Cleveland Browns: Bucky Brooks is a victim of Confirmation Bias
By Joel W. Cade
The Cleveland Browns have been overrun by “football guys” and are on the brink of drafting Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Relax and ask, “What would Sashi do?”
Confirmation bias rules again. Football guys have overthrown the analytic regime and fans of the Cleveland Browns are about to pay the price for years to come. These football guys have returned to old school scouting which brings with it, old school bias.
It’s the old school bias that has been exploited by forward thinking general managers who actively use analytics as a part of their evaluation process. Remember the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles?
The Browns have traded in their analytical minds for old school scouts and old school scouting methods. As a result, the Browns are rumored to draft an old school quarterback and an old school scout’s dream come true.
NFL draft analyst Bucky Brooks loves to point out that John Dorsey has a type. Some people like blondes or brunettes. Some even go crazy for redheads. But John Dorsey apparently likes big, tall, strong armed quarterbacks.
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To each their own.
All joking aside, to say that Dorsey has a type of quarterback he likes is to commit the logical fallacy of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when people attempt to confirm something rather than falsify it. Simply put, a person sees the evidence for what they already believe and ignore evidence to the contrary.
For example, that John Dorsey likes big, tall, strong armed quarterbacks is a confirmation fallacy. Dorsey has drafted big tall strong armed quarterbacks in the past. He has also drafted smaller players with strong arms. He has signed smaller quarterbacks with weaker arms. He has traded for small quarterbacks with weaker arms.
In Kansas City, he traded for Alex Smith. Smith is not big or strong armed. But Dorsey acquired him anyway. He recently traded for Tyrod Taylor. Nobody would describe him as big, tall or strong armed. He also traded away DeShone Kizer who is the very essence of big, tall, and strong armed.
Yes he drafted Patrick Mahomes while in Kansas City. Mahomes is 6-foot-2 inches tall. That is generally not considered to be tall for the quarterback position. But Mahomes is 230-pounds and has a great arm. Confirmation bias would see the big arm and assume this is Dorsey’s type.
Brooks also likes to make the case that Dorsey likes to draft “potential over production”. This too is confirmation bias. He likes to point out that Dorsey took Jake Fisher first overall while in Kansas City citing that Fisher was a project over players who were more complete.
Start at 2:55 in the video below:
This confirmation bias overlooks the fact that Dorsey has drafted plenty of players who have had great college production. For example he drafted Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston. All of whom had great college production. One could add other names with great college production like Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt. But since Brooks likes to focus on potential over production in early rounds, confirmation bias leads him to conclude Dorsey like potential over production.
All this confirmation bias has led Brooks to draw the conclusion that Wyoming’s Josh Allen will be the pick. For fans clamoring for the end of analytics and the use of technology in scouting, this scenario is a dream come true.
The football guys have spun their magic and come up with the perfect NFL quarterback for the Browns. Can he play football? Who cares! Can he complete passes? Stats are for losers! Can he throw with touch? He can learn at the NFL level! He looks the part therefore he must be the part. And the confirmation bias machine rolls on.
Just look what the Browns did for DeShone Kizer who was in the same mold as Josh Allen. These same coaches and football guys worked their magic on him. Just imagine what they could do for Allen. How could this fail?
To be clear, the confirmation bias Brooks falls victim to is his understanding of John Dorsey. He describes John Dorsey’s type and draft style based on confirmation bias. There is evidence to the contrary for Dorsey, but Brooks ignores that evidence in favor of what he wants to believe (maybe without even knowing it).
Analytical analysis was created, in part, to overcome confirmation bias in scouting. If confirmation bias is the problem, then analytics is the cure.
I am not calling for a full abandonment of “old school” scouting. Nor do I call for a full scale adoption of analytics. There needs to be a mixture of both. This was the very idea behind the Browns rebuild when it began.
But the old school “football guys” are now back in power. And reports indicate that the Browns will be drafting the “football guys” quarterback dream come true.
Next: Re-drafting the past 5 Browns 1st Rounds
Oh Sashi, where art thou? We need thy wisdom in this time of need.
Just send us a sign. Please!
Or at least send us another draft pick.