New Feature on the Draft Model

In my last job I worked with a team of software developers. The interfaces they designed didn't make much sense to me. The interfaces were always, at heart, a giant expanding tree of classes, objects, and properties. Huh? Lots of tiny plus and minus marks everywhere to expand and contract the accordion. Left click to view something. Right click to modify it. If you ever had to deal with the Windows registry, it was like that. Steve Jobs would not have been thrilled.

When I learned a little about object oriented programming, it all made sense. The software engineers were designing the interface for their own convenience, not for ease of use. It made sense from an efficiency standpoint...a programming efficiency standpoint. But from the perspective of the user, it wasn't so efficient. The least used feature was just as accessible as the most common feature, and all of them were hidden until you expanded the right portion of the tree.

Yesterday I realized I was doing the same thing with the draft model. From my point of view, it's easiest to think in terms of players and their probability to be selected at each pick number, because that's how the software that runs the model works. It goes down the list of prospects, player-by-player, looking at the probability he'll be selected pick#-by-pick#.

For the players and their agents, and for fans of particular players, this is ideal. They want to know where and when they'll go. But the user is probably thinking of things from a team's perspective. Whether the user is a team personnel guy or a fan of a team, he'd rather see things from the perspective of a pick #. Right now, a Vikings fan (or exec) would have to click through over a dozen or so of the top players to see who's likely to be available to them at pick #8. And if they were wondering about who'd be available if they trade up or down, that's another few dozen clicks. Scroll, click. Scroll, click...

So I added a feature to the interface that takes the perspective of a pick #. It shows the probability of availability for the top remaining prospects for a chosen pick #. Minnesota is in the market for a QB, so for example, you can select the number 8 pick for the Vikings to see that there's an 11% chance Manziel is still available and a 75% chance Bortles is still available at 8.

Here's a preview below, and here's the link to the full tool. Just click on the 'By Pick' tab to see the new feature. As a bonus, if you hover your cursor over the bar for a player, you'll get a pop-up with his basic info and expert projections.

As it is implemented now, the chart will display prospects whose probability of availability are between .10 and .95. For picks in the late 2nd round and beyond, this includes a whole lot of guys, and it overwhelms the graph. So for now, I've limited it to the top 64 picks. Beyond that, you can still use the original 'By Player' interface any player in the database.

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7 Responses to “New Feature on the Draft Model”

  1. Dan says:


    Have you considered trying to estimate the probability that at least one of a set of players will be available at a given pick? e.g., How likely is it that at least one of Beckham, Cooks, and Lee will still be available when the Eagles pick at 22?

  2. James says:

    Great addition! I'm also glad to know that it only shows 0.1 to 0.95, as I was trying to figure out why no one showed up for #1, and only Clowney for #2.

  3. James says:

    After playing around with it some more I'd appreciate a second chart on the "By Pick" tab that shows the likelihood of a player being picked at THAT slot. Right now you show availability, but that doesn't tell me who is likely to get picked there.

    The easiest way to do it would be to calculate P(x) - P(x+1) where x is the draft slot and P is the probabilty of being picked, but you could also do [P(x)-P(x+1)]/P(x) to show the likelihood of a player being picked if they are available.

  4. Brian Burke says:

    I think I've got a good fix for guys not showing up in the very top spots. And that's a good suggestion to add.

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