The NFL Draft is just around the corner.
More than anything, we can learn from the past when we look back at the success and failures of teams in the draft.
Sometimes, players get hurt or get into trouble and don’t pan out. Sometimes, players don’t make the jump to the pros and just plain aren’t as good as the team hoped.
Then, there are failures that come from bad decision-making.
“Best Player Available” is a great approach to team-building; just take the player with the most talent. Now, it’s a lot more nuanced than that (as I describe here), but that’s the general idea.
Teams get in trouble when there is a great player on the board, but they think to themselves “Yeah, but I don’t need a guy at that position, let’s take someone else.”
Drafting for need is how teams miss out on the most talent they can get and there may not be a better example of that than when the Jaguars passed on Jon Ogden.
In 1995, the Jaguars took Tony Boselli (who went on to multiple All Pro seasons, was named a member of the All Decade Team and became a Hall of Famer) #2 overall to get their franchise left tackle. Then, after the season, they signed tackle Leon Searcy to the largest contract in NFL history for an offensive linemen giving them their bookend tackles for years to come.
Then, just a couple months after signing Searcy, the 1996 draft rolled around.
The Jaguars picked 2nd again, where stud tackle prospect Jon Ogden was the highest-rated player in the class (in addition to being a Unanimous All American, he also won the Outland Trophy, UPI Lineman of the Year, Jim Parker Award, and the Morris Trophy). The Jaguars, who had drafted Boselli and signed Searcy within the last year, decided they didn’t need another tackle and selected linebacker Kevin Hardy.
Kevin Hardy had a decent rookie year and even had a big season in 1999 (where he made All Pro in his only Pro Bowl season of his career) after they signed former Defensive Player of the Year Bryce Paup to balance out their pass rush. But… that was pretty much it. He wasn’t bad, but his career was pretty unmemorable on the whole.
The Jaguars, however, missed out. Boselli and Searcy both played banged up and eventually had their careers cut short by injuries.
Jon Ogden, on the other had, garnered some Rookie of the Year votes (a rarity for an offensive lineman) and followed that up with 11 consecutive Pro Bowl seasons, including 9 All Pro seasons and a spot on the All Decade Team, and was named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team as one of the greatest offensive linemen in the history of the game.
But the Jaguars sad “Nah, we’re good. We need a linebacker.”
They drafted for need instead of taking the best player available. They felt they didn’t need another tackle.
This left legendary NFL reporter Vic Ketchman to famously ask “Who doesn’t need Jon Ogden?”
The Packers have done a good job of sticking to their best player available mantra over the years. They took Aaron Rodgers because they thought he was the best player available, even though they didn’t “need” a quarterback (like the 20 teams ahead of them that thought they didn’t need a quarterback). They also took Jordan Love when they didn’t “need” a quarterback because they thought he was the best player available.
BPA doesn’t mean you never make the wrong pick, but it’s the best way to ensure that you get as much talent as you possibly can on your team.
After all, who doesn’t need Jon Ogden?
Want to learn more!?
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