Time – the Enemy of Objectivity

Ken KellyContributor IIIMay 8, 2010

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 28:  Jonathan Dwyer #21 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Objectivity.  It’s something that professional Dynasty league coaches strive for. Unfortunately, there are lots of things that get in the way of that like our emotional attachment to players, our initial high investment we make on getting them, or the time we’ve spent studying players that makes us perceived “experts.” As I’ve combed around lots of other sites looking at mock drafts, I can see many coaches out there are justifying decisions they’ve made directly with the time they have invested.  This article looks at one case study this year – Jonathan Dwyer.

Many teams looking to rebuild rosters moved veteran players for draft picks last year in order to have a chance at a solid young player.  Last September, the players most on everyone’s short list were CJ Spiller, Jonathan Dwyer and Dez Bryant. Dwyer finished the year with 1,395 yards and 14 TDs – respectable for sure. However, his combine numbers and personal workouts left a lot to be desired. Questions arose about his ability to perform in a conventional offense, his long speed and his off the field mental health. Unfortunately for Dwyer, that dropped him all the way to the Steelers with pick #188.

You would think this massive drop from fringe NFL 1st rounder in the Fall to an actual 6th round selection at draft time would have people running for the hills. What amazes me is that it’s the opposite – many people are justifying drafting Dwyer in the top 7 or 8 picks because they believe the scouts just don’t have it right. I’ve even seen a couple of posts saying, “If Dwyer was taken in round one by the Steelers, we’d all be saying this is a great pick.” Guess what? He wasn’t. This is a prime example of time being the enemy of objectivity. Many of these coaches have spent an exorbitant amount of time evaluating Dwyer and likely put his name on one of those picks they had long ago. They’re grasping for justification. This could be a dramatic and colossal mistake.  While it’s true that Dwyer could have a stellar career, the facts simply don’t lie – he was a 6th round pick.  Here’s the list of 6th round backs from the past 5 years:

Anthony Dixon
Deji Karim
Jonathan Dwyer
James Starks
Charles Scott

Cedric Peerman
Aaron Brown
James Davis
Bernard Scott

Thomas Brown
Jalen Parmele
Xavier Omon
Mike Hart
Lex Hilliard

Oren O’Neal
Reagan Mauia
Thomas Clayton
Deon Anderson
Justice Hairston

Wali Lundy
Laurence Vickers
JD Runnels

That’s not exactly the RB wing of Canton, Ohio.  When you’re a 6th round pick, teams have had many chances to draft you (some as many as 6 or 7) and passed on you each time.  People must face that reality with Dwyer.  As a 6th round pick, the Steelers have little invested and have no real obligation to play him or even keep him on their roster if he doesn’t perform well in camps.  Antonio Pittman was a higher pick and was cut for a free agent back (Pierre Thomas) in 2007.

I’m not saying Dwyer isn’t worth a choice in the rookie draft. I’m not even saying he’s a guy you shouldn’t target.  However, if you’re a coach looking to take him in round one, I think that’s an incredible amount of unnecessary risk.  To me, he’s a high upside pick in round two at the earliest.

There are two tips to live by when wanting to maintain your own objectivity in regards to draft choices:

1.) Never make a long-term move (a year or more in advance) for a future draft pick with a specific player in mind.

It was just last year when LeGarrette Blount was considered a lock for round one of a rookie draft, too.  There’s just way too much that can happen in the span of a year to change things.  If you lock yourself into one or two guys with that pick, it’s likely you’ll spend too much time studying them and convince yourself of their greatness.  It’s time to accept the fact that NFL scouts know more than you do.

2.) Use your resources to help you make sound player evaluations.

There are lots of resources out there for you to use.  If you disagree with an evaluation of a player, take some time to learn about the other side of the story.  Chances are, you’re missing out on seeing the entire picture.  Most importantly, use the forum here on DLF to ask the community some specific questions about players you’re evaluating.  We have some of the sharpest dynasty minds in the world and they could certainly help you make solid decisions.

In summary, this article isn’t really about Jonathan Dwyer – it’s about time being a weapon you can accidentally use against yourself.  Objectivity is an attained trait. You must realize when you’re using emotion or logic to make your decisions. When you use emotion and take the stance of “I know more than they do,” you’re likely going to get burned. Even if you’ve spent 6 months evaluating a player, you need to make sure you have all the right information before making decisions.