Should Baker Mayfield Be the First Overall Pick? The Significance of College Passing Stats – The Wrong Read, No. 24

Welcome to the 24th installment of the “The Wrong Read,” an article series that reflects on recent podcast episodes, pushing the ideas discussed on the podcasts to their logical conclusions and offering some further thoughts on the topics broached by the guests and hosts. Now that the Super Bowl is well behind us, it’s prospect season. You should pay special attention to rookie running backs.

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By Blair Andrews | @AmItheRealBlair | Archive

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  1. Thanks--I'm glad this one sparked some interest as it was a really fun one to write.

    I haven't looked too much into using conference as a predictor. Some way to adjust for the conference may be useful. What would perhaps be even better would be a general strength-of-schedule adjustment. A lot of the best CFB ranking systems incorporate such adjustments on the team level--why not do so on the player level? The main reason I haven't is lack of tidy data / time to clean it.

    The idea you suggest would be a good way to counteract the trend toward increasing AYA--perhaps worth doing if I find the time. That said, I do think it's useful to compare players across draft classes without adjusting, the changing nature of the game notwithstanding. Although it's a serious point that Mayfield plays in an era which at least helps to enable his outrageous numbers, I think it undersells his accomplishment to take this argument too seriously, if that makes sense. 12.9 AYA is unheard of--more than a full yard above what anyone else has done, ever.

    Great point about the interaction. At basically every position, draft slot is the most important thing, because it incorporates so many of the other variables. RotoDoc's 2017 model didn't (IIRC) include height or weight or really any athleticism measurements, presumably because draft slot accounts for them. The fact that it does include AYA (a catch-all passing stat) suggests that QB passing stats are being undervalued by NFL teams generally. So in that sense you would expect AYA to matter more for later draft picks, and by extension for less athletic or smaller QBs (since a lack of size/athleticism is partly what's pushing them down draft boards). You see this especially in the love for Allen--statistically he's probably not even a top-15 QB in the current class. On the flip side, guys with less hype but better-than-solid numbers like Mason Rudolph, Logan Woodside, or Riley Ferguson are likely to end up going underdrafted (and possibly as a result, unfortunately, doing very little in the NFL).

  2. For this one I got all the college data from and used the RotoViz Screener for NFL data.

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