Identifying the Top Values in the NFL Draft
NT Terrence Cody (Kevin Cox/Getty)
NT Terrence Cody (Kevin Cox/Getty)
NFLDraftScout.com
Posted Apr 10, 2010


Teams are spending their final weeks of preparation setting their draft board. The goal of the exercise is to define exactly what value means in this draft.

Wise owners and general managers identify value at each position in a particular draft and compare those spots with the alignment of their draft picks. Maximizing the value of an overall draft occurs when a team doesn't reach for players. For example, not selecting a prospect in the second round when plenty of similarly talented prospects at the same position will likely to be available a round or two later.

What will teams see when they begin to define value in this draft class? Many would argue it is one of the deeper groups in history -- although it seems that's said many times each decade. There are still differences in talent across positions, making it possible to pick up a potential starter throughout the top four rounds at some spots but lacking impact player depth outside the top 50 at others.

The position-by-position breakdown below is designed to help get a handle of where teams believe their selections might best be used. It also identifies the areas of the draft where trades are likely to occur. Teams picking late in the second round know they'll miss out on a top linebacker or receiver, for example, if they wait for one to fall into their lap. And those hoping to pick up a developmental quarterback in the mid-fourth round might need to trade up a round to get the player they've targeted.

Players are split into selection value tiers below -- instead of rounds -- as a range of picks is a more accurate predictor of that value. The number of picks per round is an arbitrary number having nothing to do with player grades, but rather the number of teams in the league (plus free agent compensatory picks in later rounds).

For example, the "Picks 21-50" tier includes late first- and early second-round selections because they are similarly graded players; the difference in talent between the 21st and 50th picks is usually minor, although the gap in the financial investment for pick 21 compared to No. 50 could be great. The exact beginning of one range and end of the next might shift slightly based on the depth of the class.

The top 150 picks are broken down below, as the odds of players picked from the mid-fifth round becoming regular starters aren't great. Specialists -- kickers, punters and long snappers -- are not included as there are no players of value at those positions in the top 150 prospects of 2010.

Quarterback

Top 20: Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen

Picks 21-50 Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow

Picks 51-100: *BEST VALUE*

Clearly there will be movement in the top 50 for McCoy and Tebow, but some teams searching for developmental QB prospects will look to the third or early fourth round. At that point, interesting prospects will be available. Jarrett Brown, Dan LeFevour, Tony Pike and John Skelton could all be chosen between Minnesota's pick in the late second round ( No. 62) and the Jaguars' pick in the fourth round (No. 108).

Picks 101-150: Levi Brown, Zac Robinson

Running Back

Top 20: C.J. Spiller

Picks 21-50: Jahvid Best, Ryan Mathews

Picks 51-100: *BEST VALUE*

The running back position has been devalued over the years, as very few bell-cow backs have earned a place in the top 20 overall because of attrition at the position. Look for Anthony Dixon, Jonathan Dwyer, Toby Gerhart, Montario Hardesty and Ben Tate to be selected in the third to early fourth rounds to give teams the complementary backs every team seems to want.

Picks 101-150: Joe McKnight, Lonyae Miller, James Starks

Wide Receiver

Top 20: Dez Bryant

Picks 21-50: *BEST VALUE*

Expect a run on receivers early in the second round, where Arrelious Benn, Taylor Price Demaryius Thomas and Damian Williams will all get consideration by the middle of the second round. The receivers in the 51-100 range and 101-150 aren't to be overlooked entirely.

Picks 51-100: Eric Decker, Jacoby Ford, Brandon LaFell, Dexter McCluster, Carlton Mitchell

Picks 101-150: Riley Cooper, Mardy Gilyard, Andre Roberts, John Shipley, Joe Webb, Blair White

Tight Ends

Top 20: N/A

Picks 21-50: Jermaine Gresham, Rob Gronkowski

Picks 51-100: *BEST VALUE*

Though Gresham and Gronkowski are expected to be the top two tight ends selected, some teams will wait to meet this need given the injury history of those players. Dorin Dickerson, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Anthony McCoy and Dennis Pitta all will get notice from teams in this area of the draft -- any one from that group that falls into the fourth round will be a good value.

Picks 101-150: Garrett Graham, Clay Harbor, Tony Moeaki

Offensive Tackle

Top 20: *BEST VALUE*

If you want a top-notch offensive tackle in this class, you will have to spend a pick in the top half of the first round. Bryan Bulaga, Russell Okung and Trent Williams are the top prospects but even workout warrior Bruce Campbell could go early because of his upside.

Picks 21-50: Charles Brown, Rodger Saffold

Picks 51-100: Vladimir Ducasse, John Jerry, Jared Veldheer

Picks 101-150: Selvish Capers, Kyle Calloway, Jason Fox, Ed Wang, Tony Washington

Offensive Guards/Centers

Top 10-20: N/A

Picks 21-50: *BEST VALUE*

The interior offensive line class is fairly thin, so any teams looking for a difference-maker inside must break into the bottom half of the first round or top half of the second round -- Jon Asamoah, Mike Iupati and Maurkice Pouncey could all be chosen in the first round. In fact, Pouncey could end up in the top 20 because of his talent and the shallow nature of the class.

Picks 51-100: Mitch Petrus, Matt Tennant, J.D. Walton

Picks 101-150: Zane Beadles, Mike Johnson, Shawn Lauvao, Marshall Newhouse, Eric Olsen

Defensive Tackles

Top 20: Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Dan Williams

Picks 21-50: Terrence Cody, Brian Price

Picks 51-100: *BEST VALUE*

Teams will reach for big bodies who can anchor the middle of their defense, especially those looking for a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Cam Thomas and Torell Troup will go higher than some expect because of the need for stout run-stuffers, as may Arthur Jones and Jeff Owens. Tyson Alualu, Geno Atkins and Lamarr Houston could also get calls in the second or third round to be defensive ends in three-man fronts.

Picks 101-150: Linval Joseph, Mike Neal, D'Anthony Smith, Al Woods

Defensive Ends

Top 20: Everson Griffen, Derrick Morgan, Jason Pierre-Paul

Picks 21-50: Carlos Dunlap

Picks 51-100: Alex Carrington, Jermaine Cunningham, Austen Lane, Corey Wootton

Picks 101-150: *BEST VALUE*

There are major questions about all of the ends listed in the top 100, save Derrick Morgan. Greg Hardy, George Johnson, Brandon Lang, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, C.J. Wilson and Lindsay Witten all have enough upside that their value isn't significantly different from Carrington, Cunningham or Lane, meaning teams might be better of waiting to meet this need until Saturday.

Linebackers

Top 20: Rolando McClain

Picks 21-50: *BEST VALUE*

One reason the defensive end class lacks value in the top 50 is that shorter but productive players like Brandon Graham and Jerry Hughes could end up late first-round picks as 3-4 linebackers. One of the 3-4 teams in the top 20 may take Sergio Kindle because of his pass-rushing skills, but otherwise he, Koa Misi, Sean Weatherspoon and Daryl Washington will all be gone by the mid-second round.

Picks 51-100: Donald Butler, Thaddeus Gibson, Sean Lee, Koa Misi, Ricky Sapp, Jason Worilds

Picks 101-150: Navorro Bowman, Rennie Curran, Eric Norwood, Perry Riley, O'Brien Schofield, Brandon Spikes, Dekoda Watson

Cornerbacks

Top 20: Joe Haden

Picks 21-50: *BEST VALUE*

Look for a run on corners starting somewhere around the 20th pick with Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty and Kyle Wilson probable first-rounders likely to land with the three or four teams looking for quality help at the position. Chris Cook and Patrick Robinson won't be far behind the top tier. Depth at corner continues to be very good in the next two group, as well, with Franks and others potentially sneaking into the mid-second round and strong value likely available in the early-to-mid fourth round.

Picks 51-100: Dominique Franks, Brandon Ghee, Jerome Murphy, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Amari Spievey

Picks 101-150: Javier Arenas, Perrish Cox, Walter McFadden, Kevin Thomas, Alterraun Verner

Safeties

Top 20: Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Taylor Mays

Picks 21-50: Nate Allen

Picks 51-100: *BEST VALUE*

Though some consider the safety class as deep as it's ever been, the value of this year's class is in the same place it usually is: the late second and third rounds. Morgan Burnett could sneak into the top 50, but Chad Jones, Reshad Jones, Darrell Stuckey and Major Wright will all contend for starting jobs as rookies for several teams looking to upgrade their defensive backfield.

Picks 101-150: Larry Asante, Kam Chancellor, Myron Lewis, T.J. Ward

BEST VALUE SUMMARY

Top 20: OT
Picks 21-50: CB/LB/WR/OG-C
Picks 51-100: DT/QB/RB/S/TE
Picks 101-150: DE



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