Monday, April 19, 2010

Drafting Need Vs Best Available

One of the things that has been overlooked up until now is how the Bucs strategy (or lack their of) towards free agency will affect their approach during the draft. There are generally two schools of thought in draft war rooms. One the one hand you have teams who believe you draft for need, on the other hand you have teams that believe you always draft the next highest guy on your board regardless of position. Now there are drawbacks to both situations of course, but generally I side with the folks who draft the highest guy on the board barring a high first round pick. Even if you happen to already have an entrenched starter at the position where the next highest rated guy on your board is, it always seems to work out where you end up needing and using that draft pick. Take for instance the Carolina Panthers drafting Johnathan Stewart a couple of years back even though they already had a very good back in D'Angelo Williams. I don't think a lot of people understood the move at the time but it has certainly worked out well for them.

Now the major problem with drafting for need is that you end up reaching for guys at times and taking them higher than they should have ever gone. And chances are when you draft a guy higher than he should go, he won't perform to the expectations you normally associate with that draft position. There are certainly exceptions to that rule, but from my perspective you are almost setting those guys up for failure.

Unfortunately it seems that the Bucs by not being active in free agency have put themselves in a predicament where they HAVE to draft for need. Its bad enough that we already have a lot of holes on the team, but there are some positions where we are literally low on bodies even. We almost HAVE to draft a starting wide receiver sometime this weekend. I say almost because maybe a miracle will happen and Mike Clayton will all of a sudden turn into a world beater, or maybe Maurice Stovall will suddenly start channelling Randy Moss or maybe even the recently acquired Reggie Brown will look more like Reggie Wayne this season. Unfortunately none of those changes are likely. But what if the highest rated wide receivers are already off the board when we choose in the 2nd round?

Now I realize that not many people are promised a position on the team anyway but what about quarterbacks? What if Colt McCoy falls to us? Do we pass him up because we already have Freeman? Or is the best guy the best guy?

Is there a chance we draft a tight end high if we haven't yet drafted a defensive end or a cornerback even though we already have one of the best tight ends in the NFL with Kellen Winslow?

These are the questions Bucs fans may want to ask themselves as we head into this weekend. When you think about it, although people have their favorites for who we could draft at #3 the truth is all of the guys who have been mentioned there are pretty much can't miss prospects. Whether its Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Eric Berry, or Russell Okung I think any of those guys will play and play well for us. But its the draft picks from the 2nd round and lower that will end up being the backbone of our team next year and for years to come, especially with the dearth of free agent signings. So while its funny to debate those 1st round guys please keep an eye on the rest of our picks. In all likelihood they will make or break this draft and make or break Coach Morris and Mark Dominik.

It is what it is.

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