Google "mock draft," and you'll get almost 3 million results:
The reason for that is simple. NFL fans love looking at mock drafts for the same reason children try to find their presents two weeks before Christmas.
It's almost impossible to see "mock draft" on your computer screen and not click on it, just so that you can mentally agree or disagree with the pick for your favorite team. They do incredible website traffic, and create conversation. For those reasons, they're fun.
With the Super Bowl over and the NFL offseason beginning, the Internet is going to be overrun with mock drafts from now until the NFL draft in May. Unfortunately, this early in the offseason, they are not only inaccurate, they're not even close.
For this exercise, I chose 5 experts from 4 media outlets: ESPN, CBS, FOX, and Sports Illustrated. I then found mock drafts done by those experts at a time somewhere in between last year's Super Bowl and the NFL Combine. ESPN, CBS, and FOX all carry NFL games on their networks, and SI has been around forever, so they seemed like logical choices. The experts for each media outlet who did mock drafts in the above time-frame were as follows:
• Mel Kiper, ESPN
• Todd McShay, ESPN
• Pete Prisco, CBS
• Peter Schrager, FOX
• Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
The level of inaccuracy in their February 2013 mock drafts was staggering. That's not to goof on those guys, who are all knowledgeable. But they're predicting without knowing how free agency will play out, or how well players will perform at the Combine. Let's look at their work from a year ago, one by one:
Mel Kiper, ESPN
Kiper got a grand total of 0 picks correct, and missed on each pick by an average of 19.1 draft spots. And yet, statistically, Kiper fared the best among the 5 mock drafters listed above. His picks at this time last year:
Kiper's biggest mistake was Texas A&M pass rusher Damontre Moore, although Kiper was hardly the only expert to swing and miss on Moore. Here's where each of the experts had Moore:
Kiper: 2nd overall
Banks: 3rd overall
Prisco: 5th overall
Schrager: 12th overall
McShay: 13th overall
Moore was drafted 81st overall by the Giants after reportedly not interviewing well, and having a poor performance at the Combine.
Pete Prisco, CBS
Prisco missed by at least 10 draft spots on 22 of 32 players, and missed 20 draft spots or more on 11. Somehow Prisco was the 2nd best mock drafter statistically among the group. He only got one pick correct (Sylvester Williams to the Broncos). His picks:
Prisco's most glaring error was the Chiefs drafting West Virginia QB Geno Smith 1st overall. The Chiefs wound up trading for Alex Smith, and Geno Smith ended up being the 39th overall pick.
Todd McShay, ESPN
McShay had the most correct picks, with TWO! Statistically, McShay fared the 3rd best among the mock drafters in the group. McShay's mock:
McShay started off really well (comparatively speaking), but his troubles occurred at the end of the first round, where he missed by at least 10 draft spots on 15 of his last 20 picks.
Peter Schager, FOX
This is where it starts to get really bad. Schrager apparently saw something in Tyler Wilson that nobody else did, because he had Wilson going 6th overall to the Browns. Wilson was eventually drafted 112th overall by the Raiders. And then the Raiders cut him in training camp. I'll repeat that -- A rookie 4th round QB... got cut... by the Raiders. Schrager's work:
Schrager missed by 30 draft spots (almost a full round) on 10 players.
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
Somehow, Banks didn't have Lane Johnson anywhere in his first round, which was extremely odd, even at the time, since Johnson had already completely dominated at the Senior Bowl. Additionally, the top 10 or so picks should be a lower degree of difficulty, but Banks' top 8 picks were a complete disaster. Banks' mock:
Like Schrager, Banks missed wildly on an inordinate number of players. He had 12 picks that missed by at least 30 draft spots.
Here's how each mock drafter lined up statistically. The "total miss" column is the sum of how much they missed each pick by. The average miss is that total divided by 32 picks, and the 10+ and 20+ columns note how often each mock drafter missed on a player by at least 10 and 20 draft spots:
All told, of 5 mock drafters, they got 4 picks correct... combined.
They also missed on draft position, on average, by 23.1 draft spots.
Mock drafts are fun, but they are absurdly inaccurate. Just know that if the mock draft you're looking at is anything like the 5 listed above, there's only a 2.5% chance they got the pick right for your team.
...not that I'd do any better.