Post-Draft Notes

Not going to do an in depth draft breakdown until later this week, but I did want to throw a few notes/comments up before then:

– It’s possible that Chip Kelly has an informational advantage over the rest of the league, for now.  As a college coach, Chip recruited/scouted/coached a lot of these players before.  Of course, every team had ample time to scout before the draft, but actually game-planning for a player or getting to know him while he’s in high school might provide a better insight into that player’s pro potential.  I wasn’t thrilled with last year’s draft process; I though a trade down in the 1st round made a lot of sense and felt the team reached for Bennie Logan.  However, as it stands now that draft looks pretty good.  Therefore, I’m inclined to give Chip the benefit of the doubt for the time being.  That doesn’t mean I’ll hide  my skepticism, it just means the “process” might deserve more credit than we can give it from an outsiders perspective.  If this advantage does exist, though, it will only last another year or two, so the team needs to take advantage of it now.

– Notice I kept saying “Chip”, and not “Howie and Chip”.  If there was any doubt remaining about who is really making decisions, this past weekend should have cleared that up.  Two Oregon players?  A trade up for a WR?  Chip is the one making the call, for better or worse.

– On the whole, I liked the players selected but didn’t like where they were taken.  The draft is an exercise in probability and value-maximization. I think the Eagles fell short in this regard, Regardless of how these players pan out.  Smith was clearly a reach, Howie pretty much admitted it.  Reaching for need generally does not work out…. Also, please don’t put too much stock into the “someone else was ready to take him” stories.  EVERY time there is a “reach” pick, there’s inevitably some “source” that says Teams X, Y, and Z were ready to take the player if Team A passed.  That’s a bit convenient, isn’t it?  If there were other teams ready to take a guy like Smith in the first round, SOMEBODY would have mentioned it as a possibility.   Instead, Chip decided he NEEDED an OLB out of this draft.

That’s why free agency is so important.  If you go into the draft with NEEDS, it makes it very difficult to maximize value, because you’re always scared you’re going to be left with a big hole.

Note: This DOES NOT mean Smith isn’t going to pan out.  He seems like a great fit for the defense and his speed/cover experience should help a lot.  However, the Eagles likely missed out on some additional value by not trading back farther (Howie said he didn’t want to go as far as the options he had) or taking a different player at 22 and rolling the dice to see if Smith was there at 54 (or trading up from 54 to get him, as they did with Matthews).

– I spent most of the pre-draft period talking about the WR position.  Needless to say, trading up for one wasn’t one of my preferred strategies.  I’m happy the Eagles ended up with Matthews (see his comparable players from below), but going up to get him like that is a low-probability move.

– Two Oregon Ducks.  Really?  Again, not saying they’re bad players, but what are the odds that the Eagles, going with a BPA strategy, just happened to select 2 of Chip’s former players?  This could go either way, of course, hopefully he knows these guys well.  But if could also mean he’s letting personal bias into the equation, in which case there’s a serious “process” problem.

As I said, I’ll have more later this week.  Until then, salivate over the following.  Demaryius Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Jones, Josh Gordon…pretty good company…

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8 thoughts on “Post-Draft Notes

  1. With the 2 Ducks selected it could be partly Chip’s bias.
    But another part could be that the O&D schemes the Eagles are running are broadly the same as the Ducks. Therefore the skills and physical attributes for the players should match. We know Chip has very clearly defined attributes for each position.

    So it would seem to make sense that a higher proportion of Ducks will make the draft able 150 for the eagles.

    Given Hart has 2 gapped and that is a projection for many prospects and that probably also helps his grade.

    TBH Hart went when the Draftniks predicted he would. Huff is the pick that was more likely a bias decision as he was seen as some what of a reach.

  2. I think this draft was a good example of the limits of your methodology: NFL teams clearly have more information than outsiders, even the hard core journalist scouts. Everyone swore, (present company excluded!) before the draft, that Lee was a good value at 22. The NFL disagreed. Everyone swore that Jones was a great ILB prospect, possibly 2nd in the class; the NFL disagreed. Doesn’t mean that the NFL was right, but there clearly was more to it than just some sort of mass delusion.

    Also, while market participants may not have better information than other participants (one of your assumptions), they can have a superior predictive algorithm, at least for a short time until the rest of the market copies them/reverse engineers the algorithm. Kelly was brought on because he is an innovator. He’s going to use a different algorithm. Maybe it’s a good one, maybe not. But we’re going to find out.

    None of which is to say your methodology isn’t extremely useful, or extremely interesting (you’re one of my “must reads”). But as with most social science theories, there are limits.

    • Very true. My rankings are really far from perfect. I think they’re a very good proxy for “conventional wisdom” and a default system, but I simply don’t have enough data to build a predictive model. So there’s more than enough error in the model to account for someone like Smith being drafted in the first round (and deserving it). Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on. I’m hoping to redo the scores from last year with the new formula and see which guys qualified as “reaches” then. That should start to give us some insight into how often its an “NFL knows more” situation versus a “Coach/GM made mistake” situation.

      • Just to make clear, I agree: “less than perfect” is not equal to “not useful/enlightening.” Your methodology is very enlightening, and I eagerly await your scores “in review;” I think that will be tremendously enlightening. I’m sure that you’ll have that out tomorrow, given what a small scale project THAT is!

  3. Long time listener, first time caller, love the show.

    1. You make a good point that when teams reach, a source says someone else was ready to take the guy they reached for. But in this case, it’s not a “source” – it’s Howie Roseman saying it. The same Howie who told Chip that Taylor Hart would be available in the fifth round, when Chip wanted to draft him in the third. Maybe he was wrong about Marcus, but he’s clearly a canny and thoughtful guy. It seems much more likely to me that he made a reasoned judgment than an unforced error.

    2. Your leading point that Chip may have an information advantage is a good one. And if he does, surely he has the best information advantage with regards to Oregon players. For what it’s worth, my guess is that this advantage is less “spotting diamonds in the rough” and more “knowing what you’re getting” – and with a mid-round pick, if you don’t get what you hope you’re getting, you’re not getting a guy that can play in the NFL at all. Add this to the fact that Oregon is running the same scheme as the Eagles (h/t DanJ above), and I would think it was strange if he didn’t overdraft Oregon players.

  4. ” If there were other teams ready to take a guy like Smith in the first round, SOMEBODY would have mentioned it as a possibility.”

    The thing is, this was mentioned several times by guys like Daniel Jeramiah (former scouts with a lot of connections) and even Tommy Lawlor had potential scenario where the Eagles traded back and picked Smith.

    I think the problem with Smith was you only use 3 big boards and I think you are putting too much stock into something there do not take into team fits into account (Aaron Donald perfect 4-3 fit, but most likely not our board, where Smith was a pure 3-4 OLB so half the NFL wouldnt have him on their board)

    • I was trying (inelegantly) to make this point pre-draft. You almost need to make 2 boards when it comes to defensive prospects, and evaluate teams vs. the appropriate board. And probably, you can make 2 depending broadly on offensive schemes (although that’s less clear cut than the distinction between 2-gap and 1-gap defensive schemes – but think of zone blocking vs. power blocking schemes).

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