In my last post, I reviewed the big boards at several draft sites around the web. In doing so, I kind of generated a consensus big board of the top 100 players in this year's draft.
The next step is obvious. Now that the rankings have been determined, where do all of these talent evaluators actually predict that the players will go? It's one thing to say that Sam Bradford is the fifth best player, it's quite another to leave him on the board until the fifth pick.
So with that in mind, I did some more research. The criteria I used was simple. The site had to be fairly well known, it had to have some decent research behind it, and it had to have at least three rounds in it's mock.
We all know that mock drafts are pretty worthless after the first round. In fact, most of them are worthless by the middle of the first round. Not only do NFL talent evaluators know more about what they want than bloggers and internet football geeks, there are also other elements at play that can completely change the dynamics of the draft.
You can also have runs on a certain position. A couple of years ago a run on offensive tackles put Sam Baker in the first round. Every year it seems that clubs can't get enough of one position early, and that can ruin predictions.
Then there's the Al Davis factor. Need I elaborate?
So obviously, it's really hard to predict who's going to do what. And I'm not even going to try. Instead, I'm going to report on what the mock draft experts at http://www.draftsite.com, http://www.cdsdraft.com, http://www.drafttek.com, http://www.walterfootball.com (both Walt's and Matt's), http://www.sidelinescouting.com, http://www.draftace.com, and http://www.newnfldraft.com think.
The methodology is similar to that which I employed on the big board. Players are averaged by selection, and if they don't appear in a draft they get a draft position of 100 for averaging purposes.
So without further ado, here is the consolidated draft for the first three rounds, according to the experts.
Interesting stuff, huh? Everyone agrees that Bradford is the first pick, but that's about all they agree on. Suh is always up there, but in some drafts Okung was the second selection and in others McCoy is the first DT off the board.
What's even more interesting is the contrast between where the big board rates a player and where the mock has him going. A lot of that has to do with team needs, of course. We all know that despite all the BPA talk out there, if a team can't draft at a position of need early they're going to trade down.
But which positions are the biggest beneficiaries of need versus talent? Obviously, Quarterback is a top one. What are the others?
This table shows the average value based on position. Remember, a negative means that the player tend to get drafted higher than their talent would otherwise suggest.
|First Round||First Two Rounds||First Three Rounds|
What does it mean? Well really, this isn't as scientific as it could be. It's also a fairly small sample, so you wouldn't want to take any conclusions drawn off it to Vegas. But there are a few items that are worth noting.
First, note how Offensive Tackle is actually a bigger "reach" position than Quarterback. And if you've been following the draft for a few years, that shouldn't be a surprise. It seems like there are always a lot of OTs taken early in hopes that they can anchor the left side for years.
And once they hit the field, it seems like a lot of them end up stuck on the right, or moved inside to Guard.
Guards and Centers, on the other hand, are always taken lower than they are predicted to be. Panther fans can tell you that, given that Carolina nabbed the top guard on most draft boards last year, in the fifth round. Remember that when someone tells you that Maurkice Pouncey may sneak into the top 20.
Wide Receiver is another position where teams tend to be more cautious. And given the bust rate at that position, it's no surprise that they do. If there isn't a run on WRs in this draft, that may bode well for the Panthers.
The big board had Demarious Thomas and Damian Williams in spitting distance of the Panthers' first selection. If the Cats decide that they have to have one of them, and if the receiver pick position slides a little, then a small "move me up" trade may be in the offering.
And another big position of need for the Panthers also tends to be a value choice--Defensive End. That's probably because of the question on which DEs are better suited to OLB in the 3-4, but both Carlos Dunlap and Corey Wooten have 4-3 DE written all over them, and at 48 they have to be the DEs that the Panthers are looking at.
So that's the combined draft consensus. Taken with the combined Big Board, you start to get an idea of what the possibilities may be where the Panthers are concerned on day two of the draft.
The next an final post in the series will discuss the team needs, and overlay their selections with the available players and what range they're predicted to fall in.
Until then, enjoy the guessing game!