Before the Draft: Tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Can I get a bit meta about the Pre-Draft Industrial Complex (henceforth "PDIC")? Every spring, I get more and more bemused by the amount of ink that is spilled - digitally or otherwise - on the process of allocating rookies to new NFL teams, a process which is almost certainly much, much more down to random chance than scouting skill than most people seem to realize. To give just one example, from the "Pats QB Options" thread:
How many franchise QB's in the last 10 years have been picked in the top 5-top 10 and how many QB's have been busts? I listed all QBs picked in top 10 either traded up for or not.

2011--Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert--1 hit, 2 busts
2012--Andrew Luck, RG3, Ryan Tannehill--1 hit, 1 bust, 1 took a long time to be good
2013--none in the top 10
2014--Blake Bortles--bust
2015--Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota--both busts
2016--Jared Goff, Carson Wentz--I'll give them 2 hits as they've been pretty good in stretches but their original teams traded them.
2017--Mitch Tribusky, Patrick Mahomes--1 home run, 1 bust
2018--Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen--2 hits, 2 busts
2019--Kyler Murray--so far a hit
2020--Joe Burrow, Tua, Herbert--too early to tell long-term on all of them but Herbert has the lead in the clubhouse as being a franchise guy

Hits--8
Busts--9
Average--1(Tannehill)
Too Early to Tell--3

I'd say that Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes as the two guys picked in the top 10 in the past 10 years that are true franchise cornerstone QB's. Josh Allen and Kyler Murray are on that track, but I'd need to see more out of them. As you mentioned, teams' evaluations of QB's in recent history have been spotty at best. A lot of the guys available this year you'd have to really rely on the projection of the player on all but really Lawrence. Is that worth gambling multiple future 1st round picks to go up to 4 or 5? I like Fields and Lance, but not at the expense of 2 or 3 first round picks.
All of these players were exhaustively scouted by the teams that drafted them, and all of the teams must have felt confident in the players they were picking. Some of these picks kinda seemed dubious to the consensus at the time - but for every pick on which the consensus was right to be dubious (e.g., Trubisky), there's probably another pick in which it was wrong (e.g., Herbert?). Nobody really knows anything, do they? And to the extent that some teams - e.g., Pittsburgh - seem to have a higher hit rate on their draft picks than others, how much of that is down to superior coaching and molding the players they acquire to become effective professionals rather than picking the right players in the first place? I mean, was Sam Darnold a bust because he wasn't a good prospect, or was he a bust because he got picked by the Jets and had to spend two years under Adam Gase?

So...if teams aren't great at picking the best players, what makes the PDIC think it's any good at picking them? And more to the point, really: what makes any fan a) care what any "draft expert" thinks about any player, or b) think he really knows anything about any particular draft prospect, or that he can do any better than the PDIC in his own personal mock drafts? The obvious answer to these questions is that everyone wants to dream big and believe that your team can acquire new talent which will significantly improve your team, and we all want to know a little bit more about who might be available to your team and others around the league. But that brings us back to square one: if nobody knows anything, why does anybody care? Or rather, while I absolutely care about the Falcons making the right decision with pick #4 - trade back? take a QB? take Pitts? take Sewell? - and all of the other picks they'll make thereafter, all of the reading and tape study in the world won't give me any clues in advance as to what the correct decision for them to make actually is. I'll only begin to learn who chose correctly in September, once meaningful games start being played. (And possibly not even then.)

There's certainly no harm in the PDIC and what it does and how any fan might engage with it. (Unless you think people have a moral obligation not to waste their time...but then, we all waste a lot of time on SoSH anyway, so I think we can throw that complaint out the window.) And I do think there are ways in thinking about the draft can be helpful: e.g., trying to identify what a team's biggest strengths and weaknesses are and the extent to which draft picks should be allocated accordingly, or pondering concepts in the abstract like trading up for a franchise QB like the the 49ers have and the cost in draft capital it requires, or trading down to buy more lottery tickets at the expense of a single (projected) high-end talent. But when it comes to individual players...even the most knowledgeable posters here - and there are a few very knowledgeable posters indeed - can only offer guesses which can only be proven right or wrong in the fullness of time. And I do often wonder why I shouldn't just turn my brain off, were it possible to do so, and ignore every single comment and evaluation about every college player until I see them on the field in the NFL. I certainly wonder why I find myself rooting for the Falcons to do X, Y or Z in the draft when I have no idea whether X, Y or Z is better; I only hold pre-draft opinions because someone in the PDIC convince me to hold them, and I could throw darts at options on a dartboard and be right as often as the PDIC is. Right?
 

SMU_Sox

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Honestly as one of the bigger guys into the draft I can tell you player development, where they land, what that situation is matters more than... well more than anything I can think of. In a lot of ways the axiom that: teams bust, not players, rings true. Now, yes, players of course bust. But landing spot and how the team develops the player and what they ask them to do matters.

Let's look at 3 core examples: Sam Darnold, Kyle Van Noy, and DMC.

Sam Darnold: his issues coming out were he was turnover prone, he had mechanical issues which lead to inaccurate throws (he would point his lead foot to the sideline), and he was still learning to read defenses. In particular he was developing how to read defenses when the post-snap look changed from the pre-snap look ("Help me, I see ghosts, Coach!"). All of those elements are still prevalent in his game today. Sam Darnold was a guy who wasn't ready to start right away. He could have used a year or even two to mature and get acclimated. What happened? He was rushed in right away to start. He never developed much. To me that indicates that 1) he might not ever be able to put everything together, 2) because he was rushed his development suffered, and 3) the coaching staff didn't know how to effectively coach and develop him, or a mix of all or some of 1-2-3. Did Adam Gase or Todd Bowles design an offense to suit Darnold's needs? Did anyone? He's been through HC Todd Bowles, OC Jeremy Bates (2018), HC Adam Gase 2019-2020, OC Dowell Loggains 2019-2020. Now Darnold is onto his 3rd set of HCs and OCs. Hard to develop with the kind of instability. Darnold looked awful and maybe he always would have been a mediocre to bad QB (FWIW I was NOT a Darnold guy) but it is hard to tell when he was in this situation. Speaking of a bad situation Darnold had an awful offensive line 3 years in a row and until 2020 had hardly anyone to throw to. They also never had a good RB to help the situation. Now it doesn't help his case that Joe Flacco out-performed him but Flacco is the opposite of Darnold - he is about as cooked as they come at his age. We will see if Darnold can do better in Carolina.

Kyle Van Noy: Van Noy was picked by a GM who thought he would be used one way but then used by his head coach and DC in another way. I think we are all familiar with this story. Was Van Noy a bust for Detroit? No, I would argue Detroit was a bust for Van Noy and not the other way around. Van Noy is a terrific OLB. If Detroit had used him in a way that made more sense they could have avoided trading him for pennies on the dollar all to see New England show them what he actually CAN DO. Here the problem was the front office and the coaching staff weren't on the same page at all.

DMC: Drafted as a corner he became a safety partially because he was having an off year at corner and also because of need. When he excelled in that role BB then made him a permanent player at that position. Is he a bust because they drafted him as a corner but he developed into a hall of the very good free safety/versatile DB? Not in my book. For DMC his head coach and GM worked with him to put him in the best place to contribute in a role where he can do what he does best. What can he do? You need to look at a player, see what he can do, work with him on what he can't do, and then put him in the best position to succeed. That's what Bill did with DMC and KVN.

Let's look at another example: RIchard Sherman. HT: @Super Nomario on this one. This is the importance of scheme fit. Each scheme whether it be on offense or defense and how it relates to each positional player matters a great deal. If you draft a corner who stinks at press but he has excellent route anticipation/recognition you don't want to draft him highly if you are a press-man or press-zone scheme. Richard Sherman came from not pressing at all in college (thank you SN for that) to being in the best press-zone scheme of the 2010's, Seattle's. You figure out if a player is a good fit for your scheme and what you want to do. Some players are scheme-versatile and can fit anywhere. Richard Seymour could play in a 4-3 or 3-4 for example.

Another example: Isaiah Wilson and... Dom Easley. Both of these guys were highly talented prospects who ended up out of the league. The problem is if you don't have work-ethic and you can't stay out of trouble on and off the field you are not long for the league. You need to be a team player and have a good work ethic and also being a good citizen off the field helps a lot. Work ethic in particular is an underrated virtue. Drew Lock and Johnny Football don't/didn't work hard enough off the field. Neither did JaMarcus Russell. If you can't mentally develop because you have a poor work ethic, you have character issues off the field impacting your focus, or you just can't get it for whatever reason you will fail to develop. It's hard to predict who can make the next step when the game gets so much faster and more difficult.

Another example: Josh Allen (to contrast with Sam Darnold). Josh Allen started mid-year his first year. The coaching staff built an offense around his skills and had the patience for him to continue to develop accuracy, reading defenses, and decision-making and anticipation. Josh Allen becoming a timing and anticipation thrower is borderline shocking. He had the mental aptitude to develop. He's had the work ethic combined with a good consistent coaching staff (Bills coaching staff is excellent), a GM who works with the coach to build a team around Allen, and an offensive scheme tailor made to his skillset with the skilled players and OL to execute that vision.

The answer to why prospects bust and why they succeed has a factors to it.

Where I think what the analytics shows you is that ego kills. Trading up is usually the wrong move. Now sometimes you have to if you want to target a certain position like QB but the better move is to trade back and not be overaggressive with your valuations.

I'd also say a common theme is that dysfunctional organizations tend to have more "busts" (again I think teams bust much more often than players). This skirts the line of circular logic but not if you frame the issue the way I do as development being a combined function of the team and the player.
 
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PC Drunken Friar

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Isn't this BB philosophy when grading scouts (I think from the book Patriot Reign?)? Scouts are only judged on the picks the Patriots made. If you go to war for a kid that flames out or are down on a kid who takes off...if it didn't happen on the Pats, it might as well have not have happened.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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Had this started in the QB options thread but it kind of fits perfect here:

Coaching, culture and environment play a huge part in the success or failure of any prospect, and that's literally in every sport. We have the privilege of knowing full well that if a player can't make it here then they're not going to anywhere. Whereas on the opposite end , just because they weren't great somewhere else doesn't mean Bill and company can't extract something out of them. Where we all struggle with this is in the evaluation of talent and what makes a good prospect or player. I don't think it's just stats or measureables, or mental toughness or acuity, or just the eye test. There's an unknown combination of all those things. Unfortunately some of it is relative and subject to opinion. As much as Trevor Lawrence looks and acts the part, there's still a chance that he struggles at the NFL level. It's a small chance but it's still there.

I too like to wishcast the performance of any draft binkie because " I know" the player fits the scheme or he has the intangibles you can't coach or he had a sub 6.6 3-cone, but no one knows for sure... It's a big reason why the draft is so much fun. Most of it is gambling on assessments and finding out if you were right.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Can I get a bit meta about the Pre-Draft Industrial Complex (henceforth "PDIC")? Every spring, I get more and more bemused by the amount of ink that is spilled - digitally or otherwise - on the process of allocating rookies to new NFL teams, a process which is almost certainly much, much more down to random chance than scouting skill than most people seem to realize. To give just one example, from the "Pats QB Options" thread:


All of these players were exhaustively scouted by the teams that drafted them, and all of the teams must have felt confident in the players they were picking. Some of these picks kinda seemed dubious to the consensus at the time - but for every pick on which the consensus was right to be dubious (e.g., Trubisky), there's probably another pick in which it was wrong (e.g., Herbert?). Nobody really knows anything, do they? And to the extent that some teams - e.g., Pittsburgh - seem to have a higher hit rate on their draft picks than others, how much of that is down to superior coaching and molding the players they acquire to become effective professionals rather than picking the right players in the first place? I mean, was Sam Darnold a bust because he wasn't a good prospect, or was he a bust because he got picked by the Jets and had to spend two years under Adam Gase?

So...if teams aren't great at picking the best players, what makes the PDIC think it's any good at picking them? And more to the point, really: what makes any fan a) care what any "draft expert" thinks about any player, or b) think he really knows anything about any particular draft prospect, or that he can do any better than the PDIC in his own personal mock drafts? The obvious answer to these questions is that everyone wants to dream big and believe that your team can acquire new talent which will significantly improve your team, and we all want to know a little bit more about who might be available to your team and others around the league. But that brings us back to square one: if nobody knows anything, why does anybody care? Or rather, while I absolutely care about the Falcons making the right decision with pick #4 - trade back? take a QB? take Pitts? take Sewell? - and all of the other picks they'll make thereafter, all of the reading and tape study in the world won't give me any clues in advance as to what the correct decision for them to make actually is. I'll only begin to learn who chose correctly in September, once meaningful games start being played. (And possibly not even then.)

There's certainly no harm in the PDIC and what it does and how any fan might engage with it. (Unless you think people have a moral obligation not to waste their time...but then, we all waste a lot of time on SoSH anyway, so I think we can throw that complaint out the window.) And I do think there are ways in thinking about the draft can be helpful: e.g., trying to identify what a team's biggest strengths and weaknesses are and the extent to which draft picks should be allocated accordingly, or pondering concepts in the abstract like trading up for a franchise QB like the the 49ers have and the cost in draft capital it requires, or trading down to buy more lottery tickets at the expense of a single (projected) high-end talent. But when it comes to individual players...even the most knowledgeable posters here - and there are a few very knowledgeable posters indeed - can only offer guesses which can only be proven right or wrong in the fullness of time. And I do often wonder why I shouldn't just turn my brain off, were it possible to do so, and ignore every single comment and evaluation about every college player until I see them on the field in the NFL. I certainly wonder why I find myself rooting for the Falcons to do X, Y or Z in the draft when I have no idea whether X, Y or Z is better; I only hold pre-draft opinions because someone in the PDIC convince me to hold them, and I could throw darts at options on a dartboard and be right as often as the PDIC is. Right?
It's all entertainment.

Not sure what the latest is but for a long time, drafting was not a skill. Outside of the top 10 or so picks, the best draft organizations simply had the most chances.
 
Coaching, culture and environment play a huge part in the success or failure of any prospect, and that's literally in every sport. We have the privilege of knowing full well that if a player can't make it here then they're not going to anywhere. Whereas on the opposite end , just because they weren't great somewhere else doesn't mean Bill and company can't extract something out of them. Where we all struggle with this is in the evaluation of talent and what makes a good prospect or player. I don't think it's just stats or measureables, or mental toughness or acuity, or just the eye test. There's an unknown combination of all those things. Unfortunately some of it is relative and subject to opinion. As much as Trevor Lawrence looks and acts the part, there's still a chance that he struggles at the NFL level. It's a small chance but it's still there.
Do you think this is true of Belichick with players at all positions? It's not like his drafting record is flawless; how many of those drafting mistakes might be down to the post-draft coaching, rather than the pre-draft scouting? (Or do we just take it for granted that the answer is "zero"?)
 

SMU_Sox

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It's all entertainment.

Not sure what the latest is but for a long time, drafting was not a skill. Outside of the top 10 or so picks, the best draft organizations simply had the most chances.
100% true.

You buy and read The Drafting Stage and you'll see that this is right. However some teams have done better than others. I have identified that there are better ways to foster better roster/prospect development like having the GM and the coach on the same page with a plan for the player.
Then there are things that you can NOT do to improve your odds: There are also useful things to look at from an analytics perspective like college edges who don't get 10+ sacks in a season are almost guaranteed to not succeed in the NFL (I forgot the bust rate vs normal bust rate but it is a staggering statistic). Aside from not having a plan another sure-fire way to bust a player is to draft him for the wrong scheme. Like drafting a guy like Azeez Ojulari this year (a prototypical 3-4 OLB) and ask him to play 4-3 DE. Or drafting an undersized corner with short arms who specializes in zone schemes and struggles in press-man and asking him to play in a man-to-man press scheme.
 

SMU_Sox

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Do you think this is true of Belichick with players at all positions? It's not like his drafting record is flawless; how many of those drafting mistakes might be down to the post-draft coaching, rather than the pre-draft scouting? (Or do we just take it for granted that the answer is "zero"?)
Hard to know but he's had his fair share of bad or miss evals. Sometimes it is on work ethic and character like with Dom Easley. Sometimes it is on physical ability: Ron Brace "I fucked up on that one" - actual BB quote from War Room. Sometimes the guy just can't be coached and wasn't necessarily the best prospect physically like Harry. Dobson was fine physically but couldn't take to their coaching. Jordan Richards was a miss on the physical ability.
 

Super Nomario

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It's all entertainment.

Not sure what the latest is but for a long time, drafting was not a skill. Outside of the top 10 or so picks, the best draft organizations simply had the most chances.
I wouldn't say it's not a skill; I would say that you've got 32 mostly smart people in mostly smart organizations dealing with roughly the same imperfect amount of information in an exercise (predicting the future) with a vast amount of uncertainty. I do think you can be shitty at drafting; I also think at the upper end (which is most of the league nowadays) there's not much difference. Stupid teams can still do stupid things, but there are fewer stupid teams every year.

Do you think this is true of Belichick with players at all positions? It's not like his drafting record is flawless; how many of those drafting mistakes might be down to the post-draft coaching, rather than the pre-draft scouting? (Or do we just take it for granted that the answer is "zero"?)
It's not zero (the "Patriot Way" isn't for everybody), although I think it's worth pointing out that sometimes it's no one's fault. Like there are guys who need to be used in particular ways to maximize their success and for whatever reason circumstances conspire that it doesn't happen. Patrick Chung is an obvious example; in his first go-round in New England, he had to play a lot of deep safety in two-high coverages because they didn't have a true single-high FS. That's not bad coaching per se; they couldn't use him optimally because they didn't have the right pieces around him. When he came back after his one-year sojourn in Philadelphia, the Patriots had moved Devin McCourty to FS and now Chung could play in the box, man up on TEs, defend the run and do all the things he's good at. I don't think it was necessarily "bad coaching" that put Chung in poor position to succeed initially, but as a GM/head coach you're trying to put together a pretty complex puzzle and not all the pieces are going to fit together ideally.

I also suspect there are a lot of cases where the evaluation is not really wrong and the coaching staff didn't really screw up and it just didn't work anyway. Like maybe you draft a WR with suspect hands because you think you might be able to teach him better technique, but it doesn't work. The reality is at best there are a handful of guys who are ready to play right away and don't have major flaws; most guys stink as rookies or don't play, so you're trying to project into the future. Sometimes you see the flaws but decide to take a chance on the positive qualities and hope you can mitigate the flaws, but it's just not always going to work out. I don't think there's a lesson to be learned from every draft bust. Some, yes, but not all.
 

RetractableRoof

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A couple of thoughts:
  • An organization that leans closer to meritocracy is going to encourage development or be a more positive environment for development to occur. The fact that the Pats for example are ok with cutting a 4th round pick and keeping a UDFA at the same position is known. So while the Patriot Way isn't for everyone, anyone who has the work ethic mentioned above (and the presence of capable coaching) might thrive believing they are getting a fair shot.
  • There is also the when of drafting a player. A team can draft the "best player available", and get tremendous value as a draft grade - but if that's a running back in Dallas and he's behind Zeke and 2 other effective backs his chance of success is lower just based on when he is drafted by an organization. Take this years Pats team - they are fluid, but appear to be loaded due to unprecedented free agent activity. They have a lot of draft picks. If they use them all this year there will likely be a lot of failures - because a) there are very few roster spots for the rookies to fight for and b) the covid impact on college athletics has likely scrambled normal drafting operations.
  • An organization which tends to be innovative with how they approach the game on the field it can take players who aren't perfect specimens (in relation to their peers) and extract maximum value from them. There is always going to be a floor of physical performance to get the job done... but you don't have to have the best 40 if your football IQ (or enough film work) allows you to recognize the play a split second faster than the next guy. That guy can then be put in a defense that can morph from game to game, or play to play if necessary - getting more out of the player than might be seen at the combine.
 

Phil Plantier

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I like this topic so much I had to take a day to think about it. Why is the draft (and it's accompanying sound and fury) so entertaining? This year I am more into it than ever before. Why?

1. There's a certain amount of randomness of outcomes, as mentioned above. No one, not even BB, knows everything about every prospect. So that means that an amateur can "succeed" (at whatever metric) at the same rate as a professional.

2. There is a lot of private information (in the technical sense in that teams would like to know actual physical and mental ability of draftees, but can't find that out, as SMU says above). I like the intricate methods teams use to try to extract that private information.

3. It is a hiring process, which many of us are veterans of (and I'm always annoyed when a hire does not work out, which is often in my case). Knowing that professional sports teams have the same challenges, and seeing how they try to overcome that (see #2), is fun for me at this point.

4. It's also an extended job interview for the draftees, but, in this case, with a bunch of outside observers. So we get, in the draft, something we rarely get in real life: feedback on how their portfolios of work are judged.

5. I analyze data as part of my job. The draft lets me do this in a fun, no-consequence way.

6. Many people have said this, but I finally absorbed it when J. T. O'Sullivan said it on Phil Perry's podcast yesterday: the draft is an event where I root for everyone. Sure, there are people whose traits/skills/character I prefer and don't prefer, but I'm not rooting for someone to fail. I'd like them all to succeed. They have achieved so much already just to be in this conversation. I'm in awe of that level of dedication and ability, which I did not have at 20 (or 30, or 40...)

7. This is a larger point, but, as I age, I find that I like reading and listening about sports more than watching the sports themselves. I think the ratio of time I spend analyzing/discussing sports to time I spend watching might be 20:1. The draft is another vector for that.

8. There's something about becoming invested in a draftee and then finding out more about them that either increases or decreases that emotional investment.

9. This community, right here. The experts are generous with their information and with their openness to new acolytes. That's great too.

I'm not sure that this is everything, but these are the first things I thought of.
 

Shelterdog

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I wouldn't say it's not a skill; I would say that you've got 32 mostly smart people in mostly smart organizations dealing with roughly the same imperfect amount of information in an exercise (predicting the future) with a vast amount of uncertainty. I do think you can be shitty at drafting; I also think at the upper end (which is most of the league nowadays) there's not much difference. Stupid teams can still do stupid things, but there are fewer stupid teams every year.
I'd add that there's a huge wild card that adds a ton of randomness-injuries. Putting aside whether you eliminate Ras-I Dowling or Gronk for their injury history even brand new injuries make a total mess of your best laid plans. I have no idea what his physical shows, but Isiah Wynn was an ironman in college (and if memory serves in high school too) and he's been pretty good when he's been on the field as a pro but he's just had injury after injury. And who knows how the injuries have hindered his development--how much time lifting, drilling, getting stronger, etc did he lose because of the achilles, then the toe, then the knee? How much stronger (and even quicker) would be be if he had a couple years of fairly uninterrupted olympic lifting, etc instead of rehab?

When you look at any team's busts you tend to see a history of injuries (anyone remember Chad Jackson blowing out a knee last game of his rookie year? Maroney breaking a shoulder like 3 games into his third season?)
 

RedOctober3829

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Can I get a bit meta about the Pre-Draft Industrial Complex (henceforth "PDIC")? Every spring, I get more and more bemused by the amount of ink that is spilled - digitally or otherwise - on the process of allocating rookies to new NFL teams, a process which is almost certainly much, much more down to random chance than scouting skill than most people seem to realize. To give just one example, from the "Pats QB Options" thread:


All of these players were exhaustively scouted by the teams that drafted them, and all of the teams must have felt confident in the players they were picking. Some of these picks kinda seemed dubious to the consensus at the time - but for every pick on which the consensus was right to be dubious (e.g., Trubisky), there's probably another pick in which it was wrong (e.g., Herbert?). Nobody really knows anything, do they? And to the extent that some teams - e.g., Pittsburgh - seem to have a higher hit rate on their draft picks than others, how much of that is down to superior coaching and molding the players they acquire to become effective professionals rather than picking the right players in the first place? I mean, was Sam Darnold a bust because he wasn't a good prospect, or was he a bust because he got picked by the Jets and had to spend two years under Adam Gase?

So...if teams aren't great at picking the best players, what makes the PDIC think it's any good at picking them? And more to the point, really: what makes any fan a) care what any "draft expert" thinks about any player, or b) think he really knows anything about any particular draft prospect, or that he can do any better than the PDIC in his own personal mock drafts? The obvious answer to these questions is that everyone wants to dream big and believe that your team can acquire new talent which will significantly improve your team, and we all want to know a little bit more about who might be available to your team and others around the league. But that brings us back to square one: if nobody knows anything, why does anybody care? Or rather, while I absolutely care about the Falcons making the right decision with pick #4 - trade back? take a QB? take Pitts? take Sewell? - and all of the other picks they'll make thereafter, all of the reading and tape study in the world won't give me any clues in advance as to what the correct decision for them to make actually is. I'll only begin to learn who chose correctly in September, once meaningful games start being played. (And possibly not even then.)

There's certainly no harm in the PDIC and what it does and how any fan might engage with it. (Unless you think people have a moral obligation not to waste their time...but then, we all waste a lot of time on SoSH anyway, so I think we can throw that complaint out the window.) And I do think there are ways in thinking about the draft can be helpful: e.g., trying to identify what a team's biggest strengths and weaknesses are and the extent to which draft picks should be allocated accordingly, or pondering concepts in the abstract like trading up for a franchise QB like the the 49ers have and the cost in draft capital it requires, or trading down to buy more lottery tickets at the expense of a single (projected) high-end talent. But when it comes to individual players...even the most knowledgeable posters here - and there are a few very knowledgeable posters indeed - can only offer guesses which can only be proven right or wrong in the fullness of time. And I do often wonder why I shouldn't just turn my brain off, were it possible to do so, and ignore every single comment and evaluation about every college player until I see them on the field in the NFL. I certainly wonder why I find myself rooting for the Falcons to do X, Y or Z in the draft when I have no idea whether X, Y or Z is better; I only hold pre-draft opinions because someone in the PDIC convince me to hold them, and I could throw darts at options on a dartboard and be right as often as the PDIC is. Right?
Since you used my post as a jumping off point.....

I posted that list to show that drafting in or trading up into the top 5 does not necessarily net you a franchise QB. Some teams have become so desperate to acquire the next franchise cornerstone that their evaluations of said players have been wishcasting. There was some overlap with the QB busts that shows teams did not learn from their past mistakes either. You are correct in saying that if a player goes to a bad organization that they could likely be setting themselves up for failure. A player needs the right situation in order to succeed and with the teams that pick at the top of the draft more often than not it's not the right situation. But, some of the players picked there only were simply because of their position and the desire to get the most important position on the field right.

With a lot of players recently, projecting a player that played in a completely different kind of system in college to a pro-style offense is difficult to do. College offenses have been predicated upon using very few reads to simplify the systems for the players and it's a huge transition to a more complicated NFL offenses. Recently, there has been a shift in the NFL to using more spread-type principles so maybe the projections in the future will be easier. SMU put it best in that in a lot of situations teams bust and not the player, but there are many instances where the player was just not good enough to be picked where he was and there were unfair expectations put on him. The best example I can come up with now is Dwayne Haskins.

The "PDIC" as you call it has a big presence because the majority of NFL fans are very interested in the draft and how it will make their favorite team better. As you know with your experience in media, there is more and more content being dedicated to the NFL Draft because it produces ratings. There is a desire for fans to know more and more about prospects and it is fun to gather that info. Otherwise, we all wouldn't be here discussing this, no? As far as your question about why care because nobody knows anything...well that's precisely why we all care. We all have opinions on what could or couldn't happen and it is fun to track how players do relative to what their pre-draft stock was. With the internet, there is so much more information about college prospects readily available to the masses that I feel fans are as knowledgeable about these players than ever before. All of their game reps can be looked at as well as all of their athletic testing from combine or pro days. This info can be used to make a relatively well-informed take on where a player fits team-wise and how he will fit to a particular scheme or coaching staff. To me, it's fun to have players in mind that you think will help your favorite team and hope they get drafted.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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Do you think this is true of Belichick with players at all positions? It's not like his drafting record is flawless; how many of those drafting mistakes might be down to the post-draft coaching, rather than the pre-draft scouting? (Or do we just take it for granted that the answer is "zero"?)
I don't think it's zero but it's a hell of a lot less than most organizations.
 

nattysez

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Random tangent: I've always found it a little icky to listen to guys oohing and ahhing over young kids' physical attributes. These players are 19-22 and 60 year-old dudes are marveling at their body parts, how they're "physical specimens," how chiseled they are, etc. Mina Kimes's most-recent podcast is a lengthy draft preview and it turns out it's JUST as creepy hearing a woman do the same thing.
 

BusRaker

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Aug 11, 2006
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First round Draft bust percent by position IMO high to low.
QB 50%
WR 40%
RB 35%
DB 30%
DE 20%
OL 10%
K 50% but sample size is 2
My theory is that positions requiring more intelligence and reflexes are tougher to gauge the transition to NFL than strength/technique positions, but the reward is greater if you get a winner.
--Captain Obvious
 

Super Nomario

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First round Draft bust percent by position IMO high to low.
QB 50%
WR 40%
RB 35%
DB 30%
DE 20%
OL 10%
K 50% but sample size is 2
My theory is that positions requiring more intelligence and reflexes are tougher to gauge the transition to NFL than strength/technique positions, but the reward is greater if you get a winner.
--Captain Obvious
Is this based on anything or are you just guessing? I think OL and DE are a lot less safe than you have them here.
 

BaseballJones

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Random tangent: I've always found it a little icky to listen to guys oohing and ahhing over young kids' physical attributes. These players are 19-22 and 60 year-old dudes are marveling at their body parts, how they're "physical specimens," how chiseled they are, etc. Mina Kimes's most-recent podcast is a lengthy draft preview and it turns out it's JUST as creepy hearing a woman do the same thing.
I hear you, but isn't that basically what the combine is FOR? It's a pro football meat market isn't it? They are there mostly to see these guys' physical attributes. Which, in this sport, MATTERS.
 

Ralphwiggum

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The OP hits on many of the reasons I am not a draft guy. I don't have time to study tape and read about prospects, and if it is a crapshoot for NFL teams what hope do I have of ever having an informed opinion on draft prospects? Obviously people are way into it and that's cool, and I do enjoy reading some of the draft stuff here, but I find people being exasperated over the Pats draft choices to be ridiculous.

Anyway, carry on.
 

djbayko

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Well, his adjective was the same as yours--"interesting".
I was refering to this part: "Easiest upshot? He loves the goddamn draft and all the strategizing of it."

That may be true, but I don't know how you get that from his answer. It's pretty surface level stuff he briefly describes.
 

RetractableRoof

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I was refering to this part: "Easiest upshot? He loves the goddamn draft and all the strategizing of it."

That may be true, but I don't know how you get that from his answer. It's pretty surface level stuff he briefly describes.
Not trying to be argumentative here, but - the most common response to a question asked of BB is one of these two: "yes", "no". So a 4 minute response to a draft question that is considered in many front offices double top secret info is borderline giddy (even if reveals exactly zero impactful info).

Someone who is constantly around him and knows his style of answers certainly has room to interpret that BB loves that part of his job (based on the expansiveness of his answer). In the same way that he answers a throwaway question about the single wing offense employed by one coach in one county for 8 minutes in a half of a scrimmage against the JV team can be used to infer that he loves the history of the game.

I understand you're just likely interested in banging on the tweeter for any number of reasons, but it's not an unreasonable take really.
 

djbayko

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I understand you're just likely interested in banging on the tweeter for any number of reasons, but it's not an unreasonable take really.
Not at all - I don't have any strong feelings about Curran. And I'm very aware of Belichick's demeanor in press conferences. I guess I just read more into that tweet that others here and had higher expectations. Didn't think his answer was that expansive.
 

RetractableRoof

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Not at all - I don't have any strong feelings about Curran. And I'm very aware of Belichick's demeanor in press conferences. I guess I just read more into that tweet that others here and had higher expectations. Didn't think his answer was that expansive.
Had he just put "BB talks about internal approach to the draft" as his tweet and I watched the clip, just before pressing play, I'd have expected BB to say along the lines of: "we're not going to get into internal draft processes for obvious reasons". He went on for 4 minutes, that's expansive (and disclosed nothing proprietary at the same time). Expansive in volume, not expansive in quality - for sure.