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Mel Kiper currently has Michael Floyd ranked #18 on his Big Board, while he has mentioned Marvin McNutt as a potential 2nd or 3rd round type player. I thought it would be interesting to compare McNutt and Floyd against common opponents. McNutt’s overall season was easily better than Floyd’s, but Iowa did play a little easier schedule than Notre Dame did. Here are the stat lines from the common opponents they faced:
McNutt had the better game against three of the four opponents, averaged more touchdowns per game than Floyd, and averaged a little better than 20 yards per game. The interesting thing to note is that he did all of that on fewer catches, so this is probably not a difference in utilization rates.
I’ve also listed each player’s Market Share in terms of college team production. Again, McNutt was responsible for a larger share of the Iowa passing offense than Floyd was for the Notre Dame passing offense.
It is worth noting that Floyd is maybe 10 pounds heavier than McNutt, so it will be interesting to see how each of them runs before the draft. I am pretty confident that I can show a correlation between a weight/speed combination that would be similar to, although slightly different than the Speed Score that people are now familiar with for running backs.
In any case, using my “If he can do it, he can do it” rule for college wide receivers, McNutt does seem like a relative bargain compared to Floyd.
I’m starting to feel about sample sizes the way that Fletch felt about ball bearings. If you haven’t seen the movie I don’t think I’m spoiling the plot at all by saying that he thought they were pretty important.
The cacophony (yeah, that just happened) of opinions surrounding the NFL’s spring draft is a target rich environment for the application of small sample sizes. Let’s think about all of the way small samples end up with outsized importance being assigned to them.
The combine is a few days of drills that aren’t even football related except that they also involve speed and strength. But the draftniks assign all manner of importance to the combine.
This guy needs to have a good combine, they might say. This guy needs to run at least a X.XX.
But the combine is a small sample. It’s a player’s performance on a single day. Yet outsized importance is attached to that day and it can counteract a collegiate record that might be four years long. Isn’t that screwed up? Every Saturday in the fall the player goes out after a week of coaching and plays in a football game, and after 4 years you might have 50 or so games as a record, and that record can be affected by a single day of workouts?
Speed is pretty important to football, but the best wide receivers are rarely the fastest, and as far as running backs go, if you show me a running back who averaged over six yards per carry for his college career, I’ll show you a running back who will have a good Speed Score (and I’ll even bet you can pick one up in the fourth round).
Player X is like Larry Fitzgerald. Wait, no he’s not. Maybe he’s like Anquan Boldin. Wait, no, he’s really like a bigger Santonio Holmes.
Saying someone could be like Larry Fitzgerald is applying a comparison that is supposed to have meaning, but is essentially just a small sample size. Larry Fitzgerald is just one guy with a particular skillset who happened to be a good pro. There’s no guarantee that another guy who came along with a similar skillset would have Larry Fitzgerald’s success.
But the other problem with player comparisons is that when you try to shoehorn them into a type, you ignore the possibility that they might not fit any type, yet might be good in spite of that. They might be a new kind of good. To ignore this possibility is to say basically that only a few types of successful player exist and every player coming out of college needs to fit into one of the pre-made molds. This is preposterous.
Here’s another problem with player comparisons. Even the EXACT SAME PLAYER can have different results. Forget about trying to predict the future by coming up with a reasonable approximation (Player A will be successful because he has the same skillset as Larry Fitzgerald). Players, not just similar players – exact players, have different results. Randy Moss had about as bad of a season as you can have in Oakland in 2006, then he had a record setter the next year. If the exact same player can have a range of results based on situation, single player comparisons between pros and college players become ridiculous. The college player is almost assured of walking into a different situation than the one that allowed the pro to acquire whatever reputation we assign to him. Similarity is not destiny.
(Side note: This might seem like I’m making an argument that would counter my use of similarity scores. However, my similarity scores compare 20 player seasons typically for the very reason that similarity does not equal destiny and because single player comparisons create a ridiculously small sample.)
If he can do it, he can do it.
This is a phrase I’ve been using more of lately. It basically means that a player’s accomplishments on the field can generally speak for themselves. If a guy catches 1500 yards in a season, he figured out a way to get open. Don’t rob him of his skills because he doesn’t seem good in a way we’ve ever seen before. He figured out a way to do it. He went out every Saturday and figured out a way to beat double teams, but we’re going to downgrade him because he didn’t run a sub 4.4 forty and we don’t understand how he did it?
A couple of years ago Cameron Anderson and Gavin J. Kilduff published a study examining how people in meetings evaluate each other. Obviously we would like people in meetings to think we are competent. And one might think, the best way to get people to think you are competent is to just be competent. But that is not what Anderson and Kilduff found. In a study of how people in a meeting – a meeting designed to answer math questions — were evaluated by their peers, these authors found (as Time reported) that actual competence wasn’t driving evaluations:
Repeatedly, the ones who emerged as leaders and were rated the highest in competence were not the ones who offered the greatest number of correct answers. Nor were they the ones whose SAT scores suggested they’d even be able to. What they did do was offer the most answers — period.
“Dominant individuals behaved in ways that made them appear competent,” the researchers write, “above and beyond their actual competence.” Troublingly, group members seemed only too willing to follow these underqualified bosses. An overwhelming 94% of the time, the teams used the first answer anyone shouted out — often giving only perfunctory consideration to others that were offered.
Think about what this study says about meetings. If I want you to think I am competent, I need to talk. But if all of us have this same incentive… well, maybe we better be standing. A sit-down meeting can be endless (or at least seem that way).
I think we finally have an explanation for the Ryan Brothers. They have incentives to be loud mouths! They’ve probably been rewarded for it their entire careers.