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Draft Logic PT I: Christina Hendricks Is Hotter Than Gisele: Why BPA Is A Dumb Draft Rule

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"Welcome to my draft day party"

What kind of women do you like? Redheads or brunettes? Tall or short? Slim or curvy? Are you a "legs man", a "face man" or a "butt man"? Maybe you like a"great personality". Maybe you just want a woman who can cook.

Take a minute and visualize the perfect mate for you. Got it? Good.

Now forget her completely.

We're going to a bar and you are going to ignore your personal preferences. Instead, you're going to take the BPA, "best pickup available". She might not be the girl you were planning on taking. She might not be your type, but if the girl everyone thinks is hot becomes available to you, you've just got to take her right?

That sounds kind of dumb doesn't it? Yet, NFL teams do it every year. This year coaches will (again) boast that they didn't draft for need. They went "Best Player Available".

So, we SHOULD draft for need then?

Not exactly. The fear of "drafting for need" is that you are going to reach. You don't need to go all out need, if it means taking a 3rd round cornerback in the first, just to make sure you get one. Going back to the bar analogy, we'd call that "going ugly early".

Instead, of jumping on BPA, I propose a "TVI" concept. TVI = Team Value index.

TVI = A composite score based on player abilities --> team priorities.

The idea is that you define multiple categories for things you are looking for in a player. Then you award a weighted point score in each of those categories. Then you tally up a composite score for how much impact value this player brings to your team.

We've all used composite scoring before. Ever played Madden? We have our favorite players and teams, but we all glance at that "overall" number and have an idea how things are stacked.

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"But Madden stats are usually BS."

True. They used poor criteria though. Generic "speed"; "power" stuff.

Using TVI, player categories are user defined. That's what makes it so specific to individual team needs. Instead of traditional stats like: Speed, Height, Vertical

We can address team concerns like: Familiarity with our scheme, projected time until first start, cap consequences, number of plays opened up, etc, etc.

Also, we can stop looking at classic stats in a vacuum. We can make them relevant to our competition.

EX: A traditional assessment of WR speed looks at something like a 40 time. Then our idea of a WR comparison is "Dallas has a 4.6 guy, I want a 4.3 guy."

For what? So our guy can beat theirs at the NFCE intramural track meet?

A USEFUL comparison would look more like this:

I want Catchy McGatorhands as a slot guy. We already know who our opponents are for 2014. We have a decent idea who most of their starting nickel corners will be. List those corners from fastest to slowest then slide catchy in there and see how many he should consistently beat.

Now, instead of an arbitrary, raw speed, you have a decent estimate of "how many games this year will Catchy match up against a guy he is faster than?" We can call this stat "matchup speed factor" (MSF) or some BS. I don't know. I'm sure we could outsource to the guys at ProFootballFocus or FootballOutsiders ...to help us dream up acronyms.

If Catchy at 4.3 creates a matchup problem for 11/13 guys, and the next slowest WR at 4.5, creates a problem for only 6/13, that's speed you pay for. If the difference between 4.3 and 4.5 is beating 10/13 vs. 8/13 corners, maybe that's speed you DON'T pay for.

Once a team defines the criteria they care about for a given position, they decide HOW MUCH each category actually matters. This is why the values are weighted. If I'm a team in cap jail, then cap relief score gets weighted a little heavier. If I am a team that gets my receivers open through scheme, not raw speed, than MSF gets weighted a little lighter. Its just one more way this concept allows teams to rate players based on their own needs, not league consensus.

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This doesn't mean teams go in order of TVI numbers. It just means on the draft board, every player's name should have an TVI score on their name card. A nice little visual reminder of what value gain you expect from a guy, compared to alternatives. (Some sites use a baseball concept called VORP -Value over replacement player. TVI is like a highly customized spinoff of that.)

So, this tool does the GM and scout jobs for them?

No! No more than this keyboard is doing the author's work for me. TVI just makes the ideas in your head come to reality the way you intended.

The coach and GM still have to decide what they want in a player, and how important each thing is.

The scouts and FO still have to look at the players and accurately rate them on each requirement. The TVI score just forces the team to consistently rate all the players based on the criteria they agreed on. Then it reminds them of those ratings, instead of letting them be enticed by "holy crap, that kid with the sweet highlight video fell to the 3rd round?!!!"

What else can it do?

It provides consistent analysis. The criteria for value scores will change for each position, but every player across a given position is judged on the same questions.

It separates true value from round projection. This supports draft strategy. You may find that a 2nd round DT and a 3rd round DT both post near a 300 score. This means you can afford to wait and still get the same level of upgrade. Alternatively, if you need a DT and there are 3 in the 290-310 scores, and you need a WR, there is only ONE above a 280 score, which one do you pick?

It works for more than just draft picks! This is a powerful concept for free agency evaluations. Most teams have a bad habit of bringing back free agents based on what they already did, not what they are projected (and needed) to do in the future. Using TVI allows a team to accurately compare a FA with his possible replacements. It also works for negotiations.

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"Look Perry, it's not about what you OR London Fletcher did last year. Here is what we project that you can do THIS year. Here is what it will cost us to have someone else do it. "

In the next piece, we'll talk about how ratings are given. We'll take a look at an evaluation tool used successfully by the military and an increasing number of civilian companies. Then we'll see how it could apply to us. Spoiler: They don't just look at the ten best things and ten worst things you've done with the company.

In the meantime, how does TVI strike you as a tool? What types of position priority factors would you have in your rating matrix? It may make for an interesting way to look at all the draft profiles we'll be posting soon.

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