Brian Xanders improves the odds and gets a ton of manly love

Using probability theory and 20 years of draft data, last week we calculated the odds of the Broncos nabbing four three-year starters out of this year's draft.

Our conclusion was that they had a 20.37% chance.

This calculation was based on both the total number of picks (that's seven, Jeff Legwold) and the position of each pick itself.

Brian Xanders had other ideas, however.  He not only looked the part of GM (sporting a tailored navy suit in the Broncos' war room), but he parlayed seven picks into nine.

Forget the silly and meanlingless points charts that NFL teams supposedly use to evaluate trades.  Let's get to the heart of the issue, and the goal the Broncos had going into this draft, shall we?

Did the X-Man improve the probability that the Broncos would get four starters out of it?

Intuitively, you probably have a sense of the answer, but let's look at the numbers once again.

The Broncos originally possessed picks 2, 36, 46, 67, 186, 189, and 247.  By leveraging pick #36 near the top of round two by dealing it to San Francisco and later swapping choices with the Packers, they were able to expand their draft to include picks 2, 45, 46, 67, 108, 129, 189, 204, and 247.  

Some would say the Broncos were lucky, since the 49ers--the Broncos' victim in the first trade--desperately wanted to trade up to get a quarterback.  The debate matters little to me.  History books are written by the winners, whether they got lucky or not.  So right now, until there's proof the 49ers got their franchise quarterback, the narrative is that Xanders is a skilled draft engineer who navigated the draft board like a champ.  

As we did last week, we first use the 20 years of research provided by Tony Villiotti at Draftmetrics:

Draft Positions 1-13 14-28 29-48 49-74 75-114 115-200 201+
Observations/Picks 260 300 400 520 800 1720 1235
1-year starter percentages 93.80% 88.70% 76.00% 63.70% 45.90% 30.00% 16.10%
3-year starter percentages 74.60% 60.70% 55.00% 39.80% 23.60% 14.10% 7.40%
5-year starter percentages 53.50% 42.70% 35.30% 23.70% 14.60% 7.20% 4.00%

From this data--and we're going to again use the 3-year-starter benchmark--we calculate the probability of hitting or missing on the first pick and add it to the probability of hitting on subsequent picks.  Nine iterations later, we have our numbers.  

Let's compare what the Broncos chances were before the draft (with seven picks) to their chances after the draft (nine picks).  Here's what the numbers show:

  After Pick 9, Round 7     % Pre-Draft     % Post-Draft     % Change  
Probability (9 Starters) N/A 0.00% N/A
Probability (8 Starters) N/A 0.01% N/A
Probability (7 Starters) 0.01% 0.19% 1767.78%
Probability (6 Starters) 0.39% 1.75% 349.30%
Probability (5 Starters) 4.09% 9.42% 130.28%
Probability (4 Starters) 20.37% 30.47% 49.57%
Probability (3 Starters) 53.03% 62.40% 17.66%
Probability (2 Starters) 84.24% 88.27% 4.78%
Probability (1 Starter) 97.88% 98.50% 0.64%
Probability (0 Starters) 100% 100.00% 0.00%

By acquiring an additional pick in each of the 4th and 5th rounds, Xanders significantly increased the Broncos' chances in our benchmark category.  Prior to the draft, the Broncos had just over a 1/5 chance of getting four starters.  Adding the two additional picks brought them up to 30.47%, or almost a 1/3 chance.  

In all other categories, Xanders increased the Broncos' odds as well.  The chances of the Broncos landing five starters in this draft more than doubled, while the chance of getting six starters, although still quite small, increased significantly.

We've been highly critical of X-Man for his less-than-stellar performances as a public speaker.  However, his ability to increase the Broncos' odds during this draft was nothing short of bitchin'.  He can mumble like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (and drive my car on the driveway) for all I care if he continues getting these results.      

This part of what Xanders did during the draft has been ignored.  For the most part, this is due to the fact that most football writers rarely dabble in probability, but it's also because it's easier to focus on the individual players than a bunch of numbers.  However, in the long run, the draft is largely a game of dice (as Villioti's numbers demonstrate) in which only a few of the participants are able to gain a slight edge.  By accumulating the extra high-quality picks, Xanders assured that the Broncos won't crap out.

How excited am I with what Xanders did?  

Excited enough to show you a clip of Jay Cutler being sacked by his own lineman:

Okay, you got me.  The other reason I showed you this video was to get you ready for the Broncos bringing Albert Haynesworth to Denver.  

Make it happen, Xanders.

You've made a believer out of me.

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

Agree, disagree, just like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so I can quit my day job.

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