One thing about draft season is that it brings into focus exactly how many different opinions exist on football players. As a result, I have taken to producing “composite boards” where I average the ranks given to prospects by multiple draftniks as a way of deciding whose “tape” to focus my time on. When possible, I like to share those composite boards with the Windy City Gridiron community.
This is a somewhat reduced composite board, drawing only on six major boards: CBS Sports, Daniel Jeremiah, Drafttek, Pro Football Focus, Sports Illustrated, and WCG’s own Jacob Infante. The system used for compositing was simple–the top 100 candidates from each board were included with their rank. Anyone who was not one of the top 100 candidates was assigned a uniform rank of 101. The only exception was Jeremiah’s board, as he insists upon only ranking 50 top prospects. As a result, anyone not in his Top 50 was assigned a uniform rank of 51. Because one of the primary things I find interesting about these projects is looking at the variation, here are a few things that stand out.
First, Pro Football Focus finds the least agreement with the other boards, having the most prospects that are out of alignment with the other boards. Of the Top 50 on the composite board average ranking, Pro Football Focus has the rank farthest from the average on 16 of them, and 30 of its ranks in the top 50 are one of the two farthest from the average. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated has only three candidates that are the farthest from average (and only nine that are one of the two farthest scores from average). It might be worth pointing out that Pro Football Focus listed no running backs in its Top 50 while no board in this group placed a tight end in its Top 50.
Second, this class is apparently deep in wide receivers and offensive linemen. There are 69 players who rank in someone’s Top 50, and 14 of them are offensive lineman while 10 are wide receivers. Those are the two deepest groups. When looking at every player who made someone’s Top 100, those totals are expanded to 26 players (OL) and 21 players (WR), still both also the two deepest groups. However, it might be a bad year to need a tight end–there are only six ranked here, tied with quarterbacks for the least-represented group.
Finally, without knowing how much “position value” is cooked into each board’s initial evaluations, and with only six boards being reviewed, it’s probably safe to add a double-strength reminder that how “experts” value draft prospects and how the actual front offices of NFL teams value prospects can be very different things. There will be highly ranked players who fall for sound reasons and bad, and there will be unranked players who soar to the top of the draft without showing up on these boards. Boards are not the draft, and they certainly don’t define a player’s career. I can recall wanting to draft George Kittle for one of my “By Conference” mock drafts only to have him not even register as an option on the Fanspeak board, for example.
That said, here are the top candidates on the composite boards, in 40-prospect chunks.
These are all players who seem unlikely to fall to the Bears unless something goes wrong, but who might be within striking range under the right circumstances. That said, history indicates that least a few of these prospects will, in fact, be available.
Next is the key range for Chicago fans.
Chicago has three selections to make from 39-71, which means that Ryan Poles should be able to find at least three players in this range (again, assuming that he evaluates prospects in a manner similar to collective opinion).
Next are the candidates who occupy the range of 81-121, and in years past Chicago would have probably made multiple selections here.
Now, it is highly likely that some of these players will be taken before Pick #80, and it is equally likely that some will slip belore #121, but as it stands there are a number of names on this list that might attract the attention of Chicagoans.
Finally, here are the other players who were ranked in the Top 100 on at least one of the boards.
If you want to know more about these players, I strongly encourage you to check out Jacob’s draft guide.