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Grading The 2017 NFL Mock Drafts: Judgment Day For Kiper, McShay, Mayock & Co.

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A look at how good some of the biggest names in the mock draft business were at accurately predicting the actual outcome of the 2017 NFL Draft.

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Today is judgment day for mock drafts. Over the last few months countless mock drafts have competed for our eyeballs and our clicks, and we've reviewed and summarized more mock drafts here on Blogging The Boys than I care to admit.

If you want to know how good all those draft experts actually were, you've come to the right place, because today we'll look at how accurate all those mock draft gurus were at correctly predicting what would happen on draft day. And we have quite a tradition with these evaluations, as this is the eighth consecutive year we're doing this exercise (see the results for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 by following the respective links).

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 crap shoot 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 63 mock draft published by draftniks 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 five 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 2017 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. And I don't care whether your mock draft carried some kind of disclaimer ("this is what I would do as a GM, not what I expect teams to actually do," or some such nonsense); if you put up a final mock draft prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, you're going to be judged. End of discussion.

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 62 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: Peter King of The MMQB, Frank Schwab of Yahoo, Jason Boris of the Times-News Online, and acknowledged Cowboys hater Jimmy Kempski from PhillyVoice accurately predicted 29 of a possible 32 first-round picks. In total, 34 of the 62 mock drafts met Kiper's threshold of getting 27 of 32 first-round picks right, an unusually high number. Last year for example, only two out of 56 mocks got 27 first-rounders right.

What the heck kind of big board were they using: Walter Cherepinski of Walter Football got only 23 first-round picks right, followed by Doug Farrar (24) of Bleacher Report and Dion Caputi (24) 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: Greg Cote of the Miami Herald nailed 11 picks by matching the correct player to the correct team. Runner ups are Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead and Walter Cherepinski, who both hit on nine picks. Not an easy task in a draft that saw eight teams change their positions in the first round.

Oooops: Steve Palazzolo of ProFootballFocus, Josh Norris of Rotoworld, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and K.D. Drummond of Cowboyswire matched just two players to the team that eventually picked them. Quite an achievement considering that Myles Garrett at No.1 was already a foregone conclusion.

Missed by an inch or two: Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports accurately predicted 14 of the 32 picks to within +/- 2 spots (Example: La Canfora mocked Marshon Lattimore 9th overall, and he was picked 11th overall). Sam Farmer of the LA Times also showed a good feel for the draft by predicting 13 picks to within +/- 2 spots

The vagaries of mock drafts: 58 of the 62 analysts had OG Forrest Lamp as a first-round projection, 50 had RB Dalvin Cook going in the first round, and 48 had CB Kevin King as a first-round prospect. Those three must count as the biggest misses in this draft.

Conversely, only six analysts had TE Evan Engram as a first-rounder in their mocks, yet he was stunningly picked 23rd overall by the Giants. In mock draft parlance, that makes Engram and Jabrill Peppers (20) the biggest reaches in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Wisdom Of Crowds: In 2014, Andrew Healy of Football Perspective suggested a way to harness the wisdom of crowds for mock drafts.

To construct the Wisdom of Crowds (WOC) draft, I assign each draft pick a total point score. A player gets 32 points for someone predicting them first overall, 31 points for second, and 1 point if someone was predicted to get last in the first round. The idea here is basically to take the mean prediction across all the predictors.

Using that approach across the 62 mock drafts, such a WOC draft would have only hit on two picks (Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette), but would have accurately predicted 28 of 32 first-round picks and would have yielded a mock draft score of 55. Keep those numbers in mind as you review the mock draft scores below.

And this year's Close But No Cigar Award goes to: Greg Cote and Jason La Canfora share the award for the best mock draft this year, achieving 67 points in our mock draft scoring methodology. See the full results below:

Mock Draft Scores 2017 (click blue column headers to sort)
Mocker Correct round +-3 picks +-2 picks Matched to team Huddle Report Score BTB Mock Draft Score
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) 27 15 11 11 49 67
Jason La Canfora (CBS) 26 17 14 8 42 67
Mark Maske (Washington Post) 28 15 10 6 40 62
Jason McIntyre (The Big Lead) 27 12 11 9 45 62
Jimmy Kempski (Philly Voice) 29 15 7 7 43 62
Drafttek 26 13 10 8 42 60
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) 28 13 9 8 44 60
Ben Standig (CSN Midatlantic) 28 14 10 6 40 60
Jon Machota (DMN) 27 16 10 5 37 60
Charlie Campbell (Walter Football) 25 14 12 9 43 60
Newy Scruggs (NBCDFW) 27 14 10 7 41 59
Charley Casserly (NFL.com) 28 16 12 3 34 59
Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce) 28 13 8 6 40 58
Sam Farmer (L.A. Times) 25 15 13 5 35 58
Evan Silva (Rotoworld) 27 15 9 5 37 58
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report) 26 13 10 6 38 57
Pro Football Weekly 26 14 11 5 36 57
Jason Boris (Times-News Online) 29 14 11 3 35 57
Mike Florio (PFT) 28 12 11 5 38 56
Nick Klopsis (Newsday) 27 9 8 8 43 56
Dieter Kurtenbach (Foxsports) 26 13 10 6 38 56
Tank Williams (Yahoo) 26 12 10 6 38 55
Frank Schwab (Yahoo) 29 10 10 6 41 55
Nate Davis (USA Today) 28 13 9 5 38 55
Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report) 27 10 9 7 41 55
Dan Kadar (SB Nation) 26 11 8 7 40 54
Draftblaster 25 11 8 6 37 54
Peter King (SI.com) 29 7 5 7 43 54
Tony Pauline (Draft Analyst) 26 13 8 5 36 54
Peter Schrager (FoxSports) 28 12 9 5 38 54
Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 26 13 8 5 36 54
Robert Davis (Football's Future) 27 13 9 4 35 53
Don Banks (Patriots.com) 27 14 8 3 33 52
Dave Birkett (Detroit Free Press) 28 11 7 4 36 52
Nicholas Goss (NESN) 27 10 6 5 37 52
Lou Pickney (Draft King) 27 11 8 5 37 52
Mel Kiper (ESPN Insider) 27 12 10 3 33 52
Mike Mayock (NFL.com) 27 12 6 5 37 52
Will Brinson (CBS) 26 13 9 4 34 52
Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting) 27 11 8 5 37 51
Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) 23 12 11 5 33 51
Bob McManaman (Arizona Republic) 27 11 8 4 35 50
Josh Norris (Rotoworld) 25 13 8 2 29 50
Dion Caputi (NFP) 24 10 8 6 36 50
Lance Zierlein (NFL.com) 26 11 8 5 36 50
Dane Brugler (CBS) 26 11 8 3 32 50
Charean Williams (Star Telegram) 27 10 7 5 37 49
Todd McShay (ESPN Insider) 28 9 6 4 36 49
Jeff Risdon (Real GM) 25 11 8 4 33 48
Doug Martz (DBGuru) 26 10 8 4 34 48
Paul Banks (Sportsbank) 25 10 8 5 35 48
Eric Edholm (Yahoo) 26 9 7 4 34 48
Pete Prisco (CBS) 25 11 7 4 33 47
Burke & Kaplan (SI.com) 27 10 7 3 33 47
Doug Farrar (SI.com) 24 11 9 3 30 47
Rob Rang (CBS) 26 9 7 4 34 46
Matt Falk (Draft Season) 27 8 6 4 35 45
K.D. Drummond (Cowboyswire) 26 9 7 2 30 44
Steve Serby (NY Post) 25 10 6 3 31 44
Steve Palazzolo (PFF) 25 9 8 2 29 44
Bob McGinn (Journal Sentinel) 27 8 6 2 31 43
Danny Kelly (The Ringer) 27 6 4 3 33 40

Previous winners:

2016: Todd McShay: 78 points

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 62. 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 46 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 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
1 Jason La Canfora (CBS) 69.7 67 71 71 - - - -
2 Charlie Campbell (Walter Football) 67.3 60 71 71 - - - -
3 Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) 65.6 60 75 68 58 67
4 Todd McShay (ESPN Insider) 64.8 49 78 73 58 66
5 Greg Cote (Miami Herald) 63.3 67 62 61 - - - -
T6 Mark Maske (Washington Post) 62.7 62 66 60 - - - -
T6 Matt Miller (Bleacher Report) 62.7 57 70 61 - - - -
T6 Jon Machota (Dallas Morning News) 62.7 60 59 69 - - - -
9 Peter Schrager (FoxSports) 62.2 54 64 68 58 67
10 Mel Kiper (ESPN Insider) 62.0 52 72 64 57 65
11 Ben Standig (CSN Midatlantic) 61.8 60 72 67 54 56
12 Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 61.6 54 66 63 62 63
13 Dane Brugler (CBS) 61.4 50 65 71 51 70
T14 Nate Davis (USA Today) 61.3 55 64 65 - - - -
T14 Jason Boris (Times-News Online) 61.3 57 65 73 50 - -
T16 Walter Cherepinsky (Walter Football) 61.2 51 69 64 58 64
T16 Mike Mayock (NFL.com) 61.2 52 64 58 58 74
18 Sam Farmer (L.A. Times) 60.8 58 72 63 50 - -
19 Ryan McCrystal (DraftAce) 60.4 58 63 64 55 62
20 Frank Schwab (Yahoo) 59.7 55 67 57 - - - -
21 Matt Falk (Draft Season) 59.3 45 72 61 - - - -
22 Bob McManaman (Arizona Republic) 59.0 50 71 56 - - - -
23 Drafttek 58.8 60 60 - - 60 55
24 Steve Serby (NY Post) 58.7 44 72 60 - - - -
25 Don Banks (Patriots.com) 58.6 52 66 69 49 57
26 Jimmy Kempski (Philly Voice) 58.0 62 65 60 41 62
27 Bob McGinn (Journal Sentinel) 57.8 43 67 64 57 - -
T28 Jason McIntyre (The Big Lead) 57.5 62 61 58 49 - -
T28 Will Brinson (CBS) 57.5 52 67 60 51 - -
T30 Evan Silva (Rotoworld) 57.0 58 60 68 48 51
T30 Rob Rang (CBS) 57.0 46 63 65 60 51
32 Dan Kadar (SB Nation) 56.4 54 63 55 51 59
33 Charean Williams (Star Telegram) 56.3 49 68 56 52 - -
34 Robert Davis (Football's Future) 56.2 53 60 66 46 56
T35 Pete Prisco (CBS) 55.8 47 67 63 53 49
T35 Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting) 55.8 51 66 57 44 61
37 Peter King (SI.com) 54.6 54 61 54 49 55
38 K.D. Drummond (Cowboyswire) 54.0 44 55 61 - - 56
39 Mike Florio (PFT) 53.8 56 58 54 47 54
40 Lou Pickney (Draft King) 53.6 52 66 49 51 50
41 Eric Edholm (Yahoo) 53.3 48 61 51 - - - -
T42 Josh Norris (Rotoworld) 52.8 50 62 55 48 49
T42 Chris Burke (SI.com) 52.8 47 53 57 54 - -
44 Jeff Risdon (Real GM) 52.3 48 62 58 41 - -
45 Doug Farrar (SI.com) 52.2 47 58 52 54 50
46 Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report) 50.7 55 45 52 - - - -

So there you have it. Despite all the uncertainty involved in the draft, there are some analysts who consistently perform better than others. Some of the heavy hitters in the mock draft industry are ranked fairly high, with Daniel Jeremiah, Todd McShay, and Mel Kiper all ranked in the top ten, with guys like Dane Brugler and Mike Mayock ranked not far behind.

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. The ability to watch youtube videos does not equal the ability to scout.

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.