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Green and Bold: How Strictly Will Packers Use Best Player Available Draft Strategy?

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Green and Bold: How Strictly Will Packers Use Best Player Available Draft Strategy?

Pinning down the prospects most likely to be drafted—and in what order—by any franchise is difficult, but especially so for the Packers, whose usual adherence to a best player available (BPA) draft strategy clouds predictions, given that no one knows who will be available come the 27th overall pick. 

However, even though Ted Thompson's Packers are often one of the first franchises mentioned when discussing BPA strategy, they do not—and should not—always follow it strictly. 

For most teams who draft this way, best player available doesn't mean best overall player available. For the Packers, it means the best player available who still fits within a framework that Thompson and his team of scouts have established, and of course that framework changes from year to year, factoring in need more or less given holes on the roster. 

This year, there are a lot of directions the Packers could go in Round 1.

It would not be surprising to see them target a defensive tackle, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, or even a tight end with their first selection. 

But the parameters of BPA truly become tested when a highly regarded prospect drops unexpectedly. 

Take, by way of example, Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin, considered the third best offensive lineman available in this year's class and a mid-first round prospect (CBS Sports ranks him as the 18th best player available).

Round 1 could shake out a lot of ways, but most of them would see Conklin off the board well before Green Bay's pick. Still, say he falls to 27th.

That would be extremely tempting for the Packers, who have offensive guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton and left tackle David Bakhtiari facing unrestricted free agency in March. Thompson needs to draft some developmental prospects (likely college tackles who will kick inside to guard)...but could he really spend a first-round pick on a positional group that has five confirmed starters heading into training camp?

If he left Conklin on the board to target another prospect—say outside linebacker Leonard Floyd or defensive tackle Vernon Butler—it would be clear that need was playing a large role in that position. While the Packers have their own internal rankings that we will never be privy to, virtually all analysts have Conklin ranked higher than Floyd or Butler. 

But again, it comes down to the question of whether the Packers will jump at taking a talented player who has fallen to their pick if it's at a position of lesser need.

Thompson has appeared to be influenced by need more in the past two seasons—selecting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round in 2014 and defensive back Damarious Randall in the first round last year—and this year, once again, defense will likely win the day on Day 1. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (62) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

If he picks a true OT in the 1st I'll be ticked off. If Conklin is the last true top tier talent at OT, trade back and get more ammo in the 2nd round. Rounds 2-3 are pretty stellar on the DL this draft.

Besides, Bakh is a top 15 LT and Bulaga is a top 5 RT when healthy and is signed for another 4 years. It's not the right time to draft an OT who doesn't project inside.

NT, DT, ILB, OLB. Repeat.

Tundraboy's picture

Hard to disagree with your points. Would not consider OL early even If a true top notch LT was available because who knows if he could play LT at NFL level. We need, DL, and LBs first and foremost. First pick I would like to see is a complement to Daniels or a true NT.

AgrippaLII's picture

Nothing is more important than keeping AR off the turf...nothing! If Conklin falls to #27 I expect TT will sprint to the podium himself.

Evan's picture

But where would he play?

He'd only see the field due to injury. I think drafting a player in the 1st round who in an ideal world would never see the field is a misuse of resources. You need an impact player in R1.

RCPackerFan's picture

I would rather go and draft Jaylon Smith in the first round, if your drafting a player to sit.

dobber's picture

If you're drafting a guy who has to play right now for your team to be decent, then the roster isn't as good or deep as it should be for a solid playoff team. I have no problem drafting a guy who is a bit of a project, if it means that the team will be that much better in the long term.

Besides...the Packers could have used another decent OL..or WR...or LB...on the depth chart last fall--even though at draft time we were wondering where/if Montgomery or Ryan were going to play--couldn't they?

Evan's picture

The Packers will be "decent" with or without the first round pick playing right away. But the hope is that the 1st pick will step in and be a contributor from day 1. I think that's true of every team - no team is without holes and needs.

There is a difference between drafting a project and drafting a guy who, if everything goes to plan, will play zero snaps.

Tarynfor12's picture

" If you're drafting a guy who has to play right now for your team to be decent, then the roster isn't as good or deep as it should be for a solid playoff team. I have no problem drafting a guy who is a bit of a project, if it means that the team will be that much better in the long term."

There is basis for both arguments to how the Packers draft success has been the past 5-6 years. My view has been we have kept some to long with the hope of growth and have failed to enable more the growth of others. This has left us, for the larger part, with to many at best grade C/C- guys with some remaining as such through much less fault of their own. The diminishing season ends is truth to this as the much heralded division title was lost and is in even more danger of being lost again if some would look with open eyes.
This team does need a day one starter of greater grade than C/C+ on the front seven and if another project or another square peg in a round hole guy is yet again the idea, even with the assumed easy schedule, the division title is farther away and a playoff wildcard not far behind.

Steve Cheez's picture

Love the picture, Dobber, that's one of my all-time faves!

Tundraboy's picture

Best commercial in a long time. Coookie

Tundraboy's picture

Evan, You hit the nail on the head.

IowaPacker's picture

This is the classic dilemma. Last year, the OTs got over at times powered by top-tier defenders. Our defensive needs certainly need to be addressed, but the BPA has to be worthy of a 1st round grade. Remember the TT drafted Rogers well before an apparent need to replace Favre. At this point, I trust the Packers talent grading approach and will accept how it plays out.

IowaPacker's picture

correction ... OTs got over powered at times ..

4EVER's picture

The not edit button, is conspicuously appended to the posts timestamp...

edit: Trust in Ted!

croatpackfan's picture

Interesting, that Ted Thompson, isn't it, Michelle? We would like to know how Packers (Ted Thompson and his crew) chose who is BAP. But, as we do not know we try to go around and make conclusions regarding what we see as Packers need and how we see who should be BAP at the moment of the Packers pick.
I trully believe Packer are picking BAP in first 3 rounds of every and each draft. Sometimes roster needs and BAP came to each other, than we thinks Ted are picking for the need. Like Ha-Ha. But that pick was BAP pick. It was surprise that Ha-Ha lasted that long. It was clear BAP pick... Last season draft? SImilar. Packers had several ILBs available to pick with thair 1st and 2nd round picks. But they chose to take 2 CB. And WR in the 3rd round. Picking for needs? No way...
Additionally, we do not know how packers evaluate players. They might do that differently than "experts" playing "mock" drafts or differently than scouts who is evaluating players publicly.
I believe first 2 rounds will be D, probably both DT (NT/DE) if not DT & OLB. Round 3 look for O and after that mixture...
That is how I see Packers logic!

Evan's picture

I don't think I agree that BPA and need just happened to align so often.

You mention Ha Ha. Sure, I could see him being BPA and need (though I don't think it was a surprise he was still here - many mocks had him going right in that range). But guys like Adams, Lacy, Bahktiari, Datone, Perry, Bulaga, Sherrod, Cobb, Raji, Matthews...they all filled clear needs. (That's just a list off the top of my head.) Were they also BAP? Impossible to say.

As for the 2 CBs last year, after losing House and Tramon, CB was definitely a need.

I think BPA comes into play more in later rounds. In the first 2-3 rounds, it's more about balancing BPA with need.You don't want to reach for a position of need, but holes on your roster have to play into the decision making process to some degree.

RCPackerFan's picture

I would say they were the best players available at needed positions.

Cobb I would argue was drafted purely on Best player available. Many projected him to go in the high 2nd round or sneak into the first round.

I have no idea how they set up there board, but if they have 3-4 players rated the same, I assume they take the player that fills the biggest need.

croatpackfan's picture

I agree on that. Surely it would be stupid not to fill need if your 3-4 different position BAPs are similar or same in evaluation value...

croatpackfan's picture

They obviously targeted those two CB. Thare is no doubts. But I remember on different web pages, as well here, needs were TE & ILB, DL. Nobody or very few mentioned CB (Casey & Mycah were in the first line!). Today lor t of people pretending that they expected CB picks, but I remember well. Huge anger about first 3 picks....

DrealynWilliams's picture

I agree that there weren't many people expecting DB in the first round (and especially not in the 2nd after already drafting one in the 1st), but I don't recall any "anger".

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That is not the way I remember it at all. CB was thought of as a clear need. It was a draft with a lot of depth at CB, so some, including me, thought GB could use the 1st round pick on BPA. CB prospects last year:

1st Round
Trae Waynes
Kevin Johnson
Marcus Peters
Byron Jones

2nd Round
Jalen Collins
Ronald Darby
Eric Rowe
Senquez Golson
Quinten Rollins

3rd Round
D'joun Smith
PJ Williams
Alex Carter
Craig Mager
Steve Nelson

4th Round
Josh Shaw
Doran Grant

croatpackfan's picture

Reynoldo, I agree with you that you were amongst rare people who was telling us CB is need. And I'm not reffering only on this web site... I read several Packers web sites regularly - like packers.com, acmepackingcompany.com, packernet.com (from this last there is variety of other Packers sites!)

croatpackfan's picture

As my reply to you, please read what I wrote as answer to Reynoldo...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't see your comments on Acme. Do you comment there?

In fairness, I did think that Hayward wouldn't be much worse than Tramon at outside CB, so due to the depth, GB could go BPA in round 1 and find a good CB in round 2, 3, or even 4. I was delighted when TT took my draft crush, Rollins, in the 2nd round! Time will tell how that works out for us. I still think Rollins might become the starter outside with Randall sliding inside, but so far that hasn't been the case.

Tundraboy's picture

Well said. I believe what you stated is closer to reality, it's not as cut and dry as one or the other. It's a weighted decision to some degree.

Packmaniac's picture

My guess is when the BPA formula has two or three players pegged at virtually the same level on the board, need becomes the "tie-breaker." I seriously doubt a board is clear-cut list, like ducks in a row. You might have it listed numerically as an organizational tool, but odds are things aren't that cut 'n dried. The gap between 25-28, for instance, may prove too small in their eyes to really factor in, so need breaks the logjam. But when the BPA gap is huge, like when Rodgers fell to 24 and Favre was still playing at a high level, you grab the guy without a second thought.

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, that is how I assume it is as well. I just posted something similar above.

4EVER's picture

Funny how 24 other teams passed on that same or in most instances a much bigger gap...throw luck out the window, some years the spirits are looking down upon you.

Packmaniac's picture

Yeah, looking over NFL draft history presents an interesting mishmash. Sometimes things line up in a way that holds up relatively well in hindsight, other times it's like "who spiked the punch?"

scullyitsme's picture

Who wouldn't take Conklin? You draft him, that means you would upgrade LT. Also you don't have to pay David B, next year. That in turn frees up the cash to sign both sitton and Lang. Next year you O line would be Conklin , sitton, Lang, Linsey, Bulaga, all under contract for probably 3 years protecting Aaron. I'll take that everyday and twice on Sunday's over reaching for an ilb in the first.

Evan's picture

There are other options besides drafting Conklin or reaching for an ILB...

A. There is no way of knowing if he'll be better than Bahk. I'm reading some scouting reports that say he'd be a RT in the NFL.
B. Extending both Lang and Sitton into their 30s strikes me as a bad idea and very anti-TT. One of them, sure - I vote Lang - but not both.
C. If the choice is between Bahk or BOTH Lang and Sitton, I think I'd have to go with the young LT over the aging OGs.

scullyitsme's picture

Completely Disagree....It'd be a no- brainer. Bahk will cost more than either lang or sitton and he's not as good at his position. Bahk is just an ok Tackle, good, but not great..Cant see paying him 8-10 million a year for that. Draft is just speculation. If you think Conklin is as good or better you don't hesitate.

RCPackerFan's picture

I disagree. Its not a no brainer.

Sign 2 30+ OG's who have had a history of injuries. Just doesn't seem smart to me. Also they resigned Taylor to a bigger contract basically to replace on of the 2 guards. Also I am willing to bet they draft a G in this draft to be another replacement. They will probably resign one of the 2 guards, but I would be surprised if they resigned both, unless they take a really good deal.

Why is everyone down on Bakhtiari? He is easily a top 20 LT in the league. Your going to let a LT like that go?

scullyitsme's picture

Your going to pay a 20th left tackle big money and be satisfied with that? Last I checked 20th is bottom 3rd in the league. I'm not down on him, He's ok but he was awful early last year, then got hurt, Then came back some and looked better when he did play last year. Also I doubt Taylor was signed to replace Sitton or Lang. He's insurance and probably ok if he had too. My thinking is anytime you have Just ok guys(especially when the are about to make big bucks) Your should at least try and replace. If it doesn't happen and David B is on the roster with a big contract, we could do worse, I'd rather do better if the option like Conklin is there.

RCPackerFan's picture

Does Thompson overspend on anyone? No. Bakhtiari will get what he is worth.

I haven't went through all the LT's in the league, I just put top 20. I would say he is around 15-16th best without looking.

Taylor maybe wasn't signed to replace them, but he was signed to a bigger contract to keep him. Obviously they feel that he will be an option to replace them if they leave.

RVAborn's picture

Why does an average tackle at best (that would be "top15-16") deserve top 5LT money? I like Bakhtiari, don't get me wrong. He seems like a great guy, driven and very serviceable (still incessantly struggles against bullrush though); however, GB can't afford to pay an average guy top 15% money. Wasn't he one of the most penalized o-lineman a few years ago as well? How do we know him playing next to Sitton didn't enhance perceived play? There are just way to many questions with him.

RCPackerFan's picture

I never said he would be paid top 5 LT money.

Thompson doesn't overpay for players. I don't expect him to with Bakhtiari. Also Thompson doesn't let his good players get away very often.

I'm sure playing next to Sitton has helped him, no question. Playing next to a pro bowler will always help a young player.
Bakhtiari showed that he is more then an average LT. He may not be one of the elite LT's in the league but he is more then serviceable.

4EVER's picture

Bingo, BAP on your board, take him! If not, what are we doing here then?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

BPA is sort of a misnomer. They don't rank the players in one line from best to worst. They do something like rank them into slots and they choose a guy from the highest slot that is not yet empty based on other concepts such as need.

Community Guy's picture

thanks.. good article for perspective.. also good comments from several folks. btw, DB may also be a need in this draft.

Jersey Al's picture

My "Jack Conklin" is Taylor Decker. I could not be mad if Ted spent his #1 on Decker. I think he will be significantly better than Conklin on the Pros. BTW, you can see my full OT rankings in the CHTV Draft Guide.

RCPackerFan's picture

Last Friday on Railbird Brian and Scott had a bit of a disagreement on drafting an OT in the first round. I leaned more towards Scott's opinion. His opinion was that they would be better to draft Jaylon Smith (assuming he will make a full recovery) and have him sit a year, then to draft an OT and have him sit a year. Its an interesting argument.

If the Packers have no intentions of resigning Bakhtiari then I say OT makes a lot more sense. But if they are going to resign Bakhtiari, why would they draft an OT in the first to be a backup, when they already have a guy that could be that guy in Tretter?

DrealynWilliams's picture

I disagree. Never forget priority #1 -- protect #12.

We all thought we'd have the best O-Line in the NFL coming into last season. That went down the drain real quick.

RCPackerFan's picture

Packers discovered a pretty good backup LT last year in Tretter. Yeah, they need to find another backup, but I don't think you draft a OT in the first round to be a backup.

They should be able to find a backup OT in rounds 2-4. Keep in mind Thompson has been very good at drafting OL in the 4th round. And they have 3 - 4th round picks this year.

Just my opinion.

DrealynWilliams's picture

If TT drafts an OT in the 1st and he out plays Bahk and/or Bulaga in camp + preseason you better believe he's going to play. I agree, you don't draft an OT in the 1st to bench him, but if he's drafted in the 1st he must have the talent to start.

I don't think the Packers WANT Tretter at LT. It just so happen he was the better option at that time. We had injuries all over the place. That's not to say "he's our guy for the future." Who else did we have available to play LT? Kinda like the Joe Thomas situation (hahahaha).

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, i would believe he would play if he outplays them. I just have a hard time seeing many OT's coming in and playing better then them out of the gate.

Tretter would be an ideal backup option at T. Not a long term starter, but he is more then effective to be a good fill in starter for a few games if needed.
I still want them to draft a T and a G in this draft. I'm just not sold in doing it in the first round.

holmesmd's picture

Why is it a forgone conclusion that Conklin or anyone else will be a better LT? The answer is that it's not! 2 seasons ago we had a top 5 OL by the end of the year. I think Rodgers was sacked around 25 times. This last year was a dumpster fire of typical injuries and stupid untimely penalties. You can add a profound lack of continuity which is probably the key ingredient needed for an elite OL. Year 14' &15' the OL was comprised of the same guys! Let's not get down an Bhak or any other of our guys until we can see how they do this year! I can promise you that TT won't make any premature decisions either. That is not to say that contingency planning can't begin but there is too much of the story that's unwritten. Bhak could have a monster year and the rest of the guys could remain healthy and develop continuity. If that happens, much of this speculation is meaningless IMO.

Jersey Al's picture

I would never suggest drafting a player in Rd 1 to be a backup. Decker, IMO, will be better than DBak and probably Bulaga also. So I grab a near-future starter and that gives me plenty of options next year when all of those contracts expire. And with an Elite QB, there are few positions more valuable to me than OT.

RCPackerFan's picture

To be a future starter or even a starter this year, yeah I would do that. I'm just skeptical that a rookie coming in is going to outplay Bakhtiari or Bulaga.
Therefore he essentially would be a backup this year unless there was an injury.

I agree about the Elite QB and protecting him is one of the top priorities.

Evan's picture

Based on MM's history and loyalty, I'd be shocked if a rookie OT was given half a chance of unseating Bahk or Bulaga.

Tundraboy's picture

That is the reality. Doubt even a potential world beater LT would be given the opportunity to start unless there are widespread injuries. I keep coming back to most bang for this season, which is help for Daniel's, a disruptive NT and a sideline to sideline LB.

Point Packer's picture

I'll put money on us drafting a DL in the 1st round.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm willing to bet that it will definitely be defense. I keep debating whether it is DL or LB though.

4EVER's picture

2017 FA will be interesting. What if Sitton, Lang, Bakh, and Tretter all are lost to FA - ah oh - OK that's not going to happen. TT will do his best to retain the cohesion he's built among the OL. With that; it wouldn't be TT too retain 2 aging - in there 30's - OG's, I recall Tretter holding his own at LT, making Tretter an interesting cog, and Bakh is going to be let free. Following the 2017 FA should garnish the Packers with 2 - 3 2018 r3 compensatory picks and money will have been saved. TT will be in hog heaven, and just in time for the new rule making compensatory picks tradable. Oh my, things are looking up...this is a no lose scenario (edit) no matter how the 2017 FA falls, bravo TT!

Now have someone else select the 2016 BAP D front seven...please!

Bahk, Tretter, Sitton, Lang should be principal 2016 draft day trade material, if one is devious enough, gutsy enough, to go there...

holmesmd's picture

I'll say this early, if Bakh has a good year this season...he's not going anywhere. The only guys TT let's walk that he drafted are older players or guys that are clearly subpar. David is neither. We aren't talking about Tunsil or a Jonathan Ogden type replacement. It's not gonna happen in this draft IMO. DB is a solid LT. We can't have HOF'ers at every position! We must remember that this OL was very good in 2014. Let's see how it plays out. There is another draft next year.;)

DrealynWilliams's picture

I don't get how some people are so quick to dismiss Bahk. Hell, even players that just have 1 down season.

RVAborn's picture

People aren't dismissing Bahk, it's more that his talent isn't worth franchise left tackle money (that his agent will want). The guy lead the league in holding penalties in 2014, and still continues his abysmal struggle against the bull rush. Why does that the warrant $8-10 mil/year people are speculating?? You can't pay average talent top-tier money just because. This may be anecdotal, but the only difference I saw between him and Tretter at LT was the length of hair.

RVAborn's picture

People aren't dismissing Bahk, it's more that his talent isn't worth franchise left tackle money (that his agent will want). The guy lead the league in holding penalties in 2014, and still continues his abysmal struggle against the bull rush. Why does that the warrant $8-10 mil/year people are speculating?? You can't pay average talent top-tier money just because. This may be anecdotal, but the only difference I saw between him and Tretter at LT was the length of hair.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Considering talent only, Decker and Conklin are worthy of being picked anywhere from 18th to 30th. GMs think Conklin can start at LT, are pretty confident that he can be an early starter at RT at a high level, and probably could start at OG. IMO positional value is part of BPA. I mean, you take the lock down CB over the best OC you've seen in years every time, even if the OC grades higher. Most years every team can draft a real good center in the 2nd or early 3rd round, but you might not be in a position to draft a lock down CB for a decade.

Comparing Decker to Jaylon Smith is not fair. Smith is going to sit for all of 2016 because there is no possibility that he can play in 2016; Conklin might sit but only if Bulaga, Sitton and Lang all manage to be injury free (I am assuming that Tretter would play LT if Bakh couldn't). He'd be handy to have. I am confident that Conklin would be a better run blocker than Bulaga or Bakh from the get go and should be at least adequate in pass pro.

There is a good chance that drafting Conklin would save our franchise $15 to $20 million in cap space over the 2017, '18, and '19 seasons. That is another pretty good reason to draft Conklin (yes I agree with Jersey Al that Decker has more upside than Conklin). There could be some logjam if the rookie can only play RT, where Bulaga is locked in by contract.

Notwithstanding the above, I expect that there will be a better player available at ILB, DE, OLB, or failing those, NT/3 Technique, and would bet on a front 7 pick in the first.

RCPackerFan's picture

'Comparing Decker to Jaylon Smith is not fair. '

This isn't completely fair, because like you said Smith has no chance of playing in 2016 (from what we have heard so far). But at the same time, if they drafted an OT where is he going to play? I would be highly surprised if he came in and started over Bakhtiari and Bulaga, unless there was an injury. Also they have a capable fill in Tackle with Tretter, and can still pick up an OT later in the draft.

IMO, they would be better off drafting another position in the first round. Drafting a backup OT in the first doesn't make much sense to me.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

RC, we agree. I would go 5 tech or OLB first, ILB if Ragland is there, and then I like several interior DL better than the idea of taking Decker of Conklin.

I do think there is a difference between Jaylon and the OTs. It is quite possible that Conklin or Decker would step right in should Bulaga, Sitton or Lang get injured, maybe Bakh as well. That said, there are several guys I prefer though over either LT, including Lawson, Billings, Dodd, Ragland, Reed, Robinson, Butler, etc., and I expect one of them to be available.

al bundy's picture

Same old shit, different year. Packers again have huge needs and some jerk is talkinv 'best player available Teddy. News to Ted, that works for a gm deep in talent all around like Spielman, not Ted T who drafted R Rogers and Davante Adams. Thos two wouldnt have been bpa in the sixth round. Teds drafting is horrid. So expect nothing new this year.

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