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Box Seats: Rooting for the Redskins to Lose is a Terrible Idea

  • Thread starter Lanky Livingston
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Lanky Livingston

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Written quite well by my [Twitter] buddy Jason Woodmansee. Cites Thaler and Massey, who state that NFL teams overvalue high draft picks, by quite a bit.

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This week there has been a vocal segment of Redskins fans bemoaning Washington’s win in Seattle. Every win at this point of the season, the logic goes, is actually hurting the team because it drives the Redskins down the draft board. I’ll admit to having mixed feelings at times. I mean, I want to get a franchise quarterback like everyone else. But I also like to watch the Redskins, you know, win.

The Redskins can finish anywhere from 4-12 (if they lose out) to 9-7 (if they win out). This means that they will likely end up picking anywhere between No. 4 and No. 19. So what is more valuable, the wins or the higher draft position? Should I root for the Redskins to lose? I did the research.

Well, actually it turns out that someone else already did the research (*phew*). Scorecasting, a book that analyzes sports conventional wisdom, took a look at the work done by economics professors Richard Thaler and Cade Massey on the NFL draft. The conclusion? NFL teams overvalue high draft picks.

Thaler and Massey analyzed the value of each draft position based on historical data, such as probability of making the roster, the number of starts, and the likelihood of making the Pro Bowl. Not surprisingly, players drafted earlier outperformed players drafted later. But the unexpected part was that the earlier picks weren’t significantly better. For example, the economists found that the consensus top player at a position only performed 5 percent better than the consensus third best player at that position. Yet teams might pay four or five times as much in salary for that top player, or trade multiple picks in order to get into position to make the higher pick.

So, looking at the Redskins situation, the difference between picking fourth and picking 19th in the draft is that difference between the top player and the third player at a position of need. That third best player is likely to perform almost as well, and you didn’t have to sit through a string of depressing losses the previous season.

The ideal strategy, based on these numbers, is to trade down and assemble numerous draft picks. In fact, while doing their initial research, Thaler and Massey met with Dan Snyder and the Redskins front office, and provided the brain trust with this recommendation. The Redskins, of course, did the exact opposite, which is one of the many reasons they have struggled over the years.

In contrast, look at what the Redskins did in last year’s draft. They traded down numerous times, amassing lots of picks, and then picked well enough that most of the players drafted have actually played in games this year.

So, if improving your position on the draft board isn’t all that valuable, how important are wins once your team is effectively eliminated from playoff contention? (Yes, the Redskins are technically still in the hunt, but, c’mon.)

Click the link for the rest of the article.
 

Ax

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So, to summarize, the draft has been, still is, and always will be, a crapshoot.

Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.
 

Henry

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Ok, not that I disagree, because Lord know I don't :) but proponents of losing out will say this season presents a unique situation with a deep QB class full of practically sure bet prospects coupled with the fact that the Redskins specifically need a QB. They will also argue that the higher the pick, the more maneuvering room to trade up or down we have.

Which is all true.

However, in response I'd just point out that Seattle won yesterday. :)
 
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fansince62

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Ok, not that I disagree, because Lord know I don't :) but proponents of losing out will say this season presents a unique situation with a deep QB class full of practically sure bet prospects coupled with the fact that the Redskins specifically need a QB. They will also argue that the higher the pick, the more maneuvering room to trade up or down we have.

Which is all true.

However, in response I'd just point out that Seattle won yesterday. :)

exactly. we need a QB and there are 3....maybe 4 in the running. the argument being made isn't one of absolutes - on either side - but probabilities. and given this specific need.....I'm fairly confident for this one year...we have a better chance at getting one of the top QBs drafting top 7 than 19. remember that two of the QBs constantly mentioned are Juniors who may not even be in the draft.

"It's a crapshoot" is a cliche. The probabilities aren't all equal. I find the whole thought process to be rather silly....if teams 7 and 19 simply agreed to swap positions - who would be assessed as coming out ahead on the deal? within the immediate context of a draft I think it's pretty obvious: drafting higher has the following advantages:

- a bigger pool to select from
- more negotiating "tender" to move up or down
- better option in talent lean years

as for the stats.....the problem with all these arguments is that they have no explanation for the underlying process. without an explanation there's no logic to base a decision on. we all know it turns on a million factors (scouting, player physical/mental/athletic abilities, team scheme, coaching, locker room, schedule......a gazillion factors). but for any given draft...it defies logic not to believe...the day the season is done...it's not more valuable from a initial starting position to be higher in the draft.

Seattle did win...they beat a bad team (who previously beat the Skins).....and your expectations for Seattle to win it all with their current QB would be?
 
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fansince62

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these exchanges really aren't about draft position...they're about the paths available to securing a franchise QB. Are there guarantees? no. we do know the material that arrives from the following rather than the leading end of the human form currently fills that position. at 4-7 I don't care about the here and now...to be honest. I care about the next year and beyond. to my mind.....that future includes a different QB. I'm all for options that increase the odds in our favor.
 

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people who say that draft position means nada are proved wrong by one simple fact. NFL teams make or lose MILLIONS based on winning or losing, I am reasonably sure that if draft position meant nothing that teams would trade down every single time and that high picks would be devalued to the point where teams would let them go for nothing.

The fact is, just like in the school yard, the higher your pick the more likely you are to get the player you want, now as to whether you get a great player? thats another story, but we didnt hire Shanny to draft busts we signed him because he is a great oC and judge of talent on the O side of the ball. if he fails when given a high pick to take the guy HE wants, then we need to start over but he needs the opportunity to pick HIS guy, not the best of whats left.

so blah blah all you want about busts, we KNOW the draft is imperfect, but I would rather trust in the fact that we got the guy we wanted rather than the leftovers, if we still suck then we know its the judging and coaching. jeez.
 

Rymanofthenorth

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I hope we lose but I am not cheering to lose, I am accepting that if we lose, its short term pain for long term gain, what will really chap my ass is if all of this is for nothing and shanny doesnt build us at least a contender. because then we get to go through it all again lol. and its not one pick, its better ranking every round so in reality it affects far more than people are saying. BIG PICTURE people.
 

DieselPwr44

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So when we have more garbage at QB next year, we can fondly look back at the Seattle win and remember that euphoric rush to bouy us another 10-20 years.

Bartender, more numbing agent please.
 

DieselPwr44

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I don't mean to sound harsh, but I'm just tired of tuning in every September and knowing before kickoff that we still haven't solved the QB position.

And then, sometime during the game, FOX will throw up that graphic and Joe Buck,etc will say "Joe Blow is the 500th starting QB the Redskins have had in the last 20 years".

I hope next September, when they throw that graphic up, it's to say that the top five draft pick is our new starter.
 

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You know what they say, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

I don't doubt the research honestly. But as Henry alluded to - here's the thing - it's not about being able to find great players later on down the first round. It can be done. No one disputes that, even with QBs. There are plenty of examples of it. But you cannot deny (without looking silly) one simple fact: if a team ahead of you in the draft wants to draft the guy YOU wanted to draft, they will. And there won't be anything you can do about it.

The 'bust argument' many of you want to pull out as some trump card actually underscores the importance of my point. In a world where it's possible for all the experts to be catastrophically wrong about a player, we want our front office getting the guy they absolutely feel is going to be able to thrive at that position. We don't want them 'settling' for the next best guy, reaching, or taking a gamble.

That, for me, coupled with the fact that every loss puts teams who may also need a franchise QB in front of us, argues strongly that winning is not in the Redskins interest the rest of the way.

Again, not rooting for losses, don't want my team not to try and win. But winning is not best for the team this year. I won't be convinced it serves any purpose.
 

Ax

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That's the great thing about this debate Boone. Every point has an equal counterpoint. It is a debate that cannot be won, or lost, except in the minds of each individual. It's positional jousting. Invigoratingly entertaining, too, for me, since I know I'm 100% right. :)

And all those who disagree, are but balls of yarn. To be slapped about in playful self gratification, by only the coolest of cats, like myself...


...and Neo.
 

fansince62

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That the last memorable season you watched, the team was led by a QB drafted #146 of the 6th rd.

Thanks for making our point. ;)

and the Cowboys won 2 SBs with a QB drafted in the top 5. There is no point to this. and....finding a winning QB in later rounds isn't the same as saying the probability of finding a winning QB in the top 10 is the same as it is in say the top 10 of the second round (the sample sizes should be the same).
 

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again , if you thought i was proving your point, you werent paying attention. we arent a deep team with a great defence stocked with high drafted talent and great olinemen who just need a solid guy to drive the bus, we need a superlative qb and our chance of getting one is better with a better pick. its not a debate. its clear.
 

Ax

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Damn! you "Losers" are a touchy group. No sense of humor.

Logic most definitely suggests that higher picks in each round SHOULD equal better players. Only trouble is, history proves otherwise. Yes, there are more of the good ones available. Just as there are more of the busts available.

Draft position does not dictate quality. Never has, never will.
 

Canadian Hog

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Let me get this straight...

Rooting for losses is a terrible idea. Instead, we should win as many as we can the rest of the way so that we can finish ahead of the Eagles and capture the highly-coveted 3rd place prize in the NFC East.

We've seen it year after year where some cellar-dwelling team rips off 4 of 5 wins or something along those lines at the end of the season and develops a false sense of optimism for the following season. Then, at the end of September, they realize real quick that they gave themselves too much credit and aren't as good as they thought they were. It kind of reminds me of how Shanahan over-estimated what he had along the offensive line this year.

In my mind, winning these late November and December games doesn't do much for developing cohesion and unity amongst the team - no such thing as morale victories when many of the key offensive parts need to be torn apart and replaced in the first place.

This offense needs a significant difference maker in the most desperate of ways behind center. I for one tend to think that being near the front of the buffet line is a more appealing option in terms of finding him.

RG3 in B&G in 2012! Bring on the losing....sorry guys.
 

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I'll confess...the more I see of RGIII, the more excited I am at the prospect of him under center. Guy is accurate, can make all the necessary NFL throws, can hurt you with his feet, and has quality material between the ears.

I like him :)
 

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Once the game starts, I'll ALWAYS root for the Skins to win. The only difference at this point is, other than the Dallas game, I'm not too bummed about a loss.
 

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