Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 May 2018

What a One-Year-Early Mock Draft Looks Like One Year Later

Kenneth Arthur at Field Gulls takes a look back at the 2018 mock drafts that came out last year and finds that sometimes the mockers are right (Sam Darnold to the Jets! Quenton Nelson to the Colts!). Sometimes, however, they are very, very wrong (Christian Wilkins going first overall instead of staying in school at Clemson!).

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 01 May 2018

12 comments, Last at 25 May 2018, 7:09pm by Wade8813


by Theo :: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 7:37am

About as accurate as Mel kiper only a week before.

by LondonMonarch :: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 8:23am

Is odd what they choose to focus on by way of "accuracy".

E.g. the example of what is "wrongest" seems to be including certain underclassmen who didn't come out. That doesn't seem a terribly logical thing to criticise for.

Likewise the praise lavished on someone who had the Chargers picking Derwin James, at 6 rather than 17.

Surely the only sensible way to grade is to look whether, broadly, the players they picked ended up being drafted in the same sort of area. By that measure the first guy does quite well - 6 of his top 10 a year ago ended up being drafted in the first 12.

by Wade8813 :: Fri, 05/25/2018 - 7:09pm

To me, it depends on what you're looking at. If you're trying to say "Haha, Kiper was an idiot!", then it's silly, because Kiper couldn't have known better.

But if you were trying to say "Look how pointless these mock drafts are", then it makes sense to me.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 10:51am

I know the point is to point and laugh at the idea of those immediate mock drafts, but those mocks are actually much, much more accurate than I would have thought. It actually made me think maybe these guys know more than a lot of us give them credit for.

by jtr :: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:41am

I think it just means that good football players tend to continue to be good. These are basically just lists of good college players who didn't declare for the most recent draft, with NFL team names arbitrarily filled in.
It's like assembling a list of next year's best seniors--if you just throw together a list of this year's best juniors, you're probably going to be right more often than not.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 05/03/2018 - 1:36am

So how do you explain draft busts? They seem to happen at a much higher rate than random variation would explain. For a JaMarcus type, I'd entertain the idea he was just never a top tier football player (he was just good enough to play one on TV for a season). But for the ones with more than one year of success, does "better competition" or "scheme fit" really cover all of them?

by jtr :: Thu, 05/03/2018 - 8:51am

A college player generally stays in pretty similar circumstances from year to year--same team, same scheme, same supporting cast, same level of competition. Whereas a draft pick has a ton of things that he needs to adapt to, any one of which could throw him off:
-Facing more athletic and more skilled opposing players
-Adapting to a new and probably more complex scheme
-Facing more complex opposing schemes
-Having to increase your work ethic
-Going from big man on campus to just another rookie
-Being asked to add or lose weight
-Getting drafted by the Browns

It makes a lot of sense to me that a college player's performance would probably be pretty consistent year to year in college, but more variable upon jumping to the pros.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 05/03/2018 - 9:51pm

Good points I hadn't considered, thanks!

by LondonMonarch :: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 12:56pm

It's also a reminder of how one-year performance varies and the draft comes at a pretty arbitrary point in a player's career.

You get exactly the same effect by considering what a "re-do" would look like a year after the draft. If you did that now there would be plenty of 2017 #1 picks who would be 3rd rounders in a do-over, and vice versa.

If (for example) Mason Rudolph turns into a franchise QB and Baker Mayfield stinks out the joint, it's entirely possible that 5 years from now the "year early" mock drafts will turn out to have been better predictors than the actual draft.

by Ryan D. :: Wed, 05/02/2018 - 8:19pm

"just a coincidence that I found extremely mildly interesting"

I found that phrasing to be extremely mildly annoying.

by Never Surrender :: Fri, 05/04/2018 - 9:51am

Lots of annoying quirks and grammatical mistakes in the article.

This sentence is an abomination: "I’m pointing this out not to slam Kadar for the picks, but only that it is nearly impossible to predict what is going to happen in the draft a year from now; especially once you get past the true blue chip prospects."

by Wade8813 :: Fri, 05/25/2018 - 7:06pm

If only Kenneth could hire a professional editor and writing staff, instead of being barely paid himself and depending on (mostly?) volunteer writers to contribute