When looking at the talent available in this year’s draft, NFL teams must go into Thursday with a strategy. What positions did they already address in free agency? What positions of need will they address in the draft? Are they drafting players at those positions as intended starters or depth players? What free agents are they targeting as potential starters if the draft doesn’t shake out the way the plan?
In the chart below, the 33rd Team’s big board prospects are tiered into top 50/100/150 — and it paints an interesting picture of where you’ll need to pick your players to fill your needs. If you are a team that is looking for 2-3 potential starters in the first three rounds, you will need to at least have a good idea what position you expect will be available at your next pick. Preferably, you have a good idea who will be available at your next few picks.
There are positions like cornerback, offensive tackle, wide receiver and edge that account for 51% of the top 150 prospects, with talent distributed evenly between the three tiered groups. If you need any of these four positions, you should be able to find a talented player in the first four rounds.
So a player like Michigan edge Kwity Paye will certainly be taken in the first round, but a team with multiple needs other than edge, they may look elsewhere in the first round knowing that they can target a pass rusher on Friday night.
Interior offensive line and quarterback each have six players in the top 50, but only eight players in the top 150 — so if you need to address IOL/QB in this draft, you should use an early pick on them.
Interior defensive line, tight end, and safety are the opposite, where they only have four players ranked in the top 50 but 35 players in the top 150. It looks like it might be a mistake to use an early pick on one of these guys unless you’re desperate to fill the position (or think of Kyle Pitts as more than “just a TE”).
SEE ALSO: 33rd Team’s Official Mock Draft