I think this is a very important point. There is no consensus definition of what BPA is. Some try to categorize it as overall BPA and some say BPA from a position of need.
IMO, the truth is that they really are one and the same. There is no such thing as overall BPA, because a player that has no value for you cannot be the best player that is available...at least for you. For instance, If we had the #1 pick last year, Andrew Luck would not have been BPA because we have Cam, so Luck would have held no value as a player. The value is what other teams place on him, resulting in a potential trade. Therefore, BPA is simply the value a team places on how much a player will help the team.
People like to use Kalil and Luke as examples of us taking overall BPA regardless of need. But that's not the case. The team identified them as filling immediate needs in roles other than their college positions (Kalil started as a Guard, Luke at OLB), while also filling potential future needs at their natural positions...therefore, they had value as players. But if the team didn't see any need for them, and didn't plan on or expect them to even see the field, then they would have held no value to the team, thus they would not have been BPA on their board.
Using the Cam and Luck example, as things are, Luck would have held no value as a player for us because Cam is young, a star in the making, and we plan on keeping him long-term. So, he would not have been BPA for us. However, lets pretend that Cam was a 16 year veteran about to enter the last year of his contract, then Luck would have held value as a player since he could fill a future need as Cam's replacement.
Bottom line, BPA is very subjective, and varies from team to team based on their needs and future plans.
Well stated. I think there are things that factor in as well that most draftniks like us fail to consider because our job is not to consider all aspects of the selection, as the GM is paid to do.
Existing contracts: What are you paying guys now vs. how much can you upgrade and save $$ in the draft? This is something that the new Rookie scale has created. Before 2011, your first rounder was a big contract, but now, times have changed. Hardy is tagged and there is not much movement to lock him up long term. This befuddles some fans, but a long term deal limits options next year. Johnson's contract is less restrictive in 2015, for example, and the DE crop is better in 2015. What if Frank Alexander starts beasting in 2014 and Hardy disappears?
Long-term vs. Short-term need: When we draft a player, it is for the long haul, not merely 2014. However, people get upset with the one year contracts because they are stop-gap and not building a roster (in their eyes) but then expect the GM to draft players and give them 4-year deals to fill immediate needs. Some positions take time to develop, and players are not natural fits. Knowing the maturation of a player, the free agent and draft markets going forward, and the current roster are critical. Think about drafting for 2014 needs--the players get no time to develop and learn the system and they often hit "the rookie wall". So you get a slow start and a slow finish in many cases. I think you need to look farther down the road when you draft.
Scarcity of the Position: Take a look at salaries today and you can clearly see how rare a good player at a particular position is--and it is a fluid process. For example, above - average QBs are making $18-20 million. A top DE is making $15 million. A stud LT is making $14 million. SO, it only makes sense that you want to draft one of these positions if you can because 1. they are hard to find, and 2. they save more money (for the length of the rookie contract). If I draft a RB in the first round (like Cleveland did) when they could have drafted a DE, they minimize the savings. Sure, they needed a RB in 2013, but RBs are cheap. If you can use a rookie to fill a spot that costs you $10 million or more with a veteran, then you are in better position to find talent at other positions. I think the Panthers should have a rotation at DE. One veteran, one rookie contract at all times--like it was in 2013.
Upside: Some players have little upside and others are loaded. Lately, some are questioning Alabama players in the NFL. They are coming in banged up or maxed out in terms of potential. They are better (on paper) because they are surrounded with better talent, some say, and when they have to carry a team, they cannot. For Example, Cyrus (LT, Alabama) has a chronic knee issue that some scouts fear will end his pro career prematurely. If you ask me, I would rather have Turner (LOT, N. Dakota St) because he will blossom into a better pro, in my opinion. This is not profound stuff, but a lot of players who are maxed out tend to become busts.
Skill Set, physical attributes, divisional foes : Teams are looking for certain attributes in players and, at times, they seem to override talent and upside. Seattle seems to have showed the league you can win with big, 4.6 40 CBs found on day 3 of the draft. Now everyone is looking for big. The Panthers are giving that impression to me as well, going with the six footers at CB and WR. In fact, at WR, we seem to be focusing (according to visiting players) on route running and catching radius. Cam throws high when he is off, so don't expect Brandin Cook (5'9") in the draft. In addition, the strengths of divisional foes tend to determine what we do as well. Remember when we took Thomas Davis with the 10th overall pick? He was an answer to Michael Vick.
So what is BPA? Remember, all of the mocks take a look a look at the needs of a team and they create a big board based on the general talent-level of the players in the draft. If the Panthers need WR, OT, CB, then they will slide the top ranked OT over and insist that is what we are going to do. I disagree.
Yes, we will find a T and a WR in this draft because it is good for both, but DE is not showing up as a need on any list. If Gettelmen does not want to be handcuffed by Hardy/Johnson entering Cam's deal, do you think he might take Ealy if he is sitting there at #28? Ealy would save $10m the day he is drafted. Do you think he does not value the FS position? Strong up the middle, remember. If no WR or T is there, would he grab Pryor or Clinton-Dix? Yessireee.
So, it is my opinion that BPA has little meaning, for the most part. Don't get me wrong, if there is a top center sitting there in the fifth round and we have yet to draft a CB, we could go C. Then we shop Kalil in 2015, drop a huge contract, and get younger. That is the way it works.