Judgment Day: Grading The 2012 NFL Mock Drafts

Mocking Roger Goodell and the 2012 NFL draft

Over the last four months, we've regularly reviewed a slew of mock drafts, often twice a week, and perhaps even more in the last few weeks before the draft. And while those mocks have been helpful in getting to know many of the prospects in the draft, their predictive value for what actually happened on draft day was widely felt to be approaching zero. But was it really?

Today is judgment day for mock drafts.

Today we're revisiting the mock drafts that we've reviewed here regularly and we'll try to figure out just how good all those mock draft gurus like Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, Wes Bunting and all the others were at actually predicting what would happen on draft day.

After the break, we look at 30 mock draftniks to see how their predictions turned out, and to hand out the 3rd annual BTB 'Close But No Cigar' Awards. You might be surprised at some of the names, 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.

Before we dive into the analysis, 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.

A mock draft is generally considered successful if it hits on anywhere between 5-10 players and gets a large majority of first round picks right. 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 for our 'Close But No Cigar' awards in 2010 and in 2011. 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 Claiborne to go 3rd to Minnesota nets you 2 points because he ended up going 6th to the Cowboys)
  • or player predicted to within +/-2 spots= 3 points
  • or player matched to team = 4 points

You'll find the detailed results of the 30 mocks in the table at the bottom of the post, but let's run through a couple of highlights before looking at the total scores.

My big board is better than yours: Michael Lombardi and Mike Mayock, both with the NFL network, accurately predicted 28 of a possible 32 first-round picks. A further nine draftniks follow with 27 players correctly predicted as first rounders. Dan Shonka, a former scout, comes in last with only 22 players correctly predicted as first rounders

Nailed it: Ben Standig of FFToolbox, nailed a staggering 13 picks, matching the right player with the right team, easily the best results in our panel of draft experts. Dane Brugler from CBSSports and the guys at NEPatriotsdraft are next with 10 correct picks, Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post), Lou Pickney (DraftKing) and Russ Lande (Sporting News) all predicted nine picks correctly.

Missed by an inch or two: Ben Standig accurately predicted 19 of the 32 picks to within +/- 2 spots (Example: Standig mocked Harrison Smith 31st and he was picked 29th). Don Banks of SI.com predicted 16 picks to within +/- 2 spots, four others had 15.

Three's a charm: Ben Standig accurately predicted 21 first round picks to within +/-3 spots. Nolan Nawrocki (Pro Football Weekly) is runner up with 19, five others are tied at 18.

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. 10 mockers for example had Michael Brockers going to Dallas in the 14th spot, but Brockers ended up going to St. Louis in the 14th spot. Standig again leads this list (marked 'Matched To Spot' in the table below), with 10 players mocked to the right spot, Nawrocki follows with 8.

Where's Upshaw?: Courtney Upshaw was mocked in the first round by 28 of the 30 draftniks, but ended up being picked 35th. Ryan Van Bibber (SB Nation) and Al Fronczak are the only mockers who did not have him in the first round. Other prospects frequently mocked in the first: Cordy Glenn (27 of 20 mocks) and Coby Fleener (21/30)

The consensus picks: Every single mock drafter got Luck and RGIII right, and 28 of the 30 also had Tannehill going to the Dolphins. After that, it gets very sketchy: Floyd to Arizona (11), Kirkpatrick to Cincinnati (10) and Perry to Green Bay (7) were mocked correctly.

Many surprises: Not a single draft analyst had A.J. Jenkins (pick 30 by San Francisco) mocked in the first round. Nolan Nawrocki was the only analyst who had David Wilson in the first round and he correctly mocked him to the Giants. Bruce Irvin only showed up in 5 of 30 mocks and nobody had him going to Seattle, Brandon Weeden appeared on seven mocks, and Bunting, Kiper, Lande and Sideline Scouting had him pegged correctly to Cleveland.

And this year's Close But No Cigar Award goes to: Ben Standig, who ran away with 80 points in our BTB CBNC methodology. Silver goes to Nolan Nawrocki and Don Banks (both 68). See the full results below:

2012 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
Ben Standig (FF Toolbox) 27 21 19 10 13 53 80
Nolan Nawrocki (Pro Football Weekly) 27 19 15 8 7 41 68
Don Banks (SI.com) 26 18 16 7 8 42 68
Dane Brugler (NFLDraftScout) 25 17 15 7 10 45 67
Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) 26 18 14 6 9 44 67
Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce) 27 18 15 5 7 41 67
Dan Kadar (Mocking The Draft) 27 18 14 5 7 41 66
Michael Lombardi (NFL Network) 28 16 14 5 7 42 65
Lou Pickney (DraftKing) 25 16 14 7 9 43 64
Mike Mayock (NFL Network) 28 17 14 6 5 38 64
Al Fronczak 27 17 13 6 7 41 64
Todd McShay (ESPN) 27 17 13 5 7 41 64
Walter Football 27 16 15 4 6 39 64
NEPatriotsdraft 25 15 13 7 10 45 63
Great Blue North 26 17 12 5 7 40 62
Pete Prisco (CBSSports) 24 18 13 4 7 38 62
Peter King (SI.com) 26 17 13 3 6 38 62
Matthew Fairburn (Mocking The Draft) 25 14 13 4 7 39 59
Russ Lande (Sporting News) 23 15 11 6 9 41 58
Mel Kiper (ESPN) 27 14 10 6 7 41 58
Ryan Van Bibber (SBNation) 26 15 13 5 4 34 58
Rob Rang (NFLDraftScout) 25 16 11 3 6 37 58
Sideline Scouting 27 14 10 6 6 39 57
Shawn Zobel (Draftheadquarters) 25 13 11 6 8 41 57
Dan Shonka (Ourlads) 22 13 13 5 7 36 55
Peter Schrager (Foxsports.com) 25 13 11 4 6 37 55
Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 24 14 10 4 6 36 54
Pat Kirwan (CBSSports) 24 12 11 4 6 36 53
Draftsite 23 13 12 5 3 29 51
Evan Silva (PFT) 26 11 7 3 4 34 48
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