When the Dallas Cowboys drafted LB Anthony Hitchens out of Iowa in the 4th round, the draftniks blasted the team because they felt he should have been a late round pick or undrafted. As a football analyst, I like to highlight observations and provide analysis that goes beyond an eyes only approach to demonstrate the type of benefit that I bring to the table.
While the draft community bashed the selection, I decided to run some comparative analysis on about 1200 LBs. What was uncovered is critical to how the Cowboys can look at their situation at linebacker. Anthony Hitchens compared to 3 other linebackers that have played a hybrid of inside and outside with better success on the inside; this includes Curtis Lofton, Erin Henderson, and Desmond Bishop. Every one of them has started NFL games and been a starter for a season or more. This demonstrated two things that the Dallas Cowboys did right with their personnel. First, selecting him in the 4th round is warranted with his comparatives. Second, the coaches moving him inside will help facilitate getting the most out of Anthony Hitchens.
Since the Sean Lee injury, the Dallas Cowboys have both tried moving Justin Durant to the middle and trading for a LB that can’t decide if he wants to play or not in Rolando McClain. The Cowboys might fear their own success at finding a gem at linebacker. It is reminiscent of when the Jaguars drafted Justin Blackmon and signed Laurent Robinson in an effort to block Cecil Shorts from playing time. I noted in a tweet that Cecil Shorts was the most talented Wide Receiver on the roster, but that the organization did not know it yet. They lucked into it, and whether the Cowboys will play LB Anthony Hitchens at MLB or luck into it later remains to be seen. The Cowboys, like many other organizations, could use assistance to get more out of the data and analytics available to them.
What sets me apart from every other analyst? I can remain unbiased with NFL organizations since I am not a fan of any particular organization. I have negotiated Pro Bowl player contracts and analyzed first day selections and cap ramifications of certain types of deals. I have worked as the right hand man for the Vice President of Football Operations for the Arena Football League, including sending fines, handling expansion, league transactions, and analyzing rule change effects on the time of the game. I interned out of school with an NFL organization, and I was part of the staff of an NCAA program that went to National Semi-Finals and won a conference championship. All of this was by age 24 after graduating one of the top business schools in the nation. While no experience was particularly deep, it was very well rounded. Unlike other analytical types and analysts, I have experience with an organization, league office, agency, and NCAA institution. I used my analytics to make bold predictions to market the difference between me and other analysts such as Nick Foles becoming a Pro Bowler, Geno Smith’s likeliness to struggle, and the outbreak of players like LB Jamie Collins and TE Luke Willson. I leave them up as a report card and to motivate myself when they are not correct.
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