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How We Grade: Breaking Down The Individual NFL Draft Player Grade Scale

Consistent Evaluation Process for Each Player

Each player we assess undergoes a consistent process that is tailored to their specific position. We're looking to establish their potential value for the NFL Draft. Every player is given a final or current grade as well as a potential ceiling grade. The final grade represents the player's worth before embarking on their first year in the NFL, while the potential ceiling grade gauges the player's possible future performance.


Measuring Ceiling Grades

There is no universal approach to calculating ceiling grades. In some instances, a prospect may be seen as a high-quality backup upon entering the NFL but simultaneously has the potential to become a top-tier starter. Some players may reach their ceiling in their first season, whether it's mid-way or towards the end, while for others, it may take 2-3 years.


Timing Player's Peak Performance

Is it possible to determine when a player reaches their anticipated ceiling grade? There isn't a foolproof way to predict the timeline for a player to reach their ceiling. It heavily relies on the team's circumstances and the particular areas of development the player needs to focus on as they start their NFL journey. However, we continually research and utilize the data we have to try and establish the most effective way to predict a player's potential and when they might realize it.


Player Component Grading Scale

Here's the grading scale we use for the individual crucial components for a player. Take for instance, the position of WR; one critical element we assess is their ability to run routes. If a player receives a Very Good (7) grade for their route running, it suggests they have NFL-standard route running skills, with the potential to develop this to an Elite (9) level under the right circumstances.


9-Exceptional

The player effortlessly and consistently excels in this aspect every time. They display absolute mastery with no weaknesses, often accomplishing seemingly impossible feats. Their dominance is evident across all levels of competition.


8-Outstanding

The player performs this aspect with ease and consistency, showcasing a high success rate. They exhibit no weaknesses and can effortlessly execute difficult plays. Their exceptional performance is noticeable against all levels of competition, and they have the potential to dominate.


7-Very Good

The player effectively performs this aspect with a high success rate and occasionally demonstrates moments of brilliance. While they may not execute all great plays, they do showcase their abilities against all levels of competition.


6-Above Average

The player typically performs this aspect in an effective manner but may display some inconsistency. They contribute solidly to a winning effort and can hold their own against top competition. They have a fair share of victories against players at the professional level.


5-Average

The player performs this aspect in a satisfactory manner most of the time, although they may struggle against top competition. They meet the minimum requirements for this aspect.


4-Below Average

The player performs this aspect adequately at times, but they often struggle against top competition. Their inconsistency in performance is evident, preventing them from achieving a higher rating.


3-Poor

Below Average: The player fails to perform this aspect at an adequate level. They exhibit inconsistency and may even hinder the team's performance. If they do perform acceptably, it's usually against weaker competition.


2-Unacceptable

The player has a significant deficiency in this aspect that they cannot overcome. Their shortcomings are evident and have a notable impact on their overall performance.


1-Very Bad

The player lacks any redeemable qualities and does not meet the minimum standards in this aspect.


NFL Draft Player Grade Scale

Each category below has several different subcategories to identify the player's final and ceiling grade.


Elite (75+) (Instant Impact Player)

An elite prospect is a player who has the potential to be a difference-maker in the NFL. They have rare physical tools and athleticism and perform at a high level with ease and consistency. They show no weakness, and they can do the seemingly impossible on occasion. These players are typically the top picks in the NFL Draft and can be stars in the league.


Near Elite (70-74) (Instant Impact Player)

A near-elite prospect is a player who is projected to become a significant contributor by their second year in the NFL. They have elite physical tools and athleticism and perform at a high level with ease and consistency. They have some weaknesses, but they are not significant. These players are typically high first-round picks, and they have the potential to be stars in the league.


High-End Starter Potential (65-69)

A high-end starter potential prospect is a player who is projected to be among the top starters on their team within the second or third year in the NFL. They have good physical tools and athleticism and perform at a high level most of the time. They have some weaknesses, but they are not significant. These players are typically second or third-round picks, and they have the potential to be starters in the league.


Mid-Level Starter Potential (60-64)

A mid-level starter potential prospect is a player who is likely to be a mid-level starter on their team but with the potential to exceed expectations within 2-3 years. They have good physical tools and athleticism and can perform at a high level. They have some weaknesses, but they are minor. These players are typically fourth- or fifth-round picks, and they have the potential to be starters in the league.


Low-Level Starter Potential (55-59)

A low-level starter potential prospect is a player who is expected to be a lower-level starter or high-level backup with some elite qualities. Development over 2-3 years is anticipated. They have good physical tools and athleticism, and they perform at a high level some of the time. They have some weaknesses, but they are not major. These players are typically sixth- or seventh-round picks, and they have the potential to be starters in the league.


Backup Level (50-54)

A backup-level prospect is a player who is likely to serve as a career backup and fill specific roles on the team. They have good physical tools and athleticism, and they perform at a consistent level. They have some weaknesses, but they are not major. These players are typically undrafted free agents, and they have the potential to contribute to the team.


Not NFL Level (<49)

A player who is not NFL level is a player who is still at the NFL level and who could benefit from another year in college or in a developmental league. They have some physical tools and athleticism but perform at an inconsistent level. They have significant weaknesses, and they are unlikely to make an impact in the NFL.


In conclusion, the consistent evaluation process for each player, incorporating the NFL Draft Player Grade Scale, offers a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of a player's potential value in the NFL Draft. This process, tailor-made to assess each player's specific position, assigns current and potential ceiling grades that gauge their present worth and future prospects in the NFL. Calculating ceiling grades and predicting the timeframe for a player to reach their potential involves myriad factors, including the player's development needs and the team's circumstances. Furthermore, the use of a detailed grading scale for individual player components and the overall NFL Draft Player Grade Scale provides a valuable tool for differentiating between players' abilities and predicting their future performance and growth trajectory within the NFL. Thus, this multi-faceted evaluation process ensures an accurate and robust assessment of players, which is vital for making informed decisions in the NFL Draft.


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