Mock drafts are fun! They’re quick and tantalizing ‘what ifs.’ Little bundles of hope filled with 11 future stars! They present a possible outcome that puts to test your ability to assess prospects (or to assess third party assessments of prospects!), understand team needs, and place a value on these players relative to 31 other teams. Sports sites these days are thick with mocks. They’re everywhere! Here are some friendly DO’s and DON’Ts of mock drafting.
DO get your pick positions correct. No one will take you seriously if you still have the Cowboys picking 17th in the first round! Of more recent note, make sure to update your pick positions following the announcement of the compensatory pick awards. Compensatory picks begin at the end of the third round and thus push down all subsequent picks. Here are Dallas’ current pick positions:
1st round: pick 16
2nd round: pick 47
3rd round: pick 78
4th round: pick 119
5th round: pick 158
7th round: pick 229 - from Bears for Dante Rosario
7th round: pick 231
7th round: pick 238 - from Chiefs in Edgar Jones trade
7th round: pick 248 - comp pick
7th round: pick 251 - comp pick
7th round: pick 254 - comp pick
DO format your mock draft to make it easier on the eyes! The Cowboys have 11 picks, so your basic mock draft should be no longer than 11 lines (not including pick analysis, if any). Minimally, your mock should include Round / Player Name / Position, all on the same line. It’s also nice to include the player’s college/university – this can help readers locate more information about the prospect should they wish.
DO present your picks together, without analysis in between each pick. If you’ve chosen to provide analysis of your picks, do so AFTER you’ve first presented your mock in its entirety. This allows readers to quickly view your mock in total, and then dive deeper into your rationale should they choose.
OPTIONAL: To help frame any discussion, it’s nice to identify your objective. Are you trying to do a predictive mock draft – i.e. what you think the Cowboys might actually end up doing? Or is your mock a reflection of your own personal evaluations and wants? For example, in your personal mock you might want to draft Louis Nix III or Calvin Pryor in the first, but if the reader assumes that you’re presenting a predictive mock, then get ready for comments that suggest the Cowboys would never draft those players in that round. Bryan Broaddus said so! "This would be my dream mock, even if the Cowboys won’t draft a 1-tech early" or "Here’s something I can see the Cowboys doing" are simple lead-ins that give the reader a sense of what kind of mock they’re looking at.
DON’T put trades in your mock! It’s very hard to take a mock draft with trades seriously. The likelihood of predicting picks is slim. Predicting trades? Forget about it! Adding trades to a mock draft strains our ability to suspend our disbelief and assess the mock as a potential future outcome. The more trades you include in your draft, the greater it deviates from the common framework we use to assess it. However fun it is to somehow turn your starting picks into eight 2nd rounders, just don’t do it! You’ll have readers dismissing your mock out of hand.
DON’T mock falling prospects. Yes, you may have done a Fanspeak simulation in which you got Aaron Donald in round 1, Zack Martin in round 2, Scott Crichton in round 3, DaQuan Jones in round 4, and Kareem Martin in round 5, but it’s hard to take that seriously. Try to use some kind of big board or prospect rankings to guide your mock. Your own rankings are best, but when in doubt, go with one of the more established boards as a starting place. That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with rankings, but if you’re mocking a player in a round later than what is commonly expected, your mock will lose plausibility. Now, if you go the other way, then you’re fine. For example, many rankings have Jimmy Garoppolo as a 3rd round prospect. Personally I don’t think he makes it past the first half of round 2, and wouldn’t be shocked if he went late in round 1. So if, for whatever reason, I wanted to mock him to Dallas as their 2nd round pick, no harm no foul. You may get some criticism that you didn’t get good value there, but at least it’s a pick that could plausibly happen. Remember, just because you did it in Fanspeak doesn’t make it believable!
One more bit of advice: don’t get your hopes up! Mocks are a dime a thousand these days. Everyone has one… check that, everyone has a hundred. And there are many more to come. It’s best to put your mock in your sig and keep it simple. Your mock isn’t a solution to the team’s problems. It’s not a roadmap to the Super Bowl. If you post your mock as a Fanpost, don’t expect a lot of comments unless you’ve got a particularly interesting take or you spend some extra time to provide your rationale or some good prospect analysis.
Feel free to add your own DO’s, DON’Ts or pet peeves in the comments below. Of course, also feel free to ignore any and all of this and just have fun with your mocks. No one will really be bothered one way or the other (except maybe Dr-P if you don’t format it succinctly!).