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Grading Kiper, McShay & Co: 2016 Mock Draft Judgment Day

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We've reviewed many mock drafts by many different draft analysts here over the last four months, today we look at how good 55 of their final mock drafts were at predicting the actual outcome of the draft.

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Over the last four months we've featured and reviewed more mock drafts here on Blogging The Boys than I care to admit. 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.

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 accurate all those mock draft gurus 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. The draft itself is such a crapshoot that most mock drafts are bound to be inaccurate. 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.

To do that, we review 55 mock draft published by draftnicks who've shown up on these pages in one form or another over the last four months.

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 uses exactly that approach to grade mock drafts as well, and they published their 2016 results earlier this week. Their system is based on correctly predicting the player in the round (1 point) and matching the player with the correct team (3 points). Unfortunately, they only evaluate those mock drafts that were submitted to the Huddle Report to be scored. If a mock drafter doesn't submit his mock draft to the site, he's not graded.

No such luck here on BTB. If you got our clicks for your mocks, you're facing Mock Draft Judgment Day. End of discussion.

Today we hand out our BTB 'Close But No Cigar' awards for the best mock drafts of the year. We already have quite a tradition with these awards, as this is our seventh consecutive year of handing them out, after the 2010, the 2011, the 2012, the 2013, the 2014, and the 2015 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 55 mocks from sites or writers, most of whom showed up on BTB at least once this season. But let's run through a couple of highlights first before looking at the total scores.

Accurately predicting the first round: Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report accurately predicted 27 of a possible 32 first-round picks and are the only two draftniks of the 55 who met Kiper's threshold for a successful mock. So in terms of accurately predicting the correct first-round picks, this was one of the more difficult drafts in recent years.

What the heck kind of big board were they using: Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus got only 18 (!) first-round picks right, followed by Doug Farrar (21) of SI.com, and Greg Gabriel (21) of the National Football Post. If you had simply averaged out a few mainstream mocks, you'd have gotten a better result than this.

Nailed it: Matt Falk of DraftSeason.com nailed 12 picks by matching the correct player to the correct team. Runner up is Sam Farmer of the LA Times, who hit on 11 picks.

Oops: Brian Burke of SI.com matched just three players to the team that eventually picked them. Cris Collinsworth (4) of ProFootballFocus and Mike Tanier (4) of Bleacher Report had the second-worst results. Quite an achievement considering that the whole world had Goff and Wentz mocked 1 and 2, so two matches should have been automatic.

Missed by an inch or two: Todd McShay accurately predicted 18 of the 32 picks to within +/- 2 spots (Example: McShay mocked Jack Conklin 10th overall, and he was picked 8th overall). Daniel Jeremiah and Bob MacManaman (Arizona Republic) both showed a good feel for the draft by predicting 16 picks to within +/- 2 spots

Three's a charm: Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com predicted 20 first round picks to within +/-3 spots. The big-name trio of Todd McShay, Mel Kiper and Daniel Jeremiah share second place with 19 each.

The vagaries of mock drafts: 39 of the 55 analysts had A'Shawn Robinson as a first-round projection, while 18 had Andrew Billings as a first-round prospect. Those two must count as the biggest misses in this draft. Conversely, not a single analyst had OG Josh Garnett as a first-rounder in their mocks, yet he was picked 28th overall by the 49ers. Kenny Clark (7), Keanue Neal (10), and Artie Burns (13) also didn't get a lot of love in the pre-draft mocks.

And this year's Close But No Cigar Award goes to: Todd McShay walks away with the title for the second straight year, achieving 78 points in our CBNC methodology. Daniel Jeremiah also had an excellent showing, coming in No. 2 overall. See the full results below:

Mock Draft Scores 2016 (click blue column headers to sort)
Mocker Correct round +-3 picks +-2 picks Matched to spot Matched to team Huddle Report Score BTB Mock Draft Score
Todd McShay (ESPN Insider) 25 19 18 10 10 45 78
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) 27 19 16 9 8 43 75
Mel Kiper (ESPN Insider) 25 19 15 10 8 41 72
Ben Standig (CSN Washington) 26 16 14 8 10 46 72
Matt Falk (Draft Season) 25 16 13 12 12 49 72
Steve Serby (NY Post) 25 17 15 6 8 41 72
Sam Farmer (L.A. Times) 23 15 15 9 11 45 72
Bob McManaman (Arizona Republic) 25 18 16 6 7 39 71
Charlie Campbell (Walter Football) 26 20 14 6 6 38 71
Jason La Canfora (CBS) 26 17 13 6 8 42 71
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report) 27 18 13 5 8 43 70
Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) 24 17 13 6 7 38 69
Charean Williams (Star Telegram) 24 14 12 6 9 42 68
Bob McGinn (Journal Sentinel) 26 15 15 8 8 42 67
Pete Prisco (CBS) 26 15 13 8 9 44 67
Frank Schwab (Yahoo) 23 14 13 6 10 43 67
Will Brinson (CBS) 23 16 14 4 6 35 67
Don Banks (SI.com) 25 15 14 8 7 39 66
Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting) 26 14 12 8 9 44 66
Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 26 15 13 4 7 40 66
Mark Maske (Washington Post) 23 15 14 4 7 37 66
Lou Pickney (Draft King) 25 15 12 3 6 37 66
Jason Boris (Times-News Online) 26 15 11 7 9 44 65
Jimmy Kempski (Philly Voice) 25 15 14 5 7 37 65
Dane Brugler (CBS) 25 14 11 5 7 39 65
Mike Mayock (NFL.com) 26 15 12 11 9 44 64
Nate Davis (USA Today) 24 17 14 6 7 38 64
Charles Davis (NFL.com) 23 16 14 7 8 39 64
Dave Birkett (Detroit Free Press) 25 15 12 3 5 35 64
Peter Schrager (FoxSports) 23 15 11 4 7 37 64
Rob Rang (CBS) 26 18 12 7 5 36 63
Dan Kadar (SB Nation) 24 14 11 6 8 40 63
Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce) 23 14 11 5 8 39 63
Josh Norris (Rotoworld) 24 15 13 7 6 36 62
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) 24 14 12 5 6 36 62
Dave Syvertsen (Ourlads) 25 14 12 5 6 37 62
Jeff Risdon (Real GM) 24 14 12 4 5 34 62
Peter King (SI.com) 25 15 12 6 7 39 61
Ben Volin (Boston Globe) 24 15 12 5 5 34 61
Eric Edholm (Yahoo) 23 11 11 6 9 41 61
Jason McIntyre (The Big Lead) 22 15 12 3 5 32 61
Evan Silva (Rotoworld) 25 13 11 4 7 39 60
Robert Davis (Football's Future) 23 13 11 5 8 39 60
Drafttek 23 13 8 6 7 37 60
Jon Machota (Dallas Morning News) 24 13 11 4 6 36 59
Mike Florio (PFT) 25 11 10 6 8 41 58
Doug Farrar (SI.com) 21 12 12 5 7 35 58
Newy Scruggs (Dallas Morning News) 22 13 11 5 5 32 58
KD Drummond (CowboysWire) 24 12 10 6 5 34 55
Greg Gabriel (NFP) 21 12 9 6 7 35 55
Brian Burke (SI.com) 24 13 10 4 3 30 53
Shaun King (Yahoo) 22 10 8 4 6 34 53
Chris Collinsworth (Pro Football Focus) 22 11 8 4 4 30 49
Steve Palazzolo (Pro Football Focus) 18 8 8 2 6 30 49
Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report) 22 9 8 5 4 30 45

Previous winners:

2015: Todd McShay & Jason Boris: 73 points

2014: The DallasCowboys.com Staff: 63 points

2013: Mike Mayock: 74 points

2012: Ben Standig: 80 points

2011: Rick Gosselin: 76 points

2010: Pro Football Weekly Staff: 72 points

We're expanding the number of mock drafts we look at on Mock Draft Judgment Day every year. When we started in 2010, we only looked at 20 mock drafts, this year we're up to 55. And with the back-data we have, we can now take a look at where some of the analysts above rank over the years.

You'll find the average score of 30 mock drafters below, all of whom got a mock draft score from BTB in at least three of the last five years.

Multi-year Average Mock Draft Score
Rank Mocker Average 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
1 Todd McShay (ESPN Insider) 68.0 78 73 58 66 65
2 Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) 67.0 75 68 58 67 - -
3 Ben Standig (CSN Midatlantic) 65.8 72 67 54 56 80
4 Dane Brugler (CBS) 64.8 65 71 51 70 67
5 Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) 63.8 69 64 58 64 64
6 Mike Mayock (NFL.com) 63.6 64 58 58 74 64
7 Mel Kiper (ESPN Insider) 63.2 72 64 57 65 58
T8 Jason Boris (Times-News Online) 62.7 65 73 50 - - - -
T8 Bob McGinn (Journal Sentinel) 62.7 67 64 57 - - - -
T10 Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce) 62.4 63 64 55 62 68
T10 Peter Schrager (FoxSports) 62.4 64 68 58 67 55
12 Don Banks (Patriots.com) 61.8 66 69 49 57 68
13 Sam Farmer (L.A. Times) 61.7 72 63 50 - - - -
14 Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 61.6 66 63 62 63 54
15 Rob Rang (CBS) 59.8 63 65 60 51 60
16 Will Brinson (CBS) 59.3 67 60 51 - - - -
17 Pete Prisco (CBS) 59.0 67 63 53 49 63
18 Dan Kadar (SB Nation) 58.8 63 55 51 59 66
19 Charean Williams (Star Telegram) 58.7 68 56 52 - - - -
20 Drafttek 58.3 60 - - 60 55 - -
21 K.D. Drummond (Cowboyswire) 57.3 55 61 - - 56 - -
T22 Robert Davis (Football's Future) 57.0 60 66 46 56 - -
T22 Jimmy Kempski (Philly Voice) 57.0 65 60 41 62 - -
24 Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting) 57.0 66 57 44 61 - -
25 Peter King (SI.com) 56.6 61 54 49 55 64
26 Lou Pickney (Draft King) 56.4 66 49 51 50 66
27 Jason McIntyre (The Big Lead) 56.0 61 58 49 - - - -
28 Charles Davis (NFL.com) 55.7 63 51 53 - - - -
29 Evan Silva (Rotoworld) 55.0 60 68 48 51 48
30 Chris Burke (SI.com) 54.7 53 57 54 - - - -
31 Jeff Risdon (Real GM) 53.7 62 58 41 - - - -
T32 Doug Farrar (SI.com) 53.5 58 52 54 50
T32 Josh Norris (Rotoworld) 53.5 62 55 48 49 - -
34 Mike Florio (PFT) 53.3 58 54 47 54 - -

So there you have it. Despite all the uncertainty involved in the draft, there are some analysts who consistently perform better than others. Over the last five years, Todd McShay and Daniel Jeremiah have out-mocked their fellow draftnicks, but the heavy hitters in the mock draft industry are not far behind, as Dane Brugler, Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper all finish in the top six over the last five years.

Over the years it's become fashionable to ridicule draft analysts, chief among them Mel Kiper, for their apparent lack of ability to correctly predict the NFL draft. So much so that a whole cottage industry of faux draft analysts has emerged, all eager to get a piece of the mock draft click-pie, and whose sole qualification as a draft expert is an internet connection. But the large-scale democratization of the draft via the internet, via readily available film on every prospect, and via the ubiquity of stats on each prospect hasn't resulted in a new generation of better draft analysts, far from it.

Look at the top of the 5-year table and you'll see some very familiar names who have been consistently outperforming the rest of the mock draft world. Perhaps you'll want to pay a little more attention to those guys and a little less attention to the others next draft season, and the results above may be a useful guide for that.

But alas, the next mock draft season has already begun - Dane Brugler published his first 2017 mock on Wednesday and has the Cowboys picking a wide receiver -  though it'll be a while before the mock draft industry starts cranking out weekly mocks again. Once they do however, you may be able to navigate the mock draft waters a little better with the BTB mock draft scores.