Ok, forgive me if this overkill on this debate. It seems we are so hung up over the argument here at CSR about whether we should draft the absolute best player available with our pick, or lean toward a definite team need and strengthen a weak spot on our team. I see most people on one side or the other, when the two actually are not mutually exclusive. GM's almost always say they are going to pick the best player available. What they mean is that they are picking the BPA for their team. Team needs are weighted heavily when drafting. Every team ranks players based on their scouting of individual players from best to worst. When it comes to picking during the draft, other factors weigh into who a team picks, they don't just automatically take the next player on their board. Some more explanation below.
If you just drafted your franchise QB you don't draft another one. Yes, if for some reason A. Luck would fall to us at #9 we would still pick him. He would be the BPA. ( For the sake of the argument, please don't pick apart these example, they are only examples) We would draft him because he would be so far above the next BPA on our board that we would be forced to select him. Now what if T. Richardson falls to #9 and he is our BPA at the time? Do we take him? It gets a little dicier here. We certainly don't need him. If a team has a player rated so high on their board they should still take that player if they feel that the player clearly out ranks the position where they are drafting.
Some examples. Ryan Kalil is a good example from our team. We didn't NEED a center at the time, we would have been just fine by skipping him, but his ranking justified us taking him at that draft position. Aaron Rodgers is another example. The Pack didn't need a QB ( although Farve was getting old) Rogers fell so far, and was obviously so highly ranked on the Pack's draft board they had to take him.
What teams really do when drafting is similar to what many of us do in fantasy football drafts only on a much deeper level. They assign a draft value to a player. Lets say the following are the top three players available when we draft at #9.
( i.e. A Luck = 500, T Richardson = 350, D. Kirkpatrick=325 ) Understand that these are made up values to show a point.
Teams also take into account the value that they think they have at current positions.
(i.e. C. Newton= 495, D Williams/J Stewart= 375, C. Munnerlyn=200)
So if Luck falls to #9, even though we have Cam , we need to draft him because he is so much better than the other two top players on the board. With Richardson vs Kirkpatrick we would draft Kirkpatrick even though Richardson is the BPA because he isn't rated that much worse than Richardson, and he would be a big upgrade over our current 2nd CB.( Factors such as player age and contract status also go into the decision)
Here is a decent article that explains this concept in a little more detail.
This is also why teams decide to trade down in the draft. They feel that the BPA's at their spot don't significantly upgrade their current roster enough to draft that player at that position. They can get better VALUE ( and this is what is really ment by this term) for their team by moving down in the draft and getting the BPA at a lower draft slot that significantly upgrades a position on their roster. ( as well as adding an additional pick that can upgrade their roster)
It's also important to note that the BPA is mostly debated for players in the early rounds because it is so hard to predict who the BPA is in the later rounds. Thus you see a lot of teams draft for need to fill holes in later rounds or take a flyer on a player that they clearly think is the BPA and has fallen way to far in the draft.
Their are some other factors that GM's take into account when drafting that increases the value of certain prospects.
When Michael Vick was with the Falcons it made sense to increase the value of T Davis to have someone to help spy Vick. When Houston drafted Mario Williams over Reggie Bush they were in need of a pass rush to slow down Peyton Manning.These players may not have been ranked as the BPA on most teams boards but based on the respective team needs they got a higher grade.
This is the real debate we should be having. How good do we think the BPA will be at our draft slot, and what position on our team could have the biggest upgrade by drafting a certain player at our draft slot.
Do we need an OL if a great one is available? By drafting Brockers do we upgrade our DT's enough? Do we need secondary help enough to draft Kirkpatrick to help stop the new passing heavy NFL? How good is our pass rush really? Do we need an upgrade over Hardy? Is he good enough?