The Consensus Big Board is here! We’ve gathered over 40 big boards and combined them all to create a snapshot of what draft watchers around the world think of the players in this year’s draft class.
We did an excellent job identifying talent in 2014 and in 2016 identified promising undrafted free agents like Brien Boddy-Calhoun, Geronimo Allison and Cre’von LeBlanc.
The Consensus Board allows us to do several things. We can identify which players in the draft are the most polarizing, including those who draw disagreements without the media coverage that normally entails strong differences of opinion.
Every year, when publishing the board, I go over the fundamental problem that comes up whenever gathering big boards—working at cross-purposes with different goals. We can rehash that essential problem once more:
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 variance among the forecaster boards is significantly less than it is among evaluator boards, and they showcase similar clustering as they have for the past three years. There’s strong evidence indicating that many of them are working off of the same information.
That information will include where NFL teams value players, injury data, off-the-field incidents yet-to-be-revealed to media and so on.
We’ll be posting pieces about the information the consensus board reveals throughout the runup to the draft so we can better understand the landscape of this year’s draft. We’ll go over the most polarizing players, the differences between the consensus and forecaster boards, the deepest position groups, etc.
Every year, we post the board with different kinds of position designations and we’ll be doing that once again. Those positions are QB, RB, FB, WRF, WRS, TE, OT, OG, C, DL1T, DL3T, DL5T, ER, OLB, ILB, CB, S, K and P.
That’s a lot of different positions—much more than usual—but teams draft roles just as easily as they draft players. Knowing where a player fits is more important than anything else.
Most of these are intuitive, but a few need some explanation. WRF/WRS refer to feature wide receivers and slot wide receivers, while NCB and CB refer to nickel corners and boundary corners.
Instead of 3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends, we have edge rushers. Not all edge rushers will be rushing the edge all the time, and for some schemes, having the overhand defender play coverage responsibilities will be important (Von Miller is more valuable than J.J. Watt in this way). But, for the most part, the most important ability they have is to put pressure on the quarterback. They are more alike than different.
DL1T, DL3T and DL5T refer to different defensive line positions. DL1Ts are essentially nose tackles lined up between the center and guard of the offensive line. Those are players like Linval Joseph, Danny Shelton and Dontari Poe. This year, the top DL1T is Dalvin Tomlinson at Alabama.
DL3T are pass-rushing tackles—Aaron Donald, Sharrif Floyd and Geno Atkins. The top DL3T on the consensus board is Malik McDowell. Caleb Brantley is number two, but these boards were gathered before the news of his assault arrest hit the wire.
The final defensive line assignment is reserved for 3-4 defensive ends, though it doesn’t quite capture the breadth of the position. They can include players like J.J. Watt, Mike Neal and Joey Bosa. This year, the top DL5T is Jonathan Allen.
The issue, of course, that these things are messy. Jonathan Allen is being projected to play on the edge by some analysts, and some like Solomon Thomas on the inside as a five-technique. Malik McDowell is sometimes projected as an edge player and may play as a defensive end in the right scheme.
Next to the player’s positional rank, you’ll see a variance score. The higher that score is, the more evaluators disagreed on that player’s ranking. People will interpret that differently: for some it’s an expression of having a high ceiling or a low floor. That means for lowly-ranked players, a higher variance score can be good because it means they have more upside.
For other people, it means more uncertainty in the evaluation. If people all disagree on this prospect, what does it mean he can do, and does it mean his skills are more of a projection than an evaluation? That may mean disregarding that player more than otherwise.
The average variance score is 100, and that has been adjusted for a player’s overall rank position (because generally speaking there is more variance the further down you go).
Below are the top 100. You can find the full 300 at this link.
|1||Myles Garrett||Texas A&M||ER||1||64.3|
|5||Malik Hooker||Ohio State||S||2||113.7|
|6||Marshon Lattimore||Ohio State||CB||1||82.7|
|10||Corey Davis||Western Michigan||WRF||1||106.6|
|12||Dalvin Cook||Florida State||RB||2||112.9|
|16||Gareon Conley||Ohio State||CB||2||98.2|
|17||Forrest Lamp||Western Kentucky||OG||1||91.7|
|19||David Njoku||Miami (Fla.)||TE||2||114.4|
|23||Mitchell Trubisky||North Carolina||QB||2||108.5|
|25||Malik McDowell||Michigan State||DL3T||1||111.5|
|30||Patrick Mahomes II||Texas Tech||QB||3||136.4|
|40||DeShone Kizer||Notre Dame||QB||4||119.6|
|43||Adoree’ Jackson||Southern California||NCB||1||100.2|
|51||Jordan Willis||Kansas State||ER||10||117.3|
|52||Curtis Samuel||Ohio State||WRS||1||113.7|
|53||Derek Rivers||Youngstown State||ER||11||130.2|
|54||Zay Jones||East Carolina||WRF||4||112.7|
|55||JuJu Smith-Schuster||Southern California||WRF||5||94.6|
|58||Raekwon McMillan||Ohio State||ILB||3||99.5|
|63||Josh Jones||North Carolina State||S||7||125|
|64||Pat Elflein||Ohio State||OC||1||116.5|
|65||Taylor Moton||Western Michigan||OT||4||97.8|
|68||Carlos Henderson||Louisiana Tech||WRS||2||113.2|
|69||Chris Godwin||Penn State||WRF||6||100.4|
|75||Justin Evans||Texas A&M||S||10||116|
|77||Cooper Kupp||Eastern Washington||WRF||7||95.6|
|78||Bucky Hodges||Virginia Tech||TE||4||98.9|
|81||Gerald Everett||South Alabama||TE||5||91.9|
|91||DeMarcus Walker||Florida State||ER||14||114.3|
|94||Taywan Taylor||Western Kentucky||WRS||4||99.4|
|96||Josh Reynolds||Texas A&M||WRF||8||104.2|
|99||Daeshon Hall||Texas A&M||ER||16||103.4|
Related: The Difference Between “Evaluators” and “Forecasters” and what it means for the Draft.
Related: Who are the Most Polarizing Players in the Draft?
Related: Using the Consensus Board to Create a Seven-Round Mock Draft
Related: What Position is Deepest in the Draft?