It knows a lot of things about a lot of people that don’t find their way into scouting reports or media coverage until after the draft, and it’s always a surprise. Jesse Williams fall out of the first round into the fifth round, or Antonio Richardson’s fall from the second round into UDFA were not well modeled by larger media coverage of the draft, but Teddy Bridgewater’s fall out of the top ten was, as was Shayne Skov’s fight for a contract after the draft.
For the most part, missing these pieces of information make it difficult to predict the draft, and big boards from third parties without a strong access journalism background can miss on these players. But that doesn’t mean the evaluations are wrong, or even that they’re worse at evaluating.
Right now, for example, people (including me) are freaking out because Vic Beasley isn’t in Mel Kiper and Todd McShay’s most recent first-round mock draft. Freaking out not necessarily because they are doing anything ill-advised or dumb, but because this is the kind of thing driven by their access to teams. It is, for example, a more extreme inverse version of Breshad Perriman’s constant appearance in the first round of Kiper’s mock drafts.
There are two general approaches to draft coverage: 1) Who is going to pick who and 2) Who is good. Last year, we separated the draft boards into two categories: Forecasters (who do a job more closely resembling question #1) and Evaluators (who are closer to answering question #2 than question #1).
Generally speaking, the forecasters have been or are currently employed by media organizations that thrive on access, and that gives them access as well. Beyond that, people like Nolan Nawrocki (formerly of Pro Football Weekly and NFL.com) publish draft guides that are driven in big ways by the access they have.
Sometimes that access influences the actual talent evaluation, but often it will influence the final grade by speaking to the gravity of character concerns, injury concerns or some other errata.
Last year, unusual clusters of similar rankings at odd points in the charts confirmed (to me) the clear separation between those two groups of draft boards. This year, there are far fewer clusters in that data (it’s a more polarizing draft), but they do show up.
The media haven’t finalized their rankings, however, and we’re missing a lot of big names, like Daniel Jeremiah, Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper, who all have fewer than 100 players ranked. Expect those boards to solidify in the coming week and create starker divisions between the forecasters and evaluators.
Their boards, plus the biggest disagreements and most polarizing players below. If you want to jump straight to the 300-player version of the final consensus board, click here.
For alternate boards, click here.