Analyzing Miami Dolphin Positional Draft Strategy

The NFL off-season is sometimes more enjoyable for fans from the 31 teams not basking in Super Bowl glory. For long suffering fan bases like the Miami Dolphins, it is truly fantasy football time. The debates ring, Ryan Tannehill regains his franchise QB form. The road to the Lombardi Trophy is paved in draft pick euphoria. Any attempt at moderation or heaven forbid, negativity, is like slugging your red-headed step sister in the face and stealing her ice-cream.

The term “Best Player Available” or BPA for draftnicks, becomes common vernacular this time of year. In the case of the Miami Dolphins, Mike Tannenbaum and his staff will attempt to fill their fantasy roster with starters across the board. Entering the draft with a starting lineup is sound thinking, because “stretching” or “reaching” for a specific position often leads to draft failure.

Attempts at logic are fraught with trepidation, but here comes some mildly Dolphin centric philosophy that might make sense or probably not!

BPA is not linear across a positional draft board…


Define please!

The best player available is not the same for all positions, meaning, some positions have more value or are harder to find. This is obvious when discussing the QB position, it’s perhaps the most pivotal position in team sports. A QB is worth a lot more than a guard, there’s the simple logic. What’s not simple is when this idea is spread out across the remaining positions on a football team.

discussion will start on the offensive side and the defense will be added later…

Try doing this exercise on the offensive side of the ball, rank the positions in terms of greatest importance. It would probably go something like, QB, LT, WR-1, RB-1, C, WR-2, TE, RB-2, RT, RG, LG. Variations on the list of importance are system based, a running team may place the guard higher than a passing team or put the running back in front of a wide receiver.

In this scenario the BPA could be a guard, but the position is not as high in the value ranking. A QB ranking lower in talent, could actually be the BPA over the guard because his value ranking is so much higher.

The point is, BPA is not linear across a positional draft board…

Wait! The greatest conundrum in NFL draft history has not been solved, there are more vital exercises. Remember also, this is based on a Miami Dolphin history the writer is well acclimated with, other teams may produce different results. Take the offensive side of the ball and now rank the position in order of how hard it is for your team to find a great player at that position. QB, TE, LG, RG, LT, C, WR-1, RT, RB-1, RB-2, WR-2.

Notice how the list has morphed, the QB is still on the high value side, but now the TE and guards have shifted over to the value side, while the “skill positions” have devalued. Excluding the QB, this could be construed as success based, meaning Miami is good at selecting (acquiring) certain positions, while not very good at acquiring others. Again, these values are Miami based and will be different for other teams.

Now a third list must be added based on how many good players are available at any given positon regardless of a team’s ability to draft them. This list would place value on the hardest positions to find for any NFL team. The hardest position would have the most value. QB, TE, LT, C, WR-1, RT, RB-1, RB-2, WR-2, LG, RG.

So finally, a number value can be placed on these lists from 11 being the highest value to 1 being the lowest. Add the three values together for each position and Miami’s BPA value chart would look like this. QB, LT, TE, C, WR-1, RB-1, RT, RG, LG, WR-2, RB-2. Using first round picks, Miami hasn’t done poorly based on position, QB, LT, WR and C were picked in recent, still relevant drafts. What stands out somewhat is a couple value mistakes.

What cannot be seen by just the positions on the list, is the drop off of value after the top five positions. After WR-1, the last six positions add up to only 72 of 198 total points. RB-1, RT, RG, LG, WR-2, RB-2 are basically positions that do not have as much value on the draft board as QB, LT, TE, C, WR-1. Drafting a RT early is not wise, this is one of the lowest value positions. Not drafting a TE is also an outlier because in Miami’s case, it’s a high value position.

What’s the point of all this mumbo jumbo?

There’s a reason why RTs, guards, RBs and WRs have dropped off many team’s list of first round picks. They’re easy to find either in FA or later in the draft because the positions have a larger pool of available talent. On the other hand QB, TE or LT are difficult to find because these positions require exceptional talents.

Notice how Don Shula and Bill Belichick always draft(ed) a QB every year. When drafting a tackle, they will always draft a LT and move him to RT or guard if required. In the case of Belichick, he will draft multiple TEs because he understands the value of the position in the modern NFL. These picks are always swayed by the bird in the hand theory. A great TE on the team is better than two in the draft!

This is why BPA is complete nonsense. Any team that picks a right tackle because he is the proverbial BPA does not have their statistics in order. For a right tackle to be the BPA he must be exceptionally better than any QB, LT, TE, C, WR-1 in the draft.

This is also why teams that draft in the middle of the draft, more often draft marginal players. At this point in the draft, the exception talent at the value positions has been picked over and teams are left with the BPA at devalued positions.

For your homework! It would interesting to see what your offensive three lists would look like. We’ll do defense later and put together a complete list.

List 1 – The offensive positions of great overall value.
List 2 – The offensive positions Miami picks well.
List 3 – The offensive positions that are the hardest to find.

Place your list in the comments section and I will compile and let’s see what happens.

Have fun Shouters!!!