This was a classic scene from the movie Moneyball. This time of year I tend to think about this scene when we reach the point where NFL Draft prospects are clearly being overanalyzed.
We live in an era where an incredible amount of information is easily accessible. With the amount of money teams invest in first round picks, everybody wants to make sure they scrutinize all relevant data on a player.
The key word there is relevant. We invariably reach a point where people and teams start reaching for narratives based on irrelevant information. This is on full display in the clip above when members of the Oakland A’s scouting department start factoring a prospect’s girlfriend into their evaluation along with his “look.” Eventually it reaches a point where Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane expresses exasperation that it seems like his employees seem to be searching for somebody who looks like Fabio rather than somebody who can play baseball well.
Each year in the NFL Draft, we reach a point where some of the analysis gets beyond silly.
Josh Allen's completion percentage In his football career: pic.twitter.com/cXJ0r6TPqi— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 19, 2018
I mean no disrespect to the author of this tweet. I am sure this is an insightful person, and I certainly as am guilty as anybody when it comes to digging too deep for information that just doesn’t matter.
It is also indisputable that Josh Allen comes with many concerns as a prospect pertaining to his accuracy. In fact, I am sure a lot of people view him as a posterboy of the Moneyball clip, somebody who will go high in the Draft because he “looks the part” rather than his produciton.
With that said, how are junior varsity high school stats relevant at all to evaluating this player? When was the last time a player’s quality in high school had anything to do with his NFL grade? Heck, when was the last time somebody who graduated from college in any field was scrutinized for his high school body of work? Were Allen’s third grade stats from touch football in recess not available?
Then we have a story about Baker Mayfield making the rounds.
Asked afterward, though, how he felt he’d performed in the Chargers meeting, Mayfield flashed a shade of vanity more often associated with LaRusso’s Karate Kid rival: cheap-shotting bad boy Johnny Lawrence. “I didn’t look at their playbook as much as a I should have,” Mayfield said. “It could have gone a little bit better . . . but at the same time, I’m prioritizing which playbooks I’m going to learn. No offense to them, but I’ve got a lot on my plate.”
Again, I am not trying to portray Mayfield as a perfect prospect. Unlike Josh Allen’s uneven junior varsity high school performance, this actually would make me less likely to Draft him....if I ran the Chargers. For any other team, why would I care?
If Mayfield showed a ton of interest in the Jets’ playbook and showed an impressive handle on the concepts, what difference would doing poorly for the Chargers make? Would you ever pass on hiring somebody at your company who interviewed well just because they interviewed poorly for somebody else? What sense would that make? If he’s more interested in a team like the Jets than the Chargers, shouldn’t that be viewed as a plus?
Yet I have seen plenty of people characterize this episode as a red flag that should steer the Jets away.
Draft day is almost here, and it cannot come soon enough. We have clearly reached the season of overanalysis.