/xpVTCinTea
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) March 5, 2017
Awareness from Myles Garrett. Peels off to take screen. Forces Hurts to tuck & run. Results in negative play. pic.twitter.com/RVIXnmUyY0
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) March 23, 2017
No. 12 Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
There are two reasons why Allen could be available at the No. 12 selection. The first is that the positional value of interior defensive lineman is lower than other positions, which is why players such as Aaron Donald and Danny Shelton are drafted lower than where many pre-draft boards have them. The other reason Allen could be available is that he has two arthritic shoulders that will not heal. The shoulders could wind up being more nuisance than problem, but they are an associated risk with his selection.
His athleticism and production are not questionable.
— College Football + (@CFBPlus) March 7, 2017
No. 33 Gareon Conley CB, Ohio State
Gareon Conley will not score high with some teams due to his lack of ability in run support and some issues with zone coverage. The 2017 NFL Draft is also a loaded one for cornerbacks. If he makes it to Day 2, then he will be a quick selection as his man skills are fantastic, he has great size for the position, and he has great abilities to make plays on the ball.
Entering tonight, opposing QBs were 4-20 when targeting Gareon Conley in coverage at 10+ yds downfield
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) January 1, 2017
— Seahawks Fan (@centurylinkfiel) January 1, 2017
Other option: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida – How much should we ignore need after taking Allen in the first? Brantley IS the BPA at this spot, but I neglected to take him.
No. 52 Marcus Williams, FS, Utah
There is a great debate on the value of free safety in the NFL. On one hand, cornerbacks are more directly tied to limiting receivers space. Given the amount of spread-concept offenses, the short-yardage throws are becoming increasingly more common, which also lends itself to corner (and strong safety on the tight ends and running backs). However, a great free safety can cover up mistakes downfield and create back-breaking turnovers when the offense does decide to go down the field.
Williams lasting until No. 52 would be a value based decision by other teams. He isn’t strong (in the literal sense), so he will be limited to free safety in the NFL. His range and instincts for passing patterns could make the rest of the NFL regret passing on him.
S Marcus Williams (Utah, 6'0", 195lbs). Unbelievable range + ball tracking @ FS, yet had the highest Safety Run Stop %. Baits QBs so well. pic.twitter.com/Pydmeq70lU
— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) February 25, 2017
Other option: Joe Mixon RB, Oklahoma – Honestly, he (or Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma) should be the pick if we truly ignore everything except talent. Good thing we don’t.
- No. 1 Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
- No. 12 Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
- No. 33 Gareon Conley CB, Ohio State
- No. 52 Marcus Williams, FS, Utah
Notice the all-defensive draft above. The upcoming draft is especially strong on defense, so it should be no surprise that a BPA method would wind up selecting defensive players. The Browns seem in-tune to the strength of the draft with their recent free agent signings focusing on the offensive line and receiver.
There is another noticeable item above. There are no quarterbacks taken. Without the red flashing sign of an urgent need to draft a quarterback, the talent of the available arms is just not enough to overtake those players selected. The position continues to be the most important on the field though, so it would not be surprising to see the Browns divert for one pick if there is a player they see worth taking.
Other mock draft strategy sessions from WFNY
- Fixing the defense
- Fixing the line of scrimmage
- How the Browns will blow it
- Playmakers all over the field
- All Buckeyes
- Talkin’ Quarterbacks
- Freak Show
- Takin’ Texans
- Need-based draft
- Hat-tip to RGB who is diligent in reminding us on the WFNY boards. [↩]