Miami Dolphins: NFL draft metrics a good match for our needs

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: General view during day one of interviews at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: General view during day one of interviews at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Metrics are used in almost every sport to evaluate players.  How do past NFL draft metrics and the draft needs of the Miami Dolphins match up?

For the most part the metrics in baseball, basketball, and soccer are fairly accurate in determining how good that player will be in the future.  Unfortunately in football, metrics never tell the whole story and in fact, sometimes are downright wrong. The Miami Dolphins “metrics” should be good.

This aspect of uncertainty is what makes the NFL draft a fan favorite.  In my opinion, the Miami Dolphins have been in the bottom half of the NFL in their ability to evaluate and draft players for the last 20 years.

With 14 draft picks, the Dolphins can’t afford to make the same mistakes in 2020.  This draft will decide the direction of this organization for many years to come.

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So, I wanted to know more about how the NFL evaluates college players.  I started reading articles when I ran across this interesting article by WesternChief that broke down draft successes by position and round.

The analytics in this article shows us that offensive linemen are the easiest to get right.  For the purpose of this article I will focus on the first three rounds.

Offensive Line – 1st round 83%, 2nd round 70%, 3rd round 40% success rate

Linebackers were the second easiest at 70%, 55%, 34% success rate.

Running backs success rate dropped rapidly after the first two rounds and don’t even bother trying to get a  multi-year starting running back in round 6 or 7 because they are virtually non-existent.

One of the hardest positions to draft well were Defensive Linemen at a 58%, 27%, 27% success rate.

The smallest drop in success rate from round one to round two was wide receiver.  If you do want a WR, it is possible to wait until round two and still get close to equal quality as round one.

As far as QB is concerned, if you didn’t take one in the first round, your chances of success were slim to none!

How can the Dolphins use these numbers to make better choices?  Well, it’s easier to replace Laremy Tunsil than a similarly talented defensive end.

So, when the Texans offered two ones and a two for Tunsil and Stills, it was a deal that Grier couldn’t refuse.

Analytics say pay for proven defensive ends via free agency because they’re harder to draft (which the Dolphins did this off-season) and replenish the offensive line in the first three rounds because offensive line draft picks are the most likely to succeed.  This approach is not very flashy, but less likely to fail.

Additionally, if you have two equally rated players that you are considering, take the position more likely to succeed.  I see these numbers and it starts to hit me as to why Dion Jordan and Charles Harris didn’t live up to expectations.  Sack specialists are one of the hardest positions to evaluate.

In my opinion, the Dolphins’ biggest needs are, in this order: a quarterback of the future, offensive line, a stud running back, defensive line, safety, tight end, and wide receiver.

I’m sure each draft has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to certain positions.  For example, I hear that this wide receiver and offensive tackle class are deeper than normal.

So what should the Dolphins do with their first six picks based off analytics and mixed with needs to give them the greatest chance of not missing on any picks?

They should pick the following positions at the spots indicated.

#5 QB,     #18 OL,     #26 RB/OL,     #39 OL/RB,     #56 WR/S/DL/TE,     #70 Best player available

The good news is that our needs match up well with the analytics of positional success.  Based off the numbers, I’m hoping for a good draft!