Why I don't have a dog in the Richardson vs. Claiborne (or Kalil argument)

This is to answer a question Chengdu Buc asked me but it's too long for a fan reply; it was a great question because it tied into why there are draft busts.

The draft boards are moving as teams are starting to shift from talent evaluation to background evaluations. Without killing all my drama for the draft guide release I have Kalil, Claiborne , and Richardson separated by .25 points on a 12.00 point scale. As for who I would choose I'm intentionally not in a camp and keep my mind open about all three. Come April 9th I'll make a decision which way I asses is the best.

The reason for this is that while I'm not a professional scout, I'm a professional analyst in another field so part of writing the draft guide is apply lessons learned from the intelligence business.

Namely that : 95% of the time we don't ration or analyze our way to an answer, we use intuition to pick a choice and then build rational to justify our decision.

There is actually nothing wrong with this approach for two reasons:

1)As a human being were you to logically assess every choice you made you would spend all day doing nothing but. Imagine trying to "logically" pick out a route to work or school every morning based on traffic patterns , weather conditions, ideal scenic would simply overwhelm you.

2) We have a natural biological need to be influential and then to defend our position in pursuit of maintaining that position. We also have a need to follow the influential. If your trying to analyze choices you don't yet have an opinion, someone will fill a gap in your waiting period to become the influential one.

Best example of this that comes to mind was a study at UNC were they took 30 Young Republicans and 30 Young Democrats and gave them a two speech's from 1996. One by Bill Clinton and one by Bob Dole. Then asked the to debate the speech's, not surprisingly better than 75% of the Dems supported the Clinton speech and 75% of Reps. supported the Bob Dole position. Not surprising, except when it's revealed that the ones controlling the experiment had played a very dirty trick and swapped the authors of the speeches (gave "Clintons words" to Dole and vice versa). But after being told that fewer than 5 students in 60 switched their positions and nearly all of them gave long justifications as to why , in this particular case, they actually just agreed with the other guy.

Compare this political example with the Rhetoric on the Richardson vs. Claiborne event. Trent sits out the combine with an injury many of his supporters say no big deal while Claiborne supporters attack and so "oh terribly injury" ignoring the fact that neither side was made of of medical people and even had they been they certainly had not examined him. Also throw in arguments about positional value, best player ever, best offensive player....mix in Kalil to the debate and realize that everyone has a biased position to argue.

But there is also a counter balancing force..the reason we go by intuition is that more often than not intuition is correct. Adding facts to the intuition is helpful but ….ironically only up to a point. Most of the studies done show that anything more than 4 facts (and probably 3) are totally useless and actually counterproductive.

--They took several well respected horse racing handicappers and gave them 5 races to pick from only given the horses fake names. They picked the standard rate one would expect from a random choice. They then asked them to list the 25 most important factors in picking a winner. They gave them three facts on every horse in the race and they hit a winner 85% more often than chance would dictate. Giving them their fourth most increased the odds for some but not all of them. When they got all 25 facts their odds dropped dramatically and they picked winners only 50% of the time (reasons for this are debated but the experiment can be replicated). What did change was the amount they were willing to bet, the more data they had the more they were willing to wager even as they became less accurate.

The final point on it ties back to being influenced. Looking at draft boards influences us immensely. Even without us knowing it. It doesn’t just work on the body public but also on GM’s. When you look at Mike Wallace and Tom Brady now we go wow? But how much influence did all those draft boards contribute to the Brady 6 or Wallace going in round 3? I’d wager a lot, the quest for value and doing the right thing led teams to the wrong direction. They imprinted a basic order, then maybe they moved players around a few spots but were unable to rank someone that most had as the 15th best receiver into round 1.

The Guys who had the most success picking QB’s are guys like Carmen Policy (80’s niners) and Giants , both had really simple 3 and 4 point plans for what they wanted in a college QB that have come out in the years since they were dominant. The Niners found Joe Montana (and fleeced us for Steve Young) the Giants found Phil Sims and Jeff Hostetler.

Where I think busts come from:

1)Too many grading points; establish a simple set thats almost totally in the prospects control (Like RB fumbles, WR speed , defensive tackle's function strength).

2) Work backwards...instead of going "top down" one your draft prospects work bottom out. Go "who do we want the least at each position" It will make you less influenced by previously published orders.

3) Get a good medical staff, no one can totally rule out injury as ruining a perfectly good prospect. A guy with no injury history who takes a sudden knee injury and is never the same...not much you can do about that. But if it's a known injury thats an evaluation problem.

4) Character, maturity and heart count - more hardworkers than slackers have had success at the pro level.

5) Your criteria should include some part metric and some part production. Lots of productive players at the college level have failed at the pro level...lots of guys with great measurables and no production have bombed also.

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