Need vs BPA and two stories of the 2014 Draft

Every time a draft discussion comes up it inevitably comes around to the question of Need vs Best Player Available. I was struck by the irony of two stories here on TST, likely repeated on other team’s boards as well. Those are about Clowney and Michael Sam.

What is fascinating is they both play the same position and that happens to be the single least position of need on the Rams. Now I don’t want to wander off into rotations or moving someone to another position, just a straight up look at two guys in this position with our Rams and what that means to draft strategy.

Whether you think we should draft Clowney or not is immaterial to the reality that he has a lot of talent. We can argue all day as to if he will be a star or a bust or somewhere in the middle where most players land, but the kid is talented.

Then there is Michael Sam, a decent player ranked last week in the top 100 draft prospects by many but never mentioned on any mock to the Rams. So why is Clowney mentioned and Sam not?

Well, I equate the draft to a Forced Ranking system. For those unfamiliar, basically it means there are no equal options. Every decision has an order and at the point you make your pick, you have to pick one and only one at the exclusion of all other options.

So when the FO looks at their board they look at need, player quality (inclusive of talent, fit etc) and value. The value component says Player B may be of less need and even less talent but when combined with value, he is elevated above someone of more need and talent. These are all moving parts.

So back to Clowney and Sam. In my opinion, Sam is a non-starter. He plays a position of little need and is a middle round guy at best. I find it hard to even look at him for the Rams with positions of clearly greater need and relative talent. Even if he dropped from round three to round six I just don’t see sufficient value for a position we don’t need for a guy that no one thinks is going to be a star.

Clowney for me is a non-starter as well based on where I expect him to go but at least I see the argument. He has the potential to be a transcendent talent. But for me, the draft capital cost is too high for a position of so little need. It would be like Seattle drafting Bridgewater at 32 just because he was available and the value was there. BUT, at some pick you would have no choice on value and potential alone, to hell with need.

So now let’s apply this to the 2015 draft. With every mock the person posting makes a forced ranking decision but they also make assumptions on who may or may not be available. Obviously there are differing opinions on need and talent but you only get one pick each time. So here is my question. Forget about where you think the Rams will pick and make your board or who may be left at the time. Create a top 15 draft pick board for the Rams at least. I decided on 15 because we have the 13th pick and likely one earlier, depending on trades or not will determine where that is. Not knowing what other teams are going to do, who would you take for the Rams if they were available in the first 13 picks in order of preference? I say pick 15 because if you get a player at one position your next choice at that position may drop out of your top 13.

Here is my board:

Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn)

Jake Matthews (OT, Texas A&M) *If I get Robinson, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo)

Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)

Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)

Anthony Barr (LB, UCLA) *If I get Mack, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (FS, Alabama)

C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama) *If I get Mack or Barr, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)

Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) *If I get Watkins, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State) *If I get Dennard, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan) *If I get Robinson or Matthews, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Ra'Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota) *If I get Nix, this pick is off my top 13 board.

Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)

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