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Football 101: Drafting for the NFL

Flooding a Position

By Patty, PackerChatters Staff

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II. Draft By Flooding A Position

Sometimes you see a team draft 3 or 4 players who play the same position. A team might be so in need of a MLB that they draft 3 MLB. Why do they do this? Simple reasoning. When you make a selection you never know for sure if the player will make it or not. You have such a crying need you have to insure yourself. An excellent example was Ron Wolf taking three consecutive cornerbacks in the draft immediately following Randy Moss torching his Packers for about 8 TDs in two games. I see this as a sign of desperation. Most teams will not acknowledge they did this. They will insist they were simply taking the BPA on the board and it is pure coincidence that they all happen to play the same position.

When a team is drafting for a specific need they almost always draft a position twice. It is the 3rd selection where the charge of flooding comes in. The reason is it represents a hedge. In selecting a player you never know for certain about the player. For whatever reason he might not pan out and you are left still in huge need of a position to fill. So, teams will hedge and insure themselves by lowering the probability of failure with just one selection and make multiple selections at the same position.

I tend to lean this way myself at times. If I really need to work on a certain position in the draft I do not stop with just 1 selection. I will use multiple picks and I am not adverse to making 3 selections. Here is how I do it. I take my primary pick at say MLB. He is a player I am really counting on. But then in maybe round 3 or 4 I come right back and take another MLB. This time I look for a MLB that has enough ability that I can use him on the outside. Maybe he does not fit everything I want in a MLB but he has qualities that can be used elsewhere as well as plugging in at MLB if my primary guy does not work out. Then in round 6 or 7 I come right back with another MLB unless I am satisfied with the 2 MLBs I have already selected. This player will be a player who maybe comes from a lower division school and was a very good player for his division. A project, perhaps, but a MLB by trade. If I needed a MLB now I feel fairly certain I am going to come out of the draft with an upgrade. Maybe not as big as an upgrade if I have to rely on the late round selection but at least I am not going to be left hanging if or when my primary guy fails.

The Green Bay Packers are known for drafting multiple picks on 1 position. They did it last year under Ted Thomson and they have done it with Mike Sherman and Ron Wolf as well. If you have a large need it is a way to insure that you get 1 player who might help your team. I have no problem with a team using this method every once in a while, as long as the team does not reach and take questionable selections just to flood a position. Any time you flood it's a near certainty you will pass on better players.

I mentioned probabilities and it needs a definition. By this, I am talking about the percentage of players who actually make a difference from each draft. Most players selected represent fresh starts but they barely represent upgrades over the veterans. They might be better than a veteran on the team because of injury or wear and tear but the overall improvement is negligible. You see a team draft 5 starters and the media claims they deserve an A grade. But when you take a closer look you see the reason was generally because the team just did not have a player in the slot and had to start a rookie. The upgrade is not evident.

The percentages of players drafted who become stars is low. The percentages of players who start their first year is low as well.

I go to the words of a former GM who was pretty good at making solid drafts and he said you want to find a minimum of 5 players you drafted to make your team. You hope to find 1 starter, 2 immediate contributors and 2 solid depth players to develop. Success is just 1 starter from a draft with the possibility of having 4 other players eventually start.

III. The Grocery Cart Method

Some teams go into a draft with no specific desire or need. They want to take players at multiple positions to generally upgrade or build their team instead of attempting to shore up a weakness. They will take a CB and then a WR and come back with an OL and then maybe a RB and go after a QB and finish it off with a LB . The teams that use this approach are generally taking the best player on the board for a certain position and not necessarily the BPA on the board.

I do not like this approach because if you have specific needs you might not fill them. Also the probability factor will eat you alive. Say you selected a WR in round 2 and that is all the receivers you selected. He gets hurt or just flat out does not work out for any reason. You just lost out on upgrading your WR unit.

Essentially every team in the NFL drafts for need as the basic building block of their draft. Even the teams who select BPA get around to going after a need area. It may be true that they select BPA on the board early but by the 3rd round those teams are also looking to fill a weakness and will look at players and positions to fill a certain need.

Some teams do it just the opposite. In rounds 1 and 2 they select BPA at positions of need and then in round 3 they just take BPA regardless of position. Some teams also use the Flooding method here as well. They might select a CB in round 1 and then come right back and take another CB in round 3 because he fits the BPA.

With the addition of Free Agency some NFL teams are beginning to move to the Grocery Cart Approach. The advantage of this is you have a chance to keep more positions fresh on your team, and have more team wide competition each training camp. In FA you can add a veteran and then draft a young player at the same position. So you addressed a perceived weakness and also added players at other positions as well. You never know when a need will arise. What may start out as a strength can disappear quickly and become a huge need. So teams using this grocery cart approach are hoping to give themselves an edge on the unknown and at the same time hoping to continue to upgrade many areas each year.

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