NFL Mock Drafts
NFL Mock Drafts are compiled and exist in two different ways: 1) Internally, by teams that are attempting to predict what other teams will do in the draft to assist with their own draft plans, and 2) A form of sports media, created primarily for fans and experts to make educated estimations of what each team will do in the draft. NFL mock drafts have been around for decades, and were a natural progression from increased NFL draft coverage by sports networks in the 1980’s.
NFL Mock Draft Components
NFL Mock Drafts
NFL mock drafts are by default estimations of what NFL teams WILL do in the draft as opposed to what the writer thinks they SHOULD do. This is an important distinction. Many factors go into trying to determine these picks including team needs, position value, draft history of the team, trends in the NFL, position supply and demand, etc. Most mocks will give explanations of at least the first round picks.
NFL mock drafts tend to get longer the closer to the draft. Moreover, many of the top networks covering the draft will do just short “Top 10” picks for each analyst, allowing the dedicated draft experts to do full first round mocks. Often just before the draft begins an expanded mock will be released. NFL Mock Draft sites, like DraftBlaster, will feature longer mocks throughout the year.
NFL Draft Big Boards
An NFL Draft “Big Board” is a rating system of players’ quality. This throws out all other variables such as team needs, supply and demand, etc. Big boards are a more difficult analysis, as assigning a raw number of quality to players regardless of position is a tricky proposition. Most NFL Draft Big Boards are done as either a top 25 or top 50.
NFL Draft Prospect Rankings
NFL Draft Prospect Rankings are generally done as a positional-based rating system. Most positions are ranked just per the position, but often there are additional breakdowns, such as with 3-4 Nose Tackles vs. defensive tackles. These prospect rankings are guidelines, and not meant to be a specific indication of how these players will come off the draft board as team fits, schemes, etc., will have a major influence how each team values a player.
NFL Mock Draft Key Events
These are the primary events that help shape how mock drafts develop throughout the year:
- After the NFL Draft, “Way Too Early” NFL Mock Drafts begin to appear.
- Once rosters are set for the regular season, an initial “Team Needs” set a baseline for the next draft.
- The regular season slowly reveals team needs, but it is the end of the NFL regular season that creates a draft order for 20 teams (with some exceptions) and allows an enhanced view of team needs.
- In mid to late January there is a date set for underclassmen to declare for the draft.
- Three “All Star” games provide a rich amount of scouting data in January: The Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game, and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The Senior Bowl being the most important of the three.
- The NFL Scouting Combine occurs in February, and gives uniform data on players through measurements and drills. Furthermore, the players are subjected to medical exams and have one on one interviews with teams.
- The NFL free agency season fluctuates, but starts with teams being able to sign their own players, then a series of deadlines to franchise players and then all out free agency. This free for all free agency period has several weeks of high intensity with most of the top players signing with teams, followed with a “second wave” of next tier players. Once the NFL Draft concludes, there is a slight up tick in free agency with teams filling out needs not addressed in the first part of free agency and the draft.
- College “Pro Days” start after the combine and provide more opportunity for workouts, medicals, and interviews. Most major programs have their own Pro Day, and will also allow players from nearby, smaller colleges to have their players there as well.
- Teams are given a set amount of private interviews with prospects as well, generally flying them in to the team headquarters for an interview, medical exams, and private workouts.
- During the NFL Annual Meetings, the compensatory picks for the draft are announced. These are extra picks assigned to teams, starting at the end of the 3rd round for teams that lost out (there is a secret calculation for this) on free agents the previous season.
- The NFL Draft finally commences, now lasting three days and at the end of April.
- Immediately following the draft, teams scramble to sign “Undrafted Free Agents”. These players start to get contacted during the last day of the draft and are free to sign with any team after the draft is complete.
- Cleveland – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
- New York Giants – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
- Indianapolis – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
- Cleveland – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
- Denver – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
- New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
- Tampa Bay – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
- Chicago – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
- San Francisco – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
- Oakland – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S / CB, Alabama
- Cleveland – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
- New York Giants – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
- Indianapolis – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
- Cleveland – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
- Denver – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
- New York Jets – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
- Tampa Bay – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
- Chicago – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
- San Francisco – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
- Oakland – Derwin James, S, Florida State
NFL Mock Draft – Further Reading