The Return Of The Big Board: The Top 50, Volume 1.0


After a horrifying 1-7 start by our beloved Dallas Cowboys, I went on a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo type research into the NFL Draft. Like Lisabeth Salander, I dove into my topic with tremendous hunger and examined each prospect with a Salander like work ethic. In return for my hard work, I learned a lot about the prospects and found a rekindled respect for NFL scouts and war rooms. With the Cowboys doing so poorly on the field, it was only a matter of time before people who covered this team got into the draft side of things. I decided to pounce early and that early start may have improved the way I study NFL prospects.

I am not a NFL scout, nor do I think I am arrogant enough to actually believe what I do is anywhere near the caliber of work they do. I am not a draft guru like Wes Bunting, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay or Mike Mayock. I do not believe I am one of those guys. I don't have inside information and I don't have the ability to talk to scouts and front office personnel like they do. What I do have is a passion for the NFL Draft and I put in a lot of hard work researching the prospects. I do the work and I do the homework. I use what tools are available and offered to me. Anyone can use the same tools and have the same access to the resources I use. But not everyone does the homework and has the drive that I am capable of.

I will come out and say this though, I believe I do have an eye for talent, especially NFL talent. The draft has been a hobby of mine since around 1999-2000. When I began to play Madden as a little kid, one of my favorite parts of the game was the off season and rebuilding teams. College football was never a true passion of mine, but I followed players. That way when I could import the draft class from NCAA College Football over to Madden, I would at least have an idea of who would be good to draft.

Every year I usually watched the draft with some of my friends and I would know basically every player drafted in the first two rounds. Then I became even more curious and dived deeper into the draft. Not only did I want to know who the players were in the early rounds, I wanted to know who this 5th round pick out of that small school was. I wanted to know how he played in college and what type of athletic numbers he put up at his pro day.

So I began to study prospects even more than I did before. By the 2006 NFL Draft, I began to become more familiar with prospects in the early and mid to late rounds of the draft. By 2008, I was fully entrenched into my hobby and the spark has grown into a fire that cannot be put out.

My main purpose of putting together a draft board last year was to spread my knowledge onto others. Everyone doesn't follow college players like I do and they don't know who most of these guys are. Sharing my knowledge and opinion of prospects has easily become my calling card on here. By no means do I think I am a draft guru, but I do believe I have an eye for talent and would love to share that with the rest of the BTB community. I am not here to come across as arrogant or show off swagger, I am here to spread knowledge of the draft prospects and have great discussions with you about the prospects.

Last year OCC was generous enough to help my big board look more presentable and flashy. I want to take the time out here and send a big thank you to OCC for his help last year. The presentation and charts you inserted for me was excellent work and I cannot thank you enough for that. If you are reading this, I just want to thank you for all of your help last year. Without your hard work, my posts would not have received the warm welcome they did. Some of those big boards were SBNation Dallas Editors Picks, which was a great honor that I am still proud of to this day. If you have the time and can help me again this year I would truly appreciate it. If not and your unable to provide me with the arrows and charts, I understand that completely and will attempt to figure it out on my own or ask another friend for help. But I just want you to know that your help last year put these posts over the top. Without your contributions, they never would have been as good as they became. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, when you reached out to me and gave me a hand with the board I was truly in awe. Thank you.

This years draft class is not up to par with the previous two classes. The last two drafts were rich with blue chip talent and had great depth. This years class only offers a handful of true blue chip talent. The depth just isn't there either and you will see a steep drop off in talent after the third round. The best this class has to offer is cornerbacks. This may be the richest and deepest cornerback draft I have seen recently. This is a good draft for offensive lineman and there are few real good talents there. Wide receiver is another talented and deep class.

At first it appeared that it would be stocked with quarterback talent. There are a few first round prospects and arguably one of the best prospects in twenty years is the cream of the crop. A quarterback needy team may luck out this year.

Now I do run my draft board a little bit differently than most. I combine skill set, upside and being NFL ready into one grading usually. I try to pattern my style after my favorite draft guru, Wes Bunting. In WB's board, he grades and ranks players by what they will do in the NFL, not necessarily where they should get drafted. For example take fullback prospect John Connor from 2010. WB had him rated very high, I believe in his top 50 prospects. Now that doesn't mean a team should take Connor with a top 50 pick, it just means that WB believes he will be one of the 50 best players in the entire draft.

The draft isn't an exact science, although some believe they have it down pat. The truth is, nobody knows how to handle the draft process perfectly. A team need may make you use a pick on that area of concern earlier than you want to. A player may fall to you and you draft him because he is too good of a talent to pass up on. There are projects you draft for the future and there are players you draft to play right away. Every team sets up their board differently and every team has a different draft philosophy.

Sometimes you take gambles and they pay off. Sometimes your gambles cost you your job. Not every team is willing to take a chance, but I believe you can't play it safe all the time. Usually the teams who consistently draft the best are the teams who balance risk and reward. Not every team is willing to take a chance and most teams will play it safe. In my opinion, the team that takes some chances and balances out that risk with taking solid players with their other draft picks usually have the best drafts.

The Top 50

Rank Player Position College
1 *Andrew Luck QB Stanford
2 *Matt Kalil OT USC
3 *Trent Richardson RB Alabama
4 *Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
5 *David DeCastro OG Stanford
6 *Morris Claiborne CB LSU
7 *Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
8 *Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
9 *Riley Reiff OT Iowa
10 *Luke Kuechly LB Boston College
11 Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
12 Quinton Coples DE North Carolina
13 Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska
14 *Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
15 Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
16 *Dontari Poe DT Memphis
17 Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
18 Devon Still DT Penn State
19 Courtney Upshaw LB Alabama
20 Zach Brown LB North Carolina
21 *Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina
22 *Peter Konz C Wisconsin
23 Bruce Irvin LB West Virginia
24 Kendall Wright WR Baylor
25 Kelechi Osemele OG Iowa State
26 Cordy Glenn OG Georgia
27 *Nick Perry DE USC
28 Brandon Thompson DT Clemson
29 *Vontaze Burfict LB Arizona State
30 Mark Barron S Alabama
31 *Don'ta Hightower LB Alabama
32 Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M
33 *Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State
34 *Jayron Hosley CB Virginia Tech
35 Jared Crick DE Nebraska
36 *Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State
37 *Ronnell Lewis LB Oklahoma
38 *Brandon Jenkins LB Florida State
39 *Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina
40 Mike Adams OT Ohio State
41 Markelle Martin S Oklahoma State
42 Chase Minnifield CB Virginia
43 *Whitney Mercilus DE Illinois
44 *Montee Ball RB Wisconsin
45 Billy Winn DE Boise State
46 *Lamar Miller RB Miami
47 Coby Fleener TE Stanford
48 James-Michael Johnson LB Nevada
49 *Marcus Forston DT Miami
50 Jamell Fleming CB Oklahoma

Editors Note: * denotes underclassmen and I believe Landry Jones will go back to school, that's why you didn't see him on the board.

*Andrew Luck *Justin Blackmon Coby Fleener *Trent Richardson *Matt Kalil *David DeCastro
*Robert Griffin III Michael Floyd *Montee Ball *Jonathan Martin *Peter Konz
Ryan Tannehill *Alshon Jeffery *Lamar Miller *Riley Reiff Kelechi Osemele
Kendall Wright Mike Adams Cordy Glenn
*Dontari Poe Quinton Coples *Luke Kuechly *Morris Claiborne Mark Barron
Devon Still Melvin Ingram Courtney Upshaw Janoris Jenkins Markelle Martin
Brandon Thompson *Nick Perry Zach Brown Alfonzo Dennard
*Fletcher Cox Jared Crick Bruce Irvin *Dre Kirkpatrick
*Jerel Worthy *Whitney Mercilus *Vontaze Burfict *Jayron Hosley
*Marcus Forston Billy Winn *Don'ta Hightower *Stephon Gilmore
*Ronnell Lewis Chase Minnifield
*Brandon Jenkins Jamell Fleming
James-Michael Johnson

These prospects just missed the top 50. It's very hard to sit down and make a big board. If you think it's easy, then I encourage you to sit down and actually try to attempt it. It's very hard to narrow down so many prospects to a list of only 50 players. You end up making some difficult decisions and have to stay unbiased. It is not easy and in my honest opinion is very hard to do.

  • Coryell Judie CB Texas A&M
  • Trumaine Johnson CB Montana
  • Leonard Johnson CB Iowa State
  • Casey Hayward CB Vanderbilt
  • *Jonathan Banks CB Mississippi State
  • Alameda Ta'amu DT Washington
  • *David Wilson RB Virginia Tech
  • Ben Jones C Georgia
  • Michael Brewster C Ohio State
  • *Robert Lester FS Alabama
  • *Dwayne Allen TE Clemson
  • Evan Rodriguez FB Temple

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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