Did Nick Caserio reach too many drafts?

The NFL Draft is an inaccurate science. This is not breaking news. The only predictable thing about the NFL Draft is that there will be a host of failures in assessing the potential and future of the various draft prospects. The overall error rates, after round, are pretty stable, but identifying characteristics and such exactly WHICH players are destined to fail is a shitty shot.

None of this uncertainty prevents the experts from trying to predict exactly which collegiate perspectives will be tomorrow’s stars (or tomorrow’s role players or tomorrow’s training team players). There is a whole cottage industry of “draft expertise” that has been built around the public’s thirst for an educated opinion, despite the fact that even the most educated opinions fluctuate and miss a great deal of the time.

That said, even with the inherent danger of trying to predict success for these prospects, there are some interesting grains of gold that can be drawn when you mix hundreds of these opinions together. There’s a website called “Grinding The Mocks” that does just that, and mixes hundreds of fake drafts into one database that spits an average predicted draft slot next to each NFL prospect.

The output from this website led to this very interesting four year study from Warren Sharp, captured in this tweet:

If you look at many of the names that the teams reached for, ie. the draft for a much higher draft slot than the experts saw them go (indicated in this graphic with green arrows pointing up), especially LATE in the first round, it has not gone much. well. “Reaching” guys has generally worked far worse than taking guys, which consensus sees as dropped in the draft.

If you’re looking for another metric to support the dangers of reaching the draft, then by this – of the 32 first-round picks from the 2019 draft, 12 of them did not exercise their fifth-year option earlier this month. Of these 12, 10 of them were considered REACHES by the draft experts. (Ironically, the biggest reach of the first round was the Texans’ right tackle Tytus Howard (30 slots), and he got his fifth year opportunity picked up by the team.)

So how does this apply to the Houston Texans’ rookie class in 2022? Good question and I do not think you will like the answer if you are a Texan fan. Again, using “Grinding The Mocks” as a basis, here’s how the Texans’ rookie class is doing (REACHES is in HIGHLIGHTED):

3. DEREK STINGLEY, JR. (mocked at 7., REACH of 4)
15. KENYON GREEN (Mocked 24th, REACH of 9)
37. JALEN PITRE (mocked at 54., REACH of 17)
44. JOHN METCHIE III (mocked at 63., REACH of 19)

75. CHRISTIAN HARRIS (mocked at 58, STOLEN of 17)
107. DAMEON PIERCE (mocked at 122, REACH of 15)
150. THOMAS BOOKER (mocked at 149., STOLE of 1)
170. TEAGAN QUITORIANO (mocked over N / A)
205. AUSTIN DECULUS (mocked at 293., REACH of 28)

Seven of the nine draft picks are considered “reachs” compared to the consensus scout reports, some to a significant degree. (NOTE: TE Teagan Quitoriano was not caught in enough mock drafts to register in the database, which naturally made him a reach, just without a quantifiable gap.) The only true “steal” by any significant margin was LB Christian Harris from Alabama.

Does that mean Caserio’s draft class is set to fail? Certainly not to any remarkable degree, but it does mean that Caserio is betting against some tangible tendencies, especially when he swaps 24 places up to get a player like Metchie who was mocked 19 places below where Caserio chose him.

What it will ultimately boil down to is the role Caserio imagines for each guy and how they fit into that role. I still love this rookie class, but if they collectively fail, we can look back in a few years and say that well that’s what may have bitten Caserio in this draft.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 06:00 to 10.00 on weekdays. Also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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