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NFL Draft: What 'Best Player Available' Actually Means

If you think Michael Floyd is likely to be the best available player when the Bears pick, you're probably wrong.
If you think Michael Floyd is likely to be the best available player when the Bears pick, you're probably wrong.

We're now in April and only weeks away from the NFL Draft, probably the most anticipated offseason event for NFL fans around the league. I have been taking a look at draft prospects for the Bears in my "Prospecting for Gold" series and there has been plenty of daily discussion around the blog about this guy and that guy. One of the biggest trends is the phrase 'Best Player Available" (BPA) getting thrown around. The Bears are indeed in a position to take the BPA, and for some fans this is a foreign concept after the Jerry Angelo regime. I see people throw it out connected with a player, such as "Bears need to go Stephen Hill or BPA at 19" well, it doesn't quite work like that. I just wanted to go through exactly who the BPA are and break down which directions the Bears could go with BPA at 19 in the draft later this month.

Best player available is a pretty straightforward concept; take the best player, regardless of position on the board with your pick. It can be something the fans go nuts for, or it could be something that is, at the time, seen as a head-scratcher. One example is back in 2001 the Indianapolis Colts took Reggie Wayne when they already had Marvin Harrison in his prime. The move worked out well and they had one of the best receiving tandems in the league for several years following.

As far as the Bears go this year, BPA could be anyone. You have to look at the "big board" of prospect rankings to get an idea of the BPA at any certain draft position. Now, that is one of the difficult things, as every team's big board is different, just as the one's I see all over the internet are too. There is no way of knowing, without being in the war room at Halas Hall, exactly where the Bears have guys ranked. It's probably safe to say though, that last year, when Gabe Carimi was on the board at no. 29, the Bears jumped on him because he was their BPA. They thought he'd be long gone but lo and behold, he wasn't so they snatched him up. They even tried to jump the Chiefs in order to get him but that didn't work out so well.

If the Bears are committed to the BPA this year, then it is unlikely we'll see the Bears take Stephen Hill, barring a trade down scenario. As I said before, it's hard to say without looking at the Bears' big board or even from looking at big boards from around the Internet. Here are five prospect rankings from around the league I'll use for reference here:

CBS Sports

Draft Countdown

National Football Post

Now, rankings do depend somewhat on needs, so let's say that by some insane scenario where Matt Kalil was on the board at no. 19, along with Trent Richardson, the Bears would likely take Kahlil over Richardson, despite most outlets putting Richardson above Kalil because the Bears need a tackle more than another running back.

So let's look at these the 19th best prospects according to these outlets: CBSsports has Kendall Wright, DraftCountdown puts Mike Adams, NFP lists Michael Floyd, fftoobox lists Melvin Ingram and DraftTek has Mike Adams as well.

This would mean, that if every team selected by BPA according to each listing, this would be the most logical player for the Bears to take.

However, we know that's not how it works. Teams take according to need, value and other factors. They might reach, they might have a guy who is number three on their board when they pick eighth and say "well we can't pass this up" so you just never know.

Let's run a scenario that's more realistic than my last. I am going to list a prospect along with how the outlets above (in listed order) have him ranked. So let's say the Bears get on the clock and Michael Floyd (16th, 20th, 11th, 13th, 19th), Luke Kuechly (14th, 10th, 14th, 7th, 9th) and Quinton Coples (7th, 8th, 8th, 10th and 10th) are all available, the Bears would go with Coples, because he is, on average, the BPA at number 19.

Now, say that Coples is gone, but Kuechly, Floyd, Michael Brockers (10th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 5th) and Riley Reiff (8th, 12th, 7th, 8th 33rd) are there, then Brockers would be the BPA, followed in order by Kuechly, Floyd and Reiff.

So there are several scenarios, depending on what the Bears' big board looks like compared to these of course, where Michael Floyd could be the second or third BPA at 19.

Position rankings vary wildly, like NFP having Riley Reiff as the 33rd best player, when three others have him in the top ten. Their DE rankings are way more weird than the others' too, so it's hard to know who knows what. If the Bears followed the NFP big board they could find more value in a DE in rounds 2-4.

At the receiver position, it's just as murky. Everyone has Justin Blockmon number one, four have Floyd two, one has Wright, they each have Stephen Hill somewhere between three and sixth,Rueben Randle appears anywhere from three to tenth and then a couple have Mohammad Sanu and Alshon Jeffery in their top five.

So it's very difficult to know how teams have these guys ranked, but one thing is for sure, there are tons of scenarios that could shake out for the Bears, and a lot of them wouldn't have a DE or a WR as the BPA at number 19. So when you say "The Bears should take Floyd at 19 because he'd be the BPA" that could be incorrect, but if you say "Floyd would be the BPA at his position at number 19" then you could be correct. Understand the difference?