NFL Draft Prospects and Their Pro Player Comparisons

The goal for these comparisons is to match the play style and abilities of 2023 NFL draft prospects to an NFL player known for those play styles and abilities, the goal is NOT to predict a career or definitively compare between players . I’ve formed the comparisons after watching regular season games, reviewing scouting reports and dialing up a YouTube highlight video or two.

QB

  • Bryce Young — Joe Burrow
    • 6’0 height
    • Escapeability in the pocket, but not a runner
    • Pinpoint accuracy
    • Dominated in the SEC, Heisman winners
  • Will Levis — Matthew Stafford
    • Ideal arm talent
    • Big body, harder to tackle
    • Good experience running plays under center, play action
  • C.J. Stroud — Geno Smith
    • Makes quick decisions in the pocket
    • Doesn’t rely on mobility
    • Ball placement gives receivers a chance
  • Anthony Richardson — Justin Fields
    • Off the charts athleticism
    • Strong natural arm
  • Hendon Hooker — Derek Carr
    • Able to identify open WR’s
    • Comfortable in the pocket
    • Average NFL arm strength
  • Tanner McKee — Jared Goff
    • Good in plays with timing
    • Longer release in throwing motion
    • Tall, durable physique

WR

  • Quentin Johnston — Kyle Pitts
    • Athletic build that translates on field
    • Strong after the catch
  • Rashee Rice — A.J. Brown
    • Strong frame to win contested battles
    • Elusive and determined after the catch
  • Jordan Addison — Chris Olave
    • Excellent route runners
    • Elusive and electric with the ball
    • Similar physique (height/catch radius)
  • Jaxson Smith-Njigba — Jarvis Landry
    • Playmaker from the slot
    • Natural feel for open zones of the field
  • Josh Downs — Tyler Lockett
    • Versatile athlete
    • Same physique (height)
    • Great in contested catch situations
  • Jalin Hyatt — Jaylen Waddle
    • Fast, long strides that leads to separation

RB

  • Bijan Robinson — Austin Ekeler/Miles Sanders
    • Powerful lower half with contact balance
    • Receiving threat
    • Understands running lanes
  • Jahmyr Gibbs — Chrisitan McCaffrey
    • Electric kick / punt returner
    • Quick feet and acceleration to make defenders miss
    • Excellent receiving & route running
  • Devon Achane — Alvin Kamara
    • Off the charts balance / flexibility
    • Same forward leaning running style

Research Project – Best Pitch to Throw in Each Count (2022 Houston Astros)

What truly moves the needle and drives success for baseball teams? At all levels, it’s fairly common to turn to pitching, with the idea that hitting a baseball is so fundamentally hard that it can be nearly impossible against a well-executed pitch.

Stemming from this idea is the research question many baseball teams are asking right now; what type of pitch is the best to throw in each individual count?

There are too much situational data and confounding variables that force our question to be a little more detailed; for each pitcher, which pitch had the best results in each individual count? (Even this doesn’t eliminate all confounding variables).

Here is how I went about answering this question:

Data Collection

All data for this project was obtained via baseballsavant.com. This link is the unique filter tool that I used to download the following pieces of information in the form of a csv file:

  • Team (I did Houston Astros as defending champs with dominant pitching staff)
  • Pitcher name
  • Pitch type
  • Count
  • Spin rate
  • Velocity
  • wOBA allowed

The first file used for this research contains 332 rows of data for Houston Astros pitchers, with variables to distinguish pitch count and pitch type.

The next file used has 3,423 rows of data for a large sample of all MLB pitchers (not representative yet) that includes the same information as the previous file but for every qualified pitcher across the league. It also contains more detailed data points such as velocity, spin rate & whiffs that should be used for further research or analysis.

There are some instances in which the wOBA allowed for all pitches from a sample was 0, in the count + pitch combo of 2-0 changeups and 2-0 curveballs. There are also the following caveats to certain data:

n = number of pitches tracked, p = number of unique pitchers to throw the pitch at least once

  • 3-0 changeup
    • n = 5, p = 5
  • 3-0 curve
    • n = 3, p = 2
  • 3-0 slider
    • n = 6, p = 4
  • 3-1 curve
    • n = 10, p = 4
  • 3-1 changeup
    • n = 21, p = 7

Define ‘Success’

Within the selected variables is the one that I have designated as a ‘success’ metric for the purpose of this research (wOBA allowed).

wOBA is used because it poses the highest correlational strength with runs scored for an offense, and it is easy to calculate although not easy to obtain raw data for. This is because the coefficients/multipliers used in the calculation change each season based on which outcomes lead to the most runs. Essentially, it assigns a varying weight for each outcome of an at bat, using the intuitive knowledge that a walk is not worth the same to a baseball team as a home run, but in a traditional stat like OBP, they’re considered equal.

I have to remind myself often that when we measure and analyze these types of statistics for pitchers, the lower number is typically more desired, meaning lower is better. Regardless, a .333 wOBA is my totally subjective (but useful) cutoff point between a good hitter and a great hitter.

Findings + Interpretation

Below is the set of data visualization pieces created in IBM SPSS Statistics software with the pitch data previously mentioned. These scatter plots illustrate which pitch type has the most/least success for 8 different HOU pitchers in the 2022 season.

For a more detailed view, the tabular representation of the data is below:

Luis Garcia

Best pitch on 2-2: Changeup

Justin Verlander

Best pitch on 0-0: Fastball

Jose Urquidy

Best pitch on 1-2: Fastball

Ryan Pressly

Best pitch on 0-0: Curveball

Future Research

Although not included in this project, I can envision two areas where future research can be directed;

  1. Compare more metrics such as whiff rate or velocity
  2. Obtain multiple seasons of data for individual pitchers

Monday Mock Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers – Way Too Early?

Team needs & why:

OT

  • 2nd lowest total spending on OL in NFL
  • Run game to the left has been poor
  • Build from the trenches

CB

  • Defensive scheme thrives with lockdown corners
  • Every CB is only under contract through 2024 or sooner
  • Deep CB draft class

DL

  • Alualu, Wormley, Heyward all 30+ years old
  • Defensive scheme needs deep rotation
  • Build from the trenches

First idea:

Grab a CB that is smart and can make plays, but isn’t the prototypical size, then secure offensive linemen to improve the overall unit. A middle linebacker is a huge difference maker.

Second Idea:

Follow the Steeler way and follow the family ties from Joey Porter to his lockdown, uber talented son. Then overhaul the offensive line (and you can never have too many Pickens).

Joey Porter Jr.

Broderick Jones

O’Cyrus Torrence

Zacch Pickens

Third Idea:

Draft the best overall player available, taking physical attributes, positional value and potential productivity into consideration.

NFL Bets – Week 5

JAX -7.5 (-110)

JAX played well at the start of last weeks game, however I still think of them as JAX, and I had this spread closer to a field goal than a touchdown. If Vegas is confident that the collapse against PHI was due to weather/circumstance then I will follow their lead. HOU is one of the ‘young but fun and bad’ teams that are fun to watch and easy to bet with or against because it’s good entertainment regardless.

NO -4.5 (-110)

I for sure thought SEA would be favored in this game, considering NO played a long game across the sea, literally. But also because G. Smith has been the highest rated QB this season, and he looks to be in complete control of an actual dynamic offense! I didn’t think Vegas would lay more than a field goal in NO favor here, and I even had SEA favored in this one, so I got to side with a sizable win for NO due to understanding the betting markets/lines.

NE -2.5 (-110)

I don’t know the status of M. Jones, but if he is not able to return for this game I am unsure of why NE is favored to be quite honest. DET moves the ball and scores at will, better than anyone else in the entire NFL! I’m sure the NE defense will slow them down, however originally I didn’t think NE had the passing game to attack DET big secondary weakness. Seeing the line in favor of NE makes me want to have a stake in this one, and I don’t typically have a problem betting Bill Belichick as an underdog.

NYJ+3.5 (-110)

The loss of Tua is a huge one for the NFL and especially for MIA, but I still thought they looked good without him and have plenty of pieces throughout the roster to absorb his lost. Especially against a team as bad as NYJ, I thought they could still cover by at least a touchdown. However, Vegas thinks otherwise and I am not one to go against their expertise, so the close line tells me to side with the team that I don’ expect to put up a great fight.

Free NFL Bets – Week 4

CIN -3.5 (-110)

I know MIA is taking the world by storm right now, and rightfully so. Tua has been the second highest rated QB this season, and the duo of Waddle + Hill is impossible to contain. But, for some reason, Vegas has set the line more than a FG favorite toward CIN, so they know something that I don’t! Could be a hangover week for MIA.

Reflection: All the concern should be on Tua after this game, he never deserved to be in that spot. CIN covered and looked like the more rested, put together team but it was hard to celebrate this one. (He appears to be recovering nicely and not in serious pain anymore so good for him, we can celebrate a bit more knowing that).

BAL +3.5 (-110)

BAL has the highest rated QB this season in Lamar Jackson, leading an offense that he’s always been capable of scoring 30+ points with per game. BUF seems like the team to beat in the AFC, despite their loss down in MIA without all their secondary starters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see crazy good QB numbers in this game, but the fact again here is the line is set more in BAL favor than I would have anticipated, so I am leaning on them having a good outing against a great AFC contender.

Reflection: Well it was almost an outright win for BAL, but the hook play is beautiful here and they lose by a field goal, so we win the bet! They got off to a fast start but teetered off towards the end, some questionable decisions may have been the deciding factor for them, but BUF proves to have fight in them and ability to execute a comeback with help from all sides of the ball.

ATL ML (+110)

CLE has shown to be a decent football team despite playing with their backup QB. Truth be told (look at the linked QB rankings), J. Brissett has played better than most other QB’s in the league! ATL is one of those ‘fun, but young and bad’ teams, which I think gives them a chance to put a few plays together that are enough to change the outcome of this one. Too close of a line when I think CLE clearly has the better roster/coach/scheme combination.

Reflection: Down to the wire and a really good matchup as predicted by Vegas, I was happy to be on the right side of this game. ATL were the underdogs still, but not by nearly as much as I thought they should be, and they managed to get off to a good start and ride that to a strong finish.

JAX ML (+220)

Eh, PHI could be the best team in the entire NFL (not enough conclusive evidence yet), but JAX has really turned some heads the past two weeks with incredible performances on both sides of the ball. Maybe there’s something to be said about D. Pederson coaching against PHI, where he won a super bowl. Or, maybe this is one of those games that the decision making and playmaking ability of T. Lawrence & J. Hurts will determine the outcome. I like juiced up underdogs like this, but never thought it would be JAX against a team as hot and loaded as PHI. Here goes nothing!

Reflection: It looked really good for about a quarter and a half, but then the turnover bug bit T. Lawrence numerous times (NFL record four lost fumbles) and they failed to do much of anything after that. PHI showed to be a good team, able to withstand a punch or two and come from behind. Made plays when they needed to and responded well over 60 minutes.

CAR ML (-120)

This is mostly a fade ARI play, because K. Murray is somewhat ineffective without playmaking WR’s (Hopkins/Kirk) and pass-catching RB’s (Edmonds). I don’t like betting to favor CAR, but I think this is another instance where I would have set the line probably -2.5 ARI, so it’s off enough for me to realize I’m not totally analyzing it correctly and someone with lots of information thinks CAR has an advantage.

Reflection: I said it in my write up above, but I hate betting to back CAR. There’s enough stats out there to reveal how bad of an offense they’ve had under Matt Rhule, but I’ll say they will definitely be on my do not bet list going forward. A mess all around that I don’t want to be a part of for now!

NFL QB Power Rankings: Week 18 – Statistical Data Model

To save time and debate, I created an objective answer to who the best QB in the NFL is right now. Below is the statistical ratings for each QB, and the categories/weights used to conduct the data analysis. For a more detailed and custom view, download the file below the embedded ratings.

The following chart illustrates the statistical relationship between variables and Win %, an important dependent variable in this case. These insights give us reason to use EPA, QBR, ANY/A, PFF grade and Passer Rating in our data model to measure QB performance.

Data visualization by Tej Seth & Joey DiCresce for Michigan Football Analytics Society

While measuring the relationship to wins in the same season is valuable, identifying the relationship to predict future season data is extremely relevant in this case. This gives us ideas for the weight of each category (which can always be adjusted), and PFF grade should clearly be the highest. Followed by a substantial gap with EPA and ANY/A and finished off with QBR and Passer Rating.

Data visualization by Tej Seth & Joey DiCresce for Michigan Football Analytics Society. *The r-squared values are low, as the r-squared value for win% and next season win% is really low at .07. Football is hard to predict.

The data will be collected from Pro Football Reference (Passer Rating, QBR, ANY/A), PFF (PFF Grades), and ESPN (EPA).

The TRUTH Behind ‘Featured’ Parlays or ‘Super Boosts’ on Sports Betting Apps

In the past two weeks, there was 61 total ‘boosted’ parlays across these major sportsbooks; BetMGM, FanDuel, Caesars and Barstool. 55 of those boosted parlays lost.

Now, we will acknowledge the odds of these parlays, because even though some of them are boosted, they are still relatively low probability bets. Given the data imported and scraped from Sports Betting Dime, we see that the average odds for these parlays was +522.38.

If a user of these major sportsbook placed $10 on each of these parlays over the two weeks, that unlucky user would have lost $416.98, with a return on investment of -216.03%.

These shocking insights would suggest a strategy to identify what the boosts are for specific games, and pinpoint if there are any individual markets to target a ‘fade’ of these boosted parlays. The sportsbooks offer these ‘boosts’ and ‘promotions’ for a reason!

Here is a copy of the scraped data and calcuations:

    NFL Free Bets: Week 3

    MIA ML (+190)

    BUF has steamrolled the competition in their last 16 wins, all of them coming by double digits or more. However, I think there’s something to be said about divisional opponents on the road, especially when MIA has the two fastest WR’s in the league. BUF just lost M. Hyde, a great safety that will surely cause some steps backward in their secondary. There was enough juice here to pull the trigger.

    Reflection: Quite the game battled in the heat of Miami, but in the end this value paid off big time! The loss of starters on defense may have cost BUF just a few extra big plays that allowed MIA to take the lead and hold off the offense for just a few drives. MIA remains undefeated.

    CAR ML (+116)

    Carolina is a really bad football team with really bad coaches, but I can’t shake the feeling that NO should be favored by more in this game, with the better roster nearly top to bottom. That always tells me that Vegas knows something! And again, this is a road divisional opponent…

    Reflection: CAR took control from the start and really never lost it. NO and Jameis look like they’re going down a road of many losses and questionable outcomes. CAR didn’t look too good either, and as a CMC fantasy owner, I’d love for him to catch some more passes.

    MIN -6 (-110)

    DET has been one of the surprising teams this year, especially offensively. This is a game that I feel like the spread should be closer to 3.5 rather than 6, so I see Vegas’ anticipating something happening and want to get on board with that. DET can run the ball against anyone, I just question if they’ll have any answer to MIN offense.

    Reflection: Despite winning by more than a field goal, MIN failed to cover the points laid to them this week. DET controlled the first half of this game, J. Goff looked like Brady and MIN was stalling on offense for about an hour. Per usual though, DET defense broke down and the offense didn’t have the dynamic ability to get into a shootout on command. They kept it close until one of the last plays and looked like a good team for a good portion of this game.

    CIN -6 (-110)

    With a rough start to the year, CIN is not looking to lose to NYJ like they did last season. Burrow is going to be under pressure a lot this year as we have seen, however I don’t think NYJ has the defensive scheme/talent to capitalize as much as teams like PIT and DAL did. I expect them to respond positively in this game and win convincingly.

    Reflection: CIN pounced all over NYJ, as I predicted here. The WR trio of Higgins, Chase and Boyd is the best in the league, and the NYJ offense has always been a mess as long as I can remember. CIN capitalized on costly penalties but also were dominant in making plays on the ball and attacking strengths/weaknesses in a strategic way.

    CHI vs. HOU under 39.5 (-114)

    These two teams will be near the bottom offensively when it’s all said and done, so I have no problem taking an under, especially when it’s set this low. CHI style of offense will drain the clock without putting too many points on the board, and hopefully their defense has a better matchup than against GB last week.

    Reflection: Both offenses looked like they can run the ball decently, however they got off to a relatively fast scoring start and cruised past this total. I still think the under in most CHI games are a good play, along with PIT and DEN.

    NFL Free Bets – Week 2

    MIA +3.5 (-110)

    T. Hill and J. Waddle are a perfect compliment to a great running scheme. BAL is susceptible to the run, and might not have the manpower to go one on one with MIA top guys. Phins keep it close to the ugly birds.

    Reflection: An offensive performance I doubt anyone predicted, Tua and MIA won outright against BAL thanks to his 5 TD passes and an incredible comeback. Lamar was nearly perfect but the BAL defense really stunk it up to hand MIA a comeback win.

    NYG -2.5 (-110)

    Offensively, NYG looks like they have the talent to put up some crooked numbers, especially on the ground. Given the problems CAR just had against the run, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that continue. Saquon can burst at any time!!

    Reflection: A game as boring as it looked on paper, managed to play out exactly how Vegas wanted it to. NYG and CAR kept the game close the entire time and a massive FG won it late. Defenses played well, particularly CAR, who just couldn’t manage to win the time of possession due to turnovers.

    NYJ ML (+210)

    CLE has a good rushing attack, just like BAL did before the Jets played great against that area. This game could come down to a field goal at the last second.

    Reflection: I’m going to continue betting moneyline underdogs when I think they got a chance! CLE played well but really just let NYJ back in the game, and they just kept feeding their two-headed RB monster as well as the young stud G. Wilson. A. Cooper was a force for CLE, even without a star QB, and Chubb/Hunt duo did what they will likely do every week.

    TB ML (-155)

    Gotta be a trap, because Tom Brady can have an offense comfortably control a game despite not playing well. NO have dominated him though, so don’t be surprised if they figure out a way to slow him down or keep him off the field (even better).

    Reflection: Tom Brady is the best person to bet on ever, I’m pretty sure that would be a correct statistic but that’s also my personal experience. I am 5-0 when betting on TB12.

    SEA +10 (-110)

    Geno Smith is 10-0 against the spread in his last 10 games, I gotta ride that! Anyways, the 49ers somehow let a lead slip away against a pretty young and questionable athletes on CHI roster, making me think perhaps their young and questionable athlete is not ready to lead an NFL team. Backdoor cover at the least.

    Reflection: A game that included the unfortunate loss of young QB T. Lance, who was lined up to be the next young generational QB. SF dominated the game regardless, winning by 20. However, J. Garrapollo did everything that he does in order to win football games (rating over 100).

    CIN -7.5 (-110)

    I’m doubtful that any defense will replicate the game against CIN that PIT did last week, and they’ll be hungry to assert their dominance. Why not roll with a good team after a loss?

    Reflection: Super Bowl hangover? Losing to M. Trubisky and C. Rush are not great talking points at practice or team meetings. CIN offensive line was the problem when J. Burrow got injured two years ago, it was the problem during the Super Bowl last year, and the offensive line proved again in this game that they are still a liability, giving up six sacks and less than four yards per carry.

    TEN +10 (-110)

    Let’s not forget that sometimes D. Henry just totally takes over a game. I’m thinking that TEN is going to be a below average team this year, however I think for a game like this they will be prepared for. Feed the machine.

    Reflection: BUF is insanely good, they’ve won 16 straight games by 10+ points. TEN didn’t stand a chance with their limited roster talent.

    PHI -2 (-110)

    If J. Hurts can make good throwing decisions and keep using his mobility for first downs and scores, this PHI team is good enough to go a long way this season. I am going to imagine a quick pass to D. Smith early in the game to get him involved after getting no action last week.

    Reflection: The addition of A. Brown seems to be a good fit for J. Hurts, who used him to get comfortable and start finding other guys like Watkins and Smith throughout the game. Hurts also ran the ball as well as any QB, and he looks to be big and strong enough to take the hits and punish defensive backs for going low.

    Parlay: NYG, CIN, BUF (+166)

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