NFL Draft Strategies

Well today is the big day, the 2013 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. There are numerous different strategies that teams can use when deciding what to do when they are on the clock.

Different people have different philosophies on what the best strategy is and what the best way to build a team through the draft actually is.

In this blog I will go through the different strategies are and how they can help or hurt the team(s) using them.


There is only so much that a team can do on draft day in how they draft including:

  • Drafting For Need
  • Drafting Best Player Available
  • Drafting For Depth
  • Trading To Move Up
  • Trading Down For More Draft Picks

Draft position can and usually does affect a teams strategy as teams with high draft picks are there because they do not have a very good team and probably have a lot of needs while the teams with the lower draft picks made the playoffs and probably only need to tweak their team a little bit and are looking to add depth.

Every team knows what they want to do on draft day and have a draft board with the top players they are interested in by round.


While the teams with the biggest needs are usually the teams picking at the top of the draft, free agency can affect the best teams as well. Star players on good teams switch teams every year in order to get a big pay day leaving a void even in a good team’s lineup.

A team’s General Manager has to determine if a player slightly less-valued at their pick is the smart decision because of greater team need at the position over a higher rated player at a position that is not an immediate team need.

Most teams try to avoid drafting for need but some teams just cannot help themselves. The biggest problem with drafting for need is that they usually end up reaching and drafting a player too high just because they fit a position of need.

While this may seem as the most logical draft strategy, this usually ends up biting them in the butt later on.


Drafting the best player available is the most popular draft strategy with most draft experts and general managers but it can also be the most frustrating. For example, a team has a Pro-Bowl running back along with a very good backup and the best player available when they are on the clock is a running back.

That is when strategies change at the last minute and teams sometimes make rash decisions which they end up regretting later on when the player doesn’t work out while the running back they passed on turns into a Hall of Fame player.

While some teams have the luxury of drafting the best player available, losing teams do not always have this option because they have so many other needs.


This option is very much related to drafting the best player available as losing teams with so many needs in their starting lineup they do not have the luxury to draft for depth as the good teams do.

Of course the teams with the most picks, such as the San Francisco 49ers with 13 picks, have the luxury of drafting for depth. Their starting lineup is pretty much set and they have the luxury of drafting to improve the teams depth in case of injuries to any of their starters.

They do not need immediate impact players and are looking to build the rosters foundation.


If a team has their eye on a particular player and is prepared to do whatever it takes to get him, they can trade up to get their man.

Doing this usually involves trading the pick in question plus lower picks or future draft picks to the team whose pick they want.


Of course, if a team wants to trade up they are going to need a team that is looking to trade down.

Teams that are looking to trade down are willing to do so for numerous reasons including:

  • Coveted Players Are No Longer Available
  • Pick Up Additional Draft Picks
  • Believe Coveted Player(s) Will Still Be Available At Lower Pick

For example, the Chicago Bears have the 20th pick and only five total picks in this year’s draft. They have a top five list of players that they are interested in but if none of them are still available when the 20th pick comes around, they will be looking to trade down and get more draft picks.

Regardless of what a teams strategy is going into the draft, things can change in a hurry once the clock is ticking and every year there are always surprises. This year will be no different.

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