FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Memo from a super computer to Mike Maccagnan: Draft Melvin Gordon.
The NFL Draft is almost here and with seemingly everyone having their own mock draft, it is fitting that the people at PredictionMachine.com have unveiled for yet another season their Draft Machine. The idea is simple, to simulate not who a team will draft but who a team should draft. As such, it is a bit more pragmatic and has a lot less to do with human judgment and analysis, which is what the draft is all about.
Rather, the site offers up who a team should draft based on the variables of a team's needs stacked against the best player available.
And with the sixth overall pick, the Draft Machine has the Jets taking Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, a player that virtually no mock draft has going to the Jets. In fact, Gordon is slated to be a mid-to-late first round selection in most mock drafts. Mel Kiper would have a fit if the Jets take Gordon this high in the draft.
Yet here is the Draft Machine saying that Maccagnan, in his first draft with the Jets, should take the running back.
“If every team ran its draft objectively with best fit, the first five picks would include Leonard Williams, Marcus Mariota, Vic Beasley, Paul Dawson and Andrus Peat. The Jets have bigger needs at quarterback, guard and linebacker than they do at running back, but Melvin Gordon, who is the third ranked overall player on our draft, is a significantly better upgrade over the current roster at running back than any remaining quarterback, guard or linebacker,” said Paul Bessire, general manager of PredictionMachine.com. “If Mariota or Dawson were still available, the simulated draft would take him. Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley and Tevin Coleman each has a better rating than any running back from either 2013 or 2014.”
It is more than just conjecture, there is actual science (and math!) behind this project.
There is not a whole lot of subjectivity in play here. The founders of the 'Draft Machine' come up with statistical inputs for each rookie likely to be selected. Then they will run a complex set of algorithms that factor college stats, previous utilization and strength of competition, combine measurables, role and expected utilization on an average NFL team and previous performance of similar rookies at that position in general. Whew.
But wait, there's more.
From there, they are able to project stats, not just look at tape and film.
“Then we can compare all rookies based on who we think will make the biggest positive impact in his first year. As it relates to needs, we evaluate how players remaining on the draft board make an impact for the specific team drafting,” Bessire said. “When just simulating the draft instead of interacting with it, players that can step in and start are drafted first, with best players on the board at a position that is not completely filled are drafted next.”
A look at the rest of the Jets picks (from the Draft Machine, of course):
Round 1: Melvin Gordon, RB
Round 2: Mitch Morse, G
Round 3: Brett Hundley, QB
Round 4: J.R. Tavai (OLB)
Round 7: Trey Williams (RB)
Round 7: Danielle Hunter (DE)