Grading The Draft Gurus: Judgment Day For The 2014 NFL Mock Drafts

Alexander Hassenstein

We've featured them, now we grade them. We've reviewed many mock drafts by many different draft analysts here over the last four months, today we look at how good 43 of their final mock drafts were at predicting the actual outcome of the draft.

Blake Bortles with the third overall pick? Louis Nix a third-rounder? Jackson Jeffcoat undrafted? Jonny Manziel not drafted by the Cowboys? Why didn't anybody tell us this was going to happen?

If you sat through the draft, you've probably come to the conclusion that the predictive value of mock drafts approaches zero. Over the last four months we've featured and reviewed more mock drafts here on Blogging The Boys than I care to admit. And every time we looked at one of those mocks, there was always the nagging suspicion that they probably had very little bearing on what would actually happen on draft day.

Today is judgment day for mock drafts.

If you want to know how good all those draft experts actually were, you've come to the right place. Today we'll look at how good all those mock draft gurus like Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, Todd McShay and many others were at correctly predicting what would happen on draft day.

Before we dive into the analysis, understand that we're not looking at these mock drafts with a sense of Schadenfreude, a malicious delight at seeing some of the big names in the business crash and burn - at least not too much. Consider that by their very nature, most mock drafts are bound to be inaccurate. 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. So today, we celebrate the mock drafters who were more successful than others at predicting the draft, despite all the vagaries inherent in 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 once defined a successful mock draft as one that gets at least 5 direct hits (in which the correct player is matched to the correct team) and correctly predicts 27 out of 32 players drafted in the first round..

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). But they have one key limitation in that mock drafters have to submit their drafts to The Huddle Report to be scored. Draft analysts can commit the equivalent of a mock draft hit-and-run by simply not submitting their mock draft to the site.

No such luck here on BTB, where nobody gets to leave the scene of their mock draft accident, and where we hand out our own 'Close But No Cigar' awards for the best mock drafts. We already have a bit of a tradition with these awards, as this is our fifth consecutive year of handing them out, after the 2010, the 2011, the 2012 and the 2013 awards.

But simply replicating The Huddle Report's method wouldn't be a lot of fun, especially since you can just follow the link above and look up their ranking. Instead, we use a scoring system that is designed to award points not just when a mock hits on a pick, but also awards points if the mock projected a player fairly close to where that player was eventually selected. 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
  • or player predicted to within +/-2 spots= 3 points
  • or player matched to correct team = 4 points

In the table at the bottom of the post you'll find the detailed results of 43 mocks from sites or writers that are well known here on BTB, but let's run through a couple of highlights first before looking at the total scores.

My big board is better than yours: Two draft analysts from CBSSports walk away with the crown in this category. Rob Rang and Will Brinson accurately predicted 27 of a possible 32 first-round picks. There's not really much separation here though, as there are 26 other draftniks who hit on 25 or 26 picks respectively.

Nailed it: Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football either got very lucky or knows what he's writing about. Walter nailed 8 picks, matching the right player with the right team, the best result among our panel of draft experts. Scott Wright of DraftCountdown is the runner-up with 7 picks. Chris Burke, Mike Florio, Will Brinson, and Evan Silva are some of the better known names who got only a single pick right in their entire mock.

Missed by an inch or two: Whoever did the mock draft at DallasCowboys.com accurately predicted 15 of the 32 picks to within +/- 2 spots (Example: the DC.com staff mocked Kelvin Benjamin 30th and he was picked 28th). Chase Stuart, Mike Mayock and Todd McShay predicted 14 picks to within +/- 2 spots.

Three's a charm: Seven mocks predicted 15 first round picks to within +/-3 spots.

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. For example, 15 mocks had Sammy Watkins going in the fourth spot, and while Watkins was picked fourth, it was by the Bills, not the Browns. Walter Cherepinsky and Peter Schrager of Foxsports lead this category (marked 'Matched To Spot' in the table below), with eight players mocked to the right spot, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com and the DC.com staff follow with seven.

The vagaries of mock drafts: Four analysts didn't have Blake Bortles in their first round projections (Farrar, Edholm, Shonka, and the Gabriel & Galko duo). Marcus Smith was mocked in the first round only once (Daniel Jeremiah), as was Dominique Easley (correctly mocked to the Patriots by Josh Norris). Deon Bucannon was another longshot; only three analysts had him going in the first round.

And this year's Close But No Cigar Award goes to: DallasCowboys.com, whose consensus mock draft scored 62 points in our BTB CBNC methodology. Six mocks are crowded into second place with 58 points each. See the full results below:

Mock Draft Scores 2014 (click blue 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
DallasCowboys.com 26 15 15 7 6 38 62
Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) 25 13 12 8 8 41 58
Peter Schrager (Foxsports)
26 15 11 8 6 38 58
Scott Wright (Draftcountdown)
24 14 13 5 7 38 58
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com)
25 15 13 7 5 35 58
Mike Mayock (NFL.com) 26 14 14 5 4 34 58
Todd McShay (ESPN)
25 15 14 6 4 33 58
Mel Kiper (ESPN) 26 13 13 6 5 36 57
Rob Rang (CBSSports)
26 14 13 4 4 34 57
Chase Stuart (Football Perspective)
25 15 14 5 3 31 57
Matthew Fairburn (SB Nation)
25 13 11 5 6 37 55
Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce)
24 13 12 5 6 36 55
Bob McGinn (Journal-Sentinel)
26 13 11 4 5 36 55
Draftsite 25 15 10 4 5 35 55
Joel Klatt (Foxsports)
25 14 12 4 3 31 54
Chris Burke (SI.com)
25 15 13 2 1 27 54
Ben Standig (CSN Washington)
25 12 11 6 5 35 53
Charly Casserly (NFL.com) 25 12 11 6 5 35 53
Gabriel & Galko (NFP)
24 14 12 3 3 30 53
Charean Williams (Star-Telegram)
26 13 10 3 3 32 52
Doug Farrar (SI.com) 25 13 11 3 3 31 52
Dan Kadar (SB Nation)
25 11 9 6 6 37 51
Dane Brugler (CBSSports) 27 11 9 5 4 35 51
Pete Prisco (CBSSports) 24 12 10 4 5 34 51
Charles Davis (NFL.com) 23 13 10 4 5 33 51
Will Brinson (CBSSports) 27 12 11 3 1 29 51
Al Fronczak (ECSportsNews)
26 10 8 4 6 38 50
Doug Martz (DraftboardGuru)
25 12 8 5 5 35 50
Jason Boris (Times Online)
26 11 9 4 4 34 50
Dan Shonka (Ourlads)
23 13 10 3 4 31 50
Sam Farmer (LA Times)
24 12 11 3 3 30 50
Pat Kirwan (CBSSports) 24 12 12 3 2 28 50
Don Banks (SI.com) 24 11 9 5 5 34 49
Peter King (SI.com)
24 13 10 2 2 28 49
Josh Norris (Rotoworld)
25 11 8 4 4 33 48
Evan Silva (Rotoworld) 25 14 8 2 1 27 48
Jason McIntyre (Big Lead)
24 11 8 3 4 32 47
Mike Florio (PFT) 26 11 9 1 1 28 47
Robert Davis (Football's Future)
25 10 9 3 2 29 46
Luke Easterling (Draftreport) 25 11 6 1 3 31 45
Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting)
23 10 8 3 3 29 44
Jimmy Kempski (Philly.com)
23 9 7 3 2 27 41
Jeff Risdon (RealGM) 23 11 6 2 1 25 41

Congratulations to the staff at the mothership for winning our award this year. Let's just hope the winning mock was indeed a consensus mock of the DC.com staff, and not something an intern knocked together in a couple of minutes!

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