FanPost

Overvaluing a Draft Choice as a Fan

I recently posted the bulk of this fanshot in a comment here. I thought it merited it's own post.

I think that we as fans can overvalue a particular draft choice in our feelings and evaluation of the Denver Broncos team and organization  You can't draft perfectly. When was Terrel Davis drafted? When was JaMarcus Russel drafted? Point being, let's not get too hung up on the draft. It's undeniably important, but let's be clear. Let us keep in mind the goal of a draft: to wind up with 53 players on your team that will be able to get some hardware for the team trophy case. The draft is the main tool for getting those players, and thus the temptation to overanalyze the draft. However, analysis can miss the point.

Firstly, if you get that trophy, or if in general you win games, then the coach/team drafted well. Not everyone can get the Lombardi every year, and a certain number of teams every year are just going to have bad luck. So you have to give a coach/team a few years. If the team wins, that means they have 53 good players. They've achieved the goal for which the draft is one means of striving, so evaluating their draft in the context of the quality of the team is pointless. Obviously, that's not going to stop people from evaluating draft choices. Evaluating is something to do, and it can be amusing. Especially if you love NFL football.

The extension of the 53 players thing is that part of the team is the starting 22, and the impact situational players. Don't think about the players themselves. That's the problem with all this focus on one particular draft pick. You want 2 good starting CBs, and then as much depth as possible. We've got Champ. That's 1 CB. Which leaves 1 roster spot and a little depth. If a coach spends a 1st rounder and a 5th rounder on filling that second roster spot, it doesn't matter which player fills the spot so long as the cornerback play is good. It's actually better if the 5th rounder turns out and you can trade the 1st rounder. You save money, and whatever you get from the trade is a bonus. You just want to fill your roster spot.

Same thing goes for a quarterback. A good quarterback is more rare than a good player at most other positions, but you only need 1 roster spot -- and depth. You have to keep the salary cap in mind, but as long as you've got that roster spot set, you drafted well. The quarterback for the Broncos this year is probably going to throw for over 4,000 yards and have a great TD-to-INT ratio, which will hopefully help us win enough games to get in playoff contention. I think most teams would give up a first round pick for that, but the point is what draft value you gave up for that quarterback is really irrelevant. You give up draft picks for a CHANCE at filling your quarterback roster slot with that kind of performance. If you have something that's hard to get, it's tempting to ask yourself if you paid too much for it, but in this case you have to remind yourself  that getting a good quarterback was never a guaranteed thing and just try to be happy with the fact that we hopefully have one for this year.

As far as McX's drafting goes, not enough seasons have gone by. You can't rule out bad luck yet as the cause of one mediocre season (nor rule out good luck being why they didn't do worse). All we can do is trust that their main goal is to get those 53 players that can win. I trust based on what I hear from the organization through basically MHR and ESPN (quotes from ESPN, not bloggers' opinions) that the organization's goal is indeed to put the players on the field who give the team the best possible chance to win. That should be every coach's goal, but they are human, and emotions and other things could get in the way. Based on what I hear, as I've said, though, I think McX's goal is to field the best possible 53.

As I said above, no coach-GM combination can draft perfectly. They're not playing Madden, with nice player ratings to tell them immediately whether or not they've made a good decision. NFL talent evaluators are myriad, as are their draft boards, etc., etc. They make just as many mistakes as coaches, but as long as they don't work for an NFL team, they can have the luxury of vilifying the mistakes of others, lauding whatever picks they were right on, and letting the rest die in the white noise.

It's probably not hard to be wrong about a player. And Broncos fans shouldn't need reminding that, even if you get ones right, misfortune can step in (Darrent Williams). There's so much information out there on players, especially unproven draftees and draft prospects, that it's easy to see a piece of information on a player repeated enough and make the mistake of thinking it's authoritative, on the level of a Madden rating. In Madden, a player can't play better than his rating. He can't run faster than his Speed, he can't jump higher than his Jump. In real life, it's hard to say. No matter how many people agree with a player evaluation, it's not a Madden rating. The player could prove to be better or worse than thought by that commonly believed evaluation.

The point is that it is impossible to draft perfectly because evaluating talent is not an exact science. This is why you can't get too hung up on evaluating individual draft picks. Look at the team on the field. Is it good? Evaluating draft picks can be fun, for sure. But drawing conclusions as to the impact of a draft pick on a team is dubious at a point when there's no product on the field yet. Considering how tangled cause and effect can be, it's best to put your feelings about the team in one box and only let that box be touched by what you see on the field; and put your analysis of a draft pick's wisdom in another box. That box is the box of amusing speculation. The place to keep all your what-ifs and such (I loved those Marvel comics). Don't let that box near your orange Kool-Aid.

You can put your Kool-Aid down if the product on the field isn't a winner (season by season, mind you). But let your blood flow ever orange and blue.

As for draft picks and amusing speculation, keep in mind that you should evaluate picks in terms of probabilities, not right/wrong. If a player doesn't work out, regardless where he was drafted, that doesn't mean the coach was <strong>wrong</strong> about the pick. The coach might have been wrong about the player, but he didn't get the player from a truck in the parking lot of the grocery store. It's not like the player turned out to be a cheaply made knockoff of a real NFL player. If a coach saw potential in a player, and the player really has that potential, but for some reason the player doesn't get to that potential, the coach wasn't wrong. It just didn't work out. I think that's the case more often than not in the NFL. Where you get really bad is when your decision makers overvalue certain secondary traits that aren't the most important traits for players who you need to fill key roster spots (see Oakland). I believe that would be called a Systematic error.

Any pick, I don't care where or what round, is a shot at getting a roster spot filled with a good player. You draft 3 guys to fill one spot because you know that the chances are 1 might not work out. If you get 53 good players, and you're under cap, you did a good job drafting. I will not say that we are wrong to debate the value and wisdom of draft picks. But keep that evaluation in its proper box. Only draw conclusions about the wisdom of the pick, not about the quality of the team. And remember that a coach didn't necessarily overspend for a pick that an oft-repeated evaluation determined had a lower probability of succeeding than you would like from a player picked at that spot. It's an opinion, no matter how oft-repeated, not a Madden rating (as it relates to in-game players).

That said, GO BRONCOS!!!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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