A lot of draft lingo gets thrown around quite readily this time of year. One of the terms draftnicks like to use when describing a potential pick is "Best Player Available." The thought being that a team will make a selection based purely on the grades of their big board regardless of position. This differs from drafting for "need" or taking a player at a position because that position is weak on the roster. Yet another term used when describing a pick is closely related to "Best Player Available," with the team selecting the "Best Player Available" at a position of need.
I want to discuss BPA at position of need before delving into the validity of BPA in the first place. "BPA at posiiton of need" seems to imply the obvious, that a team would take the best player say at CB because that player is the best at the position, and fills a roster need of the team. Of all the terms it implies timing and the way the board falls. If a team has more than one need, they will prioritize which player to take based upon their big board. Herein lies the issue to me. If you're prioritizing players based upon your big board, you're still selecting them based upon talent and therefore the best available at that juncture in the draft.
Moving onto BPA, in my mind there are exactly two circumstances where this is possible. If a team is so devoid of talent that they need to reload at multiple positions along the offensive and defensive fronts, then the team is free to select the Best Player Available because that team will need multiple draft picks to retool a roster. An example of this would have been 2011 when the Broncos selected Von Miller 2nd overall. Von Miller was an elite talent, and the Broncos needed so much help on the defensive side of the ball after a historically bad 2010 that any number of different players could have been taken here. That's why Patrick Peterson and Marcel Dareus were in play with that pick. It so happens the Broncos chose Von Miller because they identified him as a once in a generation talent--he was truly their Best Player Available. Did he fill a need? Yes, but that was not the driving force or the reason behind the pick.
The second instance where BPA possible is when a roster is so full of talent there are no gaping holes to fill. Have the Broncos been able to draft that way under Elway? One could argue that 1st round pick Sylvester Williams was a BPA selection as the Broncos had already invested a couple of contracts into Kevin Vickerson and Terrance Knighton. After the draft, Elway himself admitted that in every mock they conducted in preparation for the draft, Williams was never available.
Looking ahead to this year, we have some thoughts about what needs the Broncos have. Some want a Guard, Center, or RT to shore up the offensive line, while others think linebacker is the way to go. Others want a corner or safety. While there is probably the most support behind the idea of grabbing a linebacker at #31 there is no guarantee that player will be there. There is also no guarantee that the Broncos view things the same way. Regardless, while there are some issues and questions of depth along the Broncos roster it will be very interesting to see who they end up taking. From there we can continue the debate in question, is BPA myth or reality?
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