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Need or BPA: Which one do teams really use in Round 1?

Mar. 26, 2020 - Michael Stewart

Need or BPA: Which one do teams really use in Round 1?

Introduction:  The NFL draft is less than a month away and from now until the final pick of the draft (#255-Mr. irrelevant) you will read and hear about the great debate of drafting Need-vs-BPA (best player available).  There is support for both sides among teams, GM’s, sports writers and the fans; but which one is really used the most? All NFL teams compile their own draft board, rating their best prospects in terms of a point system to determine their value. You would be hard pressed to find two draft boards identical, so this would assume that each team has their own way of evaluating talent.

With that being said, when does the debate begin between need-vs-BPA start? Does it start when a draft board is put together or when the draft begins and a particular team in on the clock?  When you look back at the last 5 drafts starting in 2010 and just going by the 1st overall pick, it’s clear that team selections was based more on need than BPA (see chart below).

2015-QB: Jameis Winston (Need) Winston was the top rated prospect.

2016-QB: Jared Goff (Need)-Carlson Wentz was rated higher.

2017-DE: Miles Garrett (BPA) Garrett was the top rated prospect.

2018-QB: Baker Mayfield (Need)-Saquon Barkley was rated higher.

2019-QB: Kyler Murray (Need)-Quinnen Williams was rated higher.

Of course, this is just a small sample to make a point of what teams say and what they really do come draft time. There are some examples when the need and BPA blend into one for teams on draft day as we could see this in 2020 draft especially with the 2nd overall pick with Washington projecting to select DE Chase Young.  

Final Thoughts: Team Needs or the BPA, let the debate continue as we should see more need picks over BPA; especially in the 1st round in the upcoming draft. Once we move further into the draft on Days 2 and 3, then the BPA philosophy becomes more apparent and utilized. Again, this is just my opinion and many will argue that successful teams draft with the BPA concept; while others will argue the opposite. At least, in the 1st round, there should be more picks taken based on need over BPA in the 2020 NFL draft.