This is my preferred approach to drafting. It is a combination of drafting the BPA along with working on specific needs. It is also the method of being proactive and building a team for the long term and not just hoping to fix problems short term. You really have to be on top of your game to be effective using this approach. The margin for error is smaller. You have to have a top notch scouting department.
First you identify your needs, both immediate and in the future. For example, if you know you will be losing a guard after the coming season, you need a guard to develop now. Then you identify the prospective players in the draft who fit your system. Then you rank the players. You set up plateauís with players by position versus players by need.
For example: you have determined your short term need is a DE but in a few years you may need to address the FS position. Maybe your starter will be up for FA in a year or two down the road.. You also are not happy with the overall speed of your receivers and would like to upgrade that position with some quickness and speed. You might need some improvement at LG. You have a decent LG starter but would feel a little better if you made an improvement.
The team makes all of its analysis and priorities and then goes through the phase of contingency. By this I mean all kinds of scenarios are played out and it is determined just what to do in each case. By the time the actual draft starts a very good GM and team has attempted to cover every base and every possible scenario that might happen. They are prepared. Even if a top 5 type of player suddenly drops into their lap.
With this method of combination drafting you are attempting to think long term while developing your roster for the short term as well. You want to address concerns and weaknesses while also improving your overall team depth and making preparations for the following years.In some cases you might flood a position as well. Perhaps you know your TE is about to drop off in talent. He is slowing down a little and getting nicked up. He might have two years left, maybe not. You also know your primary backup TE will probably move on after this year due to free agency. In this example case:
Round 1: take the BPA on your top level plateau which is a FS even though you have a perceived need for a DE. You might have a pretty good FS on your roster but this player was just too good to pass on. The only DE on your list will mean a costly move up by trade and you determine it is not worth the move up.
Round 2: take the speedy WR with a lot of upside even though he might not represent the BPA criteria in the strict measure of definition. You have decent to good receivers but have a desire for some speed in this area. There are other players on your list such that you can still get a good player the next round.
Round 3: you go after the best DE on the board filling the need you had. This is a needs based selection.
Round 4: you get that TE even though fans will question your sanity because your TE just went to the Pro Bowl.
Round 5: maybe you have two selections in this round and you get another DE which is a need area and is flooding that position. With the second selection you then go after the BPA on the board regardless of position. He might be a QB, a RB or a LB, it makes no difference to you. You just added the best talent available.
Round 6: again the BPA approach is most likely used by most teams here but you change it up a little. You have a DE - LB and an OG on the board. You have a need down the road for that OG but that DE is very intriguing. You take a couple of calls for your selection just in case someone is offering a good deal. You decide to take the OG. To most fans this is strange, as they think you are set at OG
Here is what you did. You took the best player on your board and followed it with a solid player in round 2 that upgrades a position that was not a primary need. Then you drafted for need in round 3. In round 4 you built for the future with the TE. In round 5 you selected another need position, a DE. In round 6 you took BPA and also filled a future need.
I like to see this combination type of drafting used because it strengthens the team immediately and provides for insurance down the road as well. The danger is you had better have guessed right and done your homework correctly. Your odds of hitting on these players are a little less likely using this method after your first selection..
Every draft there seems to be debate on should their team trade up or trade down. There are two ways to look at trades during the draft.
1. You are attempting to stock pile draft picks and give yourself better odds on hitting on a couple of players. Also you might see how the board is developing and see players you are interested in staying on the board. Perhaps you can see an opportunity to trade down for an extra selection or two and still get a player within the plateau level you want. In this case you might get two players for the cost of one pick
2. You see that one special player still on the board and in your scouting and analysis have determined he is going to become a solid starter and possible All Pro. By using lower draft selections, you can move up for that player. This is a gamble and one that I do not like see used very often. But there are times when I would do it. Especially in rounds 2 to 4.