What to Learn from NFL Draft Scout’s First 2018 Update

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What to Learn from NFL Draft Scout’s First 2018 Update

Justis Mosqueda

NFL Draft Scout just updated their 2018 database with actual grades attached to players for the first time this draft cycle. While they don’t have seventh-round grades attached to anyone, they have given out 98 grades of third-round picks or higher through draft eligible sophomores.

Preseason grades aren’t anything close to perfect, but you’ll be amazed at how many names that are mocked in the first round actually end up being first round picks a year after the “too early” articles start flowing. Either way, this is a solid watch list to keep a track of throughout the season.

Here are the seniors who received at least a third-round grade by the website, which also handles CBS Sports’ draft content:

I didn’t adjust the positions of any of these players outside of the front seven defenders, which I’ve seen at this point. Ohio State has six names on the list, with Alabama landing in second place with three names. Seven other schools (Oklahoma, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Florida, LSU and Washington) had two names listed as “top-100” seniors. The only non-Power Five schools to make the list were South Dakota State, Western Michigan and Connecticut. Only two other “small schools” made the list with the addition of the underclassmen (Wyoming and SMU.)

Here are the underclassmen who made the third-round cut for NFL Draft Scout:

Three redshirt sophomores made the list: USC quarterback Sam Darnold, Clemson pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell and Florida State defensive back Derwin James. The direct rankings here get a bit wonky because you’re talking about several different draft classes, and the website is sorted by individual positions in individual draft classes. Don’t worry about the rankings in tiers. Just focus on the tiers themselves.

Here’s what the class looks like overall if every underclassman declared and joined the senior class for the 2018 NFL draft:

There we have it. A giant blob of color and lines. What does this mean though? This doesn’t tell us where the class is strong or weak based on recent draft classes. All we know is names in the draft, not characteristics of the draft class as a whole.

Let’s fix that. Here’s a look at the NFL Draft Scout class:

  • First-round grades: 25
  • First- through first/second-round grades: 40
  • First- through second-round grades: 64
  • First- through second/third-round grades: 79
  • First- through third-round grades: 89

We’ll use those numbers as cutoffs to look at the last four draft classes (everyone in the NFL on a rookie contract) to see what characteristics this draft class has. We need something to compare it to if we’re going to make claims that “this is a good year to need an X.” We’re also going to exclude special teams players.

“Expected” is going to be the average players at a specific position in a specific section of the draft over the last four years. We’ll use that to compare to the 2018 projection that NFL Draft Scout has laid out and see by percentage how much better or worse this draft class looks at certain positions through that scope. We’ll also highlight positions in green if they are a full player or more above “Expected” or in red if they are a full player below “Expected.”

Top 25:

Top 40:

Top 64:

Top 79:

Top 98:

In the end, offensive tackle and linebacker end up as significant strengths of the class, while pass-rushers and cornerbacks are a highlighted weakness. At the same time, that doesn’t totally tell the story of this projection.

In terms of the percentage difference, these are the biggest strengths of the draft class in specific areas of the draft:

  • +100% defensive linemen in the top 25 (“Bounce back defensive tackle draft”)
  • +100% running backs in the top 40 (“Is the NFL going back to the ground game?”)
  • +78% quarterbacks in the top 25 (“This is the year that the next QB class was actually better”)

Here is the flip side of that:

  • -100% linebackers in the top 25
  • -100 tight ends in the top 25
  • -50% interior offensive linemen in the top 40

You don’t get canned narratives for those positions, because no one actually talks about those positions as much as they should.

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