Draft season is upon us, as are the endless debates on free agency, draft prospects, draft philosophy, and so on. I debated on writing this after the free agency period winds down in March, but let me tell you why free agency should have no affect on the draft.
Rule #1: No Offensive Lineman
Coming out of the gates swinging on this one, and I am sure will be a highly protested point. I would not take an offensive lineman this early under any circumstance for the following reasons:
- Left Tackle is overrated. This position is usually seen as a premium position, one that protects the quarterback's blindside from the opposition's best pass rusher. The problem with that theory is that defenses are not so simple anymore. Hardly any team uses a simple 4-3 or 4-3 defense, and many of the best pass rushers come from the offense's right rather than left. Von Miller, JJ Watt, and Justin Houston are examples of elite defenders that spend most of their time over the offense's right tackle. Do you really want to spend a premium pick on an offensive lineman, only to have the defense attack the opposite side?
- There is not enough value in picking an offensive lineman. To put it simply, one offensive lineman cannot affect the game like one pass rusher, wide receiver, etc. That's not to say that the offensive line as a whole is not important, because it definitely is, but it's not necessary to spend premium picks to assemble a good one. A pick as high as the Chargers have needs to be someone who can make an impact by scoring touchdowns, sacking the quarterback, or creating turnovers. None of those things an offensive lineman can do.
Rule #2: Take Need Completely Out of the Equation (with the exception of QB)
We need to keep emphasizing that a pick this high needs to be a great player. As tempting as it may be to fill a hole with "one of the best players", it is more important to get THE best player. Players traditionally take 1-2 seasons to truly reach their full potential, and when that time comes you don't want to be stuck with a guy that filled an immediate need 2 seasons ago. If you have 2 good edge rushers and the best player on the board is an edge rusher, you take that player. Too much happens in the NFL from year to year to get caught up in what hole needs to be filled right this second. Think big picture, you want a star on your team for the next 10 years, and you have to ignore what you need right now to do so.
Rule Number 3: Pick the Player that Will Impact the Game the Most
This rule, in a way, wraps up rule 1 and 2, but it is an important point. For example, edge rushers are usually viewed as the most important defensive position. However, if there is a defensive back that you think will be a better player overall (and that appears to be the case this year). When you pick this high, you want a superstar. Every draft offers a different crop of players, you just have to make sure you come out with the best, most impactful one possible.