Draft Strategy Chart

Today let’s take another look at our draft strategy chart, this time using it to talk about a few prospects.  Some of you have seen this, newer readers have not.  I apologize if its tough to see without zooming in, but I like to get a comprehensive look with this chart.  Note that the 6th and 7th round columns were included in yesterday’s post.  The sample is all players drafted from 1999-2011.Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 3.12.35 PM

The different color backgrounds reflect my quick attempts to eliminate sub-optimal round/position choices (in black).

Between now and the draft, I am hoping to mine this in a little more detail and ultimately combine it with the PVM system.  However, for today, let’s talk about specific players.

First, a note on value.  Obviously applying this chart to individual players is a misuse of the data.  There is no guarantee that the sample is representative, and there are potentially a lot of other factors at work.  In general, I believe the value of this type of data is to give us a sense of which positions are easier/harder to evaluate.  For example, LBs seem to have a much larger margin of evaluative error than OTs.  Therefore, a LB with similar ratings to an OT will carry more inherent risk by virtue of the fact that, historically, LB projections are less accurate.

Hopefully that made sense.  We’ll be revisiting this a lot in the next few weeks.  Now let’s get to the players.

Dion Jordan – He immediately pops out because A) he’s been frequently “mocked” to the Eagles, and B) plays a position that carries the worst 1st round hit rate.  This doesn’t mean Jordan won’t be a good player, only that LBs are very hard to project coming out of college.  This is a major reason why I do not like him for the #4 pick.  Added risk, no additional reward.  With a lot of similarly rated prospects, no reason to take on any additional risk.  Also, notice that the odds of finding a starting LB in the second round are almost as good as in the first round.

Star Lotulelei – I’ve been a big proponent of Star for as long as this blog has been up (I may have actually been the first one to peg him to the Eagles).  I still believe he is among the best potential picks for the Eagles.  He’s a run stopper and a natural pivot on the d-line, able to hold his ground against a double-team, allowing the LBs  to fly to the ball.  Heart condition notwithstanding, Star would immediately become the Eagles 5-tech and could play NT as well if Spooky doesn’t perform.  However, the chart above is a bit of a red flag.  DTs carry some of the lowest “elite player” odds (all-pro, pro bowl) as well as relatively low starter odds.  Additionally, the odds of finding a starting DT in the second round are good.

Once I figure out how to factor this in to the PVM model, I expect to see Star move down the board a couple of spots.  For now though, he remains a personal favorite.  In a perfect world, the Eagles would trade down to #7 or #8 and pick him up there.

Joeckel/Fisher – The Eric Fisher train has picked up a bit of speed recently, especially with the Eagles sitting out the OT FA market (for the moment).  I’m not a huge Fisher fan, but the odds clearly submit him as a “low-risk” pick.  It is common knowledge at this point that OTs are safer picks in the 1st round than any other position, and the data definitely bears this out (im not counting Cs due to sample size).  HOWEVER, that is an overly simplistic way of looking at it.  You also have to account for the fact that OT is one of the EASIEST positions in which to find contributors later in the draft.  You won’t get an elite OT after the first round, but notice you still have 25% chance to get one as late as the 4th round (and 13% in the 7th).

Let’s play a quick probability game.  Assume that this data was perfectly representative of the upcoming draft.  The Eagles have four 7th round picks.  If the team were to use all 4 of them on OTs, what would the odds of finding a starter be?

Well the chances of missing, according to our table, are 87%.  The chances of missing with all 4 picks are .87^4, or 57%.  Therefore, the odds of NOT MISSING all of them would be 43%.

A 43% chance isn’t great, but it’s pretty significant, and remember this is in the 7th round.

In the second round, 70% of OTs in our sample ended up as “starters”.

This is a long way of saying that the Eagles resources, according to the current prospect rankings and team needs, are probably better spent elsewhere than on an OT in the 1st round.

Dee Milliner – Another guy who has picked up steam (the 40 time helped a lot).  He could go as high as #1, though I think that’s unlikely.  I like him because he is ranked #1 by PVM, though we’ll have to wait and see if he holds onto that position as ratings are updated.  The major pushback on him is that he doesn’t rate as a “shutdown” corner.  Obviously, if you are using the #4 pick on a CB, you want him to be an “island” sort of player.  However, this is a pretty ridiculous read of the situation.  Essentially, draftniks are comparing Milliner to CBs in OTHER drafts.  Obviously there have been better CB prospects.  The fact remains, though, that in THIS draft, Milliner is by far the best CB prospect, and is also one of the best prospects PERIOD.

You can chalk this up to bad timing for the Eagles, in that they got a high pick in a relatively weak draft (projected), but at the end of the day you have to play the cards you’re dealt.  The table above says DBs are pretty safe in the first round.  For those asking, CBs and Ss are not separated because the often switch positions coming out of college or in their first few years (or last).  I’m doing some work to fix this, but keep in mind that this is also a potential advantage.  If a CB fails in the NFL, he may be able to switch to Safety and become a productive player.  If a WR or QB fails (or most other positions), there is no outlet  to salvage that prospect.  Consequently, DBs are lower risk.

In case you didn’t realize it, this is a big thumbs UP for Milliner.

Geno Smith – This chart definitely throws the brakes on the Geno hype.  QBs have a very low success rate, even in the first round (relatively).  That would make me wary of drafting a QB with more than a couple small flaws in his game.  I still think Geno goes high (top 5), but I wouldn’t want to be the team that takes him.

The chart illustrates just how hard it is to draft quarterbacks.  Remember that it isn’t a “reach” just because a QB went higher than his rating suggests.  Hitting on a QB offers a MUCH greater reward than hitting on any other position (hence the PVM adjustment).  HOWEVER, with that reward obviously comes greater risk.  For a team like the Eagles, which has a bunch of holes and some existing talent at QB, a high-risk/high-reward play like Geno Smith doesn’t make much sense.



11 thoughts on “Draft Strategy Chart

  1. Absolutely love the site (first time visitor), the pvi, advanced metrics, position scarcity, draft pick chart etc. One suggestion — would it be possible to break down the position data for the draft chart for the first rd only but break it down further to top 5 top 10 top 20 top 32 to demonstrate benefit of trading down but also to possibly show that a position like lb isn’t nearly as risky (and could be best way to get an all-pro) if you take someone in the top 5 at lb. I noticed you shied away from lbs and dion jordan in the first rd bc that position had the lowest hit rate as a starter – but my counter is that the lb position also had the highest hit rate for lbs for all-pros and probowlers. I bet if you broke the first rd down even further, we may be able to strengthen the hit rate for lb starters in the top 5 and make a stronger argument for Jordan. Right now he is risky bc of position risk, but his upside of being an allpro is the least risky of any position. And I think most people would agree they want an elite talent or all pro player if drafting in top 5, not merely a starter. Thanks again.

    • Definitely possible to break it up further (and something Im looking at). I’ll take a more detailed look in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out.

      The one issue with breaking it down further is it’s easy to get too precise with it. For example, the 5th and 6th pick arent really that different, so splitting it there might be unfair.

      Top 15 though is definitely a big split, and Ill look into whether top 3 or top 5 or whatever shows any big differences.

  2. Additionally, I believe the DB starter, probowl rating may be schewed higher because you have safeties tied in with corner backs. Safeties, like tes, are typically taken less in the first rd when compared to their sexier counterpart – wr and cornerback. Cornerback also get paid a whole hell of a lot more money. I suspect there are a lot more cornerback busts percentage wise than safeties in the first rd and I think this may steer you away from Milner.

    • Perhaps, im going through the data now and trying to separate CBs and Ss as best I can. Some issues with that, but i’ll explain them when I post.

  3. I wonder how much the old rookie wage scale played a part on the starter percentage of players. With the old scale, teams had to pony up big dollars for top picks, and usually, even if those players didn’t pan out, stuck with them because of the money they had invested. This is especially true with the QB position. Guys were given a long leash with the hopes that they would eventually play well.

    I’m interested to see what this type of analysis will look like in a few years with the new rookie wage scale in place.

    • Im very interested as well. There is definitely some noise associated with top picks under the old salary regime getting a LONG time to prove themselves. Not always, but they did typically have a long leash.

      There’s also the matter of the league itself changing. Anecdotally, I think CBs, Ss, and TEs are increasing in importance while other positions are becoming less of a focus.

      I like this salary structure a lot more because it’ll, in theory, cause fewer distortions for analysis like this.

  4. yes! @gotommyw I was thinking exactly this. please break this down at least for the first round. I would be really suprised to see the results for top five, top ten, top 15 and 32. if you do this please email me as i’m a fiest time reader, its late, and I may not see it again.

    if you don’t do the suggestion, you just lost a reader.

    ken s.

  5. Good read here how you might have to change the PVM chart in the future with QBs and WRs getting higher value and DE, LT, and CB getting lower values because of the new flat cap

    This also gives a good reason why NOT to draft Millner because as good as he is and how he is the best value from the PVM chart, a DT/DE like Star offers more in terms of impact on the field.

    I really believe CB’s have been overrated the last many years, while a good CB is nice, a good DL and scheme can mask alot, just look at the Jets, despite missing Revis and having no pass rush, was still an elite pass coverage team because of Ryans scheme.

    • thanks for the link, ill take a look. The flat cap will definitely have some interesting effects. Not sure I buy into the blanket statement “good DT over good CB”, I still would much rather have an elite CB.

      However, that’s definitely something that needs to be re-examined.

      In general, you’re right that a good scheme can mask a lot of deficiencies. I just believe that it’s easier to scheme for pressure than it is to scheme for coverage.

      That said, finding a great CB isn’t easy, and Milliner might not be one, so I think we probably agree anyway (regarding Star).

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