What is meant when GMs and analysts talk of drafting the Best Player Available (BPA)? I've made a little equation that gives an idea into the factors that go into it. While it looks like a mathematical equation, it isn't meant to work in that way. The equation is as follows:
PA is Player Ability.
PV is Position Value.
PN is Player Need.
The 3, 2, and 1 (cubed, squared) indicate the importance of each factor. I preferred to use the exponential system, rather than multiplication to emphasize their relative importance to each other. Now let me explain in more football terms.When a GM, such as TT, talks of drafting the BPA, he obviously is stressing Player Ability (PA) above everything else, but it is also obvious that this is not the only factor that comes into play. For an obvious and exaggerated example, imagine that a certain player is without a doubt the best return specialist ever in college football. He may have the most PA in a certain draft year, but his Position Value is relatively low, and if a team doesn't have a major need (PN) on returns, this players is very unlikely to be drafted in the first round.
Consider this year's draft. Luck and Griffin III are obviously going to be selected 1 and 2. Yet it could be argued that Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne have more PA than at least one of the two QBs. However, RB and CB are two relatively lower valued positions and QB is, of course, the most highly valued position in the NFL. This is the reason that Ryan Tannehill is receiving so much attention. And, the controversy around this attention concerns does his PA (ability) measure high enough to justifiably move him up so high in the draft?
Another common example might be to compare a left tackle with an interior lineman. The Pouncey twins probably have more PA than some of the LTs drafted ahead of them, but interior linemen have lower PV. Safeties, also, are often drafted lower for a similar reason. ILB tend to be drafted lower than OLB, especially for teams playing a 3-4 for similar reasons. Of course, an outstanding safety or ILB could change this tendency, because PA does have a higher priority than PV.
I think that the above is fairly straight forward, if not always put into words. The inclusion of PN (player needs) into the equation is, however, possibly more controversial. But again it is obvious. First, it should be said that PN does play the least important role in the equation; it is not the primary factor.
While TT picked Rodgers as BPA at # 24, it must also be acknowledged that Favre was 36 years old at the time. But imagine that somehow through a prior trade that the Packers had ended up with either the Colts or the Rams draft pick this year. (Let's exclude TT trading down.) Would TT draft Luck or Griffin III? I seriously don't think so. Perhaps he would pick Ryan Kalil, (Having a future Pro Bowl LT is better than having an adequate one.) if he evaluates him that highly. Or he might pick Claiborne, or another BPA who will actually contribute to the team.
When a GM is said to have reached, basically it means that PN has been given priority over PA. But I'm fairly certain that every GM, including TT, goes into the draft with player needs in mind. Consider the fact that we have drafted OTs in the first round in the past two drafts.
This doesn't mean that TT will necessarily draft an OLB or a DE at #28. I believe that he takes the player ability (PA) factor and positional value (PV) very seriously, and he won't over-evaluate because of need. So if a future All-Pro WR or CB or OT or ILB (according to his evaluation) falls there, he may just pick them over Player Need. (And he won't pick a center at #28 - low PV.)
I'm curious as to what you think!