Thoughts on trying to predict the NFL Draft

Although analyzing the relationships between variables of NFL draft prospects was actually very interesting and I could've continued digging deeper forever, ultimately I needed to actually move on and try to create a prediction formula for the draft selections.  

My first attempts were to try to predict the aforementioned draft value of each prospect given their physical measurements, top 100 ranking composite score, aggregated mock draft scores and how many visits they made.  It actually did pretty well in terms of accuracy I mentioned in my earlier post comparing the NFL pundit predictions.  I do want to reiterate that I graded them on pick selection accuracy, not team based accuracy, so it is more of a reflection of what pick number the prospect should be than where they should go.  It's just a quick way to make a general suggestion of what should happen.  

Before I looked pundits' predicted vs. actual JJ Draft Value plots and ranked them by the amount of the actual draft value an algorithm could predict given their previous mock drafts results.  Here is the prediction formula's plot, it performed well at a R-square value of XXX.  This would place it above the highest ranking expert I looked at, Todd McShay had a R-square value of 0.76.  Not bad for someone who has no experience scouting and no inside NFL knowledge.

Anyways I graded the prediction formula against the pundits a little differently as well.  This time instead of using JJ Draft Value as a metric, I'll use pick selection for the 2013 Draft.  So I compared the prediction formula's projected pick to the expert's picks, here are the experts picks:

You can see that Mel Kiper did much better in 2013 than he has done in his career, but Todd McShay is still doing better.  By the way I don't mean to pick on Mel or anything, he's just the most recognizable NFL Draft expert.  Anyways, below are my picks versus the actual selections in the 2013 Draft:

What I think this shows is that if you use even a very basic prediction algorithm of what pick a prospect is going to be selected at, rather than trying to predict what team will select them, you can get a better sense of a prospect's draft value than even some of the experts in the field.  

I would love to see people take ideas from this project and expand on the research, I'm sure it would be valuable to any NFL front office.  I will post my data after the project is complete.  In the next post, I will attempt to predict the 2014 draft order.