Browns commissioned expensive, analytical study on quarterbacks

NCAA Football: Louisville at West Virginia

NCAA Football: Louisville at West Virginia

Buried in a narrative-based column on Teddy Bridgewater, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that the Cleveland Browns commissioned an “expensive and thorough analytics study” that ultimately resulted in the Louisville quarterback leading the pack.

I have continued to hear that within the Browns’ headquarters, however, he has been viewed very favorably and that him tumbling a bit due to his pro day or whatever else is hardly the worst thing in the world as far as that club is concerned. […]

Further fueling the Browns’ interest in Bridgewater is an expensive and thorough analytics study the team commissioned evaluating decades of successful NFL quarterbacks and taking all sorts of variables into consideration, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Team president Alec Scheiner was the brainchild of the study, which was then commissioned by Joe Banner, who ran the Browns until being let go when the front office was reorganized in February.

While it appears that former Browns general manager Mike Lombardi was willing to share some of the team’s secrets in the hours before the NFL Draft, the focus on advanced analytics should come as little surprise given the addition of Scheiner last season. Last offseason, WFNY’s Craig Lyndall penned a story on Scheiner and his endeavor to implement analytics on a “project by project” basis.

When people think of analytics, they envision a closed-off know-it-all who thinks on different planes and professes to know everything.  But that would never work. Scheiner and his department seem to know that pretty explicitly. Instead of being some kind of silo of confusing math that spits out self-proclaimed “genius” and expect others to just listen, it will be important to create a cohesive front office through relationship-building. In the world of analytics nothing is guaranteed because the math is being applied to humans which can’t be completely encompassed with variables.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that even the best math won’t guarantee draft success. Nothing can guarantee draft success. I don’t know of any draft class that was 100% successful and I don’t think anyone in football comes close to making that an unrealistic aspiration.

Per La Canfora, the old Browns regime was waist deep in plans to focus on the 2014 quarterback class, having been unimpressed with the 2013 group—this explains the punting and subsequent trades, accruing additional 2014 picks to get in position to get the quarterback whom they desired a year later. The quarterback study, which reportedly cost of over $100,000, ultimately pointed to Bridgewater having the best success rate of this year’s group of quarterbacks. It would appear that the first big “project” was one that involved heavy investment into finding an answer at a position that has plagued this team for much of the last decade.

[Related: Browns reportedly “enamored” with Teddy Bridgewater]

Photo Credit: Andrew Weber-US

  • whosevelt

    “Team president Alec Scheiner was the brainchild of this study…” Wut.

  • Hopwin

    100k? So they hired one nerd and bought him Excel?

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    “…which was then commissioned by Joe Banner”

  • Harv 21

    Revenge of Mike the Leaker! That’s beautiful – waiting until the eve of the draft and then seeing if a little sly intel might lift Bridgewater up and away from the #26 slot, away from the org who hid you from the public before sticking your head on a pike. Ok, this may not be serving your vengeance ice cold but you waited as long as you could before doing what you’ve always done best: pulling it out and spraying.

  • mgbode

    YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, LA CANFORA DIDN’T EVEN TALK TO LOMBARDI WHEN HE WAS IN THE FO. HE HAS GREAT RESPECT FOR HIS GENIUS AND THAT IS IT. LOMBARDI WOULD NEVER SELL OUT HIS FORMER TEAM AND LA CANFORA WOULD NEVER WRITE AN ARTICLE BASED ON HIS SELLING OUT HIS FORMER TEAM.

    Sometimes, people end up being exactly who you thought they were. There is some piece in that at least. Whatever, if we want Teddy we will likely find a way. I am figuring we were fully prepared for Lombardi to be a donkey. It’s what he does best.

  • Alec McCartney

    Lombardi’s shenanigans aside, I’m inclined to agree with the study. As a student at the University of Cincinnati I’ve seen a lot of what this guy can do (especially against my beloved Bearcats), and I’ve been under the impression he’s a franchise quarterback since his sophomore year. The guy just has the tools to do great things and if we can pull Watkins at 4 and snag Bridgewater later in the 1st… Well I really couldn’t imagine myself being any happier with the draft.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Do you think Banner and Scheiner even gave Lombardi the real results of the study? They didn’t tell him about the Richardson trade…

  • Lunch

    19 hours & 10 minutes left until all this speculation ends for another year.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Clearly you’re forgetting the traditional Kiper/McShay Earliest Projection for Next Year Mock Draft, which I believe hits the web approximately 3 selections into the current year’s first round.

    The madness never truly ends. Oh, and next year? The draft gets pushed back even further.

  • swig

    Yeah, I was expecting $2.5 mill or something. $100k sounds like pocket change in NFL terms.

  • mgbode

    I don’t know, I think Lombardi may have been too busy working with the video department creating a montage to show Joe Thomas has diminishing skills.

  • mgbode

    how did I miss the application deadline?

  • RGB

    Good thing the stat geeks weren’t around analyzing every player when Kosar was playing…

  • RGB

    Aw jeeze, is La Canfora STILL crying about his fired buddy?

  • Toddyus

    I was cracking up at the big deal they were making this morning on the radio about the cost of the report. For the amount of work and analysis I expect went into this report, $100K is, at worst, fair and probably a bargain.

    The bigger question is whether you believe analytics can add significant value to the decision. That is debatable…

  • mgbode

    I know you are joking, but Kosar holds up quite well when looked at from a statistical eye. It gets rid of the awkwardness of his movements and throwing motion, while still holding up what he did on the field.

  • mgbode

    and catered by Lombardi

  • RGB

    His 7.0 40 time, 3 inch vertical, 2 minute shuttle run, 1 bench press, and unorthodox throwing motion would relegate him to an UFA by today’s biometric standards.

  • vespo09

    I heard a rumor that by 2020 the draft will actually take place after the week 1 games.

  • swig

    If it improves their chances of selecting the right QB 0.1% it is a huge bargain. I would like to believe this is at least theoretically possible.

    Maybe these are lottery tickets and they paid to determine when the next roll of a die will be a 6.

  • Harv 21

    As one of the elders on this site, I actually remember the way more basic Kosar debate at that time, pre-analytics:

    He Won a National Championship as a Freshman and Played Great in the Flutie Hail Mary Bowl Game
    v.
    His Sidearm Throwing Negates His Good NFL QB Height.

    It wasn’t much more sophisticated than that.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    I think you just struck gold with a Top Ten list topic (or alternately #LombardiJobResponsibilities for the Twitterers)