Originally posted by OnTheClock:
I think this deserves to be discussed because I see a lot of it going on in multiple other threads. Although.. I think mainly it is the hot topic in MD's draft grade thread where I think he may be being overly-critiqued. There are several draft strategies, but I'd like to just look at two, comparing the first one with what Baalke's strategy appears to be to me.
Draft Strategy One: Pure Value Drafting
Teams like the Cincinnati Bengals (look at their recent drafts) employ this simplistic strategy that basically says "take the overall BPA across all possible positions of needs the team has." So basically, if you need a RB, CB, and DT and the best player available among those three positions is a CB, you take the CB. Some teams are much stricter and will put far less weight on need and in that scenario if they saw a WR rated higher, they would take him instead, regardless of the fact that it was not a need. But that's a whole other strategy to discuss. Back to Pure Value... MD has a valid point in thinking that value drafting can lead to good results -- IF you are a good talent evaluator. Teams that draft for value but their board and rankings of players is utterly silly, simply won't experience the benefits of value drafting.
If I were to apply this strategy for the 49ers this year, I probably would've done something like this:
1. OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia - I had Glenn as the 2nd best OG behind DeCastro and graded him a top 20 player, better than Konz)
2. OLB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma - Oddly enough he was selected by our original 4th. I felt he had mid-late 2nd round talent and upside.
3. WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest - Would've given us a FAST player who can catch better than Ginn and other drop-prone WRs.
4. DE Jared Crick, Nebraska - Crick is way more talented than this.
5. CB Alphonso Dennard, Nebraska - As dumb as he is for doing what he did, the talent would be hard to overlook.
6. RB Michael Smith, Utah State - An explosive player that, while not as productive, would bring the same kind of speed as LMJ.
7. OLB Cam Johnson, Virginia - Would not have changed this pick at all. Despite the health stuff, still feel this was a tremendous value.
That's just based on my personal ratings an example of a Pure Value Draft. Would I employee that exact strategy? Not necessarily..
Now let's discuss what Baalke appears to do...
Draft Strategy Two: "Missing Elements" Drafting
While I'm certain Baalke's draft do take into consideration needs and value (like any team), I believe Baalke's drafts focus on specific players with specific "elements" to add to this team. I believe he looks at the best players with the specific "elements" he wants to add (for example, speed on offense), and based on his evaluation formula -- whatever it is -- stacks and compiles his board that way. This can be an extremely risky endeavor, and it certainly narrows down the players you are looking at to select in the draft. This strategy essentially redefines "value" to the team during this given draft. Players that may be considered better overall at their position by most could feasibly be rated lower due to the lack of a desired element. Ex. Mohamed Sanu running a 4.67 vs. AJ Jenkins running a 4.39.
I firmly believe Baalke looked at the most explosive players such as Kendall Wright, Jenkins, Hill and Chris Givens and rated them heavily based on explosion and polish. Our speed guys last year were Ginn and Williams. Ginn is horribly inconsistent catching and separating against certain coverages, and Williams is unpolished, inconsistent separating, and doesn't protect the ball. If I had to guess, their ranking of the top WR fits in this draft may have been something like 1) Wright, 2) Jenkins, 3) Hill, 4) Givens.
I firmly believe we did that for running back too, and believe this is why we brought in David Wilson for a visit. If I had to guess, I think that ranking was probably 1) Wilson, 2) Pead, 3) James. James may have been in front of Pead, but it depends on what they thought of his "character" record.
I think Baalke does take best player available or value but he also has additional factors that eliminate some players. but you have to look at how the player is going to compliment the team.
1) COLLEGE PRODUCTION - Baalke rates highly on what the player has done in college. He wants to see production (jenkins, James, Robinson, Slowey, Looney, Fleming, Johnson) all have production.
2) FOOTBALL IQ / LOVE OF FOOTBALL - He wants guys that "love" the game 24/7. (Rashaun Woods was more into fishing that football.)
3) CHARACTER GUYS - No Jenoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson's, Probably not Mike Adams........I think he may take a risk on a Perrish Cox, Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards with no risk contracts. He might take a flier on a draft pick late, but not really his style or what Harbaugh wants. But this is huge for them. (Look at the Bengals draft.....they take a lot of "risks" and it effects the team. The Rams also took a lot of questionable guys and there is a huge risk reward for them. The strength of our team is that we have a solid foundation of character guys and that started with Nolan / McCloughan and they have kept that mentality.
4) SIZE / SPEED - Production is first for them, if they produced in college that is going to trump the Size and Speed however they do have some qualities they are looking for
5) TOUGHNESS - Ray Mac, Justin Smith, LaMichael James, Willis......tough guys, not afraid of contact
6) MEDICAL ISSUES - If you do your homework, Niners aren't afraid to take chances on players with injuries or had some injuries.. You can take an Aldon Smith who might be a little lower on the draft value by some, but actually he has higher value because he played injured his entire year. Looney was going to drop because he got hurt at the senior bowl and teams may overlook him and teams did. Frank Gore had two ACL's but the Niners weren't afraid on drafting him in the 3rd round. Cam Johnson has sickle cell anemia, but they are getting great value.
D Lineman - DE are DT's in College, run stuffers first
Backers - OLB's (DE's in college that can convert to Backer, fluid
O Lineman - They need to be able to run block. They want fast lineman and physical lineman that are mobile. (This may have hurt DeCastro....and raised Looney's stock) I also think they want guys in shape (Cordy glenn at 345 with a weight issue isn't going to get it done). Iupati is physical, Large but he has the frame for it.
Secondary - They are looking for bigger corners, but they arent afraid to take a Trenton Robinson for the value. But they want guys that can cover, the day of the old safety is dead.
Receivers - They want a combination of guys.
Running Backs - They like guys that make decisive cuts. One or two cuts and hit the hole. They don't mind a smaller back who can get "lost" behind the large Oline they have built low to the ground. ( Gore 5 9, Kendall 5 7, James 5 8) They also want
WHEN YOU ARE AS DEEP AS THE NINERS WITH NO GLARING NEEDS YOU CAN TAKE BPA.
1) DRAFTING RULES - Take your guy if he's there, but if you can still safely trade back (See Navarro Bowman, Joe Looney,) and still get your guy even better. This draft was really deep in the 3rd round with a lot of guys with similar value here so he can trade back 20 picks and still get his RG of the future.
I think Baalke did a great job of going into the draft as deep as possible especially getting Jacobs, Manningham and Moss
I still don't know what the Draft gurus are ranking Jenkins so low. He is fast (4.31 at pro day 4.39 combine), Productive for 2 years and can run all of the routes. You can make the case for BPA or at least a first round draft pick. Tell me why Kendall Wright is better than Jenkins? Jenkins also had a much inferior QB(s) than Griffin. At WR (Blackmon, Sanu, Quick, Jeffrey) are slow recievers and wouldn't match well with what we already have. Sanu might have been rated highly but he doesn't fit well with the WR that we have.
RB was not a glaring need for the team. I can see that they rated James very high, his numbers beat most of the backs in the draft and maybe the best. The only thing he doesn't have is the ideal size, but the niners aren't afraid to take a smaller back.
Looney was a BPA guy that they feel very highly of, but they knew "his" perceived value may not be as high to other teams and they also knew that by trading back into a high 4th round pick, he knew teams are going to overpay to get their guy.
So by this analysis it shows that Baalke isn't going to overpay, or reach for a player........so why do you think Baalke isn't going BPA? Baalke is all about value, he has even more qualifiers on players so he's going to have a shorter list of potentials players. Jenkins and James are both value picks and hit all of the other intangibles that they are looking for.....smart, high character, productive, speed was a bonus and it is also what his team lacked but wasn't the number 1 driver.