The final part of my 3 part series looking into NFL Draft Strategies (hence the title) is finally here! Celebrate! Or, at least read it..
In Part 1, I covered the Best Player Available, and Positional Value strategies. Part 2 went into Need-Based Drafting and Stockpiling. In part 3, we'll discuss the last two strategies, Target and Attack, and Drafting for the Future. Right off the bat, most of you will recognize that most teams employing either of these methods are going after Quarterbacks. But that's not always the case. I think this is enough of a lead-in, make the jump.
TARGET AND ATTACK
The Target and Attack strategy is pretty cut and dry. A team picking in the back half of the first round will see a player they really like, and use players and/or other draft picks to trade up and get him. They "target" that player, and "attack" a higher draft slot to get him. This is usually done by teams that are either one player away from contending, and decide that that player is there at the top of the draft, or they don't feel comfortable with the players in their draft range and feel that it's a better choice to use multiple draft picks to get a higher-rated guy. Most of the time, teams that trade up are doing so because of one of those reasons.
There are 3 examples of this strategy from just the last 2 seasons. The Jets were extremely unhappy with their Quarterback situation, and felt that the rest of the team was playoff-caliber (they were right). They determined that Mark Sanchez was the best option at QB for them, and they packaged multiple players and picks to jump all the way from 21 to 5 in order to draft Sanchez. Baltimore did the same thing in 2008, trading up to pick 18 to grab Franchise QB Joe Flacco. The funny thing about Baltimore's strategy was that they originally had the 8th pick, traded back to 26 (stockpiling extra picks), then jumping back up to 18 to grab Flacco.
The third example is also Baltimore, trading up into New England's first round spot last season to draft LT Michael Oher. We actually covered this trade in Part 2, using New England as the example for stockpiling picks (they traded back multiple times and procured 8 2nd and 3rd round picks. Without other teams wanting to Target and Attack, teams that want to Stockpile wouldn't have a trading partner.
~IF MIAMI USES THIS STRATEGY~
The only guy I could see us valuing high enough to trade up from 12 is Eric Berry, and we would have to look at getting ahead of Cleveland. To move up to 6th, it would cost our 2nd round pick, so we would be using 2 picks to move up 6 spots and get arguably the top player in this draft class. I would absolutely love Eric Berry in a Dolphins uniform, but it would be tough for me to give up that 2nd rounder as well, seeing as how we do have multiple needs and still must add talent all over the roster. If we could use our 3rd and 4th instead, I am all for it.
DRAFTING FOR THE FUTURE
You usually see teams with veteran QB's on the downhill slope of their careers take this route. We saw Green Bay do it when they took Rodgers, with Brett Favre still entrenched as the starter. Philadelphia did the same thing taking Kevin Kolb in round 2 when they still had a healthy and productive Donovan McNabb starting. Basically, this strategy is exactly what it sounds like. You are drafting a guy high because you envision him filling a need 2-3 years down the road. The Colts do this better than most, drafting to replace guys that are still playing well (see, Anthony Gonzalez in the first round, when they had Harrison and Wayne). Like I said, though, this strategy is primarily used to select a future Franchise QB, and these teams usually believe that sitting a rookie QB for a year or two is beneficial. It's also not used very often in the top 1/3rd of the draft because those guys are expected to produce right away.
The teams you see using this philosophy are, more often than not, perennial contenders trying to stay on top. They don't have any glaring needs that must be filled with a first round pick, so they draft with their eyes on a few seasons into the future. They want to get guys into their system, used to how things work, and prepared to step in well before they are needed. I think every team in the league is aiming to get to the point where they can use this strategy, and you'll see it used at the bottom of the first round because that is where the good teams are picking. Watch for the Colts, Saints, and Vikings to draft this way in a month or so.
~IF MIAMI USES THIS STRATEGY~
Realistically, we can't use this strategy, because we are far from a complete team. But if we were to use this strategy, I believe the pick would be an OT prospect (to eventually step into Carey's position). This draft is top-heavy with quality Tackles, and sitting at 12, we could be in position to get Anthony Davis from Rutgers or Charles Brown from USC, both guys that should be able to fit right into the RT spot in a few years.