With the league frozen, and debate over the next collective bargaining agreement at an near standstill, us fans are turning towards this April's draft earlier and more incessantly than ever. In fact, I don't know about you guys, but it's starting to wear me down. There's only so much preparation you can do as a fan to get yourself ready for the big day, and with the combine yet to begin, and the NFL Draft still two months away, I'm already approaching my breaking point.
I'm writing this more for myself then for anyone who reads it and I want to attack my Patriots mock with as many facts as I can so I can more or less estimate which positions we may go to with each of our 6 selections in the first two days.
First, identify the "needs":
OLB, DE, OT, OG, C, RB, WR seems to be the general consensus
Now I just want to send this message to some commentors i read around the blog:
For a team like the Patriots. A team that went 14-2 last year. A team that has 21 players still on the roster from the last two draft cycles. A team that is notorious for having supreme depth across the board. The term "need" is more of a synonym for "open roster spot". I just want to make this point, because it truly is not dire to address all of these needs at this years draft. The fact the we have 6 picks in the first three rounds, and could literally mark off each "need" down the line one by one like a checklist is astounding and a credit to the organization. Which is why I do not think its the end of the world to draft a player like a Jimmy Smith at 28 as Rich and CameronO did over at "mocking the draft".
Now that i've said that the first thing i want to do is analyze the previous drafts and gauge what sort of positions tend to get taken early, which will help us gauge where players will like will rise and fall.
I've compiled a list of how many players were taken, by position, in the previous 10 drafts.
Round 1 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 | Mean | S.D. | Resiliency Score
QB - 1 3 4 4 3 3 2 2 3 2 2.7 0.76 72%
RB - 3 2 2 3 3 4 2 5 3 3 3 0.60 80%
WR - 6 3 3 7 6 1 6 0 6 2 4 2.00 50%
TE - 1 3 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1.4 0.52 63%
OT - 3 4 3 3 2 1 3 7 4 4 3.4 1.08 68%
OG - 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0.8 0.32 65%
C - 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 1 0.6 0.60 0%
DT - 6 4 5 3 2 3 2 3 3 5 3.6 1.12 67%
DE - 3 4 5 2 4 5 4 4 5 2 3.6 0.96 73%
OLB - 1 0 1 2 3 3 1 2 3 3 1.9 0.92 51%
ILB - 0 2 1 1 0 1 3 0 0 1 0.9 0.62 38%
CB - 5 4 5 4 5 5 4 5 2 5 4.4 0.72 84%
S - 1 2 1 1 1 2 3 1 0 2 1.4 0.68 51%
I've pulled a few data points from the chart above that i've listed to the right. I calculated the mean number of players taken at each position over the past ten years, the standard deviation from the mean for each position in the draft, and from those statistics calculated a resiliency score for each position.
I created the resiliency score to estimate about how resistent each position is from being affected by weaker draft classes at that respective positions. This data point shows a few things, the likelihood the number of players taken in this year's draft will be consistent with previous drafts, which position will generally falll out of the first round when they don't have top talent available, and which position teams will reach for due to need in the first round even though that player may not be a first round talent.
The formula for the resiliency score was simple:
(Mean - Standard Deviation)/Mean
There's a real life statistical term for the number i drew, but i can't quite remember it. The resiliency of each position rank in this order from most-least resilient:
These rankings tie in pretty well with conventional wisdom. Cornerback is one of the most reliable positions to draft in the first round, just take a look at recent history and you'll see that top of the board cornerbacks have busted at a much smaller rate than say, defensive end or wider receiver.
Now I'm going to use this data to point out a few interesting facts and make a few bold predictions for the first round:
Alright so that's a start. But all i have so far is the recent history of how the entire league drafts. And we all know that there is certainly a gap, for better or worse, between how the rest of the league drafts, and how Bill Belicheck drafts. So lets looks at Bill's pick history for the first three rounds. (ordered from most to least recent)
Round 1 Selections:
Devin McCourty - CB - 27th
Jerod Mayo - ILB - 10th
Brandon Meriweather - S - 24th
Laurence Maroney - RB - 21st
Logan Mankins - G - 32nd
Vince Wilfork - NT - 21st
Benjamin Watson - TE - 32nd
Ty Warren - DE - 13th
Daniel Graham - TE - 21st
Richard Seymour - DT - 6th
Round 2 Selections:
Rob Gronkowski - TE - 42nd
Jermaine Cunningham - DE - 53rd
Brandon Spikes - ILB - 62nd
Pat Chung - S - 34th
Ron Brace - DL - 40th
Sebastian Vollmer - OT - 58th
Terrence Wheatley - CB - 62nd
Chad Jackson - WR - 36th
Marquise Hill - DE - 63rd
Eugene Wilson - S - 36th
Bethel Johnson - WR - 45th
Deion Branch - WR - 65th
Matt Light - OT - 48th
Round 3 Selections:
Taylor Price - WR - 90th
Brandon Tate - WR - 83rd
Tyrone McKenzie - ILB - 97th
Shawn Crable - OLB - 78th
Kevin O'Connel - QB - 94th
David Thomas - TE - 86th
Ellis Hobbs - CB - 84th
Nick Kaczur - OL - 100th
Guss Scott - DB - 95th
Brock Williams - DB - 86th
JR Redmond - RB - 76th
A few things that stick out to me:
17th Overall (950 Points) + 74th Overall (220 Points) = 13th Overall (1150 Points)
28th Overall (660 Points) + 74th Overall (220 Points) = 19th Overall (875 Points)
17th Overall (950 Points) + 92nd Overall (132 Points) = 15th Overall (1050 Points)
28th Overall (660 Points) + 92nd Overall (132 Points) = 22nd Overall (780 Points)
Its impossible, even with all the information we go through in this process, to know who will be available when we pick at seventeen and onward. Instead i like to slot the prospects into categories. Put a broad stroke assessment on the pool of players. I do this to figure out which players i think are worth drafting at each pick, how likely it will be their available, and if their available, do they play a position that we can address just as well later on in the draft.
What this also does is lets us know where in the draft we can go for best player available and try to draft a stud regardless of position.
There are four needs that we really should address at some point in the first 3 rounds:
So here are their groupings
Class A (Early First Round)
Nick Fairley - DaQuan Bowers - Von Miller - Marcell Dareus - Robert Quinn
Class B (Mid First Round)
Cameron Jordan - JJ Watt - Aldon Smith
Class C (Late First Round)
Adrian Clayborn - Corey Liuget - Akeem Ayers - Ryan Kerrigan - Justin Houston
Class D (Early Second Round)
Phil Taylor - Cameron Heyward - Muhammad Wilkerson - Drake Nevis
Class E (Second - Third Rounders)
Jeremy Beal - Brooks Reed - Christian Ballard - Stephen Paea - Bruce Carter - Mason Foster - Sam Acho - Allen Bailey - Jabaal Sheard - Dontay Moch - Marvin Austin - Jerrell Powe
Class F (Third - Fifth Rounders)
Markk Herzlich - Greg Jones - KJ Wright - Pernell McPhee - Greg Romeus - Steven Friday - Cliff Mathews - Jarvis Jenkins - Sione Fua - Jurrell Casey - Lawrence Wilson - Thomas Keiser - Bruce Miller - Ross Homan - Ryan Winter - Chris Carter - Kenrick Ellis - Ian Williams - Lawrence Guy
Class A (Middle of the First)
Gabe Carimi - Nate Solder - Tyron Smith - Mike Pouncey
Class B (Late first - Early Second)
Derek Sherrod - Anthony Castonzo - Ben Ijalana - Stefen Wisniewski
Class C (Second Rounders)
John Moffit - Dan Watkins - Marcus Gilbert - Marcus Cannon - Rodney Hudson
Class D (Late Second - Third Rounders)
Jake Kirkpatrick - Clint Boling - Joseph Barksdale - Chris Hairston - James Carpenter - Tim Barnes
Class E (Third to Fourth Rounders)
Lee Ziemba - Jason Pinkston - James Brewer - Will Rackley - Derek Hall - Dermarcus Love
Class F (Fifth - Seventh Rounders)
Derek Newton - Darius Morris - Other prospects
What sticks out to me from doing this, is what most of us already know. There is a lot of depth at OLB/DE in the late second/early 3rd round range. Which brings me to my big final point.
It is not necessary to draft a pass rusher at 17 and it would be even more unwise to take a pass rusher at 28. That does not however mean WE SHOULDN'T draft a pass rusher at 17. For me the patriots draft hinges on three pass rushing prospects.
The three prospects I have listed as Class B pass rushing prospects. Will one of them fall to us at 17? Any one of them is worth the pick at 17 in my opinion. Each fits the mold of a Patriots puss rusher perfectly and each have a chance to go as high as the top ten.
So the factor that will effect the patriots draft isn't if all of them will be there at 17, we all know that won't be the case, but if any of them will be available.
The depth of this years pass rushing class could be a double edge sword when it comes to the stock of these top defensive prospects.
Yes, it has teams all around the league thinking pass rush heading in to this years draft. We also know that there are serviceable defensive ends to be had in the late second/early third round range. Is it really possible that 50% (8/16) of the draft picks prior to the patriots selection at 17 will be a pass rusher, leaving them with none of the class A or B pass rushers, when there is such great talent to be had later if the teams just wait? I say no, its actually very unlikely, which is why i feel i'm now prepared to construct my patriots mock for the first three rounds.
17th - A Class B Pass Rusher - Preferred in this Order
28th -Best Player Available
33rd -Best Player Available
60th - A Class C Offensive Lineman - Preferred in this Order
74th - Best Player Available
90th - A Class E Pass Rusher - Preferred in this Order
4th - Will Rackley OT/Lehigh
5th - Greg Romeus OLB/Pittsburgh
6th - Jacquizz Rodgers RB/Oregon State
Now for my actual predictions:
- 17th Overall Pick: Cameron Jordan DE/California
- 28th Overall Pick: Brandon Harris CB/Miami
- 33rd Overall Pick:Akeem Ayers OLB/UCLA
- 60th Overall Pick: John Moffit OG/Wisconsin
- 74th Overall Pick: Leonard Hankerson WR/Miami
- 90th Overall Pick: Allen Bailey DE/Miami
- Fourth Rounder: Will Rackley OT-OG/Lehigh
- Fifth Rounder:Greg Romeus OLB/Pittsburgh
- Sixth Rounder: Alex Green RB/Hawaii
Thus concluding my patriots mock draft. Although I didn't write this fanpost to cram another mock draft down your throats, their still fun to make.
The main point is this. Much is being made of the going for a pass rusher in the first round. And any patriots mock without us getting one at either 17 or 28 is well... mocked. But the most important thing to remember is if there is some sort of unheard of run on pass rushing talent at the beginning of the first round, leaving us with options like Kerrigan and Ayers at 18 and Heyward and Houston at 28. We shouldn't feel the need to reach for a defensive lineman.
These other teams are at a disadvantage to the patriots. They have needs, unlike the patriots, who have "needs". These teams who draft pass rushers in the first round, are going to have to address other positions in the second and third round. Where they'll be filling positions at starter and second string. Which is going to send pass rushers in Class D and E tumbling into our laps where we might not anticipate.
My mock above has us taking a defensive lineman at 17. But that defensive lineman is Cameron Jordan. A players whose value could go as high as the top 10. But, if our options sway from Cameron Jordan and Aldon Smith to Akeem Ayers and Ryan Kerrigan its important to put that "need" on the back burner.
Likewise, I think the offensive line is something that can be addressed towards the middle of the draft. If you went for a pass rusher at 17 and most of the good tackles are off the board when we pick again at 28, we shouldn't draft for need and take an Anthony Castonzo or reach for a guy like Ben Ijalana.
For the sake of my point. Here is what my patriots mock would be If both Class A and B pass rushers are not available at 17.
17th: Gabe Carimi OT/Wisconsin
28th: Brandon Harris CB/Miami
33rd: Phil Taylor DT/Baylor
60th: Brooks Reed OLB-DE/Arizona
74th: Danny Watkins G/Baylor
90th: Allen Bailey DE/Miami
Fourth Round: Will Rackley OT-OG/Lehigh
Fifth Round: Greg Salas WR/Hawaii
Sixth Round: Alex Green RB/Hawaii
That all i got. Thanks for reading my post. Its by all means imperfect. But I hoped to make a few interesting point and provide a unique perspective on this years draft.
The views expressed in these FanPosts are not necessarily those of the writers or SBNation.