NFL draft scouting is, for most fans, a pretty mysterious thing. Most scouts work for teams or news organizations, and we fans have little interaction with them.
But most isn’t all: meet Kyle Crabbs, founder & Director of Scouting for NDT Scouting Services and lead NFL Draft analyst for FanRag Sports. He’s a great person to follow on Twitter for news about NFL draft prospects. And yesterday he debuted information about a project he’s been working on for some time. Crabbs went back and, starting with the 2014 draft, graded over 1,500 prospects individually in a wide range of metrics. His goal: to determine who the true 1st round prospects were and to go one step further and identify the Blue Chip prospects that stood out above all the rest.
It’s important to make the prospect vs player distinction. Crabbs didn’t grade players on what they’ve done in NFL; he worked solely with what was available about them prior to their drafts. And in four drafts from 2014 through 2017, only 14 players earned that coveted Blue Chip label in his eyes. But because life isn’t Madden, there are a few players in his list who haven’t lived up to that Blue Chip billing: guys like Brett Hundley and Bud Dupree. And there are some current household names who are conspicuously absent, like Aaron Donald and Joey Bosa.
Here is his list, and the grades he gave. Anything over 8.0 out of 9.0 is a 1st round grade on this scale, and anyone above 8.25 is a “Blue Chip” prospect:
- Edge Myles Garrett: 8.64
- Edge Jadeveon Clowney: 8.57
- Edge Khalil Mack: 8.56
- LB Anthony Barr: 8.55
- OT Jake Matthews: 8.53
- LB Myles Jack: 8.50
- QB Marcus Mariota: 8.50
- WR Corey Davis: 8.48
- Edge Bud Dupree: 8.41
- DL Leonard Williams: 8.32
- QB Jameis Winston: 8.30
- QB Brett Hundley: 8.28
- OT Cam Robinson: 8.27
- CB Jason Verrett: 8.25
There are a lot of successful players on that list: Khalil Mack headlines the group, in both fame and production, and earned a 92.1 grade from PFF in 2017. Seven others on the list also earned 2017 PFF grades above 80, including Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Leonard Williams, Myles Jack, Marcus Mariota, and Jameis Winston.
Kyle doesn’t come out and say it in yesterday’s article, but he’d agree with the assertion that the 2018 draft has better top end talent than any other draft from 2014 until now. Why make that claim? Because he continued on and evaluated the 2018 NFL Draft prospects as well.
How does the 2018 #NFLDraft class measure up to recent years? By my scoring, top talent is as good as any since 2015...until #16 on the board, where it falls behind 2017.— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) March 22, 2018
2017 is a deeper class with higher scores until the 5th round, where 2018 depth is best in recent memory. pic.twitter.com/BcgdrSCjLj
After averaging 3.5 Blue Chip prospects per each of the previous four drafts, he found 6 players entering the 2018 draft that deserved that distinction:
- RB Saquon Barkley: 8.74
The electrifying running back out of Pennsylvania State received the highest grade of any player in the 1,534 prospects graded. He’s also the only running back Crabbs has given a Blue Chip rating to so far.
- G Quenton Nelson: 8.57
Like Barkley with RBs, Notre Dame’s badass, rough and tumble guard created a new high water mark for offensive linemen. He tied Jadeveon Clowney for the 3rd highest overall grade.
- OT Connor Williams: 8.44
The 2018 offensive tackle class doesn’t have the best reputation, but Crabbs clearly thinks that Williams has the potential to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the rookie tackles.
- LB Tremaine Edmunds: 8.37
The 19 year old freak athlete has shot up draft boards in recent weeks, and for good reason. He could very well be a generational talent at linebacker.
- Edge Bradley Chubb: 8.30
Chubb projects to be quite a force in pass rushing situations. Some analysts have him as the top player of the draft, while at the other end of things others claim that he’s being propped up by a relatively poor edge rusher class. Crabbs clearly believes Chubb has the goods, though.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 8.29
It may come as something of a surprise to some, but the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner is Crabbs’ top quarterback prospect for the 2018 draft and one of four QBs to earn a Blue Chip rating from NDT Scouting. That fact, I am sure, will only stir Broncos Country’s controversy around Mayfield to new heights. If you’re interested, here’s NDT Scouting’s report on the University of Oklahoma quarterback.
Eight other 2018 draft prospects also received 1st round grades from this study, rounding out a top half of the 1st round that may be the strongest in recent years. But Crabbs believes that things fall off in the latter half of the first round, as you can see in the graph included in his tweet above.
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