2014 Draft: Consensus Rankings v2.0

With the 8th pick in the draft, the Minnesota Vikings select... - USA TODAY Sports

Did you remember to bring some popcorn? Have a seat and enjoy the read.

With the combine having finished nearly a week ago, many of the online draft ranking sources have spent the last week culling all the combine data and updating their rankings of players. So I took it upon myself to boil it all down and offer up a version 2.0, "Post-Combine" edition of the Consensus Rankings. And as expected, after working through this giant set of data, there was a lot of movement in the rankings. The combine is easily the biggest scouting event of the year and we likely won't see this much movement in the rankings again. I'm sure that the rankings will continue to shift around a little bit, as the players display more of their talent during individual and college Pro Days, but it will have to take some pretty unusual news to shift things too much more. But with this latest update there were a few shockers, so you'll just have to read on to find out!

With the start of free agency and the new league year just over a week away (Tuesday, March 11th!), the Vikings still have a lot of holes on the roster they have yet to fill. As 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. In addition, there is a "Top 10 Overall" consensus ranking that includes every position at the end of this article. Lastly, in order for a player to make the consensus rankings, they had to appear in the top 10 of at least one big board of the ten I consulted, which included those at: NFL.com, ESPN, CBS, SB Nation, Walterfootball, Draftek, Draft Countdown, Scout on MSN, Optimum Scouting and National Football Post. NFL.com was the only new source (they didn't have a big board posted at the time I compiled the earlier versions), and SB Nation and Optimum Scouting were the only ones that were not updated since the last version. So, armed with all this new data, let's start with the quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks

Player Name

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville

1.5

n/c

7

↓ 2.63

2. Blake Bortles

UCF

2.2

n/c

18

↓ 5.25

3. Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M

2.7

n/c

15.8

↓ 1.91

4. Derek Carr

Fresno State

4.4

n/c

45.2

↓ 16.08

5. Jimmy Garoppolo

Eastern Illinois

6.2

↑ 2

82

↑ 25.6

6. AJ McCarron

Alabama

6.7

n/c

73.8

↑ 15.39

7. Zach Mettenberger

LSU

6.9

↓ 2

90.4

↓ 16.59

8. Tajh Boyd

Clemson

9

n/c

110.3

↓ 21.57

9. Logan Thomas

Virginia Tech

9.9

↑ 2

142.9

↑ 20.64

10. David Fales

San Jose State

10.2

n/c

133.1

↓ 5.98

11. Brett Smith

Wyoming

10.3

↓ 2

117.2

↓↑ 8.2

12. Aaron Murray

Georgia

10.5

n/c

131.9

↑ 1.48

13. Stephen Morris

Miami (FL)

12.8

n/c

177.3

↑ 2.67

14. Tom Savage

Pittsburgh

13.1

n/c

185.7

↑ 2.83

As you can see above there was virtually no change at the top with the "Big Four" quarterbacks, although it's worth pointing out that all four of them have been downgraded some in the overall rankings. Shockingly, Derek Carr falls enough in the overall ranks to officially label him a 2nd round pick. Jimmy Garoppolo and Logan Thomas got the biggest jumps after the combine with both raising their stock almost a full draft round overall, and up 2 spots each in the positional ranks. Garoppolo saw the biggest move of any quarterback in the overall ranks. Bryn Renner of North Carolina, the last QB ranked in v1.0, falls off the ranking as no source had him ranked as a Top 10 quarterback anymore. So the list has shrunk to only 14 total quarterbacks, of which only three have a consensus first round grade. This does not bode well for the Vikings chances of getting good value at #8 with the quarterback position, and only one quarterback would make sense at #8 based on the consensus value anyway: Teddy Bridgewater and it seems a foregone conclusion that he will be off the board by pick #8.

Teams tend to overvalue quarterbacks, and as our own Arif Hasan pointed out recently, quarterbacks are frequently drafted 10 or so spots ahead of their consensus value. This means that should a quarterback like Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles be available at #8, the Vikings should not hesitate to sacrifice some value to address the most important position on the field. If these consensus rankings are to be believed however, contrary to what Arif suggested above, Derek Carr would not be a great choice at #8. Again, in what seems like a shocking development, even if Derek Carr is over drafted by 10 spots, it would still not be enough to get him into the 1st round. The Vikings will have a tough choice to make, and they could just as easily wait until the 2nd round hoping Carr might be there at pick #40, or they could also wait until the 3rd round hoping that Garoppolo, McCarron or Mettenberger are there at pick #72. But this does not appear to be a very deep class at quarterback, as only 7 signal callers garner a round 1-3 grade, unfortunately.

Defensive Tackles

Player Name and Position

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Louis Nix III NT/DT

Notre Dame

2

n/c

18.2

↓ 1.76

2. Ra'Shede Hageman

Minnesota

3.2

n/c

25.5

↓ 7.94

3. Timmy Jernigan NT/DT

Florida State

3.8

n/c

27

↓ 3.56

4. Stephen Tuitt DT/DE

Notre Dame

4.3

n/c

30.8

↓ 2.13

5. Aaron Donald

Pittsburgh

4.9

n/c

38.8

↓ 5.8

6. Dominique Easley DT/DE

Florida

7.8

n/c

59.2

↓ 4.22

7. Will Sutton

Arizona State

8

n/c

62.9

↓ 3.9

8. Anthony Johnson

LSU

8.2

↑ 2

68

↓ 0.63

9. Ego Ferguson

LSU

8.3

↓ 1

68.1

↓ 7.1

10. Daquan Jones

Penn State

9

n/c

66.2

↑ 9.21

11. Daniel McCullers

Tennessee

10.6

↑ 1

87.9

↑ 11.79

12. Kelcy Quarles

South Carolina

12.2

↓ 1

94.9

↓ 6.89

13. Caraun Reid

Princeton

13.4

new

132

n/a

14. Taylor Hart DT/DE

Oregon

13.9

↓ 1

127.8

↑ 0.58

15. Brent Urban DT/DE

Virginia

14.3

new

135

n/a

16. George Uko

USC

14.9

↓ 2

163.3

↓ 20.68

17. Shamar Stephen

Connecticut

16.6

new

164.2

n/a

18. Wade Keliikipi

Oregon

32.8

new

289

n/a

As you can see above there was virtually no change among the top end of the rankings, with the top 7 tackles not changing positional ranks, and all of them being downgraded in the overall ranks by a few spots (but nothing too drastic). After the combine, there were four new additions, although Oregon tackle Wade Keliikipi appears to be benefitting from having only one source rank him anywhere near the top 10, and most have him barely draftable if he even appears at all. Anthony Johnson leapfrogs his LSU teammate Ego Ferguson to claim the #8 spot for the biggest move in the positional rankings. Daniel McCullers of Tennessee sees the largest move up the overall boards by almost 12 spots while USC's George Uko sees the largest fall of almost 21 spots overall.

With most of the tackles being downgraded somewhat in the overall ranks, there just isn't a tackle that makes sense at pick #8 in terms of a value pick. Of all the positions of need, defensive tackle would represent the least amount of value with the #8 pick. But there will be plenty of options available in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and while there isn't a lot of elite talent at the top of the board, it is very deep with 11 players earning a round 1-3 grade.

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

10.6

↓ 0.38

2. Shayne Skov ILB/OLB

Stanford

3.9

n/c

87.1

↓ 18.85

3. Chris Borland

Wisconsin

4.1

↑ 3

81

↑ 10.71

4. Christian Jones ILB/OLB

Florida State

4.3

↓ 1

88.5

↓14.5

5. Telvin Smith ILB/OLB

Florida State

4.6

n/c

93.9

↑ 2.31

6. Yawin Smallwood ILB/OLB

Connecticut

5

↓ 2

90.2

↓ 23.22

7. Lamin Barrow ILB/OLB

LSU

6.6

↑ 1

125.5

↑ 20.3

8. Preston Brown

Louisville

8

↑ 3

143.3

↑ 52.92

9. Jordan Zumwalt ILB/OLB

UCLA

8.1

↓ 2

149.8

↓ 23.5

10. Max Bullough

Michigan St.

9

↓ 1

152.3

↑ 24.67

11. Trey DePriest

Alabama

10

new

209

n/a

12. Andrew Jackson

Western Kentucky

10.7

↓ 2

181.5

↓ 18.1

13. Avery Williamson

Kentucky

13.3

↑ 1

241.8

↑ 33.45

14. Glenn Carson ILB/OLB

Penn State

13.9

↑ 1

225.5

↑ 31.17

15. Greg Blair

Cincinatti

14.5

↓ 2

260.3

↓ 7.58

16. DeDe Lattimore ILB/OLB

South Florida

14.7

↓ 4

245

↓ 7

17. Steve Jenkins

Texas A&M

23

new

395

n/a

18. Andrew Wilson

Missouri

26.3

new

462

n/a

There was a lot of movement in the linebacker ranks, although the top 2 retain their spots. There were two big risers after the draft: Wisconsin's Chris Borland and Louisville's Preston Brown. Both climbed 3 spots in the positional ranks and Preston Brown improved his draft stock by an astounding round a half (nearly 53 spots!). On the flipside Yawin Smallwood out of Connecticut falls over 20 spots overall and drops 2 spots in the positional ranks. Three new names appear on the list, although the last two appear to be getting a boost from only one top 10 ranking, as the remaining sources have them barely draftable (or not at all). Inside linebacker looks like a deep draft class with 18 prospects appearing in the top 10, but it's really not. There is C.J. Mosley, who is an elite prospect, and then a severe drop-off with no other round 1 or 2 prospects after Mosley. There are a slew of 3rd - 5th round talents however, so the Vikings could find some roster depth at linebacker later on.

C.J. Mosley was a popular mock to the Vikings before the combine, but he has slipped just a little in the overall ranks. Still, if the Vikings want the hands-down best middle linebacker prospect in the draft, they need look no further than C.J. Mosley. He retains a Top 10 consensus ranking and would be a good choice with the #8 pick. If the Vikings decide to pass on Mosley, their next best options appear in the 3rd round with prospects like Shayne Skov, Chris Borland or Christian Jones.

Outside Linebackers

Player Name and Position

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Khalil Mack

Buffalo

1.2

↑ 1

5.1

↑ 1

2. Anthony Barr

UCLA

2

↓ 1

9.1

↓ 3.21

3. C.J. Mosley OLB/ILB

Alabama

2.8

n/c

10.6

↓ 0.38

4. Ryan Shazier

Ohio State

4.5

n/c

28.2

↑ 2.55

5. Kyle Van Noy

Brigham Young

6.1

↑ 1

44.2

↓ 2.08

6. Dee Ford OLB/DE

Auburn

7.2

↑ 1

50.2

↑ 1.4

7. Trent Murphy OLB/DE

Stanford

7.3

↓ 2

54.4

↓ 12.28

8. Jeremiah Attaochu

Georgia Tech

8.9

n/c

62.9

↓ 12.75

9. DeMarcus Lawerence OLB/DE

Boise State

11.3

↑ 3

81.8

↑ 13

10. Shayne Skov ILB/OLB

Stanford

12

↓ 1

87.1

↓ 18.85

11. Christian Jones OLB/ILB

Florida State

12.2

↓ 1

88.5

↓ 14.5

12. Carl Bradford OLB/DE

Arizona State

12.4

↑ 4

85

↑ 14.17

13. Yawin Smallwood OLB/ILB

Connecticut

12.5

↓ 2

90.2

↓ 23.22

14. Telvin Smith OLB/ILB

Florida State

12.6

↓ 1

93.9

↑ 2.31

15. Adrian Hubbard

Alabama

15.2

↓ 1

107.3

↓ 22.8

16. Jordie Tripp

Montana

16.2

new

161

n/a

17. Trevor Reilly OLB/DE

Utah

16.4

↓ 2

107.4

↓ 28.86

18. Christian Kirksey

Iowa

16.6

new

119

n/a

19. Prince Shembo

Notre Dame

19.6

new

142.4

n/a

20. Boseko Lokombo

Oregon

24.1

new

205.6

n/a

The shake-up of linebackers continues with Khalil Mack over-taking Anthony Barr for the top outside linebacker spot for the first time this offseason, and in a pretty decisive way. We have four new additions, although like some of the other position groups the bottom two (Shembo and Lokombo) again seem to be artificially ranked thanks to only one source having them in the top 10 while most of the others have them much lower. Carl Bradford of Arizona State and DeMarcus Lawerence out of Boise State see the biggest jumps up the boards. Bradford jumps up 4 positional spots and over 14 spots overall while Lawerence climbs 3 positional spots and 13 spots overall making them both big combine risers. On the flipside Trevor Reilly out of Utah sees the biggest drop, falling 2 spots in the positional rankings and nearly a full round overall, nearly 29 spots.

As before, 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: Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr, and (again) C.J. Mosley. The trend of Mack climbing and Barr dropping over the course of the Pre-Draft process continues with Mack actually overtaking Barr. Outside linebacker is very deep this year with four 1st round talents and 20 names cracking the Top 10. And the top 19 players grade out in the first four rounds of the draft too. If the Vikings wanted to wait, they could still get a quality player in rounds 2-4.

Cornerback

Player Name

School

Average Positional Rank

Position Rank Change

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Darqueze Dennard

Michigan St.

1.7

n/c

17.1

↑ 0.01

2. Justin Gilbert

Oklahoma St.

1.9

n/c

19

↑ 5.89

3. Bradley Roby

Ohio St.

3.9

↑ 1

33.5

↑ 6.38

4. Jason Verrett

TCU

4.4

↓ 1

40.2

↓ 2.42

5. Kyle Fuller

Virginia Tech

5.2

↑ 1

48

↑ 4

6. Marcus Roberson

Florida

7.6

↑ 1

60.1

↓ 1.7

7. Lamarcus Joyner

Florida St.

8

↓ 2

66.6

↓ 10.25

8. Loucheiz Purifoy

Florida

10

n/c

77.6

↓10.38

9. Keith McGill

Utah

10.7

↑ 4

89.7

↑ 26.93

10. Bashaud Breeland

Clemson

11.6

↑ 9

90

↑ 42.67

11. Vic Hampton

South Carolina

11.9

n/c

97.5

↑ 10.9

12. Stanley Jean-Baptiste

Nebraska

13.8

n/c

114.5

↑ 1

13. E.J. Gaines

Missouri

14

↑ 3

111.3

↓ 11.92

14. Rashaad Reynolds

Oregon State

14.3

new

120.6

n/a

15. Jaylen Watkins

Florida

15.4

↑ 2

131.1

↓ 4.34

16. Terrance Mitchell

Oregon

16.4

↓ 2

135.7

↓ 19.17

17. Pierre Desir

Lindenwood

16.8

↓ 6

118.7

↓ 32.87

18. Antone Exum

Virginia Tech

16.9

n/c

124

↑ 28.8

19. Deion Belue

Alabama

17.4

↑2

132

↑ 8

20. Aaron Colvin

Oklahoma

18.5

↓ 5

150

↓29.29

21. Travis Carrie

Ohio

29

new

235.7

n/a

22. Marcus Williams

North Dakota State

29.4

new

198.3

n/a

Cornerback is one of the deepest positions in this draft, although there is still not a lot of elite talent at the top of the rankings even though the top three prospects helped out their stock after the combine. That said, nobody jumped higher than Bashaud Breeland out of Clemson who improved 9 positional spots and over 42 overall spots (more than a full round grade). On the flipside, small school standout Pierre Desir of Lindenwood drops 6 positional spots and full round grade overall (32 spots) thanks to a disappointing 40-time at the combine. There were three new additions to the ranks in version 2 with Rashaad Reynolds of Oregon State coming out of nowhere to seize the 14th rank and a round 4 grade.

Despite the good gains after the combine, still only two cornerbacks even receive a 1st round grade and none appear in the top half of round 1. That said, there are now 18 cornerbacks that grade out in the first 4 rounds and 22 overall that make the top 10 (the largest of any position group). This is a deep draft for cornerbacks, so if the Vikings were to trade down a few spots that would make drafting Dennard or Gilbert a very real possibility. But as it stands now, both would be a bit of a reach with the #8 pick. Better yet, the Vikings could wait until the mid-rounds as some of this talent will surely fall.

Top 10 Overall

Player Name

Position

School

Average Overall Rank

Overall Rank Change

1. Jadeveon Clowney

DE

South Carolina

1.1

n/c

2. Jake Matthews

OT

Texas A&M

3.7

n/c

3. Greg Robinson

OT

Auburn

3.7

↑ 2

4. Sammy Watkins

WR

Clemson

4.2

n/c

5. Khalil Mack

OLB

Buffalo

5.1

↑ 2

6. Teddy Bridgewater

QB

Louisville

7

↓ 3

7. Anthony Barr

OLB

UCLA

9.1

↓ 1

8. C.J. Mosley

ILB

Alabama

10.6

n/c

9. Taylor Lewan

OT

Michigan

10.7

↑ 3

10. Eric Ebron

TE

North Carolina

13.6

↑ 3

11. Mike Evans

WR

Texas A&M

14.1

↑ 3

12. Johnny Manziel

QB

Texas A&M

15.8

↓ 2

13. Darqueze Dennard

CB

Michigan State

16.6

↑ 3

14. Ha'Sean "HaHa" Clinton-Dix

S

Alabama

17.2

↑ 1

15. Blake Bortles

QB

UCF

18

↓ 6

16. Justin Gilbert

CB

Oklahoma State

19.4

new

17. Kony Ealy

DE

Missouri

19.6

↑ 1

18. Timmy Jernigan

DT

Florida State

27.5

↑ 1

19. Kelvin Benjamin

WR

Florida State

33.1

new

With this latest edition, we have a bit of movement in the overall ranks as well as 2 new names (and losing 3 others). In order to make the list, a player had to appear in the Top 10 overall on at least one source, which is why Timmy Jernigan and Kelvin Benjamin appear, despite having relatively low average rankings. In a shocking turn of developments both Johhny Manziel and Blake Bortles drop out of the top 10, falling to an average rank of 12th and 15th respectively, leaving Teddy Bridgewater as the only unanimous top 10 quarterback, and even Bridgewater falls 3 spots as well.

If the draft followed this consensus ranking to the letter, the Vikings would pass on Manziel and Bortles and draft C.J. Mosley. This is extremely unlikely as both of those quarterbacks will likely go to a QB-needy team ahead of the Vikings. That means there is a very good chance for at least two of the 7 players ranked ahead of Mosley to fall to the Vikings. I've been saying it for a while, but there's a great chance a player like Khalil Mack, Anthony Barr or Sammy Watkins falls to the Vikings at #8, and they have a lot of options if that happens. They could happily draft an elite, blue chip player that fills a need (Mack or Barr) or gain some additional picks by trading down for a team that wants the rights to draft Sammy Watkins (or they could even draft him themselves). And if all of those players are gone, then it seems inevitable that a quarterback like Manziel or Bortles will be there for the taking.

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:

Vikings Value Mock

Round 1, pick #8: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA (9.1 Overall Rank)
Round 2, pick #40: QB Derek Carr, Fresno State (45.2 Overall Rank)
Round 3, pick #72: ILB Chris Borland, Wisconsin (81 Overall Rank)
Round 3, pick #96: CB Vic Hampton, South Carolina (97.5 Overall Rank)
Round 4, pick #114: DT Caraun Reid, Princeton (132 Overall Rank)
Round 5, pick #136: OG Brandon Thomas, Clemson
Round 6, pick #168: DE Cassius Marsh, UCLA
Round 7, pick #200: TE Jacob Peterson, Wisconsin

Based on the overall ranks, quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles were on the board when the Vikings picked at #8. But this mock isn't about need, it was about value. And no player represented more value than Anthony Barr. Plus, Derek Carr would be there in the 2nd round in this fantasyland. I am in love with the first three picks of this value-based mock draft, although it makes me wonder if we wouldn't suddenly have a glut of talent at linebacker, especially if Michael Mauti, Audie Cole and Gerald Hodges prove they can be viable starters if the draft fell this way.

Do I think this mock draft is realistic? Nope. There is almost no way that the Vikings draft goes anything like the above. So, what follows is a mini-mock of the first 8 picks in the draft to see who might be available for the Vikings. I scoped out the SB Nation blogs to inform my opinion, so if I were the GM of each team ahead of us, this is how I would draft for each team:

NFL Mini-Mock Draft

Pick 1, Houston: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Pick 2, St. Louis: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Pick 3, Jacksonville: QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
Pick 4, Cleveland: QB Blake Bortles
Pick 5, Oakland: QB Johnny Manziel
Pick 6, Atlanta: OT Jake Mathews
Pick 7, Tampa Bay: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Pick 8, Minnesota: OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo

The other players on the board the Vikings could have taken: OLB Anthony Barr, ILB C.J. Mosley or even TE Eric Ebron. If the Vikings didn't want their pick of the linebacker litter, they could try to trade down with some other team that does. In the mock above, I could see the Browns taking Sammy Watkins and then the Raiders going after Bortles. Tampa Bay would then likely take Khalil Mack in that scenario leaving Johnny Manziel to fall to the Vikings. I think either scenario is just as likely at this early stage in the pre-draft game. At the end of the day the Vikings will have a plethora of options available to them, and May can't come soon enough!

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