"I am gravely disappointed. Again you have made me unleash my dogs of war."
- The Lord Humungus
For the most part, the players' stats from college have already been entered into the computer, and it is looking like it will be a very good year for drafting long-snappers. Rejoice! Still, since so much of our views on players are based on how they perform at the combine, or their college pro-days, we haven't really locked ourselves into any opinions quite yet. Once all of the data is assembled, and it all passes through the thresher (our Banana 6000 computer and an overclocked 1983 Speak & Spell), we'll see which prospects are left standing. If I had to guess though, I do think this draft will be exceptionally strong, particularly compared to the 2013 Draft, and there should be some impressive depth at the linebacker and outside pass rusher positions. We're especially curious to see how well Jimmie Ward, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Morgan Breslin perform. As you may have come to expect, there will be much drooling over individual player's vertical jumps.
|Our patented drafting system, consisting of (a.) Reilly the draft prognosticating dog, (b.) his sophisticated communications device, and (c.) the Banana 6000 data thresher|
Before we get to that point, where we embarrassingly reveal our half-baked thoughts, I thought I should clarify what our goals are. Most draft sites on the internet basically boil down to positional rankings, and flowery descriptions of the supposed pros and cons of the different prospects. Uhh, we probably won't be doing too much of that.
When it comes to positional rankings, as you see on most sites, they do tend to be reasonably good at predicting when a player will be selected. There also doesn't tend to be a lot to differentiate them, and what differences there are tend to boil down to "we projected this player to be selected just ahead of that other player, while most other sites had that order in reverse". Since we figure that more than half of the players will never amount to much of anything, we eliminate most of them from consideration from the very beginning. Even amongst the players projected to go in the 1st round, probably 40-50% won't make our list at all. Why does everybody seem to list the same players, in approximately the same order, while knowing that a fair number of them are going to be busts? Why not just eliminate the prospects that you have no confidence in?
What we are trying to do is to identify the players that best fit what we consider to be the prototypical mold for someone at their position, and frequently the highest rated players simply aren't the ones that interest us. Still, the positional rankings that other people list do have some value to us, mainly as they pertain to giving us a sense as to how long we can probably wait before selecting certain oddball players. The hive-mind of the internet tends to be fairly good in that sense.
Once we have separated the wheat from the chaff, the banana from the peel, or the corn from the dog, as far as athletic ability and college production are concerned, we begin to form the Little Big Board. Unlike NFL teams which can have around 200 players on their draft boards, ours is much smaller. We will probably only have 60-80 players that interest us at all. Even with such a short list, this tends to be sufficient to get us through 7 rounds, as our picks tend to be a bit more peculiar. Yes, there will undoubtedly be players who end up doing quite well, that weren't included in our list, and that doesn't bother us in the least. Our goal is simply to see what would happen if, round by round, we only selected the players who appeared to be the safest bets, according to the computer and my football savvy dog. While I provide the manual dexterity to operate a keyboard, Reilly provides the rational level-headed approach to this possibly pointless endeavor. This all culminates in the annual Ozzie Newsome Challenge, where Team Kangaroo makes its picks in real time alongside the actual selections of the Baltimore Ravens. We don't really care too much how individual picks turn out (a minor lie), but instead are just interested in seeing what would happen if we consistently made picks based on certain semi-strict standards, and measurable data. Individual prospects don't matter as much to us, as we are more interested in the overall group that is drafted. You could say that the Ozzie Newsome Challenge is where we put our money (or our foot) where our mouth is...for better or for worse.
Doesn't this all just amount to guessing? Well, yes.
As I said, we will also tend to avoid a lot of the flowery descriptions of players. Very little will be said about a player's motor, hustle, intensity, technique, and there will certainly no mention of their "bubble". I haven't run across anybody whose skill in analyzing such subjective issues was reliable enough to take seriously, so we tend to throw it all out the window. The more of these descriptions I read, the less I feel that I know anything. Sure, sometimes these draft profiles do end up describing a player rather well, just not often enough for me to know when to trust them. So, we'll just stick to the numbers, and hope for the best.
Ah, but the numbers lead us to Occam's Catch-22. In many of our past posts, I have tried to suggest how frequently the athletically superior players, with proven college production, do tend to be the best bets, and that speculation of a more subjective nature seems unnecessarily risky. It seems obvious, that great athletes should be...well...athletic. In trying to illustrate this idea, I've increasingly had to resort to more complicated explanations, involving standard deviations, and odd numerical scores which may not seem terribly intuitive. What should be a simple idea (which William of Ockham might approve of), becomes increasingly convoluted. The more simple the idea, the more complicated it sometimes is to prove it, especially when we have generally been led to believe that counter-intuitive factors like determination and character are what really determine success (I'm not saying that these factors don't matter at all).
When we first started this blog, it was mainly due to some pent up frustration with the approach that many of the NFL teams took towards drafting players. I figured we would just occupy a dark little corner of the internet and rant like a loon. As a small number of people somehow managed to stumble into our secret closet of shame and delusional ego-mania, we are very grateful for the degree to which people seem to have been receptive and open-minded to what we are doing. It probably means you are half crazy, if you are following us, but that's okay. Birds of a feather, and all of that. Basically, I want to thank the people who have stumbled through here for not repeatedly calling me an idiot. It's a greater gift than I could have ever asked for. For the people who undoubtedly do think our approach is idiotic, you can address your complaints to Reilly. It's all his fault.