"We took the best player available on our board."
I've been doing TV for the NFL draft with ESPN since 1984, and every time we have a coach or GM on soon after they made a pick to discuss why they took a player, you hear some kind of variation on this line. The team representative will say "he was the best player available" or "the top player on the board" or "we couldn't believe he was still there because we think he's one of the best players in the entire draft." You get the idea. It's always about the player, and rarely about the need because -- and this is a fair point -- coaches rarely expect rookies to truly "fill" a need. They just want the best player who hopefully fills it at some point.
But what you also hear more and more is how a player is "a good fit with our program."
It's not just about the player, it's also about the developmental plan for that player. A prospect isn't a "need" pick as much as he's a great fit. It might sound like semantics, but it's something more. Need implies a plugged hole. A great fit goes further, and it has development and scheme and the type of program a team wants to run in mind. With "fit" in mind, I was asked for an example of how this could work in the 2015 draft.
Here are 11 samples of what I'd consider a great fit, and in most cases I tried to find players who could be taken in that range.
Leonard Williams with the Tennessee Titans
The fit: The Titans are transitioning to more of a 3-4 look on defense for 2015 (I say "more of" because everybody's a hybrid up front based on personnel in reality), and while they have the edge rushers in Derrick Morgan and the recently added Brian Orakpo, I just love the fit of Williams in a defense run by Dick LeBeau, who can tailor Williams' versatility to the scheme.