Some people think of the draft as a group of teams taking their turn to pick the best player available in the draft. This is partially true because a team will draft a player of high need that is high on their big boards, but few people know that the area of the draft matters as well.

It should be no surprise that if a team's biggest need is a kicker they won't draft one in the first round because they need one. At the same time if a team's biggest need is a QB but the next QB on your board is 40 picks away then there is no reason to reach that much for a QB. The other side of the spectrum, however, is that a team that needs a LG upgrade more than a QB or a DL upgrade will select the DL or QB before the LG, even if there is a LG slightly higher on their boards.

This should come at no big surprise because if you have a list of needs (often shown by an early draft pick) then the impact of a new LG early will not be noticed as much as a new QB or LT. That is why the first few picks in the draft are often a QB, OT or pass rusher, because they are the most important tools in building a team. Having the best LG in the league is great, but if they don't have a good LT next to them or a good QB under center ten their contributions will just be wasted.

Just to prove the point I have taken the first twelve picks of the first and second rounds from the last five years. This data for the most part (trades sort of ruin it) tells us what positions the worst twelve teams drafted early.



As you can see the early portions of the first round are littered with QB's, defensive linemen and offensive tackles. RB and WR are also common, and LB/DB are not uncommon. One thing that you don't see are interior linemen until the 2nd round and the reason is that interior linemen are not as essential to a team's success as many of the other positions.

Many people are not surprised that there aren't any guards in the top-12 of the draft, but some may not understand why there aren't many in the 2nd. You have to imagine the position as a piece of the team during the draft and not exactly where they are being drafted.

Imagine a very good guard prospect like Mike Iupati of the 2010 draft. Iupati was considered one of the best guard prospects in the last 40 years and he only was drafted at 16th. That surprised some who thought he was one of the top-5 prospects in the draft, but positional value overwhelmed player value.

Now consider Stefan Wisniewski in the 2011 draft. Wisniewski could go in the back part of the 1st round to a number of teams that could use a guard or a center, but if he falls past the 33rd pick of New England (33rd pick is 2nd round but via trade) then he might drop completely out of the top-45 picks. It might not make sense for one of the best 30 players in the draft to fall out of the top-45 but it just wouldn't make an abundant amount of sense for the Arizona Cardinals (who could use upgrades on the interior) to take Wisniewski when they need a QB, LT, or pass rusher more.

This is not a perfect science but history, logic and general team building need to be factored appropriately when drafting. Teams need to address the most important aspects of their teams before they fix others. The teams with the best right guard and tight end are not winning games when they don't have a key position to win the games.