Pre-draft reading: Predicting when a player will go, safest positions to draft and more

There are dozens of blog posts around the Web attempting to predict how the draft will shake out, rank the best players at each position and gauge the Redskins’ needs. Attempting to figure out what will happen is largely impossible — even if you can determine who a team will pick, you don’t know whether he’ll pan out. Yet that doesn’t stop smart football writers from trying, and with a few days yet to go before a pick is made, it’s entertaining if nothing else.

Longtime Insider readers will remember Brian Burke, and his recently-renamed Advanced Football Analytics Web site. Burke has introduced the theory of Bayesian inference to draft forecasting, and has come up with a tool that Redskins fans should find pretty handy. You should read the whole background to fully understand it, but the short version is this: Washington picks 34th. What are the chances a certain player is still on the board at that pick?

The Bayesian draft analysis tool.

Virginia tackle Morgan Moses has had a strong week of practices leading up to the Senior Bowl. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Virginia tackle Morgan Moses. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Have your heart set on Cyrus Kouandjio or Morgan Moses? The tool shows you the probability they’ll still be on the board at 34, as well as the most probable place each player would be picked. This would help you understand whether Washington needs to move up to get a particular player it loves, or hang back because a comparably-valued player will be there when they are on the clock. (Going second on Day 2 actually seems like a pretty good chance to digest Day 1 and see who you like).

You can sort by position and rank range and get an idea what the chances are for any particular player or group.

● Elsewhere, Footballperspective.com has a not-new analysis of which positions are safest to draft, which is good to revisit this time of year. At which position are you most likely to draft an outright bust? Luckily, it’s one that Washington won’t be looking at in the early rounds.

● Pro Football Focus takes a five-color look at draft needs across the NFC East. In the chart, the Redskins and Eagles come away with the fewest needs for major upgrades, but there sure is a lot of orange (need to improve) on the defenses across the division. It’s a quick way to observe just how well constructed the units across the division are. By sight, you can see which unit is pretty much set, which needs the most help, and everything in between.

● Sports on Earth’s Mike Tanier takes the opposite approach, leading with the idea that “draft need articles are boring.” Instead, he looks at what teams have, by listing primary assets, secondary assets and big-picture needs.

● Over at Fancy Stats, our Neil Greenberg writes that Missouri DE Michael Sam might not even be drafted, and it has nothing to do with him being gay. He found players with comparable 40 times and bench press numbers, and not many were taken. The mockdraftable.com spider graph on Sam further helps visualize what kind of a prospect he is:

● Fancy Stats also looks at how wide receivers are a scary proposition early in the draft.

The Insider’s complete list of NFL Draft coverage is here, and the sortable draft tracker is here. Enjoy.

More Redskins and NFL from The Post:

DeMatha’s Kouandjio eager to hear his name called

Rams reap rewards of Robert Griffin III trade | Chart

Magazine: Gallaudet’s Talaat could join rare group as deaf NFL player

The Early Lead: Romo is a jinx | Could draft hit the road? | More

Chad: Abolish the NFL draft  | Lead: 2014 draft the craziest ever?

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