There are a lot of things to uncover with the consensus big board project. When, by the time the draft starts, one gathers about 50 big boards, there’s a lot of information that can be sussed out other than merely who ends up ranking where.

Very often, we ask “whose big board is best” without defining criteria or determining what it means to be “best.” Sometimes some big boards do an excellent job predicting where players will get drafted, while others do a great job providing a representation of the community as a whole.

Maybe it’s more valuable to figure out who has the most unusual rankings or who might be taking the most risks by putting their stamp on players who won’t get drafted high.

We’ll recognize all of those today, as well as who had the best big board for predicting talent in 2014. We already covered that, but it’s such a big award that it was worth recognizing here once more.

The Gold Standard award is for boards that best represent the consensus. In prior years, Drafttek and Scout.com hit that gold standard and once against Drafttek is close. But for the last two years, the Huddle Report‘s value board has been closest to hitting the consensus of experts.

The weirdest rankings are usually NDT Scouting and once again, Kyle Crabbs and his crew take the award, but this is the closest year yet. Bleeding Green Nation’s Ben Natan and Fan Rag Sports’ Ethan Young both had extremely unusual boards this year and at various times looked like they would have beaten out Crabbs and NDT Scouting for having the weirdest board.

Mike Mayock from the NFL Network reprises his role as the single-best predictor of the draft — Nostradamus. It should be noted that the way these are scored are differently than how the Huddle Report scores its Top 100 contest. They count up the number of players drafted in the Top 100 that match others’ stated Top 100, with each hit worth one point.

In this case, we provide a penalty for how far from a specific pick a player or rank is. If the top-ranked player gets picked third overall, that’s a somewhat heavy penalty. If the 57th-ranked player gets picked 50th overall, that’s a penalty but not nearly as large of one.

In this case, Mayock was the closest to nailing the picks to their spot on his big board.

For those curious, this is the first year that the Forecaster Board hasn’t been better than any individual board; Mayock was, on average, 177.3 points off and the Forecaster Board was 117.8 points off.

In an earlier article, we mentioned that it had placed third behind Brandt and Mayock, but after quickly re-running the numbers, the Forecast board had placed second behind Mayock with Gil Brandt a close third. The difference, in this case, was one draft pick’s name having a different spelling than in the database—a minor issue.

Also, having three years of data means we can construct a three-year average. Here are the top five predictors of the NFL draft based on their big boards over the past three years:

Board Point Difference
Forecaster 164.9
Mike Mayock 177.2
Gil Brandt 179.7
Draft Board Guru 195.5
Scouts, Inc. 203.1

Scouts, Inc. boards can be found at ESPN with an Insider subscription, but it should be noted that over the last two years that Todd McShay’s Top 100 and Scouts, Inc.’s Top 100 have been the same (he founded and owns the company), whereas in 2014 they were different.

Special consideration should be given to Draft Board Guru, who is not in the group of boards considered as “forecaster boards” but did very well over a three-year average.

And once again, of course, the Forecaster board is by far the single best board for predicting the NFL draft.

As for whose board doesn’t sync well with the draft? Perennial award-winner NDT Scouting and Kyle Crabbs. Given that NDT Scouting did an alright job predicting who would perform well in the 2014 draft relative to his peers (despite a shockingly poor grade given to Mike Evans), I think it’s commendable that Crabbs could veer so far from the draft community and the NFL while predicting outcomes just as well as anyone else.

The most out of sync players over the past three years produces some familiar names:

Board Difference
NDT Scouting 334.2
Optimum Scouting 278.3
Josh Norris 264.9
Dan Kadar 259.8
DraftTek 251.8

Those guys not only ignored what the NFL did entirely, but two of them outperformed the NFL in predicting outcomes in 2014. Josh Norris and Dan Kadar have created boards that don’t align with the actual picks in the draft, but in 2014 nailed who would do well better than the guys who actually have to conform to positional need and schematic constraints. Big bravo to those two.

It’s fun to see how different approaches to the draft end up intersecting with how the NFL selects players in the formal draft process and what that means for how analysts can improve or modify their approach.


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