We generally put a lot of effort into preparing for the NFL draft here at Big Blue View. But this year I think we out-did ourselves. Not only did we step up our scouting game with — what I feel to be — more concise and informative reports, but we created our most ambitious consensus big board yet.
We have been releasing consensus big boards for a long time now, but a couple years ago we switched from a traditional “1-100” board to a two-axis big board. We decided that a two-axis board, which lists players by position and round grade, is closer to how NFL teams structure their own big boards and gives a more accurate picture of how players and positions stack up against each other.
This year I was able to coordinate with InvictusXI, Joe DeLeone, and Nick Falato (and I would, once again, like to thank them for all their time and hard work) for the construction of the board. We started with a consensus ranking of each position on the offense and defense. After that we got together again to sort our rankings into tiers based on approximate round grades, and that is what ultimately became our big board.
And now, with the draft behind us, it’s time to take a breath and see how we did. Self-scouting is the only way we can get even better for next year’s draft.
All told we did pretty well in projecting the first round. We had some level of first-round grade (either “Top 5,” “Top 10” “First Round” or “First-Second”) on 25 of the first 32 players drafted. Obviously we would have liked to have done better than a a 78 percent success rate, but it can be difficult to account for how different teams value different positions or evaluate their own rosters.
We had a first-round grade on each of the six receivers, four quarterbacks, two EDGE players and two interior defensive linemen drafted in the first round, and we also nailed the order in which the quarterbacks were selected.
The Giants pick at No. 4
The Giants got acceptable value for Andrew Thomas at fourth overall. He was rated as a slight reach as a “Top 10” player and second in that neighborhood for tackles. That being said, each of the top four tackles was rated closely enough together than differentiating between them was a matter of personal preference.
Of our players graded as a “Top Five” (i.e.: they would be one of the five best players in almost any draft class), Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons fell the furthest, going to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 8 overall.
Biggest Steal: The Dallas Cowboys drafting CeeDee Lamb at 17th overall. As galling as it might be for Giants’ fans, the Cowboys came away with the biggest steal of the first round per our board. Lamb was graded as a “Top 10” player and nearly slipped out of the Top 20.
Biggest Reach: The Atlanta Falcons drafting A.J. Terrell at 16th overall. One pick before the Cowboys got the steal of the round, the Falcons made the biggest reach — at least per our board. Terrell graded out as a second-round value on our board, and while he wasn’t the only player we gave a second-round grade who was drafted in the first round, he was the first. In fact, three of the six cornerbacks drafted in the first round had second round grades per our board.
The other contender is the Miami Dolphins selecting USC OT Austin Jackson at 18th overall. Like Terrell, Jackson had a second round grade. In this case, Miami bypassed three offensive tackles on whom we had “First-Second” round grades to select Jackson. Whether that outweighs the fact that Atlanta made their pick earlier in the first is something you can decide for yourself.
How the board held up for the Giants
Considering we built this board with an eye toward the Giants — albeit through the lens of our own personal philosophies — our board held up fairly well.
The Giants broke the board at the top of the fourth round by selecting Darnay Holmes (CB, UCLA). But then they got back on track with Shane Lemieux in the fifth round, which is about where we had him graded (he received a “Fourth-Fifth” grade). The Giants also got a very strong value by drafting Minnesota defender Carter Coughlin in the seventhth round, a player we graded as a “Fourth-Fifth” value.
We didn’t have grades on Cam Brown (sixth round, 183rd overall), T.J. Brunson (seventh round, 238th overall), Chris Williamson (seventh round, 247th overall), or Tae Crowder (seventh round, 255th overall).
The late rounds is where things always seem to fall apart. Part of that is on the disparity of resources between us and the average NFL scouting department, as well as time constraints for us. But we also need to continue to do a better job of fleshing out our picture of the later rounds.
After Round 1
Biggest Steal: After the first round we had 21 players with a “First Round” or “First-Second” round grade still available. Of the players drafted, Auburn offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho had — by far — the biggest fall according to our board. We graded Wanogho as a “second round” value, but the Philadelphia Eagles selected him 210th overall, or the fifth from the last pick of the sixth round. Injury concerns seemed to be common reasons for falls, likely because teams couldn’t do their normal medical evaluations over the course of the draft process.
Biggest Reach: Our first massive reach goes to the Green Bay Packers, who followed up the surprising pick of QB Jordan Love in the first round by selecting Boston College running back A.J. Dillon in the second round. We had a “First-Second” round grade on Love, so drafting him at 26th overall was acceptable value — the wisdom of the pick is another debate. But we had a “Fourth-Fifth” round grade on Dillon and selecting a player graded well outside the Top 100 at 62nd overall is a pretty egregious reach.
The rest of the NFC East
Dallas Cowboys - 7 picks
On-Value Picks: 1
I hate to say it, but Dallas had a very good draft by our board. They came away with four “steals,” drafting CeeDee Lamb (Top 10) at 17th overall, Neville Gallimore (“First Round”) in the third round, Tyler Biadasz (“Third Round”) at the end of the fourth round, and perhaps their biggest steal, Bradlee Anae (“Third Round”) in the fifth.
Their only “On-Value” pick was Trevon Diggs (“second round”), who was drafted in the second. Their two “reaches” were Reggie Robinson II and Ben DiNucci, neither of whom were on our board.
Philadelphia Eagles - 10 picks
On-Value Picks: 3
The pick that garnered the most attention is QB Jalen Hurts in the second round. This was solid value per our board, but it certainly took observers by surprise on draft night. That being said, it probably shouldn’t. The Eagles have traditionally invested heavily in the back-up QB position, drafting Kevil Kolb in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft and Nick Foles in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Also, there is an “out” in Carson Wentz’s contract after the 2021 season, so it is possible that Philly could be looking to that year to reclaim cap space and move on from Wentz early.
As for the rest of the Eagles’ draft, it wasn’t anything special as far as value goes for our board. They reached a number of times, most notably with Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor in the third round, who we graded as a “fourth-fifth” prospect. That being said, they got good value with K’Von Wallace (“third round”) in the fourth round (pick 127) and potentially stellar value with Prince Tega Wanogho late in the sixth.
Washington Redskins - 8 Picks
On-Value Picks: 2
All told Washington had a solid draft. Their best pick will likely be Chase Young, who has the potential to be a steal despite being the second player selected, but is an “On-Value Pick” per our board as a “Top-5” player.
Their biggest value pick could be LSU OT Saahdiq Charles. We gave Charles a “Third Round” grade when putting the board together. That being said, we all recognize that he has solid “Second Round” talent, but none of us could find out what he was disciplined for at LSU. So with that in mind we couldn’t justify putting him in the “Second Round” tier. But even so, getting him in the fourth round after executing the trade of Trent Williams could wind up being a good move value-wise. Washington also got good value in Antonio Gandy-Golden, who they selected with the 36th pick in the fourth round and we gave a “Third Round” grade.
After that Washington departed from our board completely, and we didn’t have a grade on any of their last four picks.