ESPN analytics gets it wrong in ranking of Eagles' most likely top draft picks

ESPN's analytics machine tries its hand at stacking the 15 prospects most likely to land with the Philadelphia Eagles at the 22nd overall selection.
Nate Wiggins, Philadelphia Eagles draft news
Nate Wiggins, Philadelphia Eagles draft news / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If you're like most of us and struggle with patience, the past three months had to feel like an eternity. The Philadelphia Eagles were bounced from the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs faster than it takes to utter the phrase 'Go Birds '. It was a long night, but the offseason has been longer. We made it though. Give yourself a high five.

You made it through a week of Senior Bowl practices and a snoozer of a game. We all tuned in for another NFL Scouting Combine. You made it through that, the workouts, and all of those Pro Days (or as many as you could keep up with).

Now comes the question. After pre-draft visits and tons of speculation, we are nearing the time when we'll be given definitive answers. What needs might the Birds address in the NFL Draft? 

We've read through the mock drafts. Now we pick ESPN's AI brain. What might Philly do at 22? The Worldwide Leader in Sports has an answer, sort of.

ESPN's analytical engine ranks 15 likely Eagles draft choices at the 22nd overall selection. Here's how they did.

Here we sit. The top draft questions are the same as they were a week ago. Which of these NCAA prospects might join the nest in Round 1 when Roger Goodell places the Eagles on the clock?

ESPN analytics tried their hand at answering that question. Their draft-day predictor used data to estimate the probability of some of the top prospects landing with Philly when they're on the clock with the 22nd overall selection (if Howie Roseman hasn't traded up by then).

Here's some of their explanation for their simulator and how it works: “The underlying model is based on prospect grades from Scouts Inc., expert mock drafts, team needs, and a few other factors. The Predictor considers these factors in proportion to how accurate they have been in the past.”

The Predictor offers multiple ways to analyze its results.

We elected to try shuffling the deck 'BY PICK' (click the drop-down in the upper right-hand corner). The predictor lists Philly's top needs as cornerback, offensive tackle, inside linebacker, and wide receiver. Wait! What about the edge rushers? We can't allow that area of the defense to go unaddressed.

Oh well... We'll see if this changes when we get closer to showtime. For now, here are the 15 prospects named Philly's most likely choices when the Birds are on the clock at 22.

  1. Nate Wiggins, cornerback, Clemson
  2. Amarius Mims, offensive tackle, Georgia
  3. Brian Thomas Jr., wide receiver, LSU
  4. Tyler Guyton, offensive lineman, Oklahoma
  5. Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa
  6. Laiatu Latus, EDGE, UCLA
  7. Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington
  8. Graham Barton, OL, Duke
  9. JerZhan Newton, defensive tackle, Illionois
  10. Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State
  11. Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas
  12. Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri
  13. Jackson Powers-Johnson, OL, Oregon
  14. Terrion Arnold, cornerback, Alabama
  15. JC Latham, OL, Alabama

Now, as is the case with any of these types of discussions, there is so much that we could debate here. Sure, this involves data and a machine's muscle, but we could debate the names on this list for hours and the validity of whether or not some of them are even in the discussion as Round 1 prospects.

Wouldn't it be unlikely that Terrion Arnold and JC Latham are available at the 22nd selection? Philly would have to trade up to land one of them, right? Jackson Powers-Johnson and JerZhan Newton are both worthy of first-round selections, but is taking them with the 22nd overall selection the textbook definition of 'reaching'?

Maybe it isn't. Again, they're solid, but all of this stuff is subjective.

We won't have to wait much longer before learning how the 32 NFL teams view these guys (or before we see where Philly winds up and who they take). Here's what we can promise. It will be an intriguing seven rounds and three days of action.

We could be totally wrong about this, but it's hard to envision scenarios where Philly exhausts its first-round draft choice on a wide receiver (especially a couple with 'bust' potential) or an edge rusher who will probably hear his name called in Round 2 (Robinson).

We've been wrong before. We'll be wrong again at some point. We just don't think we're wrong here. These are our opinions. You're welcome to get at us with yours.

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