In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
- Anton Ego in Ratatouille
Given my willingness to provide "feedback" on the mocks that so many MHR'ers have courageously submitted to the community's scrutiny, it's only fair that I give those risk takers a chance at payback.
But before you get your chance at vengeance, I'd like to provide a little context.
Although my job sometimes puts me in the field, which allows me to not only carry a gun but regularly shoot it, I'm a quant at heart. I like being in the field, but I love data extraction and analysis. I love the intelligence side of the game.
This passion necessitated that I take a quant's approach to solving the problem that is the NFL Draft. First, this meant assessing the available resources, which led me to web-based Draftek, a mock draft simulator that allows users to tweak certain inputs and then it spits out a draft. The trouble is, I found Draftek's user interface cumbersome. And it bothered me that I couldn't input my own Big Board.
At that point, I knew I was going to have to build my own simulator.
I'm happy to report that I finished it last night at a quarter past midnight. I like it because I can input my own Big Board and give each team different offseason priorities. If I don't like the output, I can tweak a team need here and a player evaluation there until I get the result I want.
About my Big Board, given that there are over 800 players vying for about 240 spots and that I have a full-time job, I have neither the time, nor the expertise to personally evaluate all 800+ players. As such, I've had to rely on the various Big Boards that can be found across the Internet. Sure, I've carved out time to evaluate some players. But it's nowhere near 800.
Even so, my Big Board significantly differs from the typical draftnik's. For example, I have Lamar Miller rated much higher than most people do. And I have the receivers in the class rated much lower than most people do. In some cases, like in the case of Stanford guard David DeCastro, since I don't feel qualified to evaluate guards, I deferred to the opinion of the "self-described" experts - but only because I don't know any better.
As for team needs, I visited the various SB Nation sites for each team and tried to glean what each fan base was complaining about the most. Some sites made it easy for me by providing polls. So my confidence is high that my team need assessment is pretty accurate.
Lastly, the simulator works by considering each player's grade against each team's needs with a measure of position supply and demand thrown in. For example, if a highly-rated player falls to a team at a position that isn't needed; but the player's rating is higher than highest-rated player at a position of need, then the higher-ranked player is selected. However, the simulator weighs needs more heavily as the draft progresses. If figured this was probably accurate: Early on, teams want the best player available. But as players are selected teams become more desperate to address needs.
So I finally got the thing running and I was happy with my Big Board and my needs. The trouble was, that no matter how I tweaked it, Cincinnati kept drafting Lamar Miller at #21. Obviously, this was unacceptable to me. And then I found the answer: A thread on Cincy Jungle that debated what Cincy's primary offseason needs were. This thread argued that guard was primary and cornerback was secondary. Running back was the Bengal's tertiary need! That gave me the clear conscience I needed to re-jigger the Bengals' needs and...voila!...Lamar Miller to the Denver Broncos at #25!
The irony is that tweak also gave us Vontaze Burfict in the fourth round. Oh well...
Since I just ran this simulation last night, I haven't accounted for trades or free agency. I'll make a few comments. I think we need to address free safety via free agency. Many people, myself included, hope that Dwight Lowery from Jacksonville comes to us. After looking at team needs across the league, I worry this might not happen. One of the teams in dire need of a free safety is New England. I fear he'll choose New England over us. Also, league-wide, free safety is the seventh-highest priority this offseason. In other words, there's above average demand.
Regarding trades, I haven't really looked at these yet. I anticipate there being some movement at the top of the draft. I need to think about this more.
Anyway, if you're still here...
|1||25||DEN||Lamar Miller||RB||Miami (Fla.)||No surprise.|
|2||57||DEN||Kendall Reyes||DT||Connecticut||A penetrating, pocket-collapsing UT.|
|3||88||DEN||Trumaine Johnson||CB||Montana||This is who the simulator spit out. No opinion.|
|4||120||DEN||Vontaze Burfict||ILB||Arizona State||I hate this pick, but it's who the simulator spit out.|
|5||129||DEN||Brandon Taylor||SS||LSU||I don't know anything about him.|
|5||152||DEN||Ryan Lindley||QB||San Diego State||I'm not excited about him at all.|
|7||216||DEN||Donte Paige-Moss||DE||North Carolina||Who?|
For additional consideration, here's the entire 1st round:
|1||2||STL||Matt Kalil||OT||Southern California|
|1||6||WAS||Robert Griffin III||QB||Baylor|
|1||7||JAX||Quinton Coples||DE||North Carolina|
|1||8||CAR||Zach Brown||OLB||North Carolina|
|1||10||BUF||Nick Perry||DE||Southern California|
|1||11||KCC||Mike Adams||OT||Ohio State|
|1||12||SEA||Ryan Tannehill||QB||Texas A&M|
|1||17||CIN||Janoris Jenkins||CB||North Alabama|
|1||18||SDC||Melvin Ingram||OLB||South Carolina|
|1||19||CHI||Zebrie Sanders||OT||Florida State|
|1||21||CIN||Brandon Washington||OG||Miami (Fla.)|
|1||22||CLE||Michael Floyd||WR||Notre Dame|
|1||25||DEN||Lamar Miller||RB||Miami (Fla.)|
|1||26||HOU||Justin Blackmon||WR||Oklahoma State|
|1||30||SFN||Stephon Gilmore||CB||South Carolina|
|1||32||NYG||Bobby Wagner||OLB||Utah State|
One thing to note: A limitation of my simulator is that it doesn't distinguish between DTs and NTs. I really don't believe the Steelers would take Michael Brockers to play nose tackle. In this case, they'd probably take Poe or Ta'amu.
Anyway, thank for reading. If you have any questions or complaints, I'll periodically check in the comments to see if I can address them.