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Pre-free agency mock drafts are useless

But fun!

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NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

You have to love the mock draft industry. If you performed your job as well as mock drafters do theirs, you would quietly be asked to leave. Meanwhile, Mel Kiper said he would retire if Jimmy Clausen was not a successful QB; Kiper, unlike Clausen, is still going. Being massively wrong simply doesn’t matter. And the further away from the draft a mock draft is, the more outrageous a mock draft can get. Before their final years in college, you can find mock drafts where Matt Barkley, Mason Rudolph, and Jake Fromm were first-round picks, while Joe Burrow, and Carson Wentz, and Daniel Jones weren’t.

Right now we’re in the sweet spot of awful mock drafts. In a normal year, the Combine would be this weekend, giving us our first serious batch of mock drafts. The Combine would answer questions for some prospects and ask some for a few others. But just as important would be that the Combine serves as a trade show of sorts, where connections are made and information is exchanged. So these start to bring draft boards into focus. And crucially it is just before free agency starts. The draft is stage 2 of the NFL’s player acquisition period, it is putting the cart before the horse to try to determine what a team will do in stage 2 when stage 1, free agency, has yet to happen.

But being wrong has never and will never stop mock drafters. So let’s review a sampling of mock drafts from this time of year in 2020.

We will start with an absolute banger, as the kids say. The PFF Analytics Mock Draft 1.0 had Davion Taylor in the 1st round. Yes, the same Davion Taylor that the Eagles drafted in the 3rd round and was drafted at least two rounds early.

Mel Kiper had the Patriots drafting QB Jacob Eason at 23rd overall, he went in the 4th round to the Colts. New England didn’t even draft a QB, though they did draft a kicker. More on this later.

Chad Reuter had Eason going even higher, 14th overall to the Colts. At least he got the team right. He also had Justin Jefferson and Jalen Reagor, along with AJ Terrell, CJ Henderson, and Jordyn Brooks fall to the 2nd round. Also going in the 2nd round were Leki Fotu, Brycen Hopkins, and Antonio Gandy-Golden, who went in the 4th, and Jake Fromm, Bradlee Anae, Curtis Weaver, and Trevis Gibson, who went in the 5th. Kudos to Reuter for going three rounds deep, most of his peers lack that kind of courage.

Matt Miller had the Vikings taking Josh Jones, who went in the 3rd round.

This SI mock by Kevin Hanson, who cites a (poor) mock draft scoring system that says he’s the most accurate mock drafter, also had the Vikings taking a player who went in the 3rd round, Neville Gallimore.

Most mock draft errors, no matter when the mock was made, are later in the draft. The Eagles having the 6th overall pick means there isn’t as much room for error, right?

Of course not. The Chargers had the 6th overall pick last year and took a QB which wasn’t a no -duh obvious pick for them in February and early March, a similar situation to the Eagles this year. The Chargers were kind enough to make a post on their website with a round-up of post-combine mocks. Thanks, Chargers! I’d get some PF Changs in your honor if the one near me hadn’t gotten bulldozed. Let’s see how wrong these were.

Todd McShay’s post-combine draft did have LA taking a QB, but it was Jordan Love.

Mike Remmer of PFF had Hebert going 5th and the Chargers taking LB Isaiah Simmons. He did however have the Eagles taking Jalen Reagor!

Tua Tagovailoa was Chad Reuter’s pick in his three-round mock of wrongness.

Daniel Jeremiah had Mekhi Becton going to the Chargers but did hedge the pick by saying that Hebert was a strong possibility. He had the Buccaneers taking Jordan Love, and Hebert to the Patriots.

CBS had four mock drafters that had the Chargers take a QB at 6, but none of them were right. Josh Edwards, Pete Prisco, and Ryan Wilson had them taking Jordan Love, while Chris Trapasso had them taking Tua Tagovailoa.

Meanwhile, Matt Miller, Bucky Brooks, and Charley Casserly all were correct with Justin Hebert. Did they know something? No, they were merely speculating that the third team in the draft that could take a QB would take the third QB in the draft. In their final mock drafts, none of them had the Chargers taking Hebert. Miller had the Dolphins taking Hebert and the Chargers Tagovailoa; Brooks had Hebert going to the Dolphins and the Chargers taking Isaiah Simmons; Casserly had the Chargers taking Tagovailoa with Hebert dropping to the Dolphins at 18.

Let’s go back to Mel Kiper for a minute since he made some waves this week with his mock draft.

His second mock draft of 2020 came out before the Combine but was his last pre-free agency mock. It was bad. He got the first two picks right, but then everyone did. Specific to QBs, he had the Lions take Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins taking Justin Hebert, and of course, he had Jacob Eason in the 1st round. Or how about WR, since the expectation for the Eagles is they either take a QB or a WR. He had CeeDee Lamb as the first WR taken, he was the third, and Henry Ruggs the third WR taken, he was the first. He had Lamb at 11, Jerry Jeudy at 12, and Ruggs at 22, they went 17, 15, and 12. And he had Justin Jefferson going 30th. The only thing he had right was that Jeudy would be the second WR drafted.

Aside from Joe Burrow, who could have bought a house in the Cincinnati area the day after the national championship game and not spent a minute worrying if he made a mistake, Kiper whiffed on QB and WR. But his mock draft sure got talked about for a few days and then was completely forgotten about a month later.

The Eagles don’t yet know who they are going to draft in the 1st round this year. And neither do the mock drafters.

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