What Data Analysis Tells Corey Krawiec About Football Players

Certain roles have emerged only in the past few years due to the growing power of data, including "manager of player evaluation and analytics" for the Baltimore Ravens — a role currently held by Corey Krawiec, the keynote speaker for OverDRIVE/ 2019.

Data and analytics have completely transformed the player evaluation process for sports teams, just as they have transformed the giving process. During his OverDRIVE/ keynote session, Corey will illuminate the unexpected correlation between football and advancement. He will explain how the Ravens use analytics and the unexpected points framework to make data-informed decisions, and will address logical fallacies and biases that often prevent us from making the “best” data-based decisions.

We were able to connect with Corey prior to OverDRIVE/ to get a taste of what attendees will gain from his keynote session. What follows is our conversation (which includes an aside into his love for "Moneyball").

First and foremost, what does the manager of player evaluation and analytics for the Baltimore Ravens do?

I support the college scouting, pro scouting and salary cap departments with data analysis and research. I, along with the other members of our analytics team, try to help improve our personnel decisions by removing or pointing out biases.

Your keynote session will address "logical fallacies and biases that often prevent us from making the 'best' data-based decisions." What, do you feel, is one of these fallacies?

Causal fallacy. It’s so easy to fall into the trap that if two things are correlated, one caused the other.

The most common one in football is the relationship between running the ball more and winning. A lot of people say a team should call more run plays because when that team runs more than its opponent, it has a high winning percentage. Because “stats” are used in a lot of these claims, they can feel like they are data based, when in reality they aren’t.

In addition to identifying logical fallacies, your session will also explore how openness to new ideas can have a substantial impact on decision-making processes and results at any organization. Can you recall a time in which you were open to new ideas with respect to data science and it paid off?

One of the great things about being with the Ravens is that everyone is always open to new ideas. For instance, we have built a model that helps us figure out which players are likely to be cut at the end of the season. We use this to help our scouts prioritize whom to evaluate on tape, which ends up saving huge amounts of time by streamlining the process. It used to be hours of scouts watching tapes, and we found a way to cut that down. Time is a resource!

How is your current role different from what it was just a few years ago, and how do you see it continuing to evolve?

The biggest difference over the last few years is the amount of data we have now. With it, we can answer questions in a few seconds that used to take coaches and scouts hours or days.

I see football catching up to baseball and basketball in the coming years, in terms of amount of data with which to work. Football’s just a few years behind, because it had a later start with data. But I can see us catching up based on the kinds of things we’re doing now.

Your bio mentions that you have a particular love for the book “Moneyball.” What did you love so much about the book — and did it really influence where you are today?

If I hadn’t read “Moneyball,” I never would have even thought to pursue this as a career path. The book is a fun example of finding inefficiencies in a marketplace and trying to exploit them while you can. It showed me that people with my background and skillset could contribute in a unique way to the success of a sports team.

Following your keynote session at OverDRIVE/ 2019, what do you think attendees will walk away with?

Well, all of my friends tell me they don’t like watching football with me anymore because of how much I harp on different in game strategy decisions, so I will probably ruin the football-watching experience for everyone at the session!

Kidding aside, I feel like a lot of us face the same challenges, no matter the industry. Hopefully my stories can offer a different perspective on things and spur some new ideas.

 

Experience Corey Krawiec's full keynote session at OverDRIVE/ 2019, a specialized event devoted to data science happening the day before the DRIVE/ conference on March 11. This day-long deep dive is designed to appeal to a broad range of prospect development professionals through engaging and interactive content covering the world of data science. 


After reading "Moneyball" in high school, Corey Krawiec knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life: work for a professional baseball team. He got started in college when the Chicago Cubs hired him to be an usher. This experience taught him to be much more specific when setting his goals, as standing outside of Wrigley Field bathrooms to make sure people didn’t go in the exit door wasn’t really what he had in mind.

A circuitous path followed, with internships in the Chicago Bears ticket office and Chicago Blackhawks hockey operations department leading to getting hired by the Baltimore Ravens. In his current role, Corey assists the scouting department with NFL Draft modeling and trade evaluation, salary cap analysis, advanced player statistics and (most importantly) is the designated hand writer in the Ravens draft room. 

Corey grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and earned his undergraduate degree from Loyola University Chicago (2009) and his MBA from the University of Notre Dame (2012). He currently resides in Baltimore, most often sleeping on an air mattress in his office.

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