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Phil Taylor And Value In The Draft

Posted by Matt Terl on March 30, 2011 – 12:03 pm

The second installment of our Writers Roundtable posted over at the big Redskins.com supercenter, and it finds Gary Fitzgerald, Larry Weisman, and I yet again discussing possibilities in the upcoming NFL Draft. This time around, the question starts with What should the Redskins do with the tenth pick? and ends up with me contemplating the abstract concept of value itself while the other two sort of gaze on in pitying horror.

The excerpt below features what wound up being, I think, my biggest question coming out of the conversation:

Here’s my question – and this is something I really wrestled with in my mock draft earlier this week, too – why not nose tackle Phil Taylor at No. 10?

I mean, if the team believes (as I do) that they need a nose tackle, and Taylor is (as Larry points out) the only nose tackle with a first-round grade … well, he might not suit someone ELSE at 10, but it seems like you’re filling a prime need with the best player at that spot. Maybe it’s a few spots higher than he’s “projected”, but … frankly, so what?

This kind of thinking has worked out in the past – Jacksonville taking Tyson Alualu at 10 last year; the Patriots taking Logan Mankins in the first round – so why not try it here?

As always in things like this, I’m feeling a little bit of esprit d’escalier about the discussion. (That’s a fancy-pants term for all the clever things you think of after the fact but didn’t say at the time.) Because both Weisman and Fitzgerald seem to agree that Baylor’s Taylor is a suitable pick for the Redskins, but there’s a lot of question about if he’s “worth” the 10th pick — and I don’t know that I successfuly explained why that idea of “worth” is meaningless here. So let me give it a shot now:

Regardless of if Taylor is generally considered worthy of the tenth pick, he is (we agree) a good fit for Washington’s needs. There also seems to be general agreement that Taylor will be gone by the time the Redskins pick again at 41. And that makes things pretty simple, because it means that, mathematically, IT DOESN’T MATTER if Taylor belongs in the top 10.

All that matters is if he belongs in the top 40 (and everyone seems to think he does) — because 10 is the ONLY CHANCE the Redskins currently have to pick him before 41, at which point he’s expected to be gone. As the NFL Draft is currently constituted, there is no way to realistically say “Hey, we like Guy X but we’d rather take him a few picks farther down the line”.

You could try passing on the pick, as the Vikings inadvertantly have done a couple of times, but that tends to lead to contract disputes and bad feelings all around. You can try to trade back, but that requires finding a trading partner in a suitable position — and then a lot of hope that no one grabs Guy X (or, in our example, Taylor) in the intervening picks.

Or you can just say, “Hey, he might not be worth the tenth pick to YOU, but WE think he makes our team markedly better — and that’s definitely worth the tenth pick to US.” Which is pretty much what I wind up advocating by the end of the Roundtable. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

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