2020 NFL draft – Projecting the most likely Pro Bowl players in the class



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Apr 11, 2020
  • Seth WalderESPN Analytics

There are no guarantees in the NFL draft. No surefire starters. No instant Hall of Famers. The reality is that there is is a range of outcomes for every prospect, even the best. Any prospect can become a rotational piece or a replacement-level player.

At the same time, teams are not throwing darts on their draft boards. It’s more like they are rolling weighted dice. The trick is rolling the die with the most favorable weight and then hoping for the best. Our 2020 NFL draft projections depict that weight: it’s a model that projects each prospect’s chance to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player, a consistent starter, a bench or special-teams player, replacement-level player and nonfactor. Success is measured by Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value.

The most important factor in the model is a qualitative measurement: Scouts Inc. grades. In a way, it is largely a depiction of what a range of outcomes for those grades truly looks like. But it also incorporates measurable and combine information, which does add value to the projections. The useful events and measurements are not always where you think. We also use those measurables to provide athleticism comparisons to past prospects, as long as we have enough information (not the case with every prospect this year).

Position is important as well. What the model has found is that qualitative and athleticism assessments are more accurate for some positions than for others. The result is that while in general the model often matches consensus (prospects considered generally strong by Scouts Inc. are also broadly considered strong by our model), its specific forecasts include some surprises.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most likely Pro Bowl-caliber players, which includes a surprise from the jump:

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Full list of top 2020 projections

What about the quarterbacks?

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