The NFL Draft Best Player Available Myth

With the NFL Draft finally upon us this week you will hear a ton about how Ted Thompson will select the top player on his draft board come Thursday from the mainstream media.

Here’s the thing about that — every single general manager says the same thing. Whenever I hear New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese do an interview here in New Jersey he says it a thousand times. Whenever the New York media discusses the Giants and the draft they will all say that Reese will select the best player available. It’s no different from how Thompson is covered in Green Bay, even though Reese hasn’t been nearly as successful as Thompson in recent drafts other than Odell Beckham Jr. I would imagine it’s the same way in most NFL cities.

No general manager will ever say I’m not selecting the best player available and that there was a better guy, but I just decided not to pick him. Especially after the fact, since it would be a slap in the face to the player drafted. When all the general managers say they’re picking the best players available they really mean they’re picking the best player available at a position of need.

I would bet a lot of money that the Packers’ pick Thursday will either be a tight end, defensive lineman, linebacker or cornerback and not a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive lineman or safety. Even if the top player on their board plays one of those positions listed in the second group they’re not picking him. It would be a poor pick if they did. If the no player was rated close at a position of need than the Packers would trade down, not pick that top guy.

The last time you could say Thompson’s first pick in a draft didn’t fill a need was in 2008 when he drafted Jordy Nelson with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones on the roster and that was with a second-round pick not a first-round pick. B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, Bryan Bulaga, Derrick Sherrod, Nick Perry, Datone Jones and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix all played at need positions.

Clinton-Dix was a pick that hit the jackpot last year. Obviously, I haven’t seen Green Bay’s board from last year (always a dream of mine every year to see their actual board), but I can imagine Clinton-Dix was likely their top player available overall who happened to play at their biggest position of need. If they had a cornerback rated slightly above Clinton-Dix they weren’t going to take him because it wasn’t a need last year.

Cheers to another NFL Draft week where the phrase “best player available” will be used a million times when in reality it’s just another myth like several other notions about the NFL Draft are.

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Matt Bove is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.

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