The Indianapolis Colts have reportedly told quarterback Andrew Luck they will be taking him with the first pick in next week’s NFL draft. But there is still some level of anxiety among Redskins fans, who have fallen in love with Robert Griffin III, that Indianapolis will draft the Baylor superstar and Luck will end up in D.C. as the No. 2 pick.
I talked to Paul Bessire, founder of PredictionMachine.com, and he assured me that it would all be fine for the Redskins with either rookie quarterback.
We don’t need an expert to tell us that getting a No. 1 or No. 2 draft pick would be a good thing, but predicting how those picks will do in the NFL is entertaining, if nothing else.
Bessire’s software uses a “very complex set of algorithms that factor college stats, previous utilization and strength of competition, combine measurables, role and expected utilization of the player’s NFL team (in this case an average NFL team) and previous performance of similar rookies at that position in general.”
So basically, it’s scientific. Also, the machine runs each game 50,000 times before making a prediction.
“We’re actually simulating this on a per-play basis. So all 22 players in every one of these games is being played 50,000 times,” Bessire explained. “It’s almost like a choose your own adventure when we’re simulating. Say it’s on a first and 10 on the team’s 20-yard line on the first play of the game. When they take the snap, what’s the likelihood of a run or pass, what’s the likelihood of them going to a specific player, the defensive tendencies of the opposing team, all of that goes into the result.”
I asked Bessire to insert both Griffin and Luck into last year’s Redskins offense and schedule to see what would have happened had they been under center last season. According to the machine, a 2011 Redskins team with RGIII at the helm would have had 8.3 wins. A Luck-led team would have had 8. Both are far better than the 5 wins the team ended up with.
Just for kicks, I asked him to run a complete season with both Rex Grossman and John Beck playing every game. The result was 6.5 wins for Beck and 6.9 for Grossman. Based on those numbers, the Redskins would have been better off with a rookie quarterback.
It looks bad for Beck and Grossman (I’m sure their agents will be thrilled), but Bessire sees that as encouraging.
“What jumps out to me, if I’m a Redskins fan, is to know that this team is better than 5-11,” he said. “Going forward, there’s something in place that at least looks like they’re a better team. The most obvious example of that is that the Redskins beat the Super Bowl champions twice last season.”
The machine did have RGIII and Luck going 1-5 in division games last year, but the good news for Redskins fans is that it wasn’t a quarterback issue. The bad news is that the rest of the team has some work to do.
As for Luck and Griffin, Bessire says they rated higher than any quarterback in all of the drafts that he has scientifically predicted. Even higher than Cam Newton.
“If I’m going back to the nine years that I’ve actually used this to look at the NFL draft and try to predict players from their college days to their rookie year in the NFL, there is no individual quarterback whose numbers looked better than these two, and that we think will translate better to the NFL,” Bessire said. “There’s no individual player, let alone two players, that have the statistical profile and seem to have everything that you would want to have in a quarterback, from the athleticism, picking up high yards per rush efficiency, completion percentage, ability to throw the deep ball and to consistently prove that neither of these players are prone to making significant mistakes.”
So basically, the Redskins could be a winning team with either Luck or RGIII and both are better than Grossman or Beck. Didn’t need a prediction machine to tell us that.