Sunday, August 2, 2015

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A few days ago, I put together a consensus big board (to be updated on Tuesday) and contrasted the difference between the types of “Top 100″ boards people will put together before the draft. An interesting corollary to that are the mock drafts released by endless publications both online and in magazines.

This time, I put together a consensus mock draft. Or rather, four of them.

 

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With the NFL Draft finally approaching, getting a consensus on the talents of the prospects may give us the best possible understanding of who a team selects or whether or not they did a good job (as far as we can tell). Unfortunately, not every board is constructed with the same goals in mind or with the same amount of information available to them.

NFL Draft Tracker, a great website for getting detailed reports on prospects as well as a general understanding of the theories driving the draft, made a good point not too long ago: consensus boards don’t make a lot of sense if we don’t discriminate between those who are purely evaluating player talent and those who are attempting to reflect the consensus of the league.

That’s fine—these draft resources generally answer two questions: 1) “Who’s Good?” and 2) “Who Are We Going to Pick?”

The good news is that we can easily do that. For the most part, while insiders like Rob Rang and Daniel Jeremiah do an excellent job pointing out how they differ from mainstream views, the major networks reflect often the consensus of the league, and their draft rankings do not change much from each other. At the very least, their low variance suggest that their rankings are influenced by what they hear around the league, if not driven by it.

 

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On Monday, Vikings.com writer Mike Wobschall posted an article and accompanying video that covered the Top 5 Draft Choices in Vikings History.

Wobby’s list included the following players in the respective order:

          5. LB Scott Studwell (9th round, 1977)

          4. WR Randy Moss (1st round, 1998)

          3. DT Alan Page (1st round, 1967)

          2. QB Fran Tarkenton (3rd round, 1961)

          1. RB Adrian Peterson (1st round, 2007)

 

While I certainly can’t disagree with these names, it got me thinking about other players not on the list that would be a close runner-up.

For me, I can’t help thinking Cordarrelle Patterson.

I know I’m premature here, and I’ll probably get some serious flack for it… although we’ve only been able to see Patterson in one season of action thus far, the numbers–and pure speed–speak for themselves! During the 2013-14 season, Patterson grabbed 45 receptions for 469 yards. It can also be argued that, had Minnesota had a more consistent QB situation, the rookie would have delivered even stronger numbers.

Had the Vikings not traded up to get the receiver in the first round, the offense would have a very different look.

I would love to get some reader feedback on this one … which Vikings draft pick would you add to this list?


 

 

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I apologize in advance for posting about something that isn’t that original, but it’s something I think is important to rehash in the coming weeks before the draft.

The word “upside,” and it’s more familiar cousin “potential,” get thrown around a lot when talking about prospective NFL players, especially in the context of evaluation (this is not limited to the NFL of course, but I thought I’d write about something I’m a bit more comfortable with). As a rule, it’s better to get a player with “upside” than a similar player who lacks that quality, but the difficulty comes in determining what to do with potential when player quality “out-of-the-box” differ.

This talk about potential and upside is incomplete, partially because our understanding, or at least the context by which we’ve come to understand the NFL, has functionally created a separate meaning for upside: athletic ability.

Scouts are almost always actually saying that a player has upside if he has athletic ability and a prototypical body shape. Usually this player is “raw” in some way (another term that we generally understand to mean deficient in a capacity, almost always technique related). Often these players are contrasted against “pro-ready” players, who for many have reached their “ceiling” as players.

Excuse the excessive use of quotation marks, but there are a lot of terms we’ve come to accept in the NFL, particularly as it relates to scouting. In this case, a ceiling is a reference to the theoretical upper limit of players as it relates to their on-field ability. If they are at or near their ceiling, what you see of their on-field play is about what you’d get in the NFL.

Too often it seems, scouts, media, coaches and fans are enthralled by the chance of landing a player with unlimited potential and unheard-of athletic talent at the position. It becomes nearly impossible to imagine what a limitless player can do. Maybe he could earn ten sacks a game? Throw 10 40-yard+ passes with perfect accuracy in a half? Grab 5 interceptions in a quarter?

No, he can’t.

 

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