A team's own NFL draft board isn't the only one that matters to them on draft night. A key ingredient to draft success is also understanding the other 31 competitors, and accurately determining the likely ranges where prospects should be selected based off of that.
Why? First, a failure to recognize a prospect's likely range means a team could draft that player far earlier than it needs to take him. The Raiders taking cornerback Damon Arnette at 19th overall and the Seahawks selecting Jordyn Brooks at 27th last year are perfect examples. Second, it can inform trade decisions. How far do we need to trade up to land this linebacker? Can we afford to drop back eight spots and still have a good chance to nab that corner? It all plays in. We might not have a war room ourselves, but we still want to answer those questions.
We'll look to ESPN's Draft Day Predictor, a statistical model that relies on industry mock drafts (from Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, and others), team needs and Scouts Inc. grades to forecast the range of outcomes for every prospect. It gives percentage chances of each prospect being available -- and being selected -- at each draft slot, which of course leads to a likely range of picks in which he could realistically come off the board. The Rams have a house in Malibu, we have a massive table of probabilities ... we're all enjoying draft week in our own way.
Let's dive in to some big storylines heading into the 2021 NFL draft. We'll take a look at how potential trades might play out, possible QB outcomes, the first-round running back market and what the Cowboys and a handful of other teams could do on Day 1. Note that these scenarios are based on an update to the model over the weekend, and the predictor will make one final update on Thursday morning based on final mock drafts ahead of Round 1.
For more on the Draft Day Predictor:
Our Round 1 matchmaker