Judgment Day: Grading The 2011 NFL Mock Drafts

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: A general view of the Draft stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Now that the draft is over, it's a good time to turn our attention one final time to the 2011 mock drafts and figure out how good all those mock draft gurus like Rick Gosselin, Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, Wes Bunting and all the others were at actually predicting what would happen on draft day.

It's judgment day for mock drafts.

But before we start sharpening our blades, consider that by their very nature, most mock drafts are often way off. For the most part, this is less an indictment of a particular writer's football knowledge but owes much more to the inherent unpredictability of the draft.

You won't be surprised to find that some mockers turned out to be better than others in predicting the first round of the 2011 draft. You might be surprised at some of the names though, and you may also find that some of the better known draft experts might actually have their jobs because they’re better than many others at what they do. After the break, we look at 25 mock draftniks that we've been following over the last few weeks to see how their predictions turned out, and to hand out the 2nd annual BTB 'Close But No Cigar' Awards.

As a rule of thumb, if a mock hits on anywhere between 5-10 players and gets a large majority of first round picks right, it is considered successful. According to the guys at Mocking The Draft, Mel Kiper's definition of a successful mock draft is at least 5 direct hits in which the correct player is matched to the correct team and 27 out of 32 first round players.

The Huddle Report hands out mock draft scores every year and is widely recognized as "the most trusted and longest running such scoring available for NFL mock drafts". Their system is based on correctly predicting the player in the round (1 point) and matching the player with the correct team (3 points).

Simply replicating their method wouldn't be a lot of fun, especially since you can just follow the link and look it up. So today we use a system that we already used for last year's inaugural BTB 'Close But No Cigar' Awards. Here's how it works:

Each pick can score between 1 and 4 points.

  • Player drafted in first round = 1 point
  • or player predicted to within +-3 spots= 2 points (e.g. picking Gabbert to go 7th to the 49ers nets you 2 points because he ended up going 10th to the Jaguars)
  • or player predicted to within +-2 spots= 3 points
  • or player matched to team = 4 points

We collected the mocks of 25 of the bigger mock draftniks for this rundown, and you'll find all 25 in the table at the bottom of this post. A word of warning though: the DMN's Rick Gosselin dominated the other mock drafters so thoroughly that it's not even funny anymore. The title of this post could easily have been "All Bow Before The Mighty Gosselin", such was his domination of this year's mock drafts. But that would have been a little boring, so let's run through a couple of highlights before looking at the total scores.

Nailed it: Rick Gosselin and Nolan Nawrocki from Pro Football Weekly both nailed 12 picks, matching the right player with the right team, the best results in our panel of draft experts. Al Fronczak from EastCoastSprotsNews.com is next with 10, Rob Rang from CBSsports and Dan Kadar from Mocking The Draft each predicted nine picks correctly.

If only there hadn't been any trades: Our grading doesn't award any points for predicting the right player in the right spot, but to the wrong team. Many mockers for example had Julio Jones going to the Browns in the sixth spot, but Jones ended up going to the Falcons in the sixth spot. Gosselin again leads this list, with 14 players mocked to the right spot, Nawrocki follows with 12 and the team at Sidelinescouting.com got 11 right, but only matched the right player to the right team six times.

My big board is better than yours: 21 of the 25 draftniks accurately predicted at least 27 of the 32 players picked in the first round. Tied for the lead with 29 are Rick Gosselin, Rob Rang, Don Banks from SI.com, Jon Crist from Scout.com and Wes Bunting from the National Football Post.

Missed by an inch or two: Rick Gosselin accurately predicted 17 of the 32 picks to within +- 2 spots (Example: Gosselin mocked Derek Sherrod 30th and he was picked 32nd). Al Fronczak predicted exactly half the picks to within +- 2 spots and Nolan Nawrocki had 15.

Three's a charm: Rick Gosselin accurately predicted 18 first round picks to within +-3 spots. Fronczak and Nawrocki are tied in second place with 17.

The Bowers Conundrum: Da'Quan Bowers was mocked in the first round by 23 of the 25 draftniks, but ended up being picked 51st. Unsurprisingly, the only two mockers who did not have Bowers on their list were Gosselin and Nawrocki.

The consensus picks: There wasn't a pick that all 25 mockers agreed an. The closest this mock draft had to consensus picks were Newton to Carolina (23/25), Green to Cincinnati (19), Pouncey to Miami (19) and Smith to Dallas (18).

Rooting for the underdogs: The surprise picks of the first round were James Carpenter to Seattle and Jon Baldwin to Kansas City. Only two mockers each had these players in the first round. Rob Rang and Evan Silva from rotoworld.com had Carpenter in their top 32, Mike Mayock and Don Banks had Baldwin in theirs.

Whodathunkit? The amount of trading certainly impacted the draft success of each mocker. However, 25 teams did not move our of their spots on draft day, but they remained hard to predict regardless. Nobody predicted the first surprise pick of the draft with Aldon Smith going to San Francisco. But surprisingly, seven other picks of teams that did not move on draft day were not correctly predicted by anybody on our panel of draft experts (MIN, STL, NE, NYG, SEA, CHI, GB).

And this year's Close But No Cigar Award goes to: Rick Gosselin, who garnered 76 points in our trademarked BTB CBNC methodology. Silver goes to Nolan Nawrocki (72), bronze goes to Al Fronczak (70). See the full results below:

2011 Mock Draft Accuracy (click on column headers to sort)

Mocker Correct round +-3 picks +-2 picks Matched to spot Matched to team Huddle report score
Close But No Cigar Score
Rick Gosselin (DMN)
29 18 17 14 12 53 76
Nolan Nawrocki (Pro Football Weekly) 28 17 15 12 12 52 72
Al Fronczak (East Coast SportsNews) 27 17 16 10 10 47 70
SidelineScouting.com 27 16 13 11 6 39 62
Don Banks (SI.com) 29 15 12 7 6 41 62
Jon Crist (Scout.com) 29 15 12 7 5 39 61
Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 28 14 12 9 8 44 62
Todd McShay (ESPN) 28 15 12 8 6 40 61
Michael Lombardi (NFL.com) 24 16 14 8 7 38 61
Mike Mayock (NFL Network) 27 15 11 9 8 43 61
Peter King (SI.com) 28 15 13 6 5 38 61
Rob Rang (NFL Draft Scout/CBS) 29 13 11 8 9 47 62
Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) 27 13 12 9 6 39 58
Mel Kiper (ESPN) 28 13 10 9 6 40 57
Chad Reuter (NFL Draft Scout/CBS) 27 14 11 6 5 37 57
Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) 29 12 12 5 5 39 58
Dan Kadar (Mocking The Draft) 28 11 10 8 9 46 58
Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce.com) 26 10 10 9 6 38 52
Pat Kirwan (NFL.com) 26 12 10 5 5 36 53
Evan Silva (PFT) 27 10 10 4 4 35 51
Erik Falk (DraftSeason.com) 28 9 8 4 4 36 49
Drafttek.com 25 10 9 5 4 33 48
Peter Schrager (Foxsports.com) 27 10 7 5 5 37 49
Doug Farrar (Shutdown Corner) 27 9 8 5 4 35 48
Dan Shonka (Ourlads.com) 27 8 6 2 1 29 42
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