There are many people who insist, that based on Scot McCloughan's previous draft history, that he will take the best player available no matter what position that person plays. These same people also point out the lack of talent and depth on the current Redskins roster, and will be quick to point out that there really aren't that many positions where we couldn't use an influx of talent.
Rich Tandler, of CSN, discusses this topic in his recent blog edition of "Real Redskins":
If you have been paying any attention at all since the Redskins hired Scot McCloughan as the general manager you know that his mantra is that he will draft the best available player on the board regardless of need.
Free agency, on the other hand, is all about filling needs. Unlike the draft, it’s more like grocery shopping. You make a list, figure out your budget, and you go to work.
Some think that because you draft the best player available free agency doesn’t have much of an effect on the draft. The best player before you added some free agents is still going to be the best player. But the definition of "best player available" will change. That is because needs are factored in to the grades that determine BPA. So free agent signings will affect the draft board.
So, even as Tandler points out, best player available may be the philosophy going into the draft, but make no mistake about it, the definition of BPA changes, with need being factored in.
I have never been a Best Available Player person myself. I have always believe you rate players on need as well. Free agency helps to shape those needs, and when time comes to organize your draft board, you take need vs. a teams perceived value of that player to rank him accordingly. This philosophy is essence gives you your BPA, but that players grade is weighted on some other factors as well.
Let's look at the following scenario:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- QB Jameis Winston
Tennessee Titans- DE Leonard Williams
Jacksonville Jaguars- DE/OLB Dante Fowler, Jr.
Oakland Raiders- WR Kevin White
This leaves the Redskins picking at 5 with no trade-back partners. McCloughan being a strictly BPA guy regardless of need will likely pick Alabama's Amari Cooper, who is widely considered a top 5 talent by scouts all across the league. He has size, speed, hands, character, runs good routes and had exceptional college production. But, when we look a bit deeper into this pick, you can see that the Redskins have DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Andre Roberts all under contract for at least the next two seasons, and the three combined will count for nearly $23 million against the cap in 2015. Receiver may be a WANT, but it is currently not a team need.
Marcus Mariota is another prospect who carries a high draft grade. He's easily considered a top 5 pick, and could possibly go number one or two overall to two quarterback needy teams. In this scenario, he's dropped to 5 and is staring the Redskins right in the face. Picking from purely BPA, Mariota would be in consideration, but the Redskins currently have a quarterback situation on their hands, and need to see if Griffin or Cousins can be the answer. Another common thought is, although Mariota is considered a top talent in this draft class, that he will need at least a year or two of tutoring before he's ready to take the field as a starter. Quarterback may be a WANT of some fans, but is it a need right now, and is Mariota the guy to cure the quarterback questions that have reared their ugly head in DC?
Now, let's look at a more value vs. need approach.
We already discussed why the Redskins shouldn't be so quick to jump on either BPA at 5(Cooper or Mariota). I've also told you that a trade-back didn't work out. In my value vs needs approach, we have Clemson linebacker/defensive end Vic Beasley on the board. He has been a steady riser since he showed up at the combine at 246 pounds, and wowed the league with his impressive performance. Beasley also has the on-field production to back this up. He may not be considered a top 5 talent, but he's firmly planted himself into top 10 discussion. Free agency brought significant upgrades to the defensive line, but it also lost Brian Orakpo to the Titans. Orakpo is a highly productive ROLB when healthy, and his production will not be easy for second year pro Trent Murphy to replace.
On a pure BPA approach, both Cooper and Mariota would be ranked ahead of Beasley, but looking at the Redskins needs, and what transpired in free agency(losing Orakpo), Beasley would be the better pick.
So let's go back to what Tandler wrote in his column. Is Scot McCloughan drafting PURELY from a BPA approach, or, like Rich suggested, and I have been saying for months, will we take a more value vs. need approach when determining who will actually be the best player available on our board?
The bigger question is, will the Redskins draft the best player available, or will it be the BPA for the Redskins?
.....there is a big difference!