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2024 NFL Mock Draft: Kent Weyrauch’s “The Model” Picks (4.0)

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Kent Weyrauch’s “The Model” Picks (4.0)

This mock will be slightly outside the norm for mock drafts you see during the NFL Draft cycle. Earlier this year, I set out to compile pre-draft visits for NFL prospects so that I could create visual representations of teams and prospects. During that, I realized that draft visits contained some predictive power regarding NFL Draft position. One thing led to another and soon enough I found myself creating a machine learning model using several well-known inputs, in addition to my draft visit data.

This mock will be mostly model-driven, with slight shifts due to team fit. There will also be no trades. Enjoy!

Kent Weyrauch has been in the top 10% of experts for the FantasyPros Mock Draft Accuracy Contest over the last three years.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

“The Model” Explainer

This model was built using a Quantile Random Forest methodology. The quick and dirty way to explain why this model works well for the NFL Draft is that the draft is chaotic. Usually by round three, the expected draft position of most prospects goes out the window and NFL teams make (seemingly) unexpected picks and trades.

Quantile Random Forest models capture rapidly expanding variance pretty well by scaling the quantiles as they progress through the data. It’s also very receptive to log-form data, which is how I transformed the pick number for the model. Think like the Fitzgerald-Spielberger NFL Draft Trade Value Chart, which makes the difference between pick 1 and pick 2 larger than the difference between pick 2 and 3, etc.

To train the model, I used draft visit data from Walter Football and Pro Football Network, Lance Zierlein’s prospect grades, NFL NextGen Stats’ grades, age, and consensus big board data from Mock Draft Database — which combines mock draft and big board data in a very clean way. With this, I found the following feature importance given these variables:

(Note to those who saw the original tweet, the model has been changed since its inception and may continue to change as needed)

This structure makes a lot of sense from a face-validity perspective. This model essentially has three arms of determination:

  1. Wisdom of the crowds through consensus mock draft and big board data
  2. Player evaluation through film (Zierlein) and production/analytics (NextGen) grading
  3. Team/player sentiment via draft visit data

2023 NFL Draft Results

Tie that all together and boom, we’re cooking up a model, baby! I used this with 2016-2022 data to “predict” the 2023 draft. This was the result:

Legend:

  • Green names are first-round projections that went in the first round
  • Red names are first-round projections that fell out of the first round
  • Blue names are the players that went in the 1st round that were not first-round projections
  • The “ridges” show the distribution of likely draft position
  • Dots show their actual draft position

(Note: the original tweeted version of this graph contained errors and was deleted.)

To look at this another way, here is the actual pick order with our model laid over it.

Without even lifting a finger our model has correctly guessed five player-to-spot predictions and correctly identified 27/31 first-round picks, which would be a respectable number given we aren’t trying to identify player-to-team matches. Granted, the mock draft data accounts for this to a decent degree.

2024 NFL Draft Predictions

Below are the predicted ranges for the 2024 NFL Draft prospects:

My final mock draft will include this information combined with several other non-quantifiable factors. For now, let’s use this data to create a mock draft powered by these rankings.

2024 NFL Mock Draft (Round 1)

PICK Team Player Pos College
1 Chicago Bears Caleb Williams QB USC
2 Washington Commanders Drake Maye QB North Carolina
3 New England Patriots Jayden Daniels QB LSU
4 Arizona Cardinals Marvin Harrison Jr. WR Ohio State
5 Los Angeles Chargers Malik Nabers WR LSU
6 New York Giants Rome Odunze WR Washington
7 Tennessee Titans Joe Alt OT Notre Dame
8 Atlanta Falcons Terrion Arnold CB Alabama
9 Chicago Bears Dallas Turner EDGE Alabama
10 New York Jets Brock Bowers TE Georgia
11 Minnesota Vikings J.J. McCarthy QB Michigan
12 Denver Broncos Quinyon Mitchell CB Toledo
13 Las Vegas Raiders Taliese Fuaga OT Oregon State
14 New Orleans Saints Olumuyiwa Fashanu OT Penn State
15 Indianapolis Colts Jared Verse EDGE Florida State
16 Seattle Seahawks Byron Murphy II DT Texas
17 Jacksonville Jaguars Cooper DeJean CB Iowa
18 Cincinnati Bengals JC Latham OT Alabama
19 Los Angeles Rams Laiatu Latu EDGE UCLA
20 Pittsburgh Steelers Jackson Powers-Johnson C Oregon
21 Miami Dolphins Johnny Newton DT Illinois
22 Philadelphia Eagles Kool-Aid McKinstry CB Alabama
23 Minnesota Vikings Nate Wiggins CB Clemson
24 Dallas Cowboys Graham Barton OT Duke
25 Green Bay Packers Troy Fautanu OT Washington
26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Chop Robinson EDGE Penn State
27 Arizona Cardinals Amarius Mims OT Georgia
28 Buffalo Bills Adonai Mitchell WR Texas
29 Detroit Lions Brian Thomas Jr. WR LSU
30 Baltimore Ravens Tyler Guyton OT Oklahoma
31 San Francisco 49ers Jordan Morgan OT Arizona
32 Kansas City Chiefs Xavier Worthy WR Texas

More 2024 NFL Mock Drafts

Here are a few early predictions for the 2024 NFL Draft. We’ll continue to add our 2024 NFL Mock Drafts leading up to the start of Round 1.

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