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WCG Confidence Board: Consensus Blue Chips

The draft is approaching, and many people are confident in their opinions about prospects. Those opinions, however, sometimes disagree.

Syndication: Tuscaloosa News Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

I am not a fan of box score scouting a college prospect. I am not impressed by a receiver putting up a hundred yards a game if those games are against mid-tier teams, but I do want to see how he played against teams where he was on a level playing field against other top prospects. I also do not care very much about the NFL Combine. There’s some limited data that shows that 40-time (or alternately the three-cone drill) is a decent proxy for baseline athleticism, and success in some positions seems to correspond well with the vertical jump, but I’m not worried about bench presses nor do I care about hand size. I’ll check to see if those two scores are decent (or occasionally eye-popping) and then I’ll just start watching the kid play.

Once upon a time, I spent hours and hours from January through March going over the video available on college prospects, more or less looking to confirm or disprove impressions I had picked up by watching what was probably too much college football. As time went on, I had less time to spend on this, and I needed a way to focus my “tape watching” habits. This gave rise to what I called my Confidence Board, based on the fact that if I had a Top 10 impression of a guy and eight or nine other big boards (or positional boards) said the same, then I could be confident in my impression. By contrast, if someone had scores all up and down the boards, then I wanted to be sure to watch the guy play myself so that I could see why there was such a variation in opinions.

This time, I gathered boards from Pro Football Network (February 17th), Pro Football Focus (Match 6th), Bleacher Report (March 9th), DraftTek (March 20th), Walter Football (March 22nd), CBS Sports (March 25th), and ESPN Best Available (March 25th). I only use public boards because I like to be able to share my raw data. I never personally use Daniel Jeremiah because his board usually only goes to 50 and also because for a little run there, he would give me twice as many running backs and quarterbacks in his Top 50 as I got on anyone else’s Top 100 and it got old, fast (a few times I would include him just as a nod to his fans in the comments).

Unquestioned Blue Chips

These are the 8 players who are in the Top 20 on all seven boards. While there is no such thing as a sure thing in football, these are probably the closest players available to a “safe bet” unless there are lurking concerns behind the scenes.

Blue Chips

Prospect College Position Average High Low
Prospect College Position Average High Low
Will Anderson Jr. Alabama EDGE 1.86 1 (3) 3 (PFF)
Bryce Young Alabama QB 4.00 1 (2) 14 (B-R)
C.J. Stroud Ohio State QB 4.57 2 (DraftTek) 8 (PFN)
Jalen Carter Georgia DL 5.71 1 (PFN) 13 (2)
Tyree Wilson Texas Tech EDGE 9.29 4 (ESPN) 17 (PFN)
Quentin Johnston TCU WR 10.14 9 (2) 12 (ESPN)
Paris Johnson Jr. Ohio State OT 12.29 7 (DraftTek) 19 (PFF)
Joey Porter Jr. Penn State CB 13.71 8 (DraftTek) 19 (ESPN)

Nothing to say here, except that this is obviously some major football talent. For me, personally, Joey Porter is the third-best corner in this draft. However, he benefits from not having any major critics. Will Anderson is clearly one of the top players in the 2023 NFL Draft, and quarterbacks always get mentioned early and often.

Blue Chips with Asterisks

These are the players who still average being placed in the Top 20, but who have at least a few detractors, relatively speaking.

Blue Chips*

Prospect College Position Average High Low
Prospect College Position Average High Low
Bijan Robinson Texas RB 7.57 1 (Walter) 27 (PFF)
Myles Murphy Clemson EDGE 12.71 3 (PFN) 22 (PFF)
Christian Gonzalez Oregon CB 14.29 7 (2) 43 (B-R)
Peter Skoronski Northwestern OT 14.86 5 (2) 53 (PFN)
Anthony Richardson Florida QB 15.00 6 (DraftTek) 40 (Walter)
Lukas Van Ness Iowa DL 17.00 11 (ESPN) 21 (Walter)
Devon Witherspoon Illinois CB 17.00 5 (CBS) 38 (B-R)
Michael Mayer Notre Dame TE 17.43 5 (B-R) 28 (PFF)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba Ohio State WR 17.71 11 (2) 27 (PFN)
Brian Branch Alabama S 19.29 6 (PFN) 30 (ESPN)

The fact that we are now at 18 players who average a score in the Top 20 begins to explain a lot about the draft process already. It’s one thing to say that a team should take the “best player available”, but it’s another to see that even the so-called experts can’t even really agree on the tiers some of these players belong in, and that’s without even including two of the most important considerations–whether or not the player in question clears medical checks and character evaluations–as well as whether or not the player is even a fit within the system that will be played.

Some of these players, like Bijan Robinson, are likely getting knocked down because of position; some are also being judged by things as simple as a measuring tape, like Peter Skoronski.

Possibly Blue

These are the players who are Blue Chip (or Top 20) on at least one board. By now, there are some pretty wild fluctuations.

Possibly Blue

Prospect College Position Average High Low
Prospect College Position Average High Low
Will Levis Kentucky QB 21.57 4 (PFF) 59 (PFN)
Jordan Addison USC WR 22.57 15 (ESPN) 33 (PFN)
Jahmyr Gibbs Alabama RB 26.86 7 (Walter) 51 (PFF)
Bryan Bresee Clemson DL3T 28.71 11 (B-R) 74 (Walter)
Anton Harrison Oklahoma OT 29.14 20 (PFN) 50 (Walter)
Dalton Kincaid Utah TE 29.57 17 (PFF) 50 (PFN)
Cam Smith South Carolina CB 30.29 13 (CBS) 40 (ESPN)
Calijah Kancey Pitt DL5T 32.14 13 (PFF) 41 (CBS)
Antonio Johnson Texas A&M S 32.29 13 (PFN) 47 (PFF)
Nolan Smith Georgia EDGE 35.29 10 (ESPN) 74 (PFN)
Darnell Wright Tennessee OT 37.57 19 (B-R) 69 (PFF)
Broderick Jones Georgia OT 37.71 17 (B-R) N100 (Walter)
Deonte Banks Maryland CB 38.00 18 (PFF) 81 (Walter)
Emmanuel Forbes Mississippi State CB 39.00 18 (ESPN) 55 (B-R)
Kelee Ringo Georgia CB 39.14 15 (PFN) 73 (PFF)
Drew Sanders Arkansas ILB 40.29 29 (2) 55 (PFF)
Zay Flowers Boston College WRS 41.71 20 (CBS) N100 (Walter)
Trenton Simpson Clemson OLB 43.29 28 (DraftTek) 66 (PFF)
Isaiah Foskey Notre Dame EDGE 43.29 19 (PFN) 64 (PFF)
B.J. Ojulari LSU EDGE 43.86 20 (B-R) 68 (DraftTek)
O'Cyrus Torrence Florida OG 44.86 19 (DraftTek) N100 (Walter)
Tuli Tuipulotu USC DL 55 (50th overall) 17 (Walter) 86 (DraftTek)
Jartavius Martin Illinois S N100 20 (Walter) N100 (6)

I’d be tempted to dismiss many of the idiosyncrasies as being the fault of WalterFootball, but players like Nolan Smith have squirrely ratings from all over, with two scores in the Top 15 and two out of the Top 50.

Squirrels and Nuts

Which board produces the most outliers? Obviously, once we get toward the end of the Top 100, things get even more difficult to sort out. However, among the Top 50 composite-ranked prospects where there was more than a 2-rank, the two most likely to provide the outlier score were Pro Football Network with 16 outliers (13 of those were much lower-ranked than the average) and Pro Football Focus with 12 (10 of those were much lower-ranked than the average). Meanwhile, CBS, DraftTek, and ESPN all had no more than two outliers in this group.

Finally, for anyone who just wants to see the raw data in a semiorganized format, here is a link. I noted when the source was updated, and any player outside of the Top 100 was normalized to 101.