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The NFL draft has players who go in a completely different spot than their draft rankings. Teams across the league value players and positions differently every year. In 2019, the Raiders took Clelin Farrell at fourth overall when he was projected to go in the 20s. Last year, Payton Turner was a likely middle of day two selection and went at 28th overall to the Saints. Conversely, Aaron Rodgers fell from a potential first overall selection to 25th overall. It happens both ways quite frequently for a myriad of reasons.
To try to understand where the consensus is, I went to Benjamin Robinson's website Grinding The Mocks. What Robinson does is gather data from multiple draft simulators, mock drafts, and his own models to predict the draft. For this piece, I used his website to identify three players who could go higher than consensus and three who could go lower (
Note: These numbers update regularly so they may have changed by the time you read this.
Higher Than Consensus
Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning: ADP of 17.9
At 6’7” and 321 pounds, Penning is a physical specimen. He is nasty in run blocking and efficient as well, amassing a PFF run-blocking grade of 99.9 on the season. His athletic profile is also top-tier for a tackle with a Relative Athletic Score of 9.96. The traits pop off the screen immediately.
His ADP of 17.9 reflects the questions surrounding his technical skills. He often is a little too slow out of the block, allowing edge rushers to beat him with speed. He also has a tendency to commit penalties, leading the nation with 16 of them last season for the Panthers. The NFL will likely see the traits and prioritize him early. The Seahawks and Ravens are two likely spots for the FCS All-American and Walter Payton Award finalist.
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder: ADP of 32.4
Ridder has been the talk of the draft community for the last few weeks. After his great combine performance where he tested in the 95th percentile, Ridder started rising up boards. He is currently viewed by some as the top quarterback in the class. He has more than capable arm strength and knows how to use his athleticism.
He will likely go higher for two reasons. One is quarterbacks always rise up the board due to them being inherently valuable. The second is his intelligence. A four-year starter for the Bearcats, Ridder knows how to run an offense with efficiency and keep the ball safe. While his safer playing style will limit his ceiling, teams will be drawn to the steady hand that Ridder brings.
Houston DT Logan Hall: ADP of 48.5
Unique players always present challenges when discussing them in mock drafts, mainly because they don’t fit a specific mold. Hall fits perfectly in this category. Standing at 6’6” and 283lbs, he does not have a great build for an interior defensive lineman nor an edge rusher. What he has is a unique combination of size and versatility.
For what Hall brings to the table, 48.5 is pretty low. While he does have a unique build for a guy that thrived on the interior, his skill set is one that immediately translates. He’s lightning-quick off the ball, exemplified by his 96.9th percentile 10-yard split at 1.67 seconds. Hall also understands leverage at a high level and combines it with more power than you would expect by looking at his build. Combine those elements with the versatility to play outside as a five-tech, and don’t be surprised if he follows his former teammate Payton Turner as a surprise first-round selection on Thursday night.
Lower Than Consensus
Utah LB Devin Lloyd: ADP of 20.2
Lloyd is an interesting prospect. While he best projects as an inside linebacker, Lloyd has a diverse skillset. Late in the 2021 season, the Utes started unleashing him as a pass rusher, including two monster PFF pass-rush grades against Washington State and Colorado. He brings the ideal package for a middle linebacker in today’s NFL.
Why he might fall is both a complicated and cut-and-dry issue. Lloyd isn’t what you would call a traditional MIKE. He can do a little bit of everything, including showing improvement in coverage with his PFF coverage grade jumping 16.5 points year over year. With all that said, positional value is likely to come into play with Lloyd since middle linebacker just isn’t valued like it used to be. His talent lands him in the top 10-15, but that aspect could push him down to the end of the first round or even the top of the second.
Mississippi State OT Charles Cross: ADP of 10.0
There isn’t a better technician on the offensive line in this class than Cross. Playing 78.5% of his 1,661 snaps as a pass blocker in Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, there isn’t a more pro-ready player in pass protection. He has a 93.3 percentile 10-yard split at 1.73 seconds which is evident when you see how quickly he gets off the ball. He has a solid anchor and great hands that he uses to his advantage, but his best skill is mirroring. He always keeps himself in front of the pass rusher, giving him the upper hand in nearly every scenario.
Why he might fall is a really unique question. His ceiling is currently at five to the Giants, but there are questions about him as a run blocker. He was only asked to do it 357 times over the course of two seasons with nearly all of those being out of the shotgun on draws and inside zones. With the lack of success the last first-round left tackle that came out of the Leach system Andre Dillard had, there could be some hesitation from NFL teams. Pair that with an early run on edge rushers and quarterbacks, along with a team like Seattle valuing Penning’s nasty run blocking plus traits, and a Cross fall could very well happen.
North Carolina QB Sam Howell: ADP of 36.9
Viewed by many as the top quarterback in the class going into the season, Howell did not have the strongest junior year after losing four NFL-caliber weapons. The Tar Heels did see the emergence of both Josh Downs and Ty Chandler to help compensate, but they weren’t enough to match the success they saw in 2020. Howell proved to be tough as nails this past season, setting career highs in rushing yards, attempts, and touchdowns.
Why he is likely to fall is not due to overall talent. He has an above-average arm paired with good athleticism and rushing ability. It has everything to do with play style and potential limitations. Howell is way too risk-averse in everything he does. He doesn’t have the gusto to make the big boy throws, which is what makes the Baker Mayfield comparisons relatively absurd. Howell relied way too much on tucking the ball and running when there were plays to be made down the field. He also is coming from a college offense that is predicated on pre-snap reads with little to no progressions. Those are similar issues with Corral, but we also have seen him throw the ball with gumption into tight windows, providing more evidence that his game will translate. Howell likely slides to the back end of Round 2 or possibly lower with a lot of eyes on the 2023 quarterback class.