Saturday, April 24, 2010
If you like made up statistics, then you hate Montario Hardesty
Over at Football Outsiders, they have a study up on the value of college running backs that involves a lot of stats and numbers that I do not understand at all. The part that caught my eye, however, was when they translated their mumbo-jumbo stats into ratings ranging from +3 to -3 that project a running back's future success in the NFL.
Only three players in their study have scored a +3, and all three have been pretty successful in their short careers (Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Jerious Norwood). A bunch scored a +1 or +2, including many successes (Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson, DeAngelo Williams, etc.) and only Garrett Wolfe as a notable non-success. Even those who scored a 0 or -1 had success (Pierre Thomas, Ray Rice, Chris Wells, etc.), while their were a few notable non-successes (Glen Coffee, Antonio Pittman, etc.). As for those who scored a -2 or -3, however, their were no successes (Steve Slaton is the closest) and a bunch of running backs who have played for little (or not at all).
You can probably see where I'm going with this. Hardesty, whom the Browns traded into the second round to select, scored a -2, and was pointed out as someone "teams probably want to avoid." Now this is a brand new statistical analysis tool the author (Bill Connelly) is using, and doesn't seem to have a huge sample size: 92 players were analyzed, and the study only seems to cover draft classes back to 2006. Still, it has to give Browns fans pause, especially when such dour statistical projections are coupled with Hardesty's troubling injury history.
My faith in the Browns new front office is still strong. They didn't get all antsy-in-their-pantsies and trade up to get Colt McCoy as he slid into the 3rd round, and were rewarded for their patience. New safety T.J. Ward (who also has a troubling injury history) wasn't rated by many to be better than Taylor Mays, but I am willing to give Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert the benefit of the doubt and assume they know something or saw something on tape that made Ward the better player in their eyes.
Hardesty, however, represents a big gamble, especially considering it cost the Browns two 5th round picks to move up and select him. If he produces, Holmgren and Co. win the trust of a fan base weary of putting too much stock into a front office that seems to change every two years. But if Hardesty fails as badly as he's projected to, or is consistently hurt, then the new brass in charge will be viewed as charlatans no different from the other jokers Cleveland fans have suffered through in the past ten years. Even if McCoy turns into a franchise quarterback, it could be argued Holmgren just lucked into him (as the Walrus himself admits). Really, the success of this draft rests on Montario Hardesty and his scarred knees.