Every spring, the NFL draft captures the attention of football fans virtually from bowl season through April. One reason for the draft’s popularity is the mock draft, which gives everyone a snapshot of the biggest impact-makers of the new crop. Mock drafts were practically made for the Web, and indeed, many draft gurus have made quite a name due to the popularity of their mocks.
But how accurate are they, really? Sure, they’re fun to look at and argue over, but without accountability, what’s the point? Which of the draft experts seem to be the most accurate? It’s a question we’ve asked for ages, but not until last spring did we start to take steps toward measuring it.
In May, we logged the picks for each of seven of the biggest names in Draft Twitter. Then we perused their most recent drafts (most were published the first week of March). They are Tony Pauline of Draft Expert (the most recent we could find was from early February, pre-combine); Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo; NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler; Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller; ESPN’s Todd McShay; Chris Burke, then of Sports Illustrated, now of The Athletic (sorry, it’s behind the pay wall, though their rate is pretty affordable; and Charlie Campbell of Walter Football.
We break down our finds in today’s Friday Wrap (shameless plug; you can register for it here, and it’s free). But first, here are a few tidbits.
- Only 56 players showed up across the seven mocks this month, which is a pretty small number when you think about it. Of the 56, 15 show up in all seven mocks.
- A total of 38 players received at least one first-round mention in March, but none this month. It’s more evidence of the pack mentality of Draft Twitter.
- Here’s even more damning evidence of Draft Twitter groupthink: there were five players that were no-shows in May’s mocks, but showed up in every one of March’s mocks. They are Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, Iowa DC Josh Jackson, Georgia OB Roquan Smith, UTSA DE Marcus Davenport and Virginia Tech OB Tremaine Edmunds. Two other players, Boise St. IB Leighton Vander Esch and Alabama OB Rashaan Evans, make six of the seven mocks this month, but made none of them last May.
- Mayfield is, on average, the No. 9 pick, and none of the experts has him later than 15, yet he wasn’t good enough for any of them last spring.
- Of the 38, seven were juniors (Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson OT Mitch Hyatt, Ohio St. DT Dre’Mont Jones, USC DC Iman Marshall, USC IB Cameron Smith, Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham and Clemson DT Christian Wilkins) who wound up skipping the draft.
- Three others — Missouri DE Marcell Frazier, North Carolina SS Donnie Miles and Oklahoma DC Jordan Thomas — are draft-eligible, but were combine snubs. Chris Burke (then at SI, now at The Athletic) had Thomas at 25; Walter Football liked Frazier at 29; and Tony Pauline had Miles as the last pick in the first round.
We’ve got a lot more — who did the mocks like in March most vs. who they like best now; which experts really went out on a limb, then and now; which conferences, teams and the like dominate; and plenty more. I hope you’ll join us there. Everyone else from across the industry reads it, and I hope you will, too.