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WCG Confidence Board 2.0: Rising, falling, and holding steady

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Another look at the risers and fallers in terms of prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 19 UTSA at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One interesting thing to do during the buildup to the NFL draft is watch as expert opinions on draft prospects cycles up and down. In the construction of the newest Confidence Board, I made the conscious decision to update all boards to January or later, and to cut all boards that had not been updated. That’s the reason I am calling this the second series instead of a mere update.

Most of my sources provide new content pretty reliably. Draftek’s January 13th Big Board has been replaced with their January 21st Position Boards. Luke Easterling’s December 11th Position Board has, in the meantime, been switched out for his January 16th Big Board. In fact, only NFL Draft Days has failed to update their board in over a month, and some of their posts were dated to October. That means that they were cut, and in turn that means that every board I have is now from after the bowl season (and most are from after the college football championship).

However, this newness gives us another opportunity. In addition to these newcomers, I also have at my disposal five boards that date to December 28th or earlier (basically, this turns the middle of the bowl season into the dividing line). Therefore, before presenting the top prospects on the new confidence board, I want to highlight high-profile prospects who have risen quickly, a few who have fallen dramatically, and a select handful who had remained steadily in top contention.

Rising

First, there are four players who have shot up by more than 100 spots and one who comes close.

Soaring Prospects

Player Position Active Score Active Rank pre-Bowl Rank pre-Bowl Score Movement
Player Position Active Score Active Rank pre-Bowl Rank pre-Bowl Score Movement
Vander Esch, Leighton LB 30.60% 69 209 0% 140
Settle, Tim DL 18.90% 95 209 0% 114
Hill, Holton CB 18.30% 96 209 0% 113
Moore, DJ WR 28.10% 72 181 5.00% 109
Ateman, Marcell WR 25.10% 77 170 6.80% 93

Now, I should point out that there is a reason that three of these players are ranked at 209 prior to the bowl season, and that’s because they were not ranked at all. I only have a total of 208 prospects on the five boards put together, and these players did not qualify. They basically came on the radar after January 1st as far as my boards are concerned.

Inside of the top ten, there are still players who have added popularity quickly. Vita Vea climbed 20 spots (from 30th to 10th) and Roquan Smith jumped 27 spots (36th to 9th). It’s also worth noting that Tremaine Edmunds is the 84th-place player on the older boards, even if he is not #27. All three of these players are likely benefiting from the relative lack of talent on defense in this draft, compounded by the decisions of several of the best defensive prospects to return to their colleges for an extra year.

However, even Quenton Nelson and Josh Jackson have seen their fortunes improve by 15 spots apiece. In their case, the reasons vary. Nelson was the top guard all along, but his relative position has changed. For Jackson, the issue is that he went from being disregarded on a couple of boards to at least worthy of consideration on all of them.

Falling

Meanwhile, Dorance Armstrong was once a solid prospect, and his composite score was good for No. 33 overall. Now he has fallen to No. 78. If Smith, Vea, and Edmunds are benefiting from the weak defensive field, what gives with Armstrong? Part of his problem was that the early boards were still reacting to 2016 and were thinking he was going to have a chance to distinguish himself more later in 2017. Another problem, though, was that his team didn’t give him a lot of opportunity to distinguish himself. It will be interesting to see which assessment was more accurate.

Likewise, Dante Pettis fell from a guy at the edge of the second round (No. 62) to a guy clinging to the third (No. 97). Tarvarus McFadden crashed from No. 37 to No. 67. These players all lost astonishing amounts of ground. However, they were never considered truly elite prospects, so their fall might seem less dramatic than a few others.

Harold Landry was once in the Top 10 (No. 9), but he fell 15 spots to No. 24 in a draft that needs pass rushers. Take everything I said about Armstrong and apply it here. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were both quarterbacks placed in the top 25, but they fell 17 and 18 spots respectively. Some of this is the solidification of popular opinion behind Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold, but some of it is also them showing enough limitations to concern the gurus.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that James Washington was formerly No. 31 and is now No. 49 while Malik Jefferson was No. 12 and is now No. 30. No simple explanation exists for these plummets collectively, but it’s worth noting that they are all players who occupy positions the Bears could value in this draft.

Holding Steady

Six players are in the top 10 and have been for quite some time. Bradley Chubb “climbed” from No. 6 to No. 2, Saquon Barkley “fell” from No. 1 to No. 3, and Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 4) as well as Derwin James (No. 6) both technically slipped a spot, but that’s basically meaningless given how loose draft boards tend to be. Rosen was and remains the top quarterback in the draft (from No. 2 overall to No. 5). Calvin Ridley was considered one of the 10 best prospects in early November and he is considered one of the 10 best prospects in late January.

Regardless of the value attached to any of their positions or the individual merits of any of these players versus their peers, the raw consistency in how they have been evaluated suggests that they are as close as any draft can have to a “sure thing.” They might not be perfect picks, but if they falter it will be based on something that nearly the entire draft community missed and not because of an obvious limitation.

The Board

With all of that out of the way, here are the top prospects on the active confidence board, included along with their composite rank and score on the Version 0.0 pre-Bowl Season boards.

Confidence Board 2.0

Active Rank Player Position Active Score pre-Bowl Rank pre-Bowl Score Movement
Active Rank Player Position Active Score pre-Bowl Rank pre-Bowl Score Movement
1 Nelson, Quenton IOL 99.20% 16 83.20% 15
2 Chubb, Bradley EDGE 99.10% 6 92.20% 4
3 Barkley, Saquon RB 99.00% 1 99.20% -2
4 Fitzpatrick, Minkah S/CB 97.60% 3 96.60% -1
5 Rosen, Josh QB 97.00% 2 97.80% -3
6 James, Derwin S 93.10% 5 94.20% -1
7 Ridley, Calvin WR 86.90% 10 87.80% 3
8 Guice, Derrius RB 86.60% 13 84.00% 5
9 Smith, Roquan LB 86.00% 36 56.00% 27
10 Vea, Vita DL 85.70% 30 61.20% 20
11 Darnold, Sam QB 85.10% 8 89.60% -3
12 Price, Billy IOL 83.60% 18 81.60% 6
13 Ward, Denzel CB 83.30% 15 83.40% 2
14 Sutton, Courtland WR 83.20% 11 86.00% -3
15 Andrews, Mark TE 82.30% 17 82.60% 2
16 Key, Arden EDGE 80.80% 14 83.60% -2
17 McGlinchey, Mike OT 79.90% 7 91.80% -10
18 Brown, Orlando OT 77.60% 25 67.60% 7
19 Williams, Connor OT 77.40% 22 73.60% 3
20 Jackson, Josh CB 77.10% 35 56.20% 15
21 Payne, Da'Ron DL 74.40% 21 75.00% 0
22 Evans, Rashaan LB 74.30% 39 54.00% 17
23 Hurst, Maurice DL 73.70% 20 77.20% -3
24 Landry, Harold EDGE 70.70% 9 89.40% -15
25 Mayfield, Baker QB 69.70% 56 42.20% 31
26 Smith, Braden IOL 69.10% 32 60.00% 6
27 Edmunds, Tremaine LB 66.80% 84 25.00% 57
28 Hernandez, Will IOL 66.60% 38 55.00% 10
29 Ragnow, Frank IOL 66.30% 41 53.00% 12
30 Jefferson, Malik LB 65.80% 12 86.00% -18
31 Harrison, Ronnie S 64.40% 23 70.00% -8
32 Goedert, Dallas TE 62.10% 43 50.00% 11
33 Alexander, Jaire CB 61.30% 27 64.60% -6
34 Oliver, Isaiah CB 61.10% 52 44.00% 18
35 Kirk, Christian WR 60.80% 26 67.60% -9
36 Bryan, Taven DL 59.60% 65 33.40% 29
37 Jackson, Lamar QB 59.40% 19 79.80% -18
38 Jones, Ronald II RB 55.70% 44 49.00% 6
39 Rudolph, Mason QB 54.40% 29 63.20% -10
40 Miller, Kolton OT 54.00% 89 22.00% 49
41 Allen, Josh QB 51.70% 24 69.00% -17
42 Hurst, Hayden TE 51.40% 74 28.00% 32