My draft philosophy is one I strongly believe brings success as far as building an NFL team.
It's a four-pronged approach. It goes like this:
• If you don't have a quarterback, take one.
|Carson Palmer's return to health gives the Bengals hope of better days. (US Presswire)|
• If you have those two, take a pass rusher to knock the other quarterback down.
• If you have all three, take a corner to knock down the opposing quarterback's passes.
Twenty years ago, this approach might not have made sense. Not with the running game being more in style than the passing game. It used to be teams wanted to be strong up the middle to play power football and defend the run.
Now it's all about the pass, throwing it and defending it.
The NFL rules changes have made it that way. So if you're good at all four of the key positions, you should be good on the field.
I wanted to put my theory to the test by coming up with a way to gauge the 32 teams using my formula for building a winning team.
What I did was rank all the projected starting quarterbacks, left tackles, top pass rushers -- it could be an end or a linebacker -- and the top corners for each of the 32 teams.
Each player was given a numerical value based on where they were rated, the better the ranking the lower the number. The best player at each position was given a No. 1, while the worst got a 32.
I then compiled all the numbers to come up with the teams that are best set at those spots. The lower the number for the teams, then the better that team is based on the formula.
But since the quarterback position is by far the most valuable, it had to be given more weight. After all, who wouldn't want a star passer over a star left tackle or pass rusher?
With a premium placed on the quarterback position, those points were tripled here. That would be a huge advantage to teams with the top ones.
For example, Manning is ranked first, so tripling his value of one brings a three for the Colts in that category. By comparison, tripling the 32 given to San Francisco's Shaun Hill at the bottom of the rankings brings 96 points to the 49ers.
The quarterback value really hurt a team like the Minnesota Vikings. Based on the other three spots, the Vikings would be the top team in the league. Throw in their quarterback position -- which I ranked 31st, with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels competing for the job -- and they are ranked 20th.
Brett Favre won't bring it up that much either.
When the final numbers were tallied, I was shocked at how close they were to giving us a real gauge on who is good and who isn't.
The top five teams, based on the lowest numbers, were the Colts, San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers were in the seventh spot, dragged down by left tackle Max Starks' poor rating, while the Arizona Cardinals were 14th.
Even before compiling the numbers, I thought the Cincinnati Bengals had a chance to be this year's sleeper team. Now I'm convinced.
With Carson Palmer coming back, and an emerging star in cover corner Leon Hall, they fell in the 12th spot. Some will say I have Palmer ranked too high at No. 6 among the quarterbacks, but when he's healthy he's that good. And he's healthy.
The bottom of the list has the Detroit Lions in the 32nd spot, with the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins all just above them.
See a theme there? It's the quarterback situation for all those teams that brings them down.
The four-pronged approach is one to live by in the modern NFL. The proof, I think, is in these rankings.