It's that time of year when I start writing my scouting reports, and I figured I'd post the grading system that I now use to rate/grade prospects:
Elite Prospect/Franchise Player (8.7 - 9.0). Rare player that does not come along every year that has both high athletic ability/physical tools coupled with high character. A player with both a high floor and even higher ceiling to be among the best players in the league. You will have no qualms assigning this player as the face of your franchise, regardless of the position he plays. When available, this player should almost certainly be the No. 1 pick.
Elite Prospect/Foundation Player (8.0 - 8.6) - May possess one minor drawback such as less than ideal character or prototypical physical tools, but is a player that will instantly impact on the next level. Will be a major building block for an NFL team in the future and is targeted with a Top 3-5 pick.
TOP LEVEL PROSPECT
Top Level Prospect (7.5 - 7.9) - Has the skillset and tools to be considered one of the best players at his respective position and will be able to take on most top-level opponents and more than hold his own. Typically a player that falls into one of two categories: (1) possesses rare athletic potential but have major character question marks or (2) does not stand out athletically from other top picks but grades very highly in terms of character. Ideally will be targeted with a Top 10 selection.
Potential Top Level Prospect (7.0 - 7.4) - Will be considered among the best players for a team and better players in the entire league. Typically can and will be used as a centerpiece to a team's offense or defense. He can start right away for his team, but on the lower end, he may ideally be used as a situational player early on. Teams picking in the upper half of the first round hope to find this caliber of prospect.
Impact Prospect (6.5 - 6.9) - Player with the potential to develop into a quality starter, but may not impact on a consistent basis. He will be among the better players for their respective team on either side of the ball, but miss one key element that prevents them from reliably dominating competition most weeks. Towards the upper end of this tier, may be a player that has upside to be among the best players in the league, but is so raw or unpolished that he should be considered a role player early on. The lower end of this team often features players that lack elite upside, but have relatively high floors. Typically players that you will target in the first round, but preferably in the latter half of it.
Potential Impact Prospect (6.0 - 6.4) - A player with upside to be an occasional playmaker as a starter at the next level. Typically a player that may need a year or two before he reaches his potential. Often will be high ceiling, low floor players that may lack the consistency to really reach that ceiling. He'll make "flash" or "splash" plays from time to time, but may also make as many mental errors or get beat just as frequently. Ultimately a good second-round target, although would be considered a reach in the first.
Starting Prospect (5.5 - 5.9) - Has the potential to be a quality starter on your team but rarely will be considered a Pro Bowl-caliber talent. Typically among the better complementary starters on your roster, but won't excel or impact on a weekly basis and typically plays at a relatively consistent, above-average level. Typically can play a significant role right away but ideally will be given at least a year or two to develop before receiving extensive reps. A solid pick in the Top 75 but would be considered a reach before the middle of the second round.
Potential Starting Prospect (5.0 - 5.4) - Player that possesses starting potential, but are ideally targeted as key role players. If a backups on your roster, it's an area of strength. More than capable of getting the job done if pressed into starting role. Expectations are typically that he will eventually become starters, albeit may need at least a year or two before to do so. A good value taken in the Top 100 or so picks.
Developmental Starter (4.5 - 4.9) - A player right on the cusp of being a starter but may be lacking in at least one key area that limits their potential. If he does become a starter, almost never will become more than complementary guys as opposed to impact players since he will struggle to compete against quality players at the next level. A solid mid-round pick that should be targeted early on Day 3 that towards the upper end could sneak into the Top 100 picks.
Developmental Role Player (4.0 - 4.4) - A player that is best used as a role player but has the ability to become a starter. Typically has a longer length to impact and could take the better part of his rookie contract before he develops enough to trust as a starter. Typically is productive collegiate player that is limited in a number of key areas such as size, strength, speed, or athleticism that will limit him at next level. A solid Day 3 selection that would be considered a reach if taken in the Top 100.
Stopgap Prospect (3.5 - 3.9) - Player that might have enough ability in one or two areas that there is limited upside to be a starter at the next level, but lacking in most necessary areas. Player ideally targeted for key depth roles and can become decent stopgap options for starting lineup if/when a team finds itself in a pinch. But tend to get exposed if forced to start for extended periods of time. Would be considered a bit of a reach if taken before the fifth round.
Potential Stopgap Prospect (3.0 - 3.4) - Player with enough tools that sticking at the NFL level should not be a huge obstacle, but how long he sticks will largely depend on ability to impact early on special teams. Tends to be journeymen player that has enough ability that he can become a stopgap starter for a limited period of time. Ideal target for the last three rounds of draft, although typically become harder to find after the sixth round.
Reserve Prospect (2.5 - 2.9) - Has enough ability that he can contribute as a reserve but his NFL future will be largely based on his ability to impact on special teams. Typically were productive in college but just are too limited in key areas such as size, speed, athleticism to project to be anything more than special teams at the next level. Ability and upside to be a starter is virtually non-existent and might only be able to impact as a limited situational player. Player is potentially worth taking a flier on in the seventh round.
Undrafted Prospect (2.0 - 2.4) - A player that has the potential to contribute as a reserve in the NFL, but is far too limited in key areas such as size, speed, or athleticism to think there’s a high probability that he’ll be able to stick beyond special teams. Deserves an opportunity to compete in an NFL camp, but is far too limited to merit a draft selection. Should be considered a priority free agent.
Fringe Prospect (1.0 - 1.9) - A player that played at a high enough level in college to potentially merit a camp invite or tryout, but would be a virtual longshot to make an NFL roster. Has marginal traits in terms of size, speed and/or athleticism that indicate that his sole pathway to making an NFL team will be based purely off special teams. The very definition of a camp body that has non-existent upside to think he could be anything beyond a practice-squad player in the NFL. A player that is likely destined to play in a lower league if his professional football career ever takes off in any capacity.
6.5 or above = 1st Round
5.5 - 6.4 = 2nd round
5.0 - 5.4 = 3rd round
4.0 - 4.9 = 4th round
3.0 - 3.9 = Late round
2.9 or lower = Undrafted
NFL Draft and college football-related topics can be posted here. Includes past draft scouting reports as well.
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