Steelers fans should not be upset with BPA approach in the NFL Draft

Defensive end George Karlaftis #5 of the Purdue Boilermakers. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Defensive end George Karlaftis #5 of the Purdue Boilermakers. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers could reshape their roster in the NFL Draft. Here’s why fans should not be upset with them taking the best player available at pick 20.

Nobody should ever be opposed to getting great players in the NFL Draft — especially when those players happen to play valuable positions. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a handful of pressing needs that need to be filled (nobody is denying that). But how should a team balance position of need compare to taking the best player available (BPA)?

To put it quite bluntly, there shouldn’t be a team in the league that blatantly ignores the BPA approach. While filling positions of need is important, it’s even more critical that teams don’t miss on the players they are selecting early in the draft.

Recently, I used a mock draft simulator to create a seven-round mock for the Steelers. When I shared it on Twitter, fans lost their minds.

For this particular Steelers mock draft, I wanted to see how fans would react if I had Pittsburgh selecting the best available players on the board when they are on the clock; rather than simply selecting the positions they currently need the most. Needless to say, they didn’t respond well.

Instead of being pleased with the Steelers selecting a top-15 player at an important position in Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis, they ridiculed the selection — arguing that Pittsburgh must take a position that fills a bigger need.

While I’m not saying that George Karlaftis needs to be the selection if he’s still on the board at pick 20 in the 2022 NFL Draft, I would urge fans that the BPA approach is one they would be happy with in the long run.

Steelers fans should want BPA

Show me data that proves that selecting the best players available on the consensus board is the wrong way to go. While I consider myself a good talent evaluator, this is not how NFL teams typically make their selections in April.

In fact, teams can be remarkably short-sighted. We witnessed this first-hand when the Steelers selected a 23-year-old running back with 718 college touches with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Though nobody is arguing that Harris isn’t a good player, there is simply no evidence to suggest that teams should take running backs in the first round, and they depend on so much in front of them in order to be successful.

Instead of taking a player that fills an immediate need here and now, teams need to think about what’s best for this football team in the long term. If there’s a gap in talent on their draft board, taking the lesser player should never be the alternative.

For example, when the Steelers were on the clock with the 28th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, I wanted them to select Louisville QB, Lamar Jackson. Instead, they went with a Virginia Tech safety that many had as a second-round-graded player in Terrell Edmunds.

Edmunds has been a solid player for Pittsburgh, and he did fill a position of need. However, Jackson obviously would have been better for the long run, and teams that are willing to look past the immediate impact and to the future would benefit from this thinking.

When it comes to the Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft, of course, I would love them to take the best player on the board and have that line up with the positional need. However, this is rarely the case. Instead of pigeonholing themselves to drafting based on need, Pittsburgh should be looking for cornerstone players who could rebuild this roster.

It’s also important to remember that this team has more free-agent spending money than they’ve ever had, and they may, in fact, be able to fill some of these glaring holes prior to April.

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At the end of the day, I want great football players. If that means that my team might not be quite as good in the present, so be it. I think teams need to be willing to take the best players available at important positions in an effort to build their rosters the right way.