clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The most important part of the draft is luck

New, comments

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In just a few days, franchises altering decisions will be made at the 2019 NFL Draft. A few years from now we’ll look back and say a team had a really great draft, and that another had a really bad one. We’ll then say that the former team was good at drafting and the latter team was bad at it. But having a good draft and being good at drafting are not the same. There is an entire industry build around evaluating the draft, but it’s all essentially gambling. Because the biggest factor in the draft isn’t evaluating, it’s luck.

Take for example Lane Johnson. Johnson is of course one of the best offensive tackles in the league. But he was the third offensive tackle taken in his draft. The Chiefs selected Eric Fisher 1st overall, and he’s been excellent. But then the Jaguars selected Luke Joeckel, who was out of the league last year. Following those selections the Dolphins traded up for Dion Jordan, who is also a bust. Selecting Lane Johnson was a great pick. It was also a lucky one.

Had the Jaguars properly evaluated Joeckel and Johnson, the Eagles would almost certainly have left the draft with a first round bust. The next tackle selected was DJ Fluker, who is on his third team. Between the Eagles pick and where Fluker went was Ezekiel Ansah, and then a series of busts: Barkevious Mingo, Jonathan Cooper, Tavon Austin, Dee Milliner, and Chance Warmack. (Side note: Joeckel, Jordan, Mingo, and Fluker all eventually played for the Seahawks, maybe they should update their scouting profiles.)

The Eagles were on the other end of this just a year later. They traded back with Cleveland, the Browns took Johnny Manziel. The Eagles took Marcus Smith, who was a bust (and also played on the Seahawks). On the board was Dee Ford, who was taken the pick after Manziel.

Think about the knock-on effect on both of these. It’s hard to picture Nick Foles calling out someone other than Lane Johnson’s name to start the decoy of the Philly Special because it’s hard to picture the Eagles even getting to the Super Bowl without Johnson. Because the four teams that had the three picks ahead of the Eagles didn’t take Lane Johnson, the Eagles are Super Bowl champions. If that butterfly flaps its wings a little differently, everything changes.

If the Eagles had properly valued Ford highly and Smith poorly, perhaps they don’t take Derek Barnett in 2017. Or perhaps they do and in March the let Brandon Graham leave in free agency. Or maybe they do draft Barnett, they do keep Graham, and now defensive end isn’t such a need next week. Or maybe… you get the point.

Just one single pick goes a different way and the history of the Eagles franchise is drastically changed. Now imagine that the Rams rated Carson Wentz higher than Jared Goff.

Luck, chance, variation… whatever you want to call it, it matters just as much as what actually happens on the field. Perhaps more.


The Eagles schedule is out, and there is a non-marquee game I’m looking forward to: Week 5 against the Jets. The Jets will likely be terrible this year, but the game might be spiced up with the additions of Malik Jackson and Le’Veon Bell. Jackson had some words for Bell after Bell put up a clip of Jackson looking bad, and then Bell walked it back. Lame. Hopefully Jackson gets a chance to get him on the field.


The funniest basketball player vs Philly athlete feud of the week wasn’t 0-for Jared Dudley straying out of his lane and slamming Ben Simmons. It was 8 career games played Devin Robinson telling Super Bowl winner Jalen Mills that he “shouldn’t be in D.C.” The disorderly conduction arrests they got aren’t funny, but a G-League player acting like he owns a city is freaking hilarious, as was the Washington Wizards reaction to the incident of immediately announcing that they will not offer Robinson a contract. Turns out Robinson definitely shouldn’t be in D.C.

Tweet of the Week