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Evaluating the Different Draft Strategies

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Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz breaks down all the different types of drafting strategies.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

While there may be some overlap with some strategies, all the ideas are different. Every general manager is different, but all use one of these 5 strategies on draft day. Let's take a look into these 5 strategies:

Pure BPA Drafting

Pure BPA (Best Player Available) drafting is exactly how it sounds. Unless you have a young franchise quarterback, you're going to pick the best player on your board, regardless of position and regardless of need because all this type of general manager cares about is value. Value is the key word in BPA drafting. There isn't much else to say about Pure BPA drafting as it is the most simple, straight-forward approach out of all the strategies.

Need-Based Drafting

This is purely based on the needs of the team. In this case, the general manager does not care about reaching and he's not that interested in looking for great value picks. This general manager is interested in looking for players that match their needs, regardless of value. They still have big boards, but with less positions added in and with a leniency towards the top needs. So, even if the next 10 players on your board don't fit your top 3 needs, you'll reach and select a player of lesser value that satisfies your top need.

Good Example: Travis Frederick in the 1st round (2013) with the Dallas Cowboys

Bad Example: Ja'Wuan James in the 1st round (2014) with the Miami Dolphins

Need-Based & BPA Drafting

This is, as you might imagine, a mix of the first two. This kind of drafting combines the best parts of the first two types of drafting. What you do here is you write down a list of 5-7 needs that you have and when your pick comes around, you select the highest player on your board who fills one of these needs, regardless of importance.

This type of strategy pleases both need-based drafters and BPA drafters. You're not reaching for players and you're filling a need at the same time. It may not be an important need, but the pick is helping the team by helping one weakness.

Trade Back Drafting

This is seen often and the goal is to accumulate as many picks as you can. If your pick comes around and you don't like how your board matches up, then people with the "Trade Back Drafting mentality" will, as you might have guessed, trade back, accumulate picks and see where they stand after the trade. Their next pick will come around and they'll re-evaluate their position. Of course they won't keep doing this until they end up with 25 picks in the 7th round, but there have been teams who have done multiple trade backs out of the first round to the end of the 2nd round. The mentality is to "trade back until you're happy" and in the process of trading back, picking up some picks in the middle to later rounds.

Good Example: New England Patriots

Bad Example: San Francisco 49ers

Guns Blazing/Sell Out Drafting

This is popular amongst teams with coaches and general managers with nothing to lose and with their jobs potentially on the line. Jeff Fisher and Les Snead of the St Louis Los Angeles Rams are clearly on the hot seat. They have a combined record of 27-36-1 in their 4 years with the Rams and have no winning seasons. Their job security was questioned last offseason but they were retained. However, it's obvious that this a make-or-break season for them, so they are wiling to gamble the future to get what they need in the short term.

It's similar in politics when a budget is released. Top politicians, around the globe, come up with budgets that take on a lot of debt to help grow the economy in the short term, but they don't think about the consequences 15, 20 years from now when the debt is so high.

It's also similar to the degenerate party guy who has a 1000 bucks to spare and he must choose whether he wants to spend it on rent or on a good night at a strip club, a nightclub or (most likely) both. Of course, if he chooses the partying he ends up moving back in with his parents the next month.

Selling the long-term for the short term because you have nothing on the line is becoming more and more popular these days. It's a lot riskier and if the person you go all in for doesn't pan out, you're definitely fired and you leave your team in a serious hole.

Bad Example: St Louis Rams 2016

Bad Example: Washington Redskins 2012

Bad Example: New Orleans Saints circa 1999

The "Guns Blazing" strategy rarely works...

Mixing the Strategies

As the draft goes on, teams will most likely change their strategy. For example, some teams will go need-based early and then in the 4th round they'll change to either a BPA or "Trade Back" strategy. Most teams do this. Some teams may be BPA early on, but after the 4th round will decide that they want to start trading back to accumulate picks in the latter portion of the draft. There are an endless amount of ways you can use these strategies.

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