2014 Draft: Consensus Rankings v1.0

James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

Grab some popcorn and have a seat. This is a long read.

After lots of number crunching, I am proud to present the first official, full 2014 Consensus Draft Rankings, geared specifically towards our Minnesota Vikings. What is the Consensus Draft Rankings? Well you can go back and read about the preliminary version 0.5 I posted last month, but in a nutshell the consensus rankings attempt to average together the "Big Board" rankings from 10 of the best NFL draft ranking sources available online. Why do a consensus ranking? Well, I believe they provide more accurate information of the value of draft prospects rather than simply following only one source. And armed with a better understanding of prospect value allows us fans to better judge the drafting of the Minnesota Vikings (as well as inform our own mock drafting!). The 10 sources I consulted were: NFL.com, ESPN, CBS, Drafttek, National Football Post, SB Nation, Draft Countdown, Walterfootball, Optimum Scouting and Scout on MSN. All but one of those sources now has a full "Big Board" to consult (NFL.com is the lone hold-out) which brings this ranking to a full version 1.0. Now that the college All-Star games are all wrapped up, the NFL season is officially over and there is nothing but the combine on the horizon it is the perfect time to update the Consensus Rankings and release the first full version.

As I mentioned before, I have decided to break this up into positional groups that I feel are the biggest needs of the Minnesota Vikings: quarterback, defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback. I broke up the linebackers into "inside" linebackers and "outside" linebackers, which will give us 5 total positional groups to look at. And unlike the preliminary ranking from last month, I have added in an "Top 10 Overall" consensus ranking too. In order to make the consensus rankings, a player had to appear in the top 10 positional ranking of at least one big board. So, let's start with the quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks

Player Name

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville

1

-

4.375

↑ 0.125

2. Blake Bortles

UCF

2.2222222

↑ 2

12.75

↑ 15.25

3. Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M

3

-

13.875

↑ 3.795

4. Derek Carr

Fresno State

4.5555556

↓ 2

29.14286

↓ 5.43

5. Zach Mettenberger

LSU

5.8888889

n/c

73.85714

↓ 8.86

6. AJ McCarron

Alabama

7.1111111

n/c

89.14286

↓ 25.14

7. Jimmy Garoppolo

Eastern Illinois

7.1428571

↑ 1

107.6

↓ 12.85

8. Tajh Boyd

Clemson

8.3333333

↓ 1

88.71429

↓ 34.04

9. Brett Smith

Wyoming

8.875

n/c

109

↑ 10.67

10. David Fales

San Jose State

9.7777778

n/c

127.1667

↓ 23.42

11. Logan Thomas

Virginia Tech

10

↑ 1

163.5

↓ 40.3

12. Aaron Murray

Georgia

10.888889

↑ 1

133.3333

↓ 15.5

13. Stephen Morris

Miami (FL)

11.666667

↓ 2

180

↓ 59.67

14. Tom Savage

Pittsburgh

13.25

new

188.5

new

15. Bryn Renner

North Carolina

16.75

↓ 1

290

↓ 26.67

The College All-Star games were the biggest scouting events to happen since the preliminary consensus ranking, and it didn't do much to change the idea that there are four elite quarterbacks at the top of the draft class, and then a slew of "everybody else." Teddy Bridgewater remains at the top of the pile as the best QB in the draft, and having top 5 value. However, Blake Bortles has surged up the Big Board rankings jumping 2 spots in the positional ranks, and over 15 spots in the overall ranks, while Derek Carr has slid down to 4th in the positional ranks and dropped a few spots in the overall ranks as well. While Tajh Boyd also sees his stock drop quite a bit after a poor showing at the college All-Star games, no one has seen their stock drop more than Stephen Morris who drops 2 spots in the positional ranks and almost 60 spots (nearly 2 full rounds!) in the overall ranks. Brett Smith out of Wyoming also sees a bit of an uptick in the overall ranks, and he's an intriguing mid-round option to keep an eye on during the draft process.

Based on the rankings, I am maintaining the belief that if Teddy Bridgewater is gone by pick #8, then drafting any other QB should be viewed as a reach by the Vikings. It's possible the team will value the need at quarterback as being greater than the loss of value by a few draft positions, so if a quarterback like Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel are still available it wouldn't be too much lost value. But, taking any other quarterback at #8 would be a pretty major reach. I reserve the right to change that opinion after the combine and pro days as the value of these prospects shifts around, but for now there isn't a great QB option that's a perfect fit in terms of draft value at pick #8 overall, unfortunately.

Defensive Tackles

Player Name and Position

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Louis Nix III

Notre Dame

1.888888889

n/c

16.44444444

↓ 2.44

2. Ra'Shede Hageman

Minnesota

2.444444444

n/c

17.55555556

↑ 5.94

3. Timmy Jernigan

Florida State

3.555555556

↑ 1

23.44444444

↑ 12.7

4. Stephen Tuitt DT/DE

Notre Dame

3.777777778

↓ 1

28.66666667

↓ 8.1

5. Aaron Donald

Pittsburgh

4.444444444

n/c

33

↑ 11.8

6. Dominique Easley DT/DE

Florida

7.222222222

↑ 2

55

↑ 2.88

7. Will Sutton

Arizona State

7.777777778

n/c

59

↓ 10

8. Ego Ferguson

LSU

7.888888889

↓ 2

61

↓ 11.17

9. Anthony Johnson

LSU

9

n/c

67.375

↓ 8.7

10. Daquan Jones

Penn State

10

n/c

75.42857143

↓ 7.9

11. Kelcy Quarles

South Carolina

11.33333333

n/c

88

↓ 14.6

12. Daniel McCullers

Tennessee

12.88888889

n/c

99.66666667

↓ 12.38

13. Taylor Hart DT/DE

Oregon

14.71428571

n/c

128.3333333

↓ 12.13

14. George Uko

USC

15.44444444

↑ 3

142.5714286

↓ 5.17

Fittingly, there's not a lot of movement in the defensive tackle rankings, although Ra'Shede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan get some slight movement upwards in the overall ranks with Jernigan leap-frogging over Stephen Tuitt in the positional ranks. As I mentioned before, the various sources were a bit inconsistent in how they listed these prospects. Some sources listed them as defensive ends and others as defensive tackles. You can see which players might have position flexibility based on the positional listing.

After looking at the overall rankings, it would appear that drafting a defensive tackle with the #8 pick would not be a very smart move as none of these tackles average out as a Top 10 talent. There will be much better value at other positions with our 1st round pick, but should one of these four or five 1st round ranked tackles fall into the top of the 2nd round, it would be very smart of the Vikings to pounce on them with their #40 overall selection.

Inside Linebackers

Player Name and Position

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. CJ Mosley ILB/OLB

Alabama

1

n/c

10.22222222

↓ 1.65

2. Shayne Skov ILB/OLB

Stanford

3.555555556

↑ 1

68.25

↓ 4

3. Christian Jones ILB/OLB

Florida State

3.75

↓ 1

74

↓ 9.75

4. Yawin Smallwood ILB/OLB

Connecticut

4

n/c

67

↑ 12.29

5. Telvin Smith ILB/OLB

Florida State

4.285714286

n/c

96.16666667

↓ 22.67

6. Chris Borland

Wisconsin

4.75

n/c

91.71428571

↓ 14.714

7. Jordan Zumwalt ILB/OLB

UCLA

7.4

new

126.3333333

new

8. Lamin Barrow ILB/OLB

LSU

7.714285714

↑ 1

145.8

↓ 36.3

9. Max Bullough

Michigan St.

8.75

↓ 2

177

↓ 71.8

10. Andrew Jackson

Western Kentucky

9.625

n/c

163.4

↓ 32

11. Preston Brown

Louisville

10

n/c

196.25

↑ 7.75

12. DeDe Lattimore ILB/OLB

South Florida

13.14285714

↑ 3

238

↓ 21

13. Greg Blair

Cincinatti

13.85714286

↓ 1

252.75

↑ 33.25

14. Avery Williamson

Kentucky

14.42857143

n/c

275.25

↓ 36.9

15. Glenn Carson ILB/OLB

Penn State

14.5

↓ 2

256.6666667

↓ 5.67

16. Jeremiah George

Iowa State

16.25

new

214

new

17. Jack Tyler

Virginia Tech

18.5

new

318

new

Like defensive tackle, there was almost no consistency what-so-ever in the listing of inside vs outside linebacker among the many sources I consulted. So those prospects with position flexibility are clearly labeled. As in the preliminary ranking, only C.J. Mosley gets a 1st round grade as an inside linebacker, although his overall rank slipped just a little bit. He still remains a solid Top 10 option, and he would fill a pretty major need on the Vikings defense. There were a couple of new names added to the list, although none of them are valued as more than a mid-to-late round pick. There were quite a few players that have moved around the rankings, including DeDe Lattimore getting the biggest jump up in both the positional rankings and overall ranks, but he still remains a late round selection. Max Bullough out of Michigan State sees the biggest drop in the rankings, falling a couple spots in the positional ranks, and dropping over 70 spots in the overall ranks (a full 2 rounds!).

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of elite talent at inside linebacker in this draft. If the Vikings want to get the best inside linebacker, then they would be wise to take C.J. Mosley with the #8 pick. If he's not there, then they can comfortably wait until the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th round and get a pretty decent option. It remains to be seen what the coaching staff might do with Audie Cole and Michael Mauti already on the roster and how that will impact drafting an inside linebacker.

Outside Linebackers

Player Name and Position

School

Avg. Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Avg. Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Anthony Barr

UCLA

1.444444444

n/c

5.888888889

↓ 1.89

2. Khalil Mack

Buffalo

1.666666667

n/c

6.111111111

↑ 4.99

3. CJ Mosley OLB/ILB

Alabama

2.888888889

n/c

10.22222222

↑ 1.8

4. Ryan Shazier

Ohio State

4.888888889

↑ 1

30.75

↓ 2.46

5. Trent Murphy OLB/DE

Stanford

6

↓ 1

42.125

↓ 17.27

6. Kyle Van Noy

Brigham Young

6.222222222

↑ 1

39.25

↓ 2.375

7. Dee Ford OLB/DE

Auburn

8.111111111

↑ 7

51.625

↑ 25.375

8. Jeremiah Attaochu

Georgia Tech

8.888888889

↑ 3

50.14285714

↑ 17.7

9. Shayne Skov ILB/OLB

Stanford

10.77777778

↑ 1

68.25

↓ 4.875

10. Christian Jones OLB/ILB

Florida State

11.22222222

↓ 1

74

↓ 9.75

11. Yawin Smallwood OLB/ILB

Connecticut

11.33333333

↑ 2

67

↑ 12.29

12. DeMarcus Lawerence OLB/DE

Boise State

12.33333333

↑ 4

94.75

↓ 0.75

13. Telvin Smith OLB/ILB

Florida State

12.42857143

↑ 1

96.16666667

↓ 22.33

14. Adrian Hubbard

Alabama

13.88888889

↓ 2

84.5

↓ 4

15. Trevor Reilly OLB/DE

Utah

14.44444444

↓ 7

78.57142857

↓ 35.07

16. Carl Bradford OLB/DE

Arizona State

14.57142857

new

99.16666667

new

17. Ronald Powell

Florida

18

new

150.2

new

Just like with the inside linebackers, the consistency of positional listing for outside linebackers was all over the place. I've noted where a player might have positional flexibility. As you can see there has been pretty massive change in the positional rankings with everyone except the Top 3 prospects. Dee Ford makes the biggest jump (of any prospect at any position!) climbing 7 spots up the positional ranks, and 25 spots up the overall ranks. On the flipside, Trevor Reilly drops 7 spots in the positional ranks, and over 35 spots in the overall ranks. Jeremiah Attaochu is another name to watch out for, as he made some big climbs in the rankings too.

If the Vikings are looking for value with the #8 pick, then look no further than outside linebacker. There are three quality options that could be available to them in the 1st round: Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack and (again) C.J. Mosley. There is almost no difference in value between Barr and Mack, with Mack having made some good gains in the overall ranks (and Barr slipping ever so slightly). But if we passed on one of those elite three options, there are three more waiting for us at the top of 2nd: Ryan Shazier, Trent Murphy and Kyle Van Noy. Just based on pure value alone, I will be disappointed if the Vikings decide to pass one of these six prospects if they are available during the 1st or 2nd round.

Cornerback

Player Name

School

Avg. Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Avg. Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Darqueze Dennard

Michigan St.

1.666666667

n/c

17.11111111

↑ 3.51

2. Justin Gilbert

Oklahoma St.

2.444444444

n/c

24.88888889

↑ 7.24

3. Jason Verrett

TCU

4.333333333

n/c

37.77777778

↓ 8.5

4. Bradley Roby

Ohio St.

4.555555556

n/c

39.875

↓ 0.3

5. Lamarcus Joyner

Florida St.

6

↑ 3

56.375

↑ 4.79

6. Kyle Fuller

Virginia Tech

6.333333333

n/c

52

↑ 7.86

7. Marcus Roberson

Florida

6.777777778

↓ 2

58.42857143

↓ 20.4

8. Loucheiz Purifoy

Florida

8.555555556

↓ 1

67.25

↓ 9.1

9. Quandre Diggs

Texas

11

new

83

n/a

10. Pierre Desir

Lindenwood

12

↑ 6

85.8

↑ 32.87

11. Vic Hampton

South Carolina

12.625

↑ 3

108.4

↓ 26.73

12. Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Nebraska

12.85714286

↑ 6

115.5

↑ 40

13. Keith McGill

Utah

13.375

↓ 1

116.6

↓ 23.85

14. Terrance Mitchell

Oregon

13.71428571

↓ 4

116.5

↓ 31.5

15. Aaron Colvin

Oklahoma

14

↓ 6

120.7142857

↓ 43.09

16. E.J. Gaines

Missouri

14

↓ 3

99.33333333

↓ 28.33

17. Jaylen Watkins

Florida

16.88888889

new

126.8

n/a

18. Antone Exum

Virginia Tech

17

new

152.8

n/a

19. Bashaud Breeland

Clemson

17.16666667

new

132.6666667

n/a

20. Andre Hal

Vanderbilt

22.125

n/c

169.8

↓ 21.6

21. Deion Belue

Alabama

22.71428571

↓ 1

140

↓ 14.67

22. Walt Aikens

Liberty

23

new

125

n/a

Cornerback is one of the deepest positions in this draft, although there is also not a lot of elite talent at the top of the rankings. Only two cornerbacks even receive a 1st round grade. That said, there are 16 cornerbacks that have an average rank that would fall in rounds 2-4, which is a lot. There were quite a few new names that made the rankings and a couple others that made some massive gains. Both Pierre Desir and Stanley Jean-Baptiste climbed 6 positional ranks and both jumped up nearly a full round in the overall ranks. Aaron Colvin saw a massive slide however, dropping 6 spots in the positional ranks and a full round grade in the overall ranks. Quandre Diggs out of Texas is perhaps the most intriguing new addition to the ranks, as he cracks the Top 10 immediately and slots in as a 3rd round pick. How so many sources missed that prospect initially is beyond me, but he's a name to watch going forward.

Of all the positions, cornerback possesses the least amount of value with the #8 pick, and there just isn't a prospect that would make sense to take at that draft position right now. That said, there should be a metric ton of options available in the upper, middle rounds 2-4 and I would be surprised if the Vikings don't take advantage of that depth.

Top 10 Overall

Player Name

Position

School

Average Overall Rank

1. Jadeveon Clowney

DE

South Carolina

1.111111

2. Jake Matthews

OT

Texas A&M

2.777778

3. Teddy Bridgewater

QB

Louisville

4.375

4. Sammy Watkins

WR

Clemson

5

5. Greg Robinson

OT

Auburn

5.222222

6. Anthony Barr

OLB

UCLA

5.888889

7. Khalil Mack

OLB

Buffalo

6.111111

8. C.J. Mosley

ILB

Alabama

10.22222

9. Blake Bortles

QB

UCF

12.75

10. Johnny Manziel

QB

Texas A&M

13.875

11. Marqise Lee

WR

USC

14.44444

12. Taylor Lewan

OT

Michigan

14.77778

13. Eric Ebron

TE

North Carolina

14.88889

14. Mike Evans

WR

Texas A&M

15.11111

16. Ha'Sean "HaHa" Clinton-Dix

S

Alabama

16.11111

17. Darqueze Dennard

CB

Michigan State

17.11111

18. Ra'Shede Hageman

DT

Minnesota

17.55556

19. Kony Ealy

DE

Missouri

18.77778

20. Timmy Jernigan

DT

Florida State

23.44444

In order to make the above "Top 10" ranking, a player simply had to be ranked in the top 10 of at least one overall ranking source. That lead me to a list of 20 players overall ranked above. The good news is, the Vikings will be guaranteed to land at least 1 player on the list above, which is good because these are the best college players available in the draft. If NFL teams followed the value implied by this consensus ranking, then Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel should be available when the Vikings are on the clock. But, because teams are likely to draft a QB with some of the picks ahead of us, that means an elite player like Anthony Barr, Greg Robinson, or Khalil Mack could fall into our lap (and they all have an average overall rank of 6 or better!). Assuming the Vikings don't trade up to draft a quarterback, they could be in a great position to have some elite talent fall into their laps.

Tackling the Draft

Armed with this updated consensus information, how should the Vikings attack the draft? Well, there are multiple angles to take, but in trying to line up our draft picks with the best value (and assuming any prospect with an overall ranking higher than our draft pick is taken), I would probably approach it this way:

Value Half-Mock

Round 1, pick #8: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida (12.75 Overall)
Round 2, pick #40: OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU (39.25 Overall)
Round 3, pick #72: DT DaQuan Jones, Penn State (75.4 Overall)
Round 3, pick #96: ILB/OLB Telvin Smith, Florida State (96.2 Overall)
Round 4, pick #114: CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska (115.5 Overall)
Rounds 5-7: Best Player Available

I was very tempted to take C.J. Mosley at #8, as his overall rank was just a couple spots higher than Bortles, but I felt that our need at QB trumped our need at linebacker (although with Erin Henderson's release just announced this might be more debatable). Plus, there are some very good linebackers available in the 2nd-4th rounds, and I got two: Kyle Van Noy and Telvin Smith. I also addressed our interior defensive line with the 318 pound tackle DaQuan Jones, and added another piece to our defense in Stanley Jean-Baptiste (the name alone warrants a pick!). After that, it doesn't matter much to me as the Vikings should just take the best players available. I think it would be good to pick up a late round quarterback with high upside, and maybe even a late round guard, center or safety.

Do I think this mock draft is realistic? Well, probably not. Even though Blake Bortles isn't ranked higher than 12th overall, there is an extremely high likelihood that he is drafted higher than that. Quarterbacks are almost always overvalued in the draft, because teams tend to have such a high need for them. So, it will be interesting to see what happens on draft day.

If you had to follow the value gleaned from these consensus rankings, who would you draft for our Minnesota Vikings?

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