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The Big Blue View draft grading scale explained

What our grades mean

NFL: Cleveland Browns-2021 NFL Draft Press Conference Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

We have been getting questions from the BBV community regarding the grading scale in this year’s scouting reports and how they correspond to where they might be drafted. This is actually a post I’ve been meaning to make for about a month now, and my bad for putting it off for so long.

I wasn’t satisfied with the grading scale used last year (which was the same one used by Lance Zierlein and Daniel Jeremiah at NFL.com). So Joe DeLeone and I sat down at the start of the draft process to come out a scale of our own that is flexible, informative, and easily read. We took the best parts of the Scouting Academy scale, the “NFL” scale, and a scale given to Joe by a scout with whom he has a relationship.

These are some of the guidelines that went into setting our scale:

  • It should be a decimal scale. Too many scales use seemingly random bounds that are confusing at best.
  • Grades should correspond to trait-based analysis.
  • It should be as easy as possible to sort prospects within a particular grade.
  • Decimals are used to “fine tune” specific grades within a larger number. In other words, while two players might land an overall “7” grade, one might be a 7.8 where the other is a 7.3.

Big Blue View grading‌ ‌scale‌‌

10‌ ‌-‌ ‌Prospect‌ is a “unicorn” and ‌possesses‌ ‌both‌ ‌rare‌ ‌physical‌ ‌traits‌ ‌and‌ ‌elite‌ ‌mental‌ ‌traits.‌ ‌Should‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌perennial‌ ‌All-Pro‌ ‌and‌ ‌Pro‌ ‌Bowl‌ ‌player‌ ‌(i.e.:‌ ‌Andrew‌ ‌Luck)‌ ‌

‌9‌ ‌-‌ ‌ ‌Definite first-round prospect with very good athletic and intangible traits. Reasonable expectation of Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors.

‌8‌ ‌-‌ ‌Fringe first-round player. First-round athletic or mental traits, but could slide into the top of the second round.

‌7‌ ‌-‌ ‌Solid Day 2 prospect (mid-second through third). Should contribute early in career, with the upside to start or become an important rotational player at some point in his rookie contract.

‌6‌ ‌-‌ ‌Early-mid Day 3 prospect with a high athletic ceiling and low floor or a high floor but limited athletic upside. Too much bust potential for a Day 2 selection..

‌5‌ ‌-‌ This player should‌ ‌be‌ ‌an‌ ‌average‌ ‌NFL‌ ‌depth‌ ‌and‌ ‌special‌ ‌teams‌ ‌player.‌ ‌(i.e.: David Mayo)

‌4‌ ‌-‌ ‌Late‌-‌round‌ ‌draft‌ ‌pick. Has athletic traits or intangibles a team wouldn’t want to let hit the UDFA market. ‌Should‌ ‌be‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌compete‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌roster‌ ‌spot‌ ‌in‌ ‌training‌ ‌camp.‌ ‌

‌3‌ ‌-‌ ‌Priority‌ ‌free‌ ‌agent‌ ‌or‌ ‌late-round‌ ‌draft‌ ‌pick.‌ ‌Has‌ ‌traits‌ ‌worth‌ ‌developing‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌special‌ ‌teams‌ ‌contributor‌ ‌or potential depth player.

‌2‌ ‌-‌ ‌This‌ ‌player‌ ‌has‌ ‌intriguing‌ ‌enough‌ ‌physical‌ ‌or‌ ‌mental‌ ‌traits‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌a‌ ‌camp‌ ‌invite.‌ ‌

‌1‌ ‌-‌ ‌This‌ ‌prospect‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌an‌ ‌NFL‌ ‌caliber‌ ‌player.‌ ‌Lacks‌ ‌requisite‌ ‌physical‌ ‌and‌ ‌mental‌ ‌traits‌.

Every year I get asked for a “round range” for prospects (even Ed asks me for them on an annual basis) and every year I resist. I refuse to put a round grade or range in my reports for one very good reason — that there is a whole lot of context and nuance that goes into the NFL’s evaluations that I just can’t replicate.

I’m confident in, and proud of, the work we do in our draft prep, but I (we) simply don’t have access to the wealth of tape available to the NFL. Likewise we don’t have the resources to do in-depth background checks, player and school staff interviews, and medical exams that NFL teams have. Medical and character considerations figure very heavily into the NFL’s grades and without them I can’t give an accurate prediction for where a player will be drafted. So I don’t, and won’t, do them.

All that being said, If you want a rough idea of where I believe a player should be drafted based on observable and publicly reported traits, subtract their grade from “10”. The smaller the difference, the closer to the first overall pick they should be.

It should also be noted that our scouting reports won’t have many (or potentially any) grades below “5” or above a “9.” Due to practical limitations we generally only have time for 100 or 120 (at best) profiles in a given year. To make sure those are as useful as possible, we try to stick with players who are most likely to be drafted in the top 150 (or so) selections. The high grades are limited simply because the scale should sort players onto a Gaussian distribution, and the players who earn a high “9” or “10” grade are the top 1 percent of all NFL players.

I hope this clears up any questions folks might have.