How Smart GMs use Mock Drafts

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Smart GMs see the value of mock drafts

Smart GMs see the value of mock drafts. And, according to’s Emily Kaplan, they construct dozens of them with their management team. “NFL front offices conduct dozens of mocks; it helps project the market.”

And that is wonderful. But if is the same front office, making the same mock drafts, how different are the outcomes.

Sometimes an outside analyst brings fresh mock draft ideas

Sure you can hire Mel Kiper to construct a mock draft. And teams usually do. But how about getting over a hundred Mel Kiper ideas?

Mock drafts will always carry the stigma of a work-from-your-basement industry; wannabe analysts filling in Mad Libs. Insert some jargon, add a little bit of recycled wisdom citing trends, and make a series of educated guesses.

Some of the mock drafts aren’t by true analysts

True. But sometimes being too close to the subject clouds the mock draft. Sometimes an outsider is what the situation calls for. Mad Libs or not. 

A Cold War example

One of the best pieces of intelligence work during the Cold War was a novel written by a guy using open sources, newspaper articles, that worked at an insurance agency.

Tom Clancy knew more about what happened on the Storozhevoy than many analysts at the Agency.

Sometimes someone from a block away can see what is going on in your backyard better than you.

Mel Kiper and the history of the mock draft

Mel KiperMock drafts have been around for awhile. But Mel Kiper incited mock draft mania.

Kaplan writes that Mel Kiper produced his first mock draft in 1978. He composed his first mock draft as a college freshman and never looked back. He sold 100 draft guides and left school.

Today Mel Kiper is synonymous with mock draft. He takes it seriously. Unlike other mock draft analysts.

“Analysts” fail to see the value of mock drafts

While Mel Kiper lives and breathes mock drafts, there are a host of “NFL insiders,” and “NFL analysts.” That couldn’t care less. They dread that part of their job.

From Kaplan’s article, What the analysts say

  • Todd McShay, ESPN:

    “I’m always mildly surprised by how many people read these things…It’s my least favorite activity,”

  • Daniel Jeremiah

    , “For the love of god, never, ever read the comments on a mock draft.”

  • Matt Miller

    , Bleacher Report: “I think my 3-year-old could make a pretty good draft…I mean, picking out of a hat, you’d probably get a few right.”

Jeremiah does admit, “I do see some benefit in going through the exercise.” Generous beyond belief.

What about insider information? Jeremiah continues:

“I’ll get guys [in the NFL] calling me saying, ‘Bro we’re not taking that guy,’” Jeremiah says. “Most of them will deny it publicly, but they all read that stuff.”

And Jeremiah’s usual response: “That’s fine. I don’t really care who you take…”

“But, it’s good for the website,” Jeremiah says. “No use complaining about it, just do it and move on.”

Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.

So said Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield.

Imagine your cardiac surgeon saying that your particular procedure was his least favorite. But it brings in some big dough, so he’ll do it and move on.

GMs see the value of mock drafts

A must watch for understanding draft drama.

Two minds are better than one and 120 are better than a dozen

The one thing I can almost guarantee is that there will be surprises on draft day.

“With the number one pick the Cleveland Browns select Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina.” And with those few words 98% of the draft boards blow up.

Hopefully, there is a plan B for the San Francisco 49ers and every other team.

But assuming the Browns don’t lose their mind. And actually draft the best player on the board, Texas A&M defensive end, Myles Garrett. Who will the Niners pick? Who should the Bears expect to be on the board at pick three?

The Niners Options

San Francisco Mock Draft Pick #2
San Francisco Mock Draft Pick #2

If the Bears managment wanted to know who the Niners could be considering at two, a subscription to the NFL Draft Board would show them. 

From the NFL Draft Board, it appears the Bears could expect the Niners to draft Stanford defensive lineman, Solomon Thomas. But if they don’t select Solomon Thomas, there are 11 other scenarios that could play out.

So, assuming Garrett is gone. And the Niners take Thomas. Who on this list would the Bears want?

Now, if the Bears want someone who isn’t on this list, maybe the Bears misjudged their draft.

Mock drafts expose potential draft day trades

Draft day is when everything can fall apart or come together. The better a GM can see what might happen, the better his plan B is.

Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers draft day trade

Jaguars want Fournette at 4

Jacksonville Jaguars First Round #4 Draft Pick
Jacksonville Jaguars First Round #4 Draft Pick

Everyone knows about the Mitch Trubisky surprises that could come out in the first six picks.

But look a little deeper into the NFL Draft Board and you see the Jacksonville Jaguars look like they are going to take LSU running back, Leonard Fournette, at four

That presents a problem for the Carolina Panthers.

Panthers also want Fournette at 8

Carolina Panthers First Round #8 Draft Pick
Carolina Panthers First Round #8 Draft Pick

Looking further down the NFL Draft Board it looks like the Panthers also want Fournette at eight. But if the board plays out, and the Panthers have no reason to believe the board playing out is a possibility, Fournette could be gone by pick eight.

This is where the transparency of teams is displayed on the NFL Draft Board. Two benefits of the NFL Draft Board become perfectly clear.

One, the Carolina Panthers, if they want Fournette realize they must trade up to four, or earlier, to get Fournette.

Two, the Jaguars could anticipate a call from the Panthers and already have their demands ready for delivery. Fifteen minutes isn’t a long time to negotiate. 

Or, the Jaguars could preempt the draft and offer up their demands now.

NFL mock draft analysis

While some NFL fans see mock drafts as something to dream about, mock drafts could be used as a valuable tool.

And the best GMs, the ones who don’t panic on draft day, use mock drafts to prepare themselves for just about any draft day scenario.

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