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Don’t Don’t Count Count Your Chicken Chickens Before They Hatch Hatch

Full credit for this bit of inspiration goes to Josh Norris at Rotoworld, who said recently:

Sometimes these prospects who possess a “high ceiling,” thanks to (almost purely) their on-field athleticism, end up being Combine “winners” and see their evaluation raised.


Those movement skills, explosion and natural athleticism are already a major part of these prospects’ evaluations.

Therefore, any notable times, repetitions, or numbers should be expected, not counted again as an extra positive. It is putting a score to that athletic upside, not adding to the evaluation. It was already there.

Confirmation Bias

Another  to think about that statement is the idea of “confirmation bias“. When you already believe something (Player X is really good), you tend to interpret new information as confirmation of your belief (because he just ran a really fast 40). This is human nature, and something we all struggle with- but it can have adverse consequences when it seems into the evaluation process.

Everything Old…

For example, consider Tavon Austin last year. He put up some really eye popping combine numbers, which added fuel to the fire of Tavon enthusiasm. The thing is, we already knew he was a phenomenal athlete. The combine numbers just “put a score” to his athleticism, so we knew where to value it along a continuum of athleticism. In hindsight, it seems that a lot of people “counted his athleticism twice”, by giving him extra credit for his combine numbers, when the history of receivers his size isn’t that great.

…Is New Again

Yesterday, much was made on Twitter about QB Hand Size (am I the only one who remembers Vision Quest, wherein Louden Swayne shows off his huge mitts to would-be girlfriend Carla, because she thought hand size was related to penis size?). Is it important? Probably (hand size, not penis size. Or is it? Never mind, wrong blog). “Big Hands” was widely touted as a plus for Johnny Manziel (that’s JFF to you). But what’s the point of big hands for a QB? It’s supposed to help with ball security and accuracy, right? Well, Manziel had only 6 fumbles in three years of college football, and posted a 69.9% completion percentage last year. So the big hands shouldn’t be counted as an “additional” bonus for Manziel, since they’re already reflected, by this logic,  in his fumble/completion percentage data. If he’d shown up with really small hands (but presumably a lot of action in them), then that might have cast doubt on the sustainability of his accuracy/security. But the absence of a fault is not a double positive.

Really, what we’re looking for with the measurables from the combine are clues that can point the player’s college-production-based projection up or down, not things that “double up” the player’s production. Just something to keep in mind while watching the combine and reading our coverage.


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