C.J. Mosley had all the makings of the Ravens pick at 17 from very early on in the process.
In fact, it almost was a lock barring the exception of two things — Eric Ebron falling to 17 or the presence of Zack Martin.
In the first Best Player Available Draft exercise, a mock was constructed where each team drafted the best player available at one of its three positions of need.
Because so few of the teams needed Inside Linebacker, and the devalued nature of the position, Mosley fell way down to Denver at 31 since the only other team seemingly in need was Buffalo at 9. But we knew he wouldn't fall that far.
In the second iteration, I posed the question to the community exclusively because Mosley was our obvious pick at 17 despite that he fit no need of Baltimore's.
I had been running the scenario over and over with minor tweaks and adjustments and no matter how I sliced it, Mosley was available at 17 and was easily better than the other prospects.
In this particular run-through, Zack Martin was taken at 16 by Dallas (which ultimately did happen) which greatly simplified the pick for Baltimore at 17. There was no way around it - Mosley was simply the BPA at 17.
In fact, it looked early on that the Ravens would likely trade out of 17 because of its lack of need for ILB and because no high-demand prospect was there at 17.
I do believe that although Mosley was a slightly better prospect than Ebron, that Baltimore takes Ebron at 17 if he falls. In addition, I think they are hard pressed to pass up Martin at 17 as well.
In the third and final iteration of the BPA/Needs exercise, we see the same issue again - Mosley just doesn't fit anywhere before 17. Buffalo is the only team with a seeming need (although I would argue Dallas too).
Mosley is available at 17 but instead of going with what I know the Ravens would do (which is select true BPA) I kept the framework going by giving them a need in Darqueze Dennard. Mosley instead fell to 21 for Green Bay in this iteration of the scenario.
But we know the Ravens don't work like that. With Mosley available at 17 in each and every iteration of the BPA/Needs exercise, it was truly a foregone conclusion that Mosley was the pick unless they traded out of it.
I personally expected a trade because I didn't see the need to stay at 17 and select him. The Ravens thought differently - they went on record as saying it would have taken a "draft bonanza" to move back out of what they thought was a slot to pick a premier player. They don't often pick in the mid-teens.
One surprising aspect to the draft was Detroit's selection of Eric Ebron - I think that greatly affected our draft plans.
Detroit spent $20 million to resign the high potential, low production Brandon Pettigrew. They spent $35 million on Golden Tate alongside Calvin Johnson. They have $20 million locked up in Reggie Bush.
Bottom line: They are loaded with receiving talent and even though Pettigrew drops many passes, they still paid for him.
The Ebron selection stunned me quite honestly. I felt that Ebron was going to make it to us at 17 and we would grab a top 10 player at a key offensive position of need for us.
Of course, I am speculating but I suspect the Ravens easily choose Ebron, a top 10 talent, at 17 if he falls. His chances of falling past everyone else were quite good.
Instead, Detroit ignored the chance to shore up its pass defense, choosing to give Matt Stafford yet another weapon. I find the selection a bit questionable. The Lions throw the ball more than nearly every other team and I don't believe that's a good thing. Thus, I do believe Detroit threw a wrench into the Ravens' draft plans. Still, he might have been BPA for them too so its hard to fault Detroit too much.
Mosley is a great player and he will be a magnificent, play-making leader on this team. The reason that Best Player Available works is because each team only gets the same $130 million salary cap.
When you reach deeper down the prospect pool for need, you inherently sacrifice talent tomorrow for what seems like today's needs. But you don't know what next year's needs are. You are only ever one injury away from a strength becoming a massive weakness.
Selecting best player, and make no mistake Mosley is a top 10 player, is how you craft a championship team. Sometimes building up a position of strength into a position of total dominance is an even better method - think San Francisco's offensive line or Seattle's secondary. It can develop a team identity.
The Ravens were that way for years at linebacker. With an all-time great player in Ray Lewis, they could fill in talented undrafted free agents next to him to go with their stud edge guys. The Ravens have long possessed a dominant linebacking corps.
That is the Ravens linebacking corps right now. Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw on the outside with Brown, Mosley and Daryl Smith on the inside. I challenge anyone to find a better linebacking corps in the league except maybe a healthy (and non-incarcerated) San Francisco corps.
This is how 32 teams can spend $130 million and wind up with wildly different records. This is how some teams can be perennial contenders, even without luxuries like #1 overall QB selections, and some are mired in the depths of the four and five win teams, picking top 10 every year.
This is why you have to like the Mosley pick even if deep down you wanted a receiver, safety or some other position. Creating significant value for yourself today is how the championship teams are constructed tomorrow.