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SaveOurSonics

Draft: Things We Learned

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Exactly what the thread title says, I wanted to use this as a place to share tribal knowledge around the things we learned from the draft. I'll start with a few observations: 

 

1. Age matters
- Of the 32 picks in the 1st round, only 3 5th-year Seniors were selected -- and one of those was bonafide stud QB Joe Burrow. The other two were CB Damon Arnette (surprise 1st rounder) and Jeff Gladney (barely at the tail-end). The 2nd round featured S Kyle Dugger, G/T Robert Hunt, DE Darrell Taylor, and WR Van Jefferson. So within the first 64 picks, a total of 7 5th-year Seniors. 

This isn't to imply that these guys slipped due to age alone, but popular prospects like Josh Jones, Jabari Zuniga, Zach Baun, Neville Gallimore, Prince Tega Wanogho, Jonathan Greenard, K.J. Hill, James Proche, Trey Adams, Raequan Williams, Robert Windsor, and Akeem Davis-Gaither slipped further than their pre-draft projections. 

2. RB value continues to diminish...or does it? 
- I actually struggle to totally buy that it has, at least as it pertains to the draft. Guys like Swift and Taylor were being touted for the 1st round, but the truth is that none of this RB class was 1st-round worthy. The Colts still traded up to get Taylor, and the first 3 rounds still featured 10 RBs being taken. There was a surprising premium placed by teams that weren't thought to have had a huge need at RB as well. 

3. CB value reigns supreme
- The CB group tied for the lead in players drafted in the 1st round, same as the elite OT class. As mentioned, the only 5th-year Seniors drafted in the 1st round that wasn't an elite QB prospect were two CBs. 

4. Slow RBs typically aren't valued
- 12 RBs ran a 4.60 40 or slower. Of those, only 1 was taken in the first 85 picks (CEH). Meanwhile, middling prospects like Salvon Ahmed, Darius Anderson, Tony Jones, Javon Leake, Benny LeMay, Sewo Olonilua, James Robinson, JJ Taylor, and Mike Warren (it feels safe to assume he's a 4.6+ guy) ALL went undrafted. Aside from CEH, Zack Moss and Lamical Perine were the only 4.6+ 40 guys who still heard their name called, and they were both very good prospects. 

 

Anyone notice any other noteworthy trends? I'm hoping this can be a good exercise for us to make progress on future projections. 

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I don’t want to take credit for someone else’s work so I’ll link to the tweet 

Colt’s drafted 2 WRs who are both listed at 6’4” or taller. 

2/34 USC Michael Pittman JR 

6/212 Wash ST Dezmon Patmon 

 

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Posted (edited)

Great stuff from the OP. Age is easily the most underrated variable leading to the draft every year. Scouting reports and mock drafts ignore the influence far more than they should. For example, many mock drafts including the one here had the Dolphins taking Josh Jones at 18. There's only a 2 year age difference between Jones and Austin Jackson, the guy the Dolphins actually selected. But that is massive in terms of lifespan to date, and how long the guy has played football at high level. It's like a 20% cheat in your favor. NFL teams are increasingly realizing it is wiser to invest in the younger more talented guy, even if the older guy looks superior on tape right now.

The trend will only continue. We'll have 5th year guys overvalued on draft sites 11 months from now. 

40 yard speed is significantly overrated at wide receiver and underrated at running back. Many recent studies have revealed as much. Not everybody appreciates the summary because it flies against conventional wisdom. In particular there's a Seahawks blogger who comically clings to the stale ignorant version. But similar to age the NFL is increasingly more aware than the draftniks. You really have to be extra special to be drafted as a 4.6 or slower running back. The running game is used more seldom these days so it pays to have a guy who can break a long one. Tee Higgins would have been punished a heck of a lot more if he ran a slow 40 time at running back than at wide receiver.

Here is one of the recent related studies. It is combine performance in general but the area spotlighted is speed more revealing at running back than wide receiver:

https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~aldous/Research/Ugrad/Paul_Park.pdf

Edited by Awsi Dooger

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35 minutes ago, Awsi Dooger said:

Great stuff from the OP. Age is easily the most underrated variable leading to the draft every year. Scouting reports and mock drafts ignore the influence far more than they should. For example, many mock drafts including the one here had the Dolphins taking Josh Jones at 18. There's only a 2 year age difference between Jones and Austin Jackson, the guy the Dolphins actually selected. But that is massive in terms of lifespan to date, and how long the guy has played football at high level. It's like a 20% cheat in your favor. NFL teams are increasingly realizing it is wiser to invest in the younger more talented guy, even if the older guy looks superior on tape right now.

The trend will only continue. We'll have 5th year guys overvalued on draft sites 11 months from now. 

40 yard speed is significantly overrated at wide receiver and underrated at running back. Many recent studies have revealed as much. Not everybody appreciates the summary because it flies against conventional wisdom. In particular there's a Seahawks blogger who comically clings to the stale ignorant version. But similar to age the NFL is increasingly more aware than the draftniks. You really have to be extra special to be drafted as a 4.6 or slower running back. The running game is used more seldom these days so it pays to have a guy who can break a long one. Tee Higgins would have been punished a heck of a lot more if he ran a slow 40 time at running back than at wide receiver.

Here is one of the recent related studies. It is combine performance in general but the area spotlighted is speed more revealing at running back than wide receiver:

https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~aldous/Research/Ugrad/Paul_Park.pdf

Good post, thanks for the contribution. 

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I think most people know this but the takeaway I always have is that we as fans know little to nothing about what our respective teams will do in the draft. As an example:

Everyone (including myself) “knew” the Packers would take a WR in the first few rounds. They didn’t take a single WR in the entire draft.

Every Falcons fan on here was 100% certain they would go DL if they stayed at 16 and even with the top EDGE rushers (minus Young) available they went CB.

Without fail every year we as fans think we know more than we do.

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4 hours ago, SaveOurSonics said:

This isn't to imply that these guys slipped due to age alone, but popular prospects like Josh Jones, Jabari Zuniga, Zach Baun, Neville Gallimore, Prince Tega Wanogho, Jonathan Greenard, K.J. Hill, James Proche, Trey Adams, Raequan Williams, Robert Windsor, and Akeem Davis-Gaither slipped further than their pre-draft projections. 

Age certainly matters, but I think you're lumping in a few too many guys. Some of these guys fell due to medical issues. Others "fell" because the "projections" were poor. For example, I tried telling people that a guy with Greenard's mediocre testing and medical history was never going in the second round. He was always a guy who would go in the second half of the third. And I love Greenard. 

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8 minutes ago, jrry32 said:

Age certainly matters, but I think you're lumping in a few too many guys. Some of these guys fell due to medical issues. Others "fell" because the "projections" were poor. For example, I tried telling people that a guy with Greenard's mediocre testing and medical history was never going in the second round. He was always a guy who would go in the second half of the third. And I love Greenard. 

Agree here.  Greenard isn't a great athlete and has injury issues.  Trey Adams is a medical mess.  Prince has bad knees. Zuniga was hurt last year.  ADG has knee issues.  Gallimore and Baun went where I thought they would.

Now, you could make an argument that more years in college equals more possibilities for injury, but I don't think it's a cut-and-dried an age issue.

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42 minutes ago, Ragnarok said:

Agree here.  Greenard isn't a great athlete and has injury issues.  Trey Adams is a medical mess.  Prince has bad knees. Zuniga was hurt last year.  ADG has knee issues.  Gallimore and Baun went where I thought they would.

Now, you could make an argument that more years in college equals more possibilities for injury, but I don't think it's a cut-and-dried an age issue.

Baun fell due to medical too. They said that during the draft. Would have gone significantly higher.

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Just now, jrry32 said:

Baun fell due to medical too. They said that during the draft. Would have gone significantly higher.

I think it was a mix for Baun.  Medical plus size.  Especially if he had to drink so much water his sample was diluted just to get to 238.  

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Just now, Ragnarok said:

I think it was a mix for Baun.  Medical plus size.  Especially if he had to drink so much water his sample was diluted just to get to 238.  

He checked in at 240 at the Senior Bowl. You have to remember that guys are trying to maximize both testing and the H/W portion. Basically, you're looking for that optimal weight where you can max out on the 40, jumps, and agility drills but won't fall below the minimum accepted weight for your position. I'm not concerned about the struggle to get to 238. Then again, I also don't see him as an EDGE.

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30 minutes ago, jrry32 said:

He checked in at 240 at the Senior Bowl. You have to remember that guys are trying to maximize both testing and the H/W portion. Basically, you're looking for that optimal weight where you can max out on the 40, jumps, and agility drills but won't fall below the minimum accepted weight for your position. I'm not concerned about the struggle to get to 238. Then again, I also don't see him as an EDGE.

Don't they weigh in a day or so before they do their jumps?  First day weigh ins and maybe bench, then workouts the next day?  Not sure when they do their urine test.

It's kind of a reverse, but I wrestled in college, so I have an idea of just how much weight you can cut and gain in a very short time.  I had to cut 28 pounds in 3 days to make weight coming off injury.  I made weight and 3 hours later was back up 15 pounds because I was so dehydrated and had eaten so little.  It's shocking how much the human body can gain or lose quickly.  And we got tested a fair amount.

Not to mention, almost all these guys don't have diluted samples.  So I would be a bit concerned.  I'd actually be less concerned over a positive weed hit than a diluted sample.

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22 minutes ago, Ragnarok said:

Don't they weigh in a day or so before they do their jumps?  First day weigh ins and maybe bench, then workouts the next day?  Not sure when they do their urine test.

It's kind of a reverse, but I wrestled in college, so I have an idea of just how much weight you can cut and gain in a very short time.  I had to cut 28 pounds in 3 days to make weight coming off injury.  I made weight and 3 hours later was back up 15 pounds because I was so dehydrated and had eaten so little.  It's shocking how much the human body can gain or lose quickly.  And we got tested a fair amount.

Not to mention, almost all these guys don't have diluted samples.  So I would be a bit concerned.  I'd actually be less concerned over a positive weed hit than a diluted sample.

Yeah, but that's the point. He wants to test at a lower weight (let's say 230 pounds) because he knows he can perform better in the measurables at that time. Load up on water and then drop down to that weight before you do those drills. Baun is in a tougher situation than most because if he can convince NFL teams that he's an EDGE, he gets drafted higher. But he's only 6'2" and 235 to 240 pounds. So it's tough for him to maximize testing while weighing in at EDGE weight. As I said, it's not a concern for me because I see him as a 4-3 LB or a 3-4 ILB. It's a lot easier for a guy who plays at 260 to come into the Combine at 250 to maximize his test scores without hurting his draft stock.

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2 minutes ago, jrry32 said:

Yeah, but that's the point. He wants to test at a lower weight (let's say 230 pounds) because he knows he can perform better in the measurables at that time. Load up on water and then drop down to that weight before you do those drills. Baun is in a tougher situation than most because if he can convince NFL teams that he's an EDGE, he gets drafted higher. But he's only 6'2" and 235 to 240 pounds. So it's tough for him to maximize testing while weighing in at EDGE weight. As I said, it's not a concern for me because I see him as a 4-3 LB or a 3-4 ILB. It's a lot easier for a guy who plays at 260 to come into the Combine at 250 to maximize his test scores without hurting his draft stock.

That's fair.

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Posted (edited)

This draft I feel is going to be pretty special. So much big time talent all the way through. Its definitely going to shake the league up a little bit.

Edited by canadaluvsdallas

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Can't say we've learnt it, because we already knew, but this was another confirmation that a team's big board trumps what everyone else things is 'deep' or a need. 

For example, my team needed both WRs and a TE from this draft at some point. The WR class was touted as historically good, whilst the TE class we all had as poor. We've come away with 2 TEs and 0 WRs presumably because that's how it fell on the big board. 

Dallas was obviously another example drafting their big board's BPA (Lamb) over a need, even though the WR class was 'deep' and they could have gotten value later. Didn't matter - they trusted their board. 

 

So not learned, of course, but reaffirmed again.

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