Mock drafts (update below)

I have very little interest in mock drafts. In some ways, they represent sports analysis at its worst. There’s no touchstone against which to measure their utility. If Mel Kiper is wrong 75% of the time about who will draft whom in round one, why are we paying attention? Beyond that, what does it mean that Kiper, or McShay or whomever thinks Johnny Manziel will go 1st, or 4th, or 8th or whatever? Does that tell us anything about the players’ ability? Does it tell us anything about the future success of the teams that do or don’t draft the players the mock drafters project they’ll choose?

It’s bizarre that the draft order itself is being analyzed as if it’s a competition. Of course, fans care who their teams draft, how their draftees might help the team and what their front office’s record of success is in identifying talent. But what has that got to do with where McKiperOck thinks a player will go?

For a number of years, Cold Hard Football Facts evaluated the mock draft experts to see how accurate their predictions were. The results? They weren’t much better at nailing the picks than “Bonzo the Idiot Monkey.”

And that’s at the top of the draft. Once you get beyond the first half of the first round, mock drafts appear to be entirely useless.

Obviously, there is an enormous appetite for this exercise, futile as it is. And I am as impressed as the next guy at Kiper’s breathless ability to spit out a scouting report on any player at any time. But it doesn’t follow that he’s told us anything useful about how successful teams build winners and unsuccessful teams fail to do so. Call me crazy, but I’d rather hear more systematic evaluation of what kinds of draft strategies have proven successful and how prospects make sense in the context of those strategies than endless chatter that amounts to guessing what icons are going to pop up through a slot machine window.

Update: Here’s a more comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of that which I just said I don’t care about (and really, I don’t!) – McKiperOck’s mock draft “performance.”


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