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Theory: Trent Baalke's Draft Strategy is not traditional BPA

I think Trent is taking the way of Parcells and what the Pats have done in the most recent years. They dont always draft the biggest named guys but draft players that are good at patriot football. Im not saying we run that offense or defense but still the base of the way they draft seems very familiar with what we've done the last couple seasons in the draft. Suprise moves that end up paying off for us.
Dont get me wrong I believe its a crap shoot and this is why the Pats drafting hadnt been real great of recent. Outside of their two big TE's I cant recall them having knock out drafts of late. But it is what has kept them ontop of the game over the last 10 seasons or so.
I think Baalke practices "BPA for challenged positions". As a result, we see a WR at #30.

If we took a CB at 30, how long would it be before starting?

So you basically have to subtract a year of production for any BPA who doesn't have a clear path to playing tome.

I think OL is another story. Since we've already sunk so many high draft picks onto the line that it doesn't make sense anymore. You'd break this rule for a guy like decastro.
Some people are wondering about the L. James pick when we already have a guy like Kendall Hunter who has similar ability and size. I think they drafted James for the 4th quarter. When the game may be tight, and the defense is a little tired. You get a speed ball like James in the game. Now they have to chase him around. Makes the defense want to quit. And with our RB depth James should be fresh in the 4th qtr. Remember Sproles late in the 4th against us...yeah something like that.

If we can use James for more than that - which I think we can - it will be gravy too.
[ Edited by qnnhan7 on May 5, 2012 at 6:54 AM ]
Originally posted by qnnhan7:
Some people are wondering about the L. James pick when we already have a guy like Kendall Hunter who has similar ability and size. I think they drafted James for the 4th quarter. When the game may be tight, and the defense is a little tired. You get a speed ball like James in the game. Now they have to chase him around. Makes the defense want to quit. And with our RB depth James should be fresh in the 4th qtr. Remember Sproles late in the 4th against us...yeah something like that.

If we can use James for more than that - which I think we can - it will be gravy too.

You're overthinking it. The problem with smaller backs is that they cannot have that many carries.

Solution: get two of them!
  • buck
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 11,512
Originally posted by Oldschool9erfan:
Originally posted by buck:
It seems that you just copied and pasted OTC words.

If that is the case, give him credit.

I have my points next to his points, I thought that was obvious since it was his thread that we are following, but made it more clear.

Sorry. Missed your comments. I will go back and read them.
i agree

im not really a fan of the BPA method im more of BPA at position of need

we needed a playmaker because apparently the staff feels pretty strong at RG so they go after a WR and then again a RB in 2nd
Originally posted by OtisDriftwood:
Dont get me wrong I believe its a crap shoot and this is why the Pats drafting hadnt been real great of recent. Outside of their two big TE's I cant recall them having knock out drafts of late. But it is what has kept them ontop of the game over the last 10 seasons or so.

I agree with this and believe it is the smartest way to draft. They will still make mistakes but they will always bring in enough new talent to keep the team motivated and evolving.

Several things I believe Baalke and Harbaugh do as a rule:

  1. Only bring in trouble players if you also have other options if they implode...then cut them as necessary. The only guy who was too important to cut was Edwards...who was cut.
  2. Seldom draft "stars" who may be moody. Jenkins is an example of their kind of pick, Crabtree may be the antithesis.
  3. No fear when they see a guy who is an upgrade--James may be similar in size to Hunter but he offers a much more explosive game. They obviously have decent RBs but they did not see the production they wanted and James was the answer.
  4. Adapt the offense to the players they can bring in rather than the other way around. Singletary knew exactly how he wanted the team to play and if they were not able to do what he wanted...it was their fault. Harbaugh will scheme with the strengths of his players in mind...putting them in a positions to succeed.
  5. Character and production over combine numbers and media love.

Most fans don't know players past the second round during the draft but good GMs know players down to the UDFAs who they may have watched in HS. I am speaking for myself here so no knock on fans.
Originally posted by nickbradley:
Originally posted by qnnhan7:
Some people are wondering about the L. James pick when we already have a guy like Kendall Hunter who has similar ability and size. I think they drafted James for the 4th quarter. When the game may be tight, and the defense is a little tired. You get a speed ball like James in the game. Now they have to chase him around. Makes the defense want to quit. And with our RB depth James should be fresh in the 4th qtr. Remember Sproles late in the 4th against us...yeah something like that.

If we can use James for more than that - which I think we can - it will be gravy too.

You're overthinking it. The problem with smaller backs is that they cannot have that many carries.

Solution: get two of them!

Most teams don't actually do pure BPA at any position. They usually mix in need as well in constructing their board. But you always follow your board.
The theory presented in the op is rediculous at best imo. It screams of "I simply can't understand why Baalke and company draft so oddly, so much differently than I would have, so here is my theory".

I just think Baalke and his scouts value traits that most the league sees as 2nd tier, more highly than most teams and arm chair gm's
[ Edited by WINiner on May 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM ]
A couple things: Teams like NE haven't had stellar drafts for yrs. Why? Because they routinely end up picking 30th thru 32nd, so in addtion to points made here, a huge amount of how or what teams draft is determined by how well set the team is. Is it the 2002-2010 49ers who needed help at 22 of 24 positions seemingly every draft... or is it NE, just coming off a SB or runner up slot.

Our drafting now is totally different than just 3 yrs ago when we drafted in top 10 for what seemed like 8 yrs in a row. With a team that was a legit SB entry in 2011, it is a completely different matter, and BPA can and does work fine there. BPA when you are coming off a 2-12 season, is not the same as drafting BPA when you have a SB quality team. That said, el guapo said it as succinctly as anyone. Draft BPA with your needs in mind. Hence we drafted for situational guys. 3rd down and 3 or Red Zone guys, essentially, those guys who can move the chains. That was our most obvious and most pressing need. This team is so good it could and did draft a situational player like La Michael., something we could never have afforded to do in times past. Our most pressing need was for someone who could move the chains on 3rd down, and hence, our #1 receiver this yr will be a situational player, a tailback or scatback, in the mold of Reggie bush. Brilliant, but I never thot we would do it. AJ was pretty easy, except he was farther down on some boards than ours. I give our scouting team an A for not looking at the top 2 or 3 WRs and calling it quits, because to get those guys we would have had to trade up substantially, screw up our well managed salary scheme, and end up with another crbtre situation. We ended up with a WR pretty much equal to guys who went way earlier but we got the same value. That is what baalke did thruout the draft.

Coach and baalke also brot 17 UDFAs into camp, unprecedented in my recollection...it is also something, the only thing, i predicted about the draft...except i thot they would have several more unknown WRs in the group. Still 3 UDFA WRs is a big deal, and I applaud it.
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.
If it's one thing I appreciate is a great analysis. Good work Bro.
[ Edited by 9ersLiferInChicago on May 5, 2012 at 8:14 AM ]
Pasodoc--a couple of things you mentioned really hit home.

  • Keeping within their salary system, which is not easy in this sport as they have to be willing to let guys go when others over pay (Snyder and Morgan).
  • Also bringing in situational talent in James being possible now due to strength of the team's overall roster. They must really be confident about the OLine or they would likely have taken a run at a top OG. Or they had Looney rated close to the top and knew he would be there for them.
  • And bringing in so many UDFAs to compete for jobs. Most have no chance but it adds a sense of competitive urgency to the camps

The changes over the past year are mind-boggling! So great to see. Having a stock pile of talent allows them to let the marginal guys go and that definately reminds me of NE.
Originally posted by 9ersLiferInChicago:
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.
If it's one thing I appreciate is a great analysis. Good work Bro.


Agree!