Working on a new prospect grading system that is a bit more in-depth than I've used in the past but operates on the same basic principles. Here's what I've come up with so far:
ELITE PROSPECTS / TOP 5 PICK
8.8-9.0 - Franchise Player. Player that can have an instant impact on the league as well as be the centerpiece of both an offense and defense. High character player that you can build around. Definitely a player you target with your No. 1 pick.
8.5-8.7 - Top Foundation Player. May not have the super high character, or may not be the perfect or prototypical physical tools, but an impact player that can make an instant impact as well as be a major building block for your team in the future. The type of player you target with a Top 3 pick.
8.0-8.4 - Foundation Player. Will be a key building block player. Typically a super-talented player that may not have ideal character or intangibles. BUt should be able to contribute right from the start, even if it's as a role player, but in a short time should be contributing as a significant playmaker and matchup nightmare for opposing teams. The caliber of player that should be a perennial Pro Bowler. Definitely target with your Top 10 pick.
TOP LEVEL PROSPECTS / TOP 15 PICK
7.7-7.9 - Has the skillset to be a perennial Pro Bowler and be considered one of the top players at his respective position. Is usually a player with top athletic potential, but questionable character. Or a player that may not excel in the athletic department to stand out from the rest, but has the character and intangibles to think that he has a fairly low floor. Should be able to take on most of the top-level opponents and at the least hold his own. The type of player that you can accept taking in the Top 10, but definitely target with a Top 15 pick.
7.3-7.6 - Player that should be one of the better palyers at his position and has the potential to be an impact player most weeks. Should be considered one of the team's better players on that side of the ball, but doesn't have the elite potential to reliably dominate games and the top-level opponents. Tends to be players with high floors, but may not have super high ceilings. The type of player that you want to target with a Top 15-20 pick.
7.0-7.2 - A player that is good enough to start right away, but probably not good enough to be an immediate impact player and is probably better coming off the bench or as a situational player early on. Could have upside to develop down the road into a top player. Tends to be a player with lots of potential, but may have a fairly low floor to begin with. This is the ideal player you target in the first 25-30 picks of the draft.
IMPACT PROSPECT / TOP 40 PICK
6.7-6.9 - A good player that probably isn't a great fit to start right away. Has big potential to develop, but may need the better part of two years before he can hit that potential. Can be an impact player down the road, but because of the time it will take to develop him, it'd be considered a reach to take him before pick #15. Tend to target in the latter portion of the first round.
6.4-6.6 - A player that has the potential to develop into a capable starter, but won't be a guy that can impact on a consistent basis. Tends to be a player with good athletic potential, but may not be the best fit in your scheme to really maximize it. Tends to be seen more as a very skillful complementary option and player rather than a go-to playmaker. Good enough to compete for a starting position right away, but probably not a good bet to win it.
6.0-6.3 - A player with good upside that you expect to be a starter at some point, but probably not going to be able to contribute right away. Not polished enough to start right away, and may take the better part of three seasons before he starts to live up to his potential. A high upside player, but has a fairly low starting floor and a relatively long length to impact. Talented player, but probably not the best fit in your scheme to optimize his skillset.
STARTING PROSPECT / TOP 100 PICK
5.7-5.9 - A player that has the potential to be a quality starter on your team, but isn't going to be a Pro Bowl player. Tends to be more of a complementary player that can be a capable starter, but probably is a bit too raw to think he can impact right away. Probably takes at least the better part of two years to develop as an impact player, but even when he does is probably not going to be an impact player. The type of player that you tend to target in the latter half of the second round.
5.4-5.6 - Quality players but don't quite have the skillset to excel in your scheme. PLayers that can be capable starters but won't be considered impact players. These are the players that you tend to target to fill out your starting lineup, but rarely have big games or impact performances. They tend to be capable complements to good players. You expect them to start, but won't be surprised if they don't play at a high enough level to merit an extension at the end of their rookie contract.
5.0-5.3 - These are players that could become starters for you, but more than likely you target them as really good role players and complements. Might be talented, but might have serious questions about size or athleticism to really be considered a reliable starter at the next level. They can definitely contribute on the next level, but you don't see them being anything more than average starters.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROSPECT / MIDDLE ROUND
4.7-4.9 - These players are just on the cusp of where you think they can be starters. They have the potential, but are lacking in at least one key area that limits their potential. If they do become starters, you think they woudl make nice complementary options, but may not be talented enough to stick beyond their rookie contract, and if they do it's more likely to be as a role player.
4.4-4.6 - Good enough to be a starter at the next level, but if he does, he'll struggle to compete against the quality players at the next level. Not a player you want in a key position and tends to be more a stopgap option for a few years rather than a long-term solution. Best used as a role player.
4.0-4.3 - Has enough ability to potentially be a starter, but if he does develop it'll likely come after his rookie contract expires and he hits free agency. Tends to have ability and productive college player, but tends to be lacking in more than one key area that limit his upside to start on the next level.
STOPGAP PROSPECT / LATE ROUND
3.7-3.9 - A player that may excel in one area that might give him limited upside as a starter, but lacking in most major necessary areas. Tends to be a player you prefer to target as key role players and quality depth rather than starting caliber players. If in a pinch, they can be a decent stopgap option, but not a player you want starting for more than a few games in a season.
3.4-3.6 - Definitely has the tools to stick on the NFL level as a reserve, but not quite of the skillset that he may have trouble sticking long-term with most teams. Tends to become journeymen. Have enough tools in most necessary areas that he should be able to contribute off the bench as a role player.
3.0-3.3 - Has enough tools to stick on the NFL level, but tend to be journeyman over the long haul and unless they can really form a niche as a reserve or special teams ability, they will have a hard time getting a second contract with a team. These players tend to provide depth, but if they are forced to start for more than a game or two, your team is going to be in trouble.
RESERVE PROSPECT / PRIORITY FREE AGENT
2.7-2.9 - These players may have enough in one area to think he might be able to contribute as a reserve, but more than liekly, their ability to stick will largely depend on their ability to play on special teams. They can be developed as depth, but have almost no upside to be a starter. Only have enough upside that could be worked into the lineup as a situational player, but only likely to be used in that role if there is an injury.
2.4-2.6 - Might be a productive college player that is usually lacking in several key areas that make you think their ability to stick on the next level is limited. Usually players that can only play on special teams, and have the skillset to be effective there. But if he is asked to contribute offensively or defensively, he'll be overmatched in all but the most limited role.
2.0-2.3 - Players tend to be lacking in one critical area, whether it's size, speed, or athleticism to really think he can stick at the next level. Might be able to make an NFL roster, but not a player that is going to last for more than a year or two unless he can hammer out a significant role on special teams. More than likely, they'll be gone by the end of their third summer. A player that definitely has the potential to earn a practice squad role his first season, but not a guaranteed fit to make the roster.
FRINGE PROSPECT / UNDRAFTED
1.5-1.9 - Player that has a severely limited skillset that makes developing him for even a reserve spot is a longshot. But a player that enough of a skillset to think he can compete and push another player for a reserve spot. Can make a practice squad at the outset, but more than likely will be among the roster cuts.
1.0-1.4 - Has enough skill that if things break his way can land a practice squad position, but has almost no real shot of making an NFL roster and lacks upside to be worth developing down the line. More of a player that you add purely to fill out a 80-man roster rather than because you think he has any real potential to develop.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.