It’s draft season, which means it’s time to channel your inner Mel Kiper and get familiar with the prospects.
Hopefully, this Zone Coverage Draft Guide helps you with that.
Together, Sam Ekstrom, Arif Hasan and Luke Inman put their heads together and created a guide that hopefully gets you up to speed with the biggest names in the draft, but also gives you a Vikings-centric point of view.
This guide is for site members, and you can become one for just $2.99, a small price for all the great content within.
You can explore any of the links below to begin perusing the guide. Or maybe you want to dive right into our Top 40, which can be found further down the page.
You’ll notice some scores below each player that reference their productivity, athleticism and age. These scores should give you a rough idea of the three primary factors that have historically predicted performance in the NFL. None of these scores are definitive – NFL scouting is a difficult process that requires paying close attention to traits that aren’t easily measured, like mentality, adaptability and technical skill.
But looking at data can get us part of the way there. The scores represent that effort, and each is crafted from looking at the subcategories that correlate best to future performance. For example, on-field production for college wide receivers matters, but not all of it. Total receiving yards is not a very good predictor, but percentage of team yards is.
Some players that might not seem like great athletes might have a high athleticism score because only one or two workouts give us a true glimpse into the athletic profile needed to succeed at the position. The 40-yard dash doesn’t matter very much for centers, but the short shuttle matters a great deal.
Finally, age has been a great way to adjust the other two metrics. The younger a player is, the more impressive it is to post excellent athletic scores or produce on the field in college. That has generally translated into a greater degree of success in the NFL.
The scores are all scaled the same way and should read like an IQ score, where the average is 100 and every 15 points represents another tier. Each point away from 100 is successively more difficult to get, so a player with a score of 120 needed to do more to move from 110 to 120 than from 100 to 110.
The scores are all compiled into a final, composite, analytical score. Because the score is scaled against all 300 players with a good shot of getting drafted, it might seem like all the scores in the players we profile are above average – but it should be noted that players that scouts like enough to draft highly also tend to perform well in these tests. Nevertheless, players who score well in these categories are much more likely to outperform their draft position.
We hope you enjoy the articles, breakdowns and analytics. Once you get through this guide, you’ll be the most knowledgeable friend at your draft party.
TOP 40 OVERALL DRAFT PROSPECTS
All photos credited to USA Today Sports.