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2018 NFL Draft: Simulation Draft Results, Forecasts, and Projections

With the 32nd pick of the draft, the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles select...

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome, friends. Welcome to the 2018 NFL Draft. That weird feeling you have, is it butterflies? No? Is it anxiety? A sense of unease? I don’t think so either. I feel quite the opposite: pretty damn good. After all, picking 32nd in the draft is reserved for only those teams that win Super Bowls. So I have an overwhelming sense that the Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl Champions, can do NO WRONG.

But what will the Super Bowl Champions do? The personnel moves transacted by Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas that resulted in a Super Bowl win also resulted in no second or third round picks. The Eagles can be perfectly fine staying put at 32, but may not want to wait until the fourth round to draft again. They may trade back from 32 or trade some other “most valuable” asset in order to secure some more draft capital. Whatever route travelled, Roseman, Douglas and crew are in a wonderfully unique position: use the draft to complement a Super Bowl winning roster.

Mock drafts have their place in helping determine what teams may do, but I don’t like them much. I prefer forecasting, in some way, what players will be selected, where. In my opinion, looking at a likely group of available players is more fun. So that’s what I did here. I conducted a simulation of the draft that is based on one fundamental question: Should a team select the best player available, or the best player available at a position of need? The end product is a list of likely players to be selected by every team at every pick.

There are two primary data sets driving this. I compiled each team’s position needs from our SB Nation sister sites and used Arif Hasan’s composite big board (35+ boards) for prospect rankings. The simulation itself was conducted in Excel, and the results are dumped in Tableau, which you can play around with here. (Note: if you don’t see the interactive viz, click here.)

You can click on any round and filter by any team, but for now let’s focus on the Eagles first round pick (already shown). The player most often drafted by the Eagles is CB Mike Hughes from UCF (21.7%) followed by TE Dallas Goedert from S. Dakota State (14.9%). If you change the “Decision Based On” value from “All” to “Best Available”, you’ll see that DT Taven Brian from Florida (19.25%) is the most likely selection (discard Josh Allen for obvious reasons… computers, SMH). If you change the decision basis to “Need,” Mike Hughes becomes the most common pick, selected over 43% of the time by the Eagles. You can perform the same exercise for picks in other rounds.

In the Player Results section of the viz, you can see a list of teams who most often draft the player selected. Mike Hughes is pre-selected here, so you can see that the Eagles are the team that drafts Hughes most often, followed by Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. There are 350 players to search from… Search away.

But what if the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles don’t stay put? Let’s assume they don’t move up in the draft, but instead trade back. Sadly, the viz above can’t show you this. For shits and giggles, though, let’s assume that, somehow, the Eagles trade their first round pick and secure second and third round picks from Arizona (the 47th and 79th picks, respectively). I conducted a mini-simulation (100 runs) and here are the top results (they are quite a bit different than Arizona’s second and third round picks above).

Philadelphia Eagles, Round 2 Pick 47

Player Frequency selected
Player Frequency selected
CB Carlton Davis 23%
CB Isaiah Oliver 20%
TE Mike Gesicki 15%
TE Dallas Goedert 8%
RB Ronald Jones II 7%
CB Donte Jackson 7%
WR D.J. Moore 4%
TE Hayden Hurst 3%
RB Nick Chubb 3%
RB Sony Michel 3%
WR Christian Kirk 2%
S Ronnie Harrison 2%
S Justin Reid 1%
C Billy Price 1%
CB Mike Hughes 1%

Philadelphia Eagles, Round 3 Pick 79

Player Frequency Selected
Player Frequency Selected
TE Mark Andrews 15%
TE Ian Thomas 14%
CB M.J. Stewart 12%
WR Michael Gallup 9%
CB Duke Dawson 7%
WR Dante Pettis 6%
WR D.J. Chark 5%
CB Anthony Averett 5%
OT Jamarco Jones 4%
OT Chukwuma Okorafor 4%
RB Rashaad Penny 4%
RB Kerryon Johnson 3%
C Martinas Rankin 2%
OLB Malik Jefferson 2%
DT Nathan Shepherd 2%
OT Orlando Brown 2%
TE Jaylen Samuels 1%
DE Rasheem Green 1%
OT Alex Cappa 1%
DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo 1%

This model certainly has flaws. First, the team needs gleaned from our sister sites may not be accurate. Second, I would love to use 32 meaningful team-specific big boards, but in order to save sleep and time, one big board had to do. So take no offense if results here disagree with your own takes, wants, needs, desires. Instead, take solace in the fact that all mock drafts are wrong and so is this. But the Philadelphia Eagles are always right.

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