Who are the Most Polarizing Players in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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One of the most intriguing parts of the Consensus Big Board project is the ability to see which players, across 40 or more different big boards, draw the most disagreement.

We can figure out which players have polarized analysts the most by comparing their rankings across all boards. It’s important to take into account that a small difference in ranking at the top of a board is more meaningful than a larger difference further down in the draft; if one analyst has a player ranked third and the other has that player ranked tenth, that’s bigger than if they disagree on a player ranked 75th by one and 90th by another.

So, after adjusting for general rank, we can find the most polarizing players in the draft. These players are often those with character concerns, medical red flags or a unique distribution of skills — extremely good at one trait and poor at another.

Over the years, this has given us a good indication of which prospects are “boom or bust,” where the risk is high but the reward can be extraordinary. Other times, it’s a disagreement on positional value or a small-school player that not every evaluator is fully aware of.

When the Consensus Big Board is published, player variance scores will be published alongside them. A 100 is average, while higher variance scores indicate more disagreement and lower scores indicate less disagreement.

So, who are the most polarizing prospects in the draft?

Rank PLAYER School Position Variance+
29 Josh Allen Wyoming QB 187.3
206 Tarvarius Moore Southern Mississippi S 186.1
46 Kolton Miller UCLA OT 166.7
61 Jessie Bates III Wake Forest S 151.0
7 Sam Darnold USC QB 142.5
125 Geron Christian Louisville OT 138.5
207 Michael Dickson Texas P 138.2
30 James Daniels Iowa OC 133.6
71 Brian O’Neill Pittsburgh OT 132.0
86 Uchenna Nwosu USC EDGE 131.4
75 Rasheem Green USC DT 128.4
81 Tim Settle Virginia Tech DT 128.1
197 Skai Moore South Carolina LB 127.9
244 Christian Campbell Penn State CB 127.9
222 Jeremy Reaves South Alabama S 127.3
57 Harrison Phillips Stanford DT 126.2
53 Austin Corbett Nevada OG 124.6
28 Leighton Vander Esch Boise State LB 121.8
51 Donte Jackson LSU CB 120.8
58 Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State QB 118.6

That Josh Allen leads the list is not remotely surprising. He’s been the topic of conversation among draft analysts and his combination of elite physical traits along with subpar college performance make him a topic of contention in the draft community.

Allen is the most polarizing prospect that the Consensus Big Board project has ever had. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Jadeveon Clowney, Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory and Myles Jack were all polarizing for one reason or another, but none have approached the level of disagreement that Josh Allen has drawn.

Allen’s been ranked as the number one prospect by two boards and as a prospect not even worthy of the top 150 by a few more. He also holds ranks nearly everywhere in between — 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 17th, 24th, 27th, 29th, 30th, 34th, 35th, 40th, 44th, 45th, 46th, 48th, 54th, 63rd, 68th, 70th, 89th, 90th, 104th, 106th, 115th, 150th, 179th and outside the top 200.

After Allen is a surprising prospect — Tarvarius Moore from Southern Mississippi. He hasn’t had nearly the discussion, and the reason could be that he’s a “consensus” 206th-ranked prospect. Like Allen, Moore has also drawn a completely level of disagreement from evaluators than we’ve seen from other prospects in years past.

He wasn’t invited to the Combine, and therefore hasn’t had the exposure that other safeties from small schools typically get. The analysts that do rank him put him between 80th and 120th with a few outside of that range. Otherwise, boards as large as 400 players don’t have him ranked at all.

He’s an incredible athlete, and he’s been described favorably in terms of on-field traits, too. Dane Brugler ultimately praises him in his draft guide, saying Moore “posted head-turning numbers at the team’s pro day, which reflect his on-field athleticism and range, flashing fast angles and pursuit speed to chase down ballcarriers. Moore looks to tune up his target, but has room to tidy up his fundamentals in run support. Overall, Moore has yet to play his best football and with added discipline, he has the athletic skills and natural instincts to make his mark in a starting secondary, projecting best as a nickel defender.”

After that, we have our share of elite athletes with some technical question marks (Kolton Miller, Brian O’Neill, Leighton Vander Esch, Uchenna Nwosu and Donte Jackson), players that might have difficulty translating their incredible college production into NFL play (Mason Rudolph, Harrison Phillips), players whose positional value might be in question (Michael Dickson, James Daniels) and others.

It should be fascinating tracking how these players eventually perform in the NFL and what that might mean for the art of evaluation.

Catch Arif every week on The Zone Coverage Football Machine

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