One of the many, many problems with mock drafts (there could be a 500 page book written on this subject) is whoever is creating the mock has no idea what teams draft board looks like so they look at each teams needs and try to identify the best player at that position. On its face it sound like a good strategy, the problem is teams don’t think that way and Maccagnan made it known he definitely doesn’t think that way.
Maccagnan started off by explaining how the best and most efficient way to fill needs in through free agency, which by the way he did a pretty good job of this offseason.
“From the pro standpoint, when you go out in pro free agency it’s a much smarter and, quite frankly, a much more efficient way to fill needs because you’re basically comparing apples to apples when you go out and sign pro players,” Maccagnan said. “You can analyze the tape, you know exactly what they’ve done in the league, they have a history and a level of production. So, in my mindset you go out in the pro side and if you’re going to ideally fill a need you fill it there.”
But as Maccagnan explained what works in free agency doesn’t necessarily work in the draft.
“On the college side, with the draft, I tend to view the draft in a different light I think. The draft I tend to focus on ideally you want to take the best player available and the thought process behind that simply is, in the draft there’s a lot more uncertainty with these players. Only because you’re analyzing a much younger athlete who is still physically developing,” Maccagnan said. “When you’re analyzing college players, even within the divisions there’s a difference in talent which makes it a little more difficult when you try to compare one to the other and then within the divisions the conferences are different in terms of talent.”
With all those discrepancies that scouts have to work out it immediately makes the draft process much more difficult than free agency and once you try to factor in your own teams need into the equation the difficulty expands and the chances of a team making a mistake become much more likely.
“I think the draft is much better in terms of when you build a team from an investment standpoint and an opportunity cost for a player but there’s more risk and uncertainty,” Maccagnan said. “Now when you factor in your own need in the evaluation process, so I tend to view the draft when you evaluate players you grade them to the best of your ability in a bubble. When you start factoring your need into the player evaluation you run the risk of skewing the process because it’s a very subjective process and adding more variables that may make you more erroneous or incorrect in how you evaluate the player. I tend to believe a lot of mistake are made in the draft when teams factor in need too much in the process which correspondingly makes you skew your evaluation of the player.”
Mock drafters look for need, fans want need and in a perfect world teams would fill a need and get the best player but Maccagnan said need isn’t going to contribute to a players success or failure.
“The player is going to succeed or fail based on what I mentioned before, his physical attributes, his physiological health, durability, potential, injury history and when you factor in your need there’s no correlation to whether that player is going to be successful just because of our need.”
Maccagnan did clarify that while need is ignored when they construct their draft board there is a time and place where need can be brought into the equation. When the time comes to make a selection if there are three players with equal grades available and one of those players would fill a major need then that could work as a tiebreaker. But overall Maccagnan thinks focusing on need in the draft causes more harm than good.
“But to me it’s one of those pet peeves, need in the draft I’ve seen a lot of mistake made over the years with that and that ends up being one of the factors in it,” Maccagnan said. “So, I’ve been very diligent, when I’ve been given this opportunity I’m going to try to keep it separate as possible. Now obviously every team has needs, I get that, you want to solve them as best you can but just because you take somebody (that fills a need), if he doesn’t pan out you have the same need a year from now.”