I’ve actually been thinking since the end of the season about Sander’s article yesterday that the Bucs May Indeed be "checkmated" while holding the #13 pick and having a glaring need at CB. Dee Millner is indeed the only top 10 talent at CB at the moment and he is very likely to be gone by that selection. Johnthan Banks may end up in our range with a great postseason but at the moment for our biggest need there is no player worthy of going 13.
So why not take the best available cornerback at 13 and call him our best player because it’s our biggest need? – Because this isn’t how you build title teams : It’s how you build the Raiders, Browns, or Bills. If you want to experience a decade of losing it’s the fastest most sure way to do so is to pass on good players early in drafts to plug holes.
A few historical examples:
Can you name the player selected before WR Calvin Johnson, DT Ndamakung Suh, and DE Julius Peppers? QB’s JaMarcus Russell OAK, Sam Bradford STL, and David Carr HOU. All three of those teams needed QB’s, all passed on "once in a generation" players at their positions in order to fill that need, hows that working out for them now? Only Bradford has a legitimate claim to being a good QB and his legacy is far from cemented, he had injury concerns coming out of Oklahoma, concerns about being able to play under center as to a spread – guess what his biggest liabilities are now? More to the point of just those three, lets say the Rams had gone BPA taken Suh and taken ND’s Jimmy Clausen in the 2nd. Clausen would have bombed Suh would still be a Ram though..but what about last season, would they have traded away from RGIII? Nope had they stuck BPA odds are pretty good the Rams would have Suh and RGIII on the same team.
Ok perhaps your saying "Your being unfair DP those are #1 overall picks passing on really unique talents it’s not the same later on in the draft"….to which I say Oh’Contrare
How about 2007 and the Cardinals needing offensive lineman badly they reach for Levi Brown at #5, despite concerns about whether or not he could be a left tackle at the NFL level. (No one but the Raiders takes RT’s in the top 10 because of comparative position value and the difficulty of playing LT) Who is drafted behind Levi Brown: LaRon Landry S, Adrian Peterson RB, Jamal Anderson DE, Patrick Willis ILB, Marshawn Lynch RB, Darrell Revis CB).
How about a Tampa Bay Example? Picture it 2004 NFL Draft, Tampa back had just said good bye to mercurialKeyshawn Johnson we NEEDED a #1 WR..we took Michael Clayton WR LSU (yep stone hands Mike). One good rookie season was all he had then was horrid. The only two guys regarded as #1 WR’s in that draft were Larry Fitzgerald (big yes) and Roy Williams (went to Dallas got fat bombed) after that 4 more teams reached for first round WR’s starting with Geno Smith in Jacksonville taking Reggie Williams, then Lee Evans, then Clayton to Michael Jenkins, and finally Rashaun Woods (all four in the same talent group with Clayton) getting taken before the round was over). So who went after Clayton? OT Shawn Andrews(3 ProBowl selections has been hurt more recently), LB D.J. Williams, DE Will Smith, OG Vernon Carey, NT Vince Wolfork)
One more quick example for those of you with short memories…how smart do the Redskins look for drafting Kirk Cousins in the 4th round last season? Without that win Cousins got the Redskins finish at 9-7. Cousins clearly wasn’t a need just too high on their board to be passed on.[I also reserve the right for future additions to point out the example of Tannehill over Kuechly and Weeden over; DeCastro, Hightower, H.Smith]
So What to do when you are "stuck"-
Move to Value: Tricky because it requires a trading partner but if you can get fair value in a trade (up or back) you are much better off than simply drafting a player out of position. For example look at the opposite side of the Doug Martin trade, not a clear need for Denver who wanted the versatile do the dirty work DL Derek Wolfe for that they moved back 5 spots added a fourth rounder (CB Omar Bolden) and saved a million dollars in cap space by taking Wolfe in round 2 not round 1. Or look at Tampa’s 1995 NFL Draft, we traded back twice to get Warren Sapp (character questions around draft time not talent) and used those picks in part to move back into the first round and draft Derrick Brooks at #28.
Take the best available player(With exception for a truly LOCKED position or player who doesn't fit your scheme): For Tampa Bay this means you can scratch Offensive Guard, Running back, and the weakside defensive tackle (probably SS and WLB as well). All other positions should be fair game if the first round player is better than the incumbent. The first thing you need to find out is how many "better than good great players are in the this draft" these things are still up in the air because the post-season evaluation process is still very ongoing. At this moment the top 10-15 picks could be dominated by linebackers like never before in the draft. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the fearsome foursome [Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Manti Teo, and Barkevous Mingo (whose really a 3-4 OLB)] gone in the first ten picks, add in OT Luke Joeckel, OG Chance Womack, DE’s Bjoern Warner and Demontre Moore , DT Star Lotulelei, and CB Dee Milliner and then the talent/certainty factors drop off. If any of those 10 (outside of Womack, Jones, and Mingo) fall down to Tampa take the player and figure out what to do at CB in rounds 2 & 3.
For my way too flipping early Draft Preview check out the second in the series of this post (coming soon)