Monday, May 12, 2014

The 2014 Ozzie Newsome Challenge

Well, the madness of the 2014 NFL Draft has come and gone, and frankly I'm quite glad that it is all over.  The amount of time I have spent over the last few months obsessing over the outcome of this event was most likely quite insane.  At this point, I am really looking forward to spending some time where I won't have to give any additional thought to the strange workings of the NFL.  The commissioner has left the podium, so Reilly and I can finally take a brief nap. 

Reilly Goodell

At this point, there is only one thing left to do, which is to post our results in the 2014 Ozzie Newsome Challenge.  I should have put this up earlier, but honestly I was too burnt out from the draft.  It also takes some time to photoshop my dog's head onto Roger Goodell's body, which was something we obviously needed to do.

The concept of the Ozzie Newsome Challenge is simple.  When the Baltimore Ravens are "on the clock", as they say, so is Team Kangaroo.  When Ozzie Newsome selects a player for the Ravens, we make our own selection as to who we would take instead.  Over the course of time, we are hoping to see whether the picks made by professional scouts and GMs, will actually outperform the selections made by my dog/spiritual advisor, Reilly, who runs the show at Team Kangaroo.  For those who are curious, you can look at the results of the 2013 Ozzie Newsome Challenge for an example of how this has gone in the past.  Overall, I'm quite pleased with the early returns from our 2013 selections, and think things could get even better for some of those players in the near future.  Then again, they might not.  Who really knows?

Either way, there are some things which I should mention about this fool's errand we have embarked upon.  When we make our selections for Team Kangaroo, we have no idea where the player will actually wind up, or in some cases, what position they might be asked to play.  This tends to make us a bit more cautious about who we will select.  If there is a cornerback, who we think might be better off playing as a safety, we are pretty much forced to 'pass' on such a player, due to the risk that they might be misused and have their talent squandered.  It is unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do about this.  Instead, we have to focus solely on players who we feel have an above average chance of succeeding, regardless of what team they may wind up playing for.  This can be a surprisingly tricky issue to contend with.

There is also the issue of how to deal with traded draft picks.  Our answer to this is simple.  If Ozzie Newsome trades draft picks with another team, Team Kangaroo can either accept or decline the opportunity to do the same.  Team Kangaroo can't initiate trades, but can only choose to go along with what the Ravens choose to do, or we can choose to stand pat.  For the most part, we will never agree to trade up, and almost always agree to trade down.  Being able to determine playing time, playing position, and whether or not to make a trade, gives Ozzie Newsome, and GMs in general, several significant advantages over Team Kangaroo.  There's really nothing we can do to level the playing field in this sense, but I think it is worth noting.

While our selections are somewhat influenced by the 'needs' that we feel the Ravens should address, the needs of Team Kangaroo are actually somewhat different.  Starting with last year's draft, Team Kangaroo is branching off on a somewhat different timeline, as to how things 'could have been'.  Our picks this year, will somewhat reflect the players we selected last year.  Rather than treating each draft as a reset, we are trying to take into consideration which positions we feel we have already addressed in previous drafts.  I realize that some people won't like this approach, but I find it more amusing, and more challenging to do things in this way.  To be perfectly honest though, even if we were doing this as a 'one off' type of affair, I doubt our selections this year would have been terribly different.  Maybe one or two picks would have changed, but that's about it.

Oh well, that's enough of my rambling.  Let's post the results, with fingers crossed, and pray that the people we selected don't make us look terribly stupid in the near future.

                                       Team Kangaroo                         Team Ozzie
Round 1
Pick #17                         Joel Bitonio, OT/OG                    C.J. Mosley, ILB

Round 2
Pick #48                         Cody Latimer, WR                       Timmy Jernigan, DT

Round 3
Pick #79                         Kareem Martin, DE                      Terrence Brooks, FS

Pick #99                         Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB                Crockett Gilmore, TE

Round 4
Pick #134                       Lache Seastrunk, RB                    Brent Urban, DT

Pick #138                       Bennett Jackson, CB                    Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB

Round 5
Pick #175                       Garrett Scott, OT                         John Urschel, OG

Round 6
Pick #194                       Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/OLB           Keith Wenning, QB

Round 7
Pick #218                       Michael Campanaro, WR            Mike Campanaro, WR

Are there some selections we made, that leave me feeling a bit nervous?  Yup.  I normally would have taken a more cautious path with some of our selections, and gambled less on 'upside'.  In the end, it was really the decisions that the Ravens were making, that allowed us to gamble a bit more.  So few of the Ravens choices fit the mold of players that the computer views as having a high probability of success, that we ended up feeling a bit more willing to take some gambles ourselves.  In the end, the question we are trying to answer is whether a team would be better off making decisions based on the more objective data that comes from a computer, or whether the more subjective views of NFL scouts appears to work better.  We'll just have to wait and see what happens, as there is a long road ahead of us.  For the most part, I'm just happy to only have one of our selections go undrafted this year, when we had five such players last year (though our undrafted players still did pretty well for themselves).

Despite my pessimism about a number of the Ravens selections, I wouldn't say that I disapproved of all of them.  In particular, I rather liked their selections of John Urschel and Michael Campanaro, though it is hard to say how many opportunities they will get early on in their careers.  Just as much as talent and motivation might determine success, draft status is probably just as important.  Regardless of what skills a player brings to the table, overcoming the bias of being a late round pick is a significant obstacle.  Several of Team Kangaroos most successful players last year came from the late rounds, though the teams they played for only gave them opportunities when forced to, often due to injuries to other players.  It appears to be an unfortunate reality, that high draft picks will always be given more of an opportunity, almost regardless of who is actually playing better.

I should also mention the weird circumstances that led to both Ozzie Newsome and Team Kangaroo selecting Michael Campanaro in the 7th round.  I wasn't really prepared to make a pick at that point, as the Ravens didn't initially have a 7th round pick.  When the Ravens traded a future 6th round pick to the Browns to acquire a 7th round pick this year, I was a bit conflicted about what to do.  Normally I would never trade away future picks, just like I would normally never trade up in the draft.  Still, I felt that if I declined this trade, and maintained a claim on our 6th round pick for next year, it might make our imaginary game too complicated, and rub some people the wrong way.  A similar argument could have led to us claiming that Team Kangaroo should have an additional 4th, 5th and 7th round pick in this draft, since those picks were lost in trades for Eugene Monroe and A.Q. Shipley, who play positions that we feel Team Kangaroo may have already addressed (or at least potentially addressed with Terron Armstead and Eric Kush).  I just didn't feel like pursuing this argument, though I will probably continue to harp upon the number of draft picks that Ozzie's decisions have cost us.  I also kind of like Campanaro, so for once, Ozzie and I agreed on a pick.

At this point, it is out of our hands.  I don't know what will happen at this point, but I think Frank Sinatra did a fairly good job of capturing my thoughts at this point in time:

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

But, perhaps Gary Oldman can demonstrate this sentiment a bit better.

Yes, that's much better.  Gary really captures our drunken buffoonery much better.


  1. I personally love ur website...keep up the drunken antics.

  2. is where my 2014 draft can be found thanks for the layout.....And i attributed to you as is fair.

    1. Thanks for the support. Your draft for Team Houston looks quite respectable. I think your players should do quite well.

  3. I hope so... At the very least... I go 0-7 and get fired for after one year and make my ficitional owner look incompetent for hiring me as a fictional GM.

  4. You should have picked this guy for your team or at least let him write for your site:

    1. Yes, John Urschel would have fit in quite well on Team Kangaroo. It could have been the first time a player was drafted with the intention of converting him into a scout. I have to admit that I am rooting for him to succeed.