Mock drafting is a lot like weather prediction. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong, and when you’re wrong, it’s Ok. Being wrong is the name of the game. This is because, at the most fundamental level, the NFL Draft is much like the weather: utter chaos. And by definition, chaos is wholly unpredictable.
Both the draft and weather are good examples of "chaotic systems." In order to be chaotic, systems need to satisfy two primary criteria: 1.) extreme sensitivity to small changes in initial conditions (the butterfly effect), and 2.) non-linearity. In other words, rounding just one number to one less decimal than the rest of the numbers in a complicated weather model will render a forecast completely useless. Likewise, the NFL Draft could look very different if Houston selects Jadeveon Clowney first rather than Teddy Bridgewater or Jake Matthews. And in each of these scenarios the Eagles could select three different players with their first pick… or not. With chaotic systems, there are no one-to-one correlations, there are no straight lines connecting causes with effects. Events are fluid and dynamic and… unpredictable.
Prediction be damned, this model attempts to forecast the weather of the draft. It simulates the NFL Draft 1,000 times where each team’s selection is based on one decision: to draft based on need or best player available. Team needs were provided by each of our SB Nation sister sites and best players available from CBS Sports’ prospect rankings (For now, anyway; using one "big board" is a flaw in the model. There is a cool plan to improve the use of prospect rankings for future versions). The results are more akin to weather forecasts than traditional mock drafts. So, here’s the Chaos Theory Mock Draft "Five Day":
- The Houston Texans have a 38% chance of drafting a QB first overall.
- The Eagles have close to a 40% chance of drafting a wide receiver in Round 1 (primarily Kelvin Benjamin or Marqise Lee).
- The Eagles have a 30% chance of drafting a Safety in Round 1.
- Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix is more likely to be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, and Green Bay Packers than by the Eagles.
- Brandin Cooks has a .40% chance (note the decimal) of being drafted by the Eagles (Granted, this can change drastically if the Eagles have Cooks rated higher than Benjamin).
There is a lot more info in the interactive viz above, so play around with it. You can see how player draft probabilities change when teams draft for need versus best player available (for example, if drafting by best player available the Eagles just have a 14% chance of drafting a safety in Round 1). Team-centric results are in the "Mock Draft" tab and player-centric results are in the "Dig Deeper" tab. And if you want to read more about last year’s inception of this thing, click here.
Stay tuned for 2.0.
Enjoy the chaos!