The 2023 NFL Draft promised some chaos, and it mostly delivered. The team that drafted 2nd then traded up to draft 3rd. The second running back was drafted before the second cornerback was. A draft some predicted would have just one WR taken in the 1st had four go in a row. Players seen with a real chance to go top 10 were drafted in the 30s. A record 14 QBs were drafted. A kicker was selected in the 3rd round. Sean Clifford was drafted.
Of course the reason we knew to expect the unexpected was because the mock drafts told us so. The mock drafts told us that there were approximately 40 players that could go in the first round but that no one was really sure that any of them were actually first round talents. They told us that there were QBs who either would get drafted in the top 5 or not in the 1st round at all, and couldn’t agree on who QB2 was or where the unknown QB2 would get drafted. And yet despite all that noise, most mock drafts were fairly accurate.
This year’s mock draft scoring expectedly saw a high median score compared to years past, but with few exceptions were mostly bunched together.
Our scoring system is simple yet punishing. No rewarding people for getting a 1st round pick “right” if they were 20 picks off, like half the mocks we scored did when they had Nolan Smith a top 10 pick. Or calling a mock that had Will Levis 4th overall the most accurate.
For every selection a mock is off, that mock drafter gets a point. So if you mocked Will Levis to the Colts at 4, you got 29 points, while if you mocked Jalen Carter to the Eagles at 10, you received 1 inconsequential point. If you were bold enough to mock a trade and were wrong–and you were almost certainly wrong–you were penalized double the points. This runs the risk of being penalized twice if you are wrong on both players, but then nobody made you mock a trade, you brought this on yourself.
Let’s get to the point, and to the points:
2023 Mock Draft Scores
|Mock Drafter||Score||# Correct||Will Levis?||Worst non-Levis pick||Notes|
|Mock Drafter||Score||# Correct||Will Levis?||Worst non-Levis pick||Notes|
|Albert Breer, SI||200||5||12th||Michael Mayer 13th||Lowest score for the last 10 picks|
|Charlie Campbell, Walter Football||211||4||12th||O'Cyrus Torrence 27th||16 picks were off by 5 spots, 5 picks were off by just 1 spot|
|Brad Spielberger, PFF||217||4||20th||Brian Branch 24th||21 points for Branch was lowest scored miss|
|Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting||221||3||29th via trade to LAR||O'Cyrus Torrence 24th||16 picks within 5 spots|
|Todd McShay, ESPN||240||4||4th||Nolan Smith 10th||5 picks one spot off|
|PFF Staff||240||4||4th||Bijan Robinson 25th via trade to CIN||3rd best score for final 10 picks|
|Daniel Jeremiah, NFL||248||6||4th||Keeanu Benton 28th and Darnell Wright 31st||Correctly predicted HOU would trade to 3 for Anderson|
|Dane Brugler, The Athletic||253||4||12th||Adetomiwa Adebawore 30th||Second worst misses were just 21 points|
|ESPN Beat Writers||253||4||19th||Kelee Ringo 25th||Zero correct picks after top 4|
|Josh Norris, Underdog Fantasy||258||2||30th via trade to HOU||Hendon Hooker 20th||8 picks were off by just 1 spot|
|Charles Davis, NFL||270||3||12th||Hendon Hooker 16th||T-2nd best top 10|
|Jonanthan Jones, CBS||272||4||4th||O'Cyrus Torrence 25th||Picks 8 to 22 averaged just 5 points|
|Jeff Ridson, Draft Wire||280||1||2nd||Hendon Hooker 20th||No hits after 1st overall but 14 with 5 or fewer points|
|Doug Farrar, Yahoo||283||5||8th||Jalin Hyatt 21st||First 7 picks totaled 11 points, then Will Levis happened|
|Chris Trapasso, CBS||284||2||9th via trade to HOU||Hendon Hooker 19th||Worst top 10, bottom 10 was a better score|
|Bucky Brooks, NFL||289||2||12th||O'Cyrus Torrence 19th||4 1st round QBs, only Young correct|
|Mel Kiper, ESPN||291||1||4th||Hendon Hooker 30th via trade to LAR||Had 5 1st round QBs, trades for 3 of them|
|Lance Zierlein, NFL||293||1||4th||Jalin Hyatt 31st||Nolan Smith to SEA at 11 for 38 points, 3 picks before and 2 after combined for 7|
|Danny Kelly, The Ringer||294||6||12th||Adetomiwa Adebawore 20th||2nd best last 10|
|Eric Edholm, NFL||302||2||4th||Jalin Hyatt 27th||3rd worst top 10|
|Luke Easterling, Athlon||307||2||4th||Hendon Hooker 18th||30% of score was from QBs|
|Chris Simms, NBC||308||3||4th||Hendon Hooker 23rd||6 of last 9 picks missed by at least half a round|
|BGN Community||311||6||13th to NYJ (pre-trade)||Adetomiwa Adebawore 18th||Only one to have Nolan Smith at 30, lowest score in the top 10|
|Tony Pauline, PFN||311||3||4th||Hendon Hooker 23rd||Two top 10 picks that went in the 30s|
|Evan Silva, Establish the Run||314||3||4th||Hendon Hooker 23rd||9 picks with 0 or 1 point, 9 picks with 16+|
|Joel Klatt, Fox||315||8||11th||Darnell Washington 28th||T-2nd best top 10|
|Josh Edwards, CBS||319||4||4th||Trenton Simpson 25th||Non-Levis top 10 were all within 4 spots, Gonzalez to NE|
|Peter Schrager, NFL||322||3||4th||Hendon Hooker 28th via trade to MIN||3 projected trades for 5 picks|
|Mike Florio, PFT||322||2||4th||Hendon Hooker 11th|
|Arif Hasan, PFN||324||2||10th via trade to TB||Trenton Simpson 27th||6 of last 7 picks were 11+ points, 7th was 1 point|
|Jason La Canfora, Washington Post||326||3||4th||Dawand Jones 31st||20 picks within 5 spots, 5 picks at least 20 spots off|
|Peter King, PFT||356||2||4th||Josh Downs 27th||5 QBs in the 1st, all but Young wrong|
|Matt Miller, ESPN||357||2||11th||Adetomiwa Adebawore 29th||45 points for Hooker at 23, 0 points for the picks 22 and 24|
|The Athletic Beat Writers||366||7||11th||Hendon Hooker 30th via trade to LV||Worst score for the last 10 picks after Collinsworth and Kollman|
|Will Brinson, CBS||366||3||12th||Drew Sanders, 10th BUT WATCH HIM PLAY FOLKS||35% of points were from Tennessee Volunteers|
|Pete Prisco, CBS||367||3||1st||Jakorian Bennett 25th||Zero QBs right|
|Sam Farmer, LA Times||383||2||8th||Adetomiwa Adebawore 29th||One of only two mocks with Gonzalez to NE|
|The 33rd Team Staff||426||3||2nd||Dawand Jones 17th||3 projected trades for 5 picks, Witherspoon 22nd|
|Brett Kollman, The Film Room||524||2||No||Cory Trice 25th||First 10 picks were 3 points shy of the best score|
|Cris Collinsworth, PFF||750||5||No||Anthony Johnson 25th||Murphy and Bresee top 10|
- The worst two mocks did not have Will Levis.
- Every year there is a player who sneaks into the back of some mock drafts and then when the teams get to call the shots it turns out they’re actually a 4th or 5th rounder. This year’s edition was Adetomiwa Adebawore, who was in 6 mocks but was the 8th pick of the 4th round.
- This year also featured two mocks with 7th rounders, coincidentally taken on back-to-back picks.
- Every year there are two positions that trip up mock drafters: QB and OL. Nearly every year there is at least one QB that gets 1st round buzz who isn’t a 1st rounder, this year was both Will Levis and Hendon Hooker. And there are always an OL who tape grinding amateurs fall in love with but the NFL is not as wild about, and a lineman that the NFL likes more than the tape grinders. This year the most notable was guard O’Cyrus Torrence, who was a popular 1st rounder in mocks but was drafted late in the 2nd and was the fourth guard drafted. Peter Skoronski was seen by many as the top OL in the draft, he was the 3rd OL taken, while Darnell Wright, seen by many as OL4, was the 2nd OL taken.
- Nobody’s top 10 was a combination of the actual top 10.
- Of the actual 31 players to go in the first round the average mock had 25 of them.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Best mock: Albert Breer. Breer has pretty consistently produced strong mock drafts, showing that he’s very plugged in. Breer prevailed by missing small. Only five other mock drafters had more correct picks, but he led the way with 28 players in his mock actually being drafted in the 1st round, and 18 of his misses were within 10 spots. That was good enough to get him the top spot despite mocking Will Levis to the Texans at 12. If this was golf he would have won with par while the rest of the field was over.
Honorable mention: Only three mocks got the first four players right: Joel Klatt, The Athletic beat writer mock, and… the BGN Community Mock. And of those three, the BGN Community Mock had the lowest score.
Every year I put in the BGN Community Mock to compare to the “experts.” It never does great, but it usually does better than a couple of people who get paid to make mock drafts. (For this reason I always include Mike Florio, who purposely mails it in and more often than not is middle of the pack.) No offense to the participants of our mock, but it should be embarrassing to the professionals to be beaten by it. This year was the best one yet, and really only got a bad score because of Adetomiwa Adebawore, who for a hot minute was getting some first round buzz. This year it did so well I might retire it from competition on the high note of beating so many pros. Well done!
Dishonorable mention, part I: Pete Prisco. A lot of mocks had Will Levis 4th to the Colts, and they weren’t totally wrong. If the Colts had been jumped for Richardson they would have taken Levis, so they were on to how much the Colts liked him. But no one had him 1st overall to the Panthers. Except Pete. This draft gave everyone a single sure fire selection, and he botched it.
Dishonorable mention, part II: Mel Kiper changed his mock the morning of the draft to include information that he had been hearing. Tsk tsk Mel, no gaslighting. His original release was scored.
Worst mock, part I: 33rd Team staff. This may shock you but a mock run by Ryan Grigson’s director of college scouting had some whiffs. Will Levis at 2, Hendon Hooker at 11, Dawand Jones at 17, and Jalin Hyatt at 21 brought this mock crashing down.
Worst mock, part II: Brett Kollman. Shout out to Alex Karklins for bringing this one to our attention. Having the Vikings trade up to 3 for Anthony Richardson was a miniscule cost on points but was part of a larger misunderstanding: he had the Eagles trade down and take Lukas Van Ness and then draft a TE 30th; and he had Dawand Jones, taken 111st, going 24th overall. But what really killed him was mocking Cory Trice to the Giants at 25, Trice went 241st. That gave him more points for that pick than two entire mocks.
Worst mock, part III: Cris Collinsworth. The funny thing about this mock is that most of the picks were actually solid. In addition to his five correct positions, Collinsworth was off by 10 or fewer spots on 12 picks. That’s a respectable performance. What killed his mock was that he had a 4th rounder-Dawand Jones, 11th overall; a 6th rounder-Luke Wypler, 25th overall, and a 7th rounder-Anthony Johnson, 28th overall. He also had, for reasons unknown to man, the Chiefs taking Hendon Hooker with the 31st pick. The Anthony Johnson pick was so bad that PFF gaslit readers by changing the pick in the published mock to Michael Mayer.
That should lead to automatic disqualification but this is more shameful.