Get What You Need

Value is relative, which is why rescheduling Justin Timberlake’s concert threw some Buffalonians’ lives into turmoil while giving others a new night to avoid downtown. Everyone has different needs and wishes that make universal plans irrelevant. The NFL draft’s available talent must be weighed against usefulness to any particular roster that’s already partially stocked.

(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Buffalo’s offensive line arguably needs upgrades at both guard positions and right tackle. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The best available player should always be qualified by noting what any random team needs. For your side, the purported top prospect left is not necessarily the one who can help. General managers have to remember whom they’ve drafted before.

Selecting redundant players is especially questionable in a league where teams can turn around quickly. A team like the Bills, that has executed its three-point turn as slowly as possible, can’t afford to hope they’ve added a piece for 2016. There are too many upgrades to be made in the next few months, not years. No player is a reach if he can assist you now, even if it means bypassing higher-graded guys at openings where they have no vacancies.

Everyone eventually needs to be replaced. But that doesn’t mean that, say, the tackle who will hopefully replace Kyle Williams someday needs to be added now. If plans for the future always worked out, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien would have each other’s jobs.

A general manager’s first task is to patch gaping holes. Why make masonry complicated? From a disaster preparedness perspective, re-stocking positions where they already have plenty of inventory is like preparing for the same contingency again. The Bills have an unfortunate tendency to spend today planning for tomorrow and screwing up both.

A six can be more prized than an eight if the former creates a full house. The best available player is someone who addresses a weakness unique to one of 32 situations. Every city is special in this Sesame Street league. As how the most coveted free agents for any team would beef up thin spots, early-round draftees should be able to fill open slots.

Practicality should always be considered when you can only add a finite amount of assets. Dependability is underrated. A Porsche is a more luxurious vehicle than a Subaru, but it’s nowhere as useful when you’re driving on the Skyway in January.

A playoff drought this long won’t be ended by getting goofy. Fortifying the lineup means addressing a few specific needs instead of a strange sense that there are plenty of carries to go around. Adding, say, a rusher when they need someone to seal the edges for rushers they already have would be another self-inflicted example of irony this franchise doesn’t need.

Identifying more urgent priorities means resisting the temptation to double up on skill. You can never have too many cornerbacks, unless you already have good ones while facing deficiencies at other positions. This is no time for extravagance. You can’t be going to Starbucks twice per day while the fridge is empty. It’s unhealthy to get energy that way no matter how many calories are in your Giganti Pretenticcino.

Teams with contrasting philosophies and alignments should have diverging ideas about what is best for their lineups. A theoretically better player who will create a logjam at a position isn’t useful from the sidelines.

If you’re truly convinced the best guy at the spot you need is a later-round talent, you’ve just found the best reason to trade down. Find someone who wants what you could get and make a deal that truly shows what things are worth to respective parties.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.