“We try to pick the best player and we are conscious of what our needs are and we definitely want to pick for value.” – New York Giants General Manager, Jerry Reese
The more I dig into The BANE Project, the more I think about General Managers and their constant battle to not get fired. Think of yourself as a survivalist. The “Core Four” needs of surviving in the wild are, in order, shelter, water, fire, food. If you have shelter, but no fire, are you going to spend your daylight hours setting up snares and deadfalls? Or are you first going to collect tinder and construct a bow drill to provide warmth via fire?
In extreme conditions, the survival Rule of 3 works like this:
- You can survive 3 hours without shelter.
- You can survive 3 days without water.
- You can survive 3 weeks without food.
For General Managers, I think the survival Rule of 3 works like this:
- You MAY survive 1 year without a quarterback.
- You MAY survive 2 years without a pass rush.
- You MAY survive 3 years without an offensive line.
— Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield) February 22, 2017
You can nitpick the time-frame, but all-in-all if you don’t have those three for an extended period of time, you’re likely looking for another job. If you need a pass rusher but the top player on your board is a WR, when you already have a WR1, do you take the “best player available” approach? Or do you take the pass rusher you may have 5 players beyond that potential superstar WR? Teams take different approaches, but the question I just posed has played out time and time again in the minds of NFL General Managers wanting to stick for another year.
“I’ve always believed that if you pass a blue[-chip] player to take a need, then you’ve made a mistake. We’ve tried not to do that. On occasion we may have. But we work very hard to try to avoid it. It is a temptation, but you need to work hard to try to avoid it.” – Bill Polian
This is what The BANE Project aims to bring some clarity to. What teams are consistently ignoring need for a best player approach? Which teams consistently reach for a need when there are far better players on the board? As I continue to produce this data, a clearer picture will form. For now, we are in the infant stages of providing clarity.
My first installment of this series, The Bane Project – 2016 NFL Draft, was the tip of the iceberg. The goal is to continue to reach further back into draft history and the light at the end of the tunnel will include positional trends, first through fourth round patterns, and hopefully a better understanding of league and team-specific tendencies that will provide draft forecasters and fans alike a useful tool for projecting players to draft slots.
Without further ado, the 2015 NFL Draft results… A quick reminder, “BANE %” is the result of total draft pick value spent on need vs. total draft pick value available.
The first thing I noticed when sorting this data is the 7 teams in 2015 hit 100% as opposed to 3 teams in 2016, but the overall picture was largely unchanged. For the 2nd year in a row teams selected a need 25 of 32 times and the league average only dropped by 3%.
The Vikings stand out as the only team to have consecutive 100% scores. The Texans scored 100%, which was only a slight hike from their 2016 88.45%.
As for teams below league average, the Packers, 49ers, Ravens, Titans, Raiders, Jets, and Cardinals were all repeat offenders. The teams that did not pick a need in the first round both years is a much smaller group, only consisting of the Packers and Cardinals. So already we have some data points to work with, as the Packers and Cardinals have bucked the league-wide trend in overall value spent on need and first round picks spent on need.
The next installment will bring the 2014 NFL Draft BANE breakdown. The following installment will attempt to bring the pieces together and provide more detailed analysis of each round and players selected outside of need.
The future holds a lot for this project, and as we continue to peel the layers off this onion, the more I hope we learn together.