I am not an NFL GM, obviously, but I thought it would be interesting to post here exactly what strategy I use to fill out my “Should” Mock.
If a quarterback is needed in the first round, and there is one who I have given a first round grade to available, I take him. Good quarterbacks win games. 20 of the last 21 Super Bowls were won by teams starting former Pro Bowl quarterbacks. The one that wasn’t was in 2008, by the New York Giants, who had Eli Manning at quarterback. Manning made the Pro Bowl the very next year. 9 of the 12 starting quarterbacks that made the playoffs in 2011 were drafted in the first 32 picks (Drew Brees was drafted 32nd overall, which was the 1st pick of the 2nd round at the time he was drafted).
Of the 26 quarterbacks drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round since 2002, 6 still have less than 3 years experience and cannot be counted as statistical evidence, but of the other 20, only two have made the Pro Bowl, with one of those being Drew Brees, who, as I said before, was drafted with the 32 ndoverall pick, even though he was actually a 2nd round pick.
Only one of those 20 have won the Super Bowl as a starter, and, of course, that was Brees. Only 5 of those 20 quarterbacks have thrown 1000 passes in their career. Only 4 have thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in their career. Only 5 have career completions percentages of higher than 60% (minimum 100 throws). Historically, quarterbacks drafted in the 2nd or 3rd are no more likely to pan out than quarterbacks drafted in the 4th through 7th. For more on that, read this.
If a quarterback isn’t needed, but a left tackle or defensive end is needed, I address that need before anything unless it’s a major reach. If I have a franchise quarterback and I don’t protect him, I might as well not have a franchise quarterback. There is no such thing as a sure pick in the NFL Draft. Pretty much every position, except, oddly enough offensive tackle, has an fairly equal chance of busting as any other position, for more on that, read this.
Let me say this again. There is no such thing as a sure thing. We can scout for months and months and months and we still wouldn’t know shit relative to what we’ve convinced ourselves we know. Every pick is a risk. Take a college kid and put him in the NFL with millions and there are just so many things that could go wrong, let alone all the possible career ruining injuries he could face.
If I’m going to make a risk, which, by it’s very nature, a draft pick is, especially a first round pick, I would rather take a risk on a quarterback, a left tackle, or a defensive end, because of how important those positions are, than taking a risk on a defensive tackle, linebacker, or wide receiver.
Have a draft board. Just because there are so many things that could go wrong with a prospect, doesn’t mean the draft is a complete crap shoot. Obviously, if a guy has more talent to begin with than another, it helps. Unless it’s for a position like quarterback, left tackle, or defensive end, or unless none of the players on top of my board at the present moment fill a need, I would never make a huge reach against my draft board. I would actually prefer to take best available at a position of need than reach ten or so spots against my Draft Board. You never know when you’ll need talent at a position.