As fans of the Cleveland Browns, Clevelanders have a long history and lots of experience related to the NFL Draft.
As fans of the team, they also have a long history of watching their favorites get things wrong.
Time after time, or at least it seems, the Browns have drafted someone to fill a perceived need on the team. This has never been more prevalent than at the #22 position for a QB. Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel has made the 22nd pick in the 1st Round seem cursed.
With this experience, Browns fans hate the idea of need-based drafting, even though many of them also want players who can contribute right away, and often talk about drafting the "Best Player Available" or BPA.
Sadly, BPA is a lie. Why? A few reasons:
The best player available may be dealing with an injury. Sidney Jones is a great example. If he had not gotten injured, Jones would have been drafted by no later than the 20th pick. He is that talented. He is that good. So should he be the Browns pick at #33? Of course not, his injury plays a role even if his talent is much better than #33.
When you see the word "scheme" think "role." Scheme is not just a 3-4 or a 4-3 but about how certain players are used. The Wide-9 defensive line places it's defensive ends out farther than a traditional 4-3, even though it is a 4-3.
A very talented defensive end could be ranked in the Top 10, based only on talent, but in the Wide-9 scheme not fit the role asked of them. Solomon Thomas could be a very good example of this. Some have Thomas going #2 to the Niners but he likely isn't that valuable in a Wide-9 scheme due to his lack of speed/burst and length. That doesn't mean he isn't still one of the Top 10 Best Players Available but he would be unlikely to be drafted by a Jim Schwartz led defense that high.
With QBs, some offensive coordinators love a deep thrower. Bruce Arians' QBs might be terrible for a West Coast Offense. And vice versa.
In the end, Joe Mixon is still going to be drafted high. Just not as high as his talent is worthy. For many, Mixon is the best running back but will be the 3rd or 4th drafted most likely.
Character matters. Not just because of PR issues. Not just because of possible suspensions.
The locker room culture is a huge thing and having character issues are not something most NFL teams want to have many of. Especially highly drafted ones.
In college, a player can be very good just based on his pure athletic talent. That player might be able to put up great numbers because they are physically just that dominant.
Once you get to the NFL, talent alone can only take you so far. Football IQ, heart, motivation and other unmeasurable things can play an even bigger role than someone's physical gifts.
Browns fans saw that with Justin Gilbert. He produced in college, had good physical talent but was lacking in some of these other things that made him a bust.
Based on talent and physical abilities, Gilbert looked like he would be good and one of the Best Players Available. Bust!
This actually sparked this discussion. I stated that the Browns should/would not draft a OL, LB or WR with the #12 pick. While players like Reuben Foster, Dalvin Cook or Forrest Lamp are very talented and maybe better than current Browns, they are unlikely to be on the Browns after the Draft.
With Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins, Foster would play about 25% of the snaps, barring injury. Cook could see snaps but they would be at the loss of snaps for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Crow and Duke proved last year they can be a dangerous 1-2 punch, Cook doesn't add a lot to that equation at the cost of the #12 pick. Lamp might start at right tackle but the team believes in their line without having to spend the #12 pick to add to it.
The other issue with opportunity is looking at the team as a whole. Just as an example: If I believe I have an 80 at running back but a 50 at QB, the team is upgraded more by drafting a QB with a similar but maybe a bit lower grade. So while they could maybe draft an 83 graded running back, a QB with an 80-grade upgrades the team a greater level while not taking snaps from talented players.
Teams also look at how their team is balanced. Having a ton of high draft picks or big contracts at the same part of the depth chart. Jacksonville, for example, are in position that they could add the top cornerback in the Draft at #4 but are unlikely to do so. While a corner would help and have opportunity across from Jalen Ramsey, Ramsey and spending big money on Tashaun Gipson means the team has to spend their big assets in other areas.
That doesn't mean they won't draft a corner but its likely to be a later pick. It is tough to have high draft picks and big contracts in one area because that means other parts of the depth chart are filled with lower draft picks, and generally less talent.
Teams would love to have all 1st Round picks and big free agent pickups all over their roster but it is not realistic. Instead, teams have to figure out how to balance out their assets so taking the Best Player Available is nice when you play Madden without a Salary Cap but not realistic in the real world.
Take It From Someone Who Has Been There
I end with someone who has been there. Josh Norris is always a great follow but was especially good as the NFL Network was showing old Drafts. Josh shared information from being inside of a War Room during a Draft. His last tweet related to this Draft said it all:
Have I changed your mind about Best Player Available drafting?