I love the draft and as such I have compiled a short list of rules, generated from some of the great drafters in league history, which are great guidelines for a successful draft. I thought it might be nice to discuss what philosophies people have when drafting. Always take the best player available regardless of position, or never take a wide receiver in the first, that type of stuff. Without further ado, here is what I've got.
1. The More picks the better: this may sound like a no-brainer but it is often ignored (see the Jets 2007 draft.) This is Jimmy Johnson's rule and though I think little of the man, he was a great drafter. Think about it, how many players are on your team 2 years after the draft? Normally about half as many as you drafted, so if you have 5 picks, two years later you might not have much to show for it where as if you have 10 picks you will get more return on your draft. This is why I prefer to trade down as opposed to trading up.
2. Draft at least 1 O-lineman and D-lineman every year: Plain and simple, other than QB the trenches are the most important positions on the field, and depth needs to be kept fresh. As Bills fans, how often in the last few years have we seen quality lineman passed over so we can have another average receiver, or a running back with a bad attitude. One thing all great lines have in common, either offensive or defensive, is depth.
3. Try to draft a QB every year: This one comes straight from the great Ron Wolf. He kept Green Bay a power house for years with his great drafting using this philosophy. He took Mark Brunell with a 5th rounder then traded him to Jacksonville for a 3rd and 5th, he drafted Aaron Brooks with a 6th and traded him to the Saints for a 3rd, then he drafted Matt Hasslebeck in the 6th and traded him to the Seahawks swapping his 1st(17) and a 7th (along with MH) and getting Seattle's 1st(10) and a 3rd.(of course with the 10th pick he took Jamal Reynolds who was a huge flop, and at 17 Seattle took Steve Hutchinson, but the idea was there.) When you have a surplus of good QBs you can deal from strength. Teams are always looking for a QB and are always willing to overspend to get him, even if all they have is a brief look at what he can do. The Bills did it with Rob Johnson, an unproven guy shows a little something (in Rob's case a very little something) and Jacksonville, who used a 4th to get him turns him into a 1st and 4th and by the way, with the 1st rounder they got from the Bills the Jags took Fred Taylor, 'nuff said.
4. Never move a player up your draft board because he plays a position of need: The perfect example of this is the 49ers in the 2005 draft. I don't think it's possible that Alex Smith was the highest rated player on their board; if he was, they need to fire their scouting department. He might have been the top QB on their board but no way was he the top player. Smith got moved up and the 49ers took him with the top pick, and now they are paying for it.
5. Never ever, under any circumstances, let Mike Ditka run your draft: I love "Iron Mike"; he brings a sense of realism to ESPN, and is probably the only guy who does football broadcasting in Bristol CT. that I can stand. But let's face it; the guy traded his entire draft for Ricky Williams. That's right in 1999 Ditka traded every pick he had to the Redskins to move up 7 spots (from #12 to #5) so he could grab Williams. I know Ricky was a stud in college but come on, that was just a stupid trade.