As an NFL fan I love the draft. It is a sweet, fleeting mirage of football in the vast, seemingly endless off season desert. Mock drafts are all the rage. It is the skinny jeans of journalism. But what are they good for? Mostly nothing. In this analysis I reviewed 20 of the 1st round mock drafts by some of the biggest sports journalist including Peter King, Mike Florio and Don Banks. The goal: to determine whose mock was best.
I had three criteria for determining mock accuracy: 1. correctly picking the right player to the right team in the right spot, 2. correctly picking the right player to the right team but in the wrong spot (usually due to a trade) and 3. the cumulative variance of all their picks relative to the final picks. The last means if you picked Luke Joeckel to go #1 and he went #2 that is a variance of 1. Then if you picked Shariff Floyd to #3 and he went #23 that is a variance of 20. If those were your only two misses, and that would be awesome, then your cumulative variance would be 21. Not bad. Unfortunately, the average cumulative variance was 347 or, in other terms, each pick was off by an average by 11 positions.
Most mock drafts did not do much better on the first criteria with the average mock draft predicting only 3 players going to the right team in the correct spot. The best mock draft predicted 6 players correctly. The player most commonly selected accurately was Eric Fisher with 11 mocks accurately predicting Fisher to the Chiefs with the first overall pick. More impressively, 10 mock drafts accurately predicted Jarvis Jones going 17 overall to the Steelers.
A few mock drafts accurately predicted a player going to the right team but in the wrong spot. For example, 8 mock drafts correctly had Alec Ogletree going to the Rams and Desmond Trufant to the Seahawks. However, the Rams and Hawks traded spots and each still got their man. Now I wanted to give mocks credit for predicting the right selection but in the wrong spot. So I allowed the user to weight what criteria they thought was most important for determining an accurate draft. I weighted cumulative pick difference the largest because it is the only variable that speaks to the overall accuracy of their draft. I then rated pick-team-player match the next highest. I then rated the team-player match criteria the least important.
Here is a comparison of mock drafts versus real draft. The slope, color and thickness of the line indicates the accuracy of the pick. use the drop down to change the mock draft.