Dispelling the Chance Warmack Nonsense

I’ve been asked by a few people about my thoughts on Chance Warmack, so today I’ll attempt to provide a definitive explanation for why taking him with the 4th pick (or any high pick for that matter) is almost definitely a terrible idea (I’ll explain the one scenario that makes sense as well).

Although I have been clear about the Eagles not taking him, I haven’t fully explained, and judging by this article (Don Banks mock draft), there needs to be a reasoned analysis.

The first big point to consider is that Warmack is NOT risk-free.  No draft pick is, regardless of what scouts believe.  While some picks/positions are clearly LESS RISKY than others, every selection carries a chance (I really wish that wasn’t his name) that the player won’t pan out.

Let me provide a few quick examples.  Here are some pre-draft scouting reports, followed by the corresponding player:

One of the more versatile offensive tackles to enter the draft in a long while, [He] is a terrific prospect that will offer immediate returns as well as long-term potential. Should quickly come in and start as a left tackle for a franchise, yet could also grow into a dominant strong-side blocker. Will only get better as he physically matures and improves his skills as a run blocker. SI.com

The Player?  Robert Gallery, selected #2 overall.

“I can’t remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days. [His] passing session was the most impressive of all the pro days I’ve been to. His footwork for such a big quarterback was surprising. He was nimble in his dropbacks, rolling out and throwing on the run. The ball just explodes out of his hands.” – Todd McShay

The subject?  The immortal JaMarcus Russell.

Athleticism at the…position is unmatched by any player drafted in the last decade.  Incredible vision…Surprising power and is not afraid to run people over.  Absolutely chiseled physique…good character guy…Threat to score every time he touches the ball, and he should do that a lot in the NFL…Rarely does an athlete of this caliber enter the NFL. -draftclass.com

Player?  Reggie Bush

Obviously there are a lot of players that we can look back and poke holes in, but the fact is each of the above players was considered very low risk at the time they were drafted.  I’m not saying Warmack will be a bust, odds are he’s gonna be very good, but let’s just remember that scouting reports don’t always pan out.

The second and more significant reason for not taking Warmack (or any guard) is Opportunity Cost. When you use a draft pick, you are not just selecting a player, you are also deciding NOT to use that pick on a different prospect(s).  You can’t evaluate each choice in a vacuum, you must look at what else is available, otherwise the whole idea of “value” gets thrown out the window.

Remember our rule of thumb regarding the draft:  Elite players come from the first round, and mostly from the top half of the first round, REGARDLESS OF POSITION (with a few exceptions like K, P, FB, etc…)

Before we fully consider that, let’s also bring our draft strategy card into the picture:Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 2.12.35 PM

Sorry for the small font, but there’s a lot of info in there.  To refresh, the chart shows the odds of success by position and round for prospects taken in the draft from 1999-2011.

By combining our elite prospect guideline with this chart, it’s pretty easy to see why taking a guard is a bad idea in the top of the first round.  If we gauge the relative impact by position, Guards come out near the bottom (which is why so few are drafted highly).  The fact is, a dominant DE or T will have a greater effect on the game than a dominant G.  Also, there are very few opportunities to add elite players at high-value positions, with the Draft being, by far, the best route for all teams (as a result of the contract value).

Therefore, choosing Warmack means you are forgoing the RARE opportunity to add an elite player at a more valuable position.  If it was easy to find top OTs or DEs or DBs, then taking a G wouldn’t be such a big deal.  Unfortunately, if you don’t use the draft for the high value positions, it becomes VERY difficult and almost ALWAYS expensive to fill them through other avenues (FA, Trades).

I should note at this point that this does depend on the draft board.   I am a firm advocate of BPA strategy.  However, there are enough positions of higher value than G that I’m extremely confident there are better options than Warmack at #4.  Remember that we shouldn’t be ranking players individually, but rather slotting them by tiers to account for the large margin of error in player evaluations.  So looking at the tier that includes  Warmack (varies according to team board), there is a very high likelihood that, at #4, there is another player within that tier that plays a more impactful position.

Lastly, if we look at the chart, we can see that Guards are among the easiest to find late in the draft (highest probability).  In the 6th round, for example, 21% of guards selected from 1999-2011 became starters (started for at least 5 seasons or half of their time in the league if they were drafted less than 5 seasons ago).  Conversely, just 5% of DEs and 4% of DBs taken in the 6th became starters.  While players selected that late are very unlikely to be “elite” players, you’d clearly take an Elite DE/average G combo over the reverse.

To sum up before I get to the one exception scenario, the goal in the 1st round of the draft for EVERY team needs to be MAXIMIZING IMPACT.  Each year 15 teams (top 15 picks) get a reasonable shot at adding an “elite” player.  Outside of that draft choice, the opportunities to add elite players are few and far between.  Most often, the only other option is for teams to overpay in free agency, especially for premier positions.  Therefore, teams cannot squander their best opportunities to add elite players on lower-impact positions, regardless of how strong the prospect is.

I mentioned at the top that there was one (extremely unlikely) scenario where it made sense to draft Warmack:

BOTH:

– Warmack would have to be in his own tier, and CLEARLY a far better prospect than anyone else on the board.  From what I’ve seen, that is not the case.

– There would have to be NO interest in trading for the Eagles pick, eliminating that as an option.  Even a trade involving relatively less compensation than normal would be enough to move, so I really do mean that a trade would have to be nearly impossible.  Again, the odds of there being ZERO interest in anything approaching a reasonable offer for the #4 pick are very low.

OR – the subject Guard (not Warmack) would have to be so amazing as to completely redefine the Guard position.  I’m not even sure what that would look like.  Safe to say it’s not happening anytime soon.

So for the time being, ignore Don Banks and anyone else suggesting the Eagles should/will take Warmack.

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2 thoughts on “Dispelling the Chance Warmack Nonsense

  1. For me Warmack isnt the best guard for us, that would be Cooper.
    Also the perfect guard that could be worth the 4th overall would be a Shawn Andrews without the problems.

    • Andrews sans problems is about as close as I’ve ever seen a Guard get to being worth a high pick. Even then I think it’s a poor use of resources, other than in the scenarios I outlined.

      On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 4:24 PM, Eagles Rewind

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