Unfair in the Fairest Way Possible: A Modest Proposal for the NFL Draft

Share |

The Jets and Titans played two very different football games in Week 3. In New York, a roster of 52 largely competent football players found themselves hostage to the whims of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throwing arm. They played good football and lost because their quarterback threw three interceptions. In Tennessee, a roster of 52 largely incompetent football players found themselves leading a defending AFC finalist for most of the day on the arm, legs, thorax, and pretty much everything else of Marcus Mariota. The difference between having a star like Marcus Mariota and a substitute teacher like Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback is hugely significant. But the difference between the Jets and Titans during the 2014 game that determined their draft position? Only five points.

There’s something arbitrarily cruel about the NFL Draft. It usually comes down to basic math. There are 32 teams in the NFL. Those teams only play 16 games. Barring ties, there are therefore only 17 possible records those 32 teams can have. That leads to quite a few ties. Sometimes, those ties are irrelevant, like when they determine the winner of the NFC South. Occasionally, they swing the history of the league forever.

The 2011 Colts and the 2011 Rams both finished 2-14. In many ways the Rams were actually the worse of the two teams. Their point differential of -214 remains the worst an NFL team has produced since and falls almost four full touchdowns below the -187 Colts. One of their two wins came against a 4-12 Browns team quarterbacked by Colt McCoy and two of their 14 losses came in a pair of 17-point blowouts to the Tarvaris Jackson-led Seahawks. Brandon Lloyd led the team with 51 receptions.

The Colts picked first because they played an easier schedule. Scratch that—the Colts picked first because they had an easier strength of schedule, a statistic that ignores fairly relevant context such as the Rams playing their final two games against the combined 25-7 Steelers and 49ers but facing their backup quarterbacks. Coincidentally enough, that metric had the Rams playing the hardest schedule in the league in 2011. The Colts were fourth by the same metric and led the AFC. The difference came largely within their divisions. The AFC South went 24-24, excluding the Colts. The NFC West went 28-20, featuring the No. 2 seeded San Francisco 49ers, and didn’t have a team besides St. Louis finish worse than 7-9. Geographic proximity to bad teams gave the Colts Andrew Luck.

On its face this seems extraordinarily stupid. But it happens all of the time. Four of the last five No. 1 picks (Tennessee in 2016, Tampa Bay in 2015, Kansas City in 2013, and Indianapolis in 2012) were determined by tiebreakers. The 2004 draft had a four-way tie for the No. 1 pick with the Giants, Chargers, Raiders, and Cardinals all finishing 4-12 and a seemingly impossible six-way tie after that with the Falcons, Texans, Jaguars, Redskins, Lions, and Browns all ending up with 5-11 records. One game separated the first and tenth picks.

When franchise quarterbacks are on the line, the difference between even first and second is enormous. Imagine a world in which the Rams magically had an easier strength of schedule than the Colts in 2011. Either the Rams stay put and grab the best quarterback prospect in decades, or they stick with Sam Bradford and the Redskins trade up. In both cases, a new contender is created out of thin air and the Colts are a drastically different team all because of one fairly subjective number. There has to be a better way to do this.

***

The great irony of the NBA Draft lottery is that, if you assume that there is an exact correlation between record and merit, basketball rarely needs it. An 82-game season is such a large sample size that the odds of the two worst teams sharing a record is relatively slim. The last time it happened was the 2002-03 season. Since then there have been three cases of the worst team finishing at least five games lower than anyone else.

But that’s precisely why the draft lottery works. There isn’t an exact correlation between a team’s record and how good or bad they are. Over a full-season, circumstance is going to influence record almost as much as talent. The lottery combats that by fighting randomness with randomness. It acknowledges that record matters but that it is an imperfect measure of performance, and, therefore, record-based outcomes should reflect that same imperfection. A 13-win team probably does deserve a better chance in the draft than a 25-win team, but the lottery allows for the realistic possibility that there isn’t all that much separating bad teams at that level.

There probably wasn’t much separating the 5-11 2003 Houston Texans and the 4-12 2003 New York Giants, and a draft order that says otherwise is irreparably flawed. A 16-game sample is far more random than the NBA’s 82. Record is a far worse measure of performance in football than in basketball. So why not let the draft order reflect just how small the difference between bad teams at that level really is?

My proposal is relatively simple. The NFL should institute a lottery that gives each team at a certain record the same odds of winning, with those odds weighted towards what the record was. If the worst team finished 1-15 and the next finished 4-12, the odds favor that 1-15 team heavily. If five teams are tied at 3-13, tiebreakers go out the window and all five of those teams get the same lottery odds. Lower the odds in that fashion until you’ve run out of non-playoff teams, let the lottery determine the top five picks before moving back to tiebreakers, and bam, we have ourselves a lottery.

The system isn’t inherently fair in the sense that it automatically rewards the most deserving team with the top pick—quite the opposite, in fact. It is fair because it acknowledges we have no idea who the most deserving team is, so it gives every candidate a chance at the top pick.

More than that, it gives every team and fan base hope for the first pick. This system might not be perfect, but it eliminates those 5-11 or 6-10 seasons that are horrible enough to dread but keeps your team in that quarterback-free limbo of the mid-first round. This system, like the NBA Draft lottery, is unfair in the fairest way possible.

Share |

Comments

Real Christmas trees are beautiful but most of them are bulky, some of them weigh around 200 pounds.
florida pr agencies

Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much. You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people
verified blogging site

This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. I will visit your blog regularly for Some latest post. z4root apk

No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after reading good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post.
hoeveel calorieën

thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you are a great author. B&B mare toscana all inclusive

Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you.reviews on brestrogen

I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts. Costa Calida

Really impressed! Everything is very open and very clear clarification of issues. It contains truly facts. Your website is very valuable. Thanks for sharing. refinance home bad credit

Great amazing things here. I am very satisfied to look your post. Thank you a lot and i’m taking a look ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?
youtube subscribers free | get free youtube views

Thanks for some other wonderful post. The place else could anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect means of writing? I've a presentation next week, and I'm on the search for such information.appvn download apk

Invest In Yourself With an Online MBA Degree
Course of Study

Great website. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you on your sweat!
weight loss pills walmart

Great awesome issues here. I am very glad to see your article. Thanks a lot and i’m having a look forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?brestrogen price

Amazing article ! I need individuals to know exactly how great this data is in your article. It’s fascinating, convincing substance. Your perspectives are much like my own concerning this subject.OnePlus 5 Price in Sri Lanka

Perks of A College Degree For Cloud Computing.Masters Degree

دانلود قسمت چهارم فصل دوم شهرزاد 2, دانلود رایگان شهرزاد, دانلود سریال جدید شهرزاد ایرانی دانلود سریال شهرزاد با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت چهارم شهرزاد دوم

Great site, Distinguished criticism that I can handle. Im pushing ahead and may apply to my present place of employment as a pet sitter, which is exceptionally charming, yet I have to extra grow. Respects.lucky patcher apk download

Very nice blog and articles. I am realy very happy to visit your blog. Now I am found which I actually want. Ig check your blog everyday and try to learn something from your blog. Thank you and waiting for your new post..!
technology news

Top Cloud Analytics Platforms of 2017
Course of Study

Wow, this is really interesting reading. I am glad I found this and got to read it. Great job on this content. I like it.

tankers for sale

I will really appreciate the writer's choice for choosing this excellent article appropriate to my matter.Here is deep description about the article matter which helped me more.thai restaurant birmingham

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested one.I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates.cognitive assessment melbourne

It should be noted that whilst ordering papers for sale at paper writing service, you can get unkind attitude. In case you feel that the bureau is trying to cheat you, don't buy term paper from it...!
wheelchair cars

The 12 Best Apps to Help You Destress and Focus All Year .Masters Degree

I feel really happy to have seen your webpage and look forward to so many more entertaining times reading here. Thanks once more for all the details. lone worker solutions

Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I
gameboy emulator iphone

Really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us.Great site and a great topic as well i really get amazed to read this. Its really good..!
vietnam video production service

Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today i find it finally. this post give me lots of advise it is very useful for me. corporate health insurance

I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it. car service atlanta

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article. Aetna Singapore

Exclusive Villas, Apartments, Penthouses, Plots,.. For Sale & Rent in Marbella (Los Monteros, Marbella Golden Mile, Sierra Blanca, Nagueles, Puerto Banus, Nueva Andalucia, San Pedro, Guadalmina), Benahavis (La Quinta, El Madronal, La Zagaleta, Los Arqueros, La Alqueria, Los Flamingos) and Estepona, Costa del Sol villas for sale Nueva Andalucia

You actually make it look so easy with your performance but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never comprehend. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it! expat insurance singapore

Your blogs further more each else volume is so entertaining further serviceable It appoints me befall retreat encore. I will instantly grab your feed to stay informed of any updates. vietnam video production company

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites! Esveldinstallatie.nl

Nice blog and absolutely outstanding. You can do something much better but i still say this perfect.Keep trying for the best...!
account-money.com

Patent filing and registration in India. Easy, fast and secure patent registration at affordable prices by Expert Patent Agents and Attorneys. Patent filing india or Patent registration

I as of late discovered numerous helpful data in your site particularly this site page. Among the loads of remarks on your articles. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.!
visit my homepage

Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I
mobdro for pc

I am impressed. I don't think Ive met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. You are truly well informed and very intelligent...!
lam phim quang cao

That is the reason focus on you must specific groundwork well before authoring. Will be possible to more desirable blog post in this manner...!
lam phim quang cao

Marvelous web journal. I appreciated perusing your articles. This is really an incredible read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing awesome!
minecraft gratuit | free psn codes

within the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.notary certification

i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future...!!
http://www.greenmachines.ie/guide-choosing-perfect-engagement-ring/

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one..!shareit app download free

i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future...!!
Los Angeles Valet Parking

Its actually a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing..!
Los Angeles Valet Parking

Pretty good post I just stumbled upon your website and wanted to say that I have incredibly enjoyed reading your blog posts Any way I am going to be subscribing for the feed and I hope to visit your article once again soonn.!
viagens

I enjoyed on reading your blog post. Your blog has a lot of useful information for me, I got good ideas from this great blog. I'm always looking for this type of blog post. I hope I will be reading more of your posts further
24 hour plumber

Thanx for sharing such useful post keep it up. If you are looking for more information
24 hour plumber

i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future..
24 hour plumber