The draft is all about opportunity cost. The reason that the entire world laughed at the Minnesota Vikings when they selected Christian Ponder #12 overall is not because Ponder wasn’t ever going to be a serviceable NFL quarterback. We didn’t know that for sure (I think everyone kind of assumed) but even if Ponder ended up being the next Joe Montana, Rick Spielman failed the draft process. Even if he knew without a doubt, and I honestly hope that he did, that Ponder was the guy he wanted to hitch his wagon to, the appropriate move was to trade down anywhere from pick 13-40 and take Ponder after accumulating more value.
In my opinion, the draft is almost as much about the quality of player you can or can’t reasonably expect to get the next time you pick as it is the player you’re actually selecting. For example, if you feel like you need a cornerback and a defensive tackle, and this draft has 13 good cornerbacks and 3 good defensive tackles, it would behoove you to take the defensive tackle first and deal with the cornerback position later. Putting prospects in “tiers” is one of the ways to get multiple good players on your football team.
This piece is somewhat inspired by a brief twitter conversation I had with Cheesehead TV’s Brian Carriveau. In the most recent mock draft we did on From the Benches we based our player availability on Drafttek.com’s 7 round mock draft. I passed on Jersey Al’s pick of Calvin Pryor, a player that I like very much, to select Ryan Shazier. My reasoning behind this was and is that I prefer second round safety prospects like Jimmie Ward, Terrence Brooks and Deone Buchanon to 2nd round inside linebacker prospects like Chris Borland, Yawin Smallwood, and Preston Brown. It’s not that I have ILB above safety as a need, I don’t. I just feel like the best two football players I could have selected with my two picks were Ryan Shazier and either Terrence Brooks or Jimmie Ward (I chose Brooks, but going back I would select Ward).
To this effect, I’ve decided to tier the draft prospects at my top 5 positions of need as illustrated in my post-free agency draft needs update for your reading pleasure. I’ve listed prospects at center even though I know we’re not taking one. I didn’t stop the tiers at a specific number for any one position I stopped when I thought the player available could no longer reasonably be expected to have a positive impact on the 2014 Packers:
Tier 1- Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor
Tier 2- Jimmie Ward, Terrence Brooks, Deone Buchanon, LaMarcus Joyner, Craig Loston
Tier 3- Dion Bailey, Ed Reynolds, Ahmad Dixon, Tre Boston, Dezmen Southward
2. Inside Linebacker
Tier 1- CJ Mosley
Tier 2- Ryan Shazier
Tier 3- Chris Borland, Yawin Smallwood, Preston Brown, Christian Jones, Shane Skov
Tier 4- Carl Bradford, Lamin Barrow, Max Bullough, Andrew Jackson
Tier 1- Marcus Martin, Travis Swanson, Weston Richburg
Tier 2- Bryan Stork, Gabe Ikard, Tyler Larsen
4. Outside Linebacker
Tier 1- Khalil Mack
Tier 2- Anthony Barr, Dee Ford (DE), Kyle Van Noy
Tier 3- Trent Murphy (DE/OLB), Scott Chrichton (DE), Jeremiah Attaochu
Tier 4- DeMarcus Lawrence, Marcus Smith (DE), Jackson Jeffcoat (DE), Adrian Hubbard
5. Tight End
Tier 1- Eric Ebron
Tier 2- Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro
Tier 3- CJ Fiederowicz, Troy Niklas
Tier 4- Xavier Grimble, Arthur Lynch, Crockett Gilmore, Jacob Pederson, Joe Don Duncan