FanPost

BPA vs Need: they don't have to be mutually exclusive

The draft is almost here! In the lead up, we have discussed numerous players that we, as fans, like with the 18th pick. Some like Andrew Billings. Some, Ezekiel Elliot. Some really, really (I mean REALLY) like Ryan Kelly. We've discussed Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker. Some have even suggested that Jaylon Smith should be the pick despite the catastrophic injury he suffered against Ohio State.

We have also spent an inordinate amount of time debating the merits of "Best Player Available" (BPA) and "Need" approaches to drafting. The debate is certainly needed given that our GM is a BPA guy no matter our team needs. Last year was a great example...a very polarizing example....of BPA over need. Most felt that we had obvious needs in the trenches and on the defensive side of the ball. We had just signed Andre Johnson to pair with TY and Moncrief in the fold. So the Dorsett pick rankled a few noses (probably caused a few flying beers too). I liked the pick and wanted Dorsett before the draft. But that is nether here nor there.

So the "BPA vs Need" debate is warranted but we don't have to treat them as two entirely separate approaches. The two approaches can and should be integrated. Not in the simplistic way that Andrew Aziz outlined in his review of different draft approaches. But rather by weighting the player grades by the perceived need. Below I use a simplified system to describe the approach.

The first steps are to 1) grade the players and 2) derive a weighting factor that is based on position need. For the first part, I used the NFL.com top-100 player grades. I then generated a weighting factor that ranged from 0.7 to 0.95. The greater the weight the greater the need. Using a narrow range rather than "0 to 1" helps avoid over- or under-weighting certain players and positions. I used my own personal perception of our needs to generate the following weights:

POS. Need-based weight
OT 0.8
OLB 0.95
DE 0.8
RB 0.8
CB 0.85
QB 0.7
ILB 0.85
OG 0.85
WR 0.75
TE 0.5
S 0.85
NT 0.95
C 0.95
DT 0.8
FS 0.9
SS 0.8

While I was composing this, I realized that I don't necessarily like some of by weights. I think TE is a bigger need than WR and I also think that OG should probably be 0.9. But this is just to illustrate a point and whether the "need-based weighting" is correct is irrelevant at the moment. Instead I want to focus on how the weighting factor changes the big board. Here I have multiplied the NFL.COM grades (GRADE) out by the "need-based weighting" (NEED) to get a new weighted grade (Wt'd Grade). I then re-ranked the players by their Wt'd Grade.

PLAYER POS HT WT COLLEGE GRADE Need Wt'd Grade Orig. Rank New Rank DIFF
Jack, Myles OLB 6'1" 245 UCLA 7.3 0.95 6.935 2 1 1
Bosa, Joey OLB 6'5" 269 Ohio St. 6.7 0.95 6.365 6 2 4
Floyd, Leonard OLB 6'6" 244 Georgia 6.5 0.95 6.175 11 3 8
Tunsil, Laremy OT 6'5" 310 Mississippi 7.6 0.8 6.08 1 4 -3
Lee, Darron OLB 6'1" 232 Ohio St. 6.2 0.95 5.89 16 5 11
Dodd, Kevin OLB 6'5" 277 Clemson 6.2 0.95 5.89 20 6 14
Lawson, Shaq OLB 6'3" 269 Clemson 6.2 0.95 5.89 23 7 16
Ramsey, Jalen CB 6'1" 209 Florida St. 6.8 0.85 5.78 5 8 -3
Buckner, DeForest DE 6'7" 291 Oregon 7.2 0.8 5.76 3 9 -6
Billings, Andrew NT 6'1" 311 Baylor 6 0.95 5.7 35 10 25
Ogbah, Emmanuel OLB 6'4" 273 Oklahoma St. 6 0.95 5.7 34 11 23
Hargreaves, Vernon CB 5'10" 204 Florida 6.6 0.85 5.61 7 12 -5
Clark, Kenny NT 6'3" 314 UCLA 5.9 0.95 5.605 39 13 26
Johnson, Austin NT 6'4" 314 Penn St. 5.9 0.95 5.605 41 14 27
Spence, Noah OLB 6'2" 251 Eastern Kentucky 5.9 0.95 5.605 38 15 23
Elliott, Ezekiel RB 6'0" 225 Ohio St. 7 0.8 5.6 4 16 -12
Cravens, Su'a OLB 6'1" 226 USC 5.8 0.95 5.51 50 17 33
Kelly, Ryan C 6'4" 311 Alabama 5.8 0.95 5.51 53 18 35
Fackrell, Kyler OLB 6'5" 245 Utah St. 5.8 0.95 5.51 58 19 39
Correa, Kamalei OLB 6'3" 243 Boise St. 5.8 0.95 5.51 57 20 37
Ragland, Reggie ILB 6'1" 247 Alabama 6.4 0.85 5.44 12 21 -9
Jenkins, Jordan OLB 6'3" 259 Georgia 5.7 0.95 5.415 62 22 40
Jones, Deion OLB 6'1" 222 LSU 5.7 0.95 5.415 64 23 41
Calhoun, Shilique OLB 6'4" 251 Michigan St. 5.7 0.95 5.415 68 24 44
Tuerk, Max C 6'5" 298 USC 5.6 0.95 5.32 79 25 54
Stanley, Ronnie OT 6'6" 312 Notre Dame 6.5 0.8 5.2 9 26 -17
Whitehair, Cody OG 6'4" 301 Kansas St. 6.1 0.85 5.185 24 27 -3
Conklin, Jack OT 6'6" 308 Michigan St. 6.4 0.8 5.12 13 28 -15
Apple, Eli CB 6'1" 199 Ohio St. 6 0.85 5.1 37 29 8
Bell, Vonn FS 5'11" 199 Ohio St. 5.6 0.9 5.04 70 30 40
Green, T.J. FS 6'2" 209 Clemson 5.6 0.9 5.04 77 31 46
Robinson, A'Shawn DT 6'4" 307 Alabama 6.3 0.8 5.04 14 32 -18
Nkemdiche, Robert DT 6'3" 294 Mississippi 6.3 0.8 5.04 15 33 -18
Alexander, Mackensie CB 5'10" 190 Clemson 5.9 0.85 5.015 40 34 6
Joseph, Karl S 5'10" 205 West Virginia 5.9 0.85 5.015 42 35 7
Jackson III, William CB 6'0" 189 Houston 5.9 0.85 5.015 43 36 7
Burns, Artie CB 6'0" 193 Miami 5.9 0.85 5.015 45 37 8
Rankins, Sheldon DT 6'1" 299 Louisville 6.2 0.8 4.96 17 38 -21
Jones, Chris DT 6'6" 310 Mississippi St. 6.2 0.8 4.96 21 39 -18
Henry, Hunter TE 6'5" 250 Arkansas 6.2 0.8 4.96 22 40 -18
Simmons, Justin FS 6'2" 202 Boston College 5.5 0.9 4.95 90 41 49
Houston-Carson, DeAndre FS 6'1" 201 William & Mary 5.5 0.9 4.95 96 42 54
Garnett, Joshua OG 6'4" 312 Stanford 5.8 0.85 4.93 49 43 6
Ifedi, Germain OG 6'6" 324 Texas A&M 5.8 0.85 4.93 54 44 10
Westerman, Christian OG 6'3" 298 Arizona State 5.8 0.85 4.93 60 45 15
Reed, Jarran DT 6'3" 307 Alabama 6.1 0.8 4.88 25 46 -21
Butler, Vernon DT 6'4" 323 Louisiana Tech 6.1 0.8 4.88 26 47 -21
Henry, Derrick RB 6'3" 247 Alabama 6.1 0.8 4.88 28 48 -20
Howard, Jordan RB 6'0" 230 Indiana 6.1 0.8 4.88 30 49 -19
Martin, Nick OG 6'4" 299 Notre Dame 5.7 0.85 4.845 65 50 15
Ridgeway, Hassan DT 6'3" 303 Texas 6 0.8 4.8 32 51 -19
Bullard, Jonathan DT 6'3" 285 Florida 6 0.8 4.8 33 52 -19
Clark, Le'Raven OT 6'5" 316 Texas Tech 6 0.8 4.8 36 53 -17
Fuller, Kendall CB 5'11" 187 Virginia Tech 5.6 0.85 4.76 75 54 21
Howard, Xavien CB 6'0" 201 Baylor 5.6 0.85 4.76 82 55 27
Redmond, Will CB 5'11" 182 Mississippi St. 5.6 0.85 4.76 84 56 28
Decker, Taylor OT 6'7" 310 Ohio St. 5.9 0.8 4.72 44 57 -13
Henry, Willie DT 6'3" 303 Michigan 5.9 0.8 4.72 48 58 -10
Goodson, B.J. ILB 6'1" 242 Clemson 5.5 0.85 4.675 100 59 41
Wright III, Scooby ILB 6'0" 239 Arizona 5.5 0.85 4.675 86 60 26
Alexander, Vadal OG 6'5" 326 LSU 5.5 0.85 4.675 87 61 26
White, D.J. CB 5'11" 193 Georgia Tech 5.5 0.85 4.675 89 62 27
Russell, KeiVarae CB 5'11" 192 Notre Dame 5.5 0.85 4.675 91 63 28
Davis, Sean CB 6'1" 201 Maryland 5.5 0.85 4.675 92 64 28
Jones, Cyrus CB 5'10" 197 Alabama 5.5 0.85 4.675 93 65 28
Miller, Harlan CB 6'0" 182 Southeastern Louisiana 5.5 0.85 4.675 97 66 31
Fuller, Will WR 6'0" 186 Notre Dame 6.2 0.75 4.65 18 67 -49
Treadwell, Laquon WR 6'2" 221 Mississippi 6.2 0.75 4.65 19 68 -49
Neal, Keanu SS 6'0" 211 Florida 5.8 0.8 4.64 51 69 -18
Coleman, Shon OT 6'5" 307 Auburn 5.8 0.8 4.64 56 70 -14
Spriggs, Jason OT 6'6" 301 Indiana 5.8 0.8 4.64 61 71 -10
Doctson, Josh WR 6'2" 202 TCU 6.1 0.75 4.575 29 72 -43
Hooper, Austin TE 6'4" 254 Stanford 5.7 0.8 4.56 63 73 -10
Dixon, Kenneth RB 5'10" 215 Louisiana Tech 5.7 0.8 4.56 66 74 -8
Vannett, Nick TE 6'6" 257 Ohio St. 5.7 0.8 4.56 67 75 -8
Booker, Devontae RB 5'11" 219 Utah 5.7 0.8 4.56 69 76 -7
Wentz, Carson QB 6'5" 237 North Dakota St. 6.5 0.7 4.55 8 77 -69
Goff, Jared QB 6'4" 215 California 6.5 0.7 4.55 10 78 -68
Coleman, Corey WR 5'11" 194 Baylor 6 0.75 4.5 31 79 -48
Killebrew, Miles SS 6'2" 217 Southern Utah 5.6 0.8 4.48 72 80 -8
Ward, Jihad DE 6'5" 297 Illinois 5.6 0.8 4.48 73 81 -8
Nassib, Carl DE 6'7" 277 Penn St. 5.6 0.8 4.48 74 82 -8
Higbee, Tyler TE 6'6" 249 Western Kentucky 5.6 0.8 4.48 76 83 -7
Day, Sheldon DT 6'1" 293 Notre Dame 5.6 0.8 4.48 78 84 -6
Perkins, Paul RB 5'10" 208 UCLA 5.6 0.8 4.48 81 85 -4
Washington, Adolphus DT 6'3" 301 Ohio St. 5.6 0.8 4.48 83 86 -3
Collins, Maliek DT 6'2" 311 Nebraska 5.6 0.8 4.48 85 87 -2
Shepard, Sterling WR 5'10" 194 Oklahoma 5.9 0.75 4.425 46 88 -42
Boyd, Tyler WR 6'1" 197 Pittsburgh 5.9 0.75 4.425 47 89 -42
Cash, Jeremy SS 6'0" 212 Duke 5.5 0.8 4.4 99 90 9
Ioannidis, Matthew DT 6'3" 299 Temple 5.5 0.8 4.4 94 91 3
Prosise, C.J. RB 6'0" 220 Notre Dame 5.5 0.8 4.4 95 92 3
Kaufusi, Bronson DE 6'6" 285 BYU 5.5 0.8 4.4 98 93 5
Peake, Charone WR 6'2" 209 Clemson 5.8 0.75 4.35 52 94 -42
Thomas, Michael WR 6'3" 212 Ohio St. 5.8 0.75 4.35 59 95 -36
Lynch, Paxton QB 6'7" 244 Memphis 6.1 0.7 4.27 27 96 -69
Cooper, Pharoh WR 5'11" 203 South Carolina 5.6 0.75 4.2 71 97 -26
Miller, Braxton WR 6'1" 201 Ohio St. 5.6 0.75 4.2 80 98 -18
Cook, Connor QB 6'4" 217 Michigan St. 5.8 0.7 4.06 55 99 -44
Hackenberg, Christian QB 6'4" 223 Penn St. 5.5 0.7 3.85 88 100 -12

Off the bat, I should add that I don't necessarily agree with the NFL.COM grades/rankings. I just went with them out of convenience. I also changed a few of the DE to OLB (Spence, Lawson, Dodd, Correa, etc) because that is where they would play for us. But sticking with the board, Myles Jack moves up one spot (DIFF) to the top player on the board when you rank them by the weighted scores. If we assume that there are certain players that we likely don't have a shot at (Jack, Bosa, Tunsil, Buckner, Ramsey, Wentz, and Goff) we get a good list of guys that have been linked to us at 18; Leonard Floyd, Darron Lee, Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Noah Spence, Andrew Billings, Ryan Kelly, and Kamalei Correa. That isn't a bad list of players and the difference between a weighted grade of 5.7 (Billings), 5.6 (Spence and Elliot) and 5.51 (Kelly and Correa) isn't monumental and I think you could select any of those 5 players and still say you went "BPA." Leonard Floyd, on the other hand, throws a wrench in the entire system. Using the weighted grade, he jumps up to the 3rd-ranked player on the big board....ahead of Tunsil. Personally, I think Floyd's NFL.COM grade is on the high side, but if you believe your scores reflect reality, maybe this is the point where you would stick to the BPA mentality and take Tunsil given the option between the two. But if all those top players are off the board and you are selecting between say Floyd (6.175) and Ryan Kelly (5.51), the need weighted score suggest that Floyd would be great value at 18.

The added bonus to this approach is that you can add in weights for "red flags." You can weight players based on their off-field issues: "major off-field issues (.5), "minor off-field issues "(.7), and "no off-field issues" (0.9). You can add a separate weight for injury concern. The possibilities are endless, really. Hell, we could add a weighting factor titled "Does the players name rhyme "buy in jelly" (yes=1, no=0).

Anyway, I thought I'd share my thought process on this issue. I'm sure I lost doss at "BPA vs Need."

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Stampede Blue's writers or editors.