Rich's Rant: The Wrongness of the Mocks

How can something be so wrong, so often, yet still spread like a virus?

Why do professional football fans take mock drafts for the college lottery so seriously at this time of the season?

Don't they know these mocks can change in a matter of hours?

Too many variables between now and draft day in a few weeks. Too much thinking put into something that most likely will never eventuate.

Mock drafts are very much like the draft itself. They're crapshoots with very few bull's-eyes.

So why are they taken so seriously? Maybe it's because they're a lot of fun. Nothing more. They generate stimulating conversation on occasion, but should not be take seriously.

"I would go crazy with this draft," one poster on this site wrote when presented with what the Browns will do in a two-round mock on one Web site. That, of course, was because he agreed with it.

The odds of what that site guessed and what happens in the actual draft are so huge, they're nearly incalculable.

More often than not – much more often than not – these mocks are so far off base with this much time left for the real thing, it's a joke. And yet, threads pop up on this site and others like it pointing out what this guy said or that guy said.

Fans' hopes for their team rise and fall with the thoughts and predictions of so-called draft gurus who do nothing more than speculate on what National Football League general managers and player personnel chiefs will do draft day.

But all it takes is one surprise pick by a team early in the draft to blow up everything the gurus worked hard to put together.

In the last several years, forecasting the draft has become more than just another cottage industry. It has gotten completely out of hand with hundreds of mock drafts.

The WalterFootball.com mock draft database, for example, consists of more than 220 sites with experts such as Sports Jabber, Draft Zoo, The Trojan Empire, Da Bears and Bulls and The Draft Kid imparting their searing knowledge of what teams are going to do in the draft.

The so-called wisdom of these so-called draft gurus can be so overwhelming, inertia sets in once you get past a couple dozen of them in one sitting.

How can anyone take all this so seriously? Sure, it's mindless. Sure, it's innocent. And sure, it's harmless.

But c'mon. These guys have no more idea what's going to happen than you do. Maybe even less. And yet, most of you sponge it all in and legitimize it.

It has reached the point where all you have to do is wait a week and the player you thought your team would draft in the first round, according to the mock that favors your line of thinking, is suddenly going to another team.

This guy's stock is up, while that guy's stock plummets for whatever reason. The vagaries of the draft run rampant for weeks until steadying about a week or so before the actual selections. And even then, the accuracy factor is low.

Aaron Curry, the Wake Forest linebacker generally considered the safest pick in the first round, was thought to be headed for Kansas City, where General Manager Scott Pioli had him all but penciled in as a starter for the Chiefs.

Then word got around that maybe Matt Stafford, previously considered the top quarterback of the draft and the leading candidate to be the first pick, wasn't as good as advertised. So some mocks figured the Detroit Lions would then opt for Curry, the safe pick, with the top selection.

But Stafford excelled at his pro day at the University of Georgia and now, he's back in the top slot for the Lions with Curry dropping back down to the Chiefs.

Then came word that Pioli liked Texas defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo more than Curry, whose stock has dropped slightly. No one knows where that word came from. Someone probably made it up and put it out as fact.

That's how it works in this day and age where the Internet provides a massive highway to all kinds of misinformation. Doesn't take long to spread rumors, real or otherwise, on the Worldwide Web.

Whatever the case, Curry has now slipped on a few mock Web sites to No. 5 where, ta da, the Browns sit. And the Browns' top priority? Rhetorical question for all you fanatics.

Just like that, Curry, ruled out not long ago because of the Chiefs' supposed decision to switch to Orakpo, is on the Cleveland radar. But for how long? Probably until tomorrow.

Maybe someone else out there in mock-draft land will put out another rumor that Pioli put out Orakpo's name to throw everyone else off. After all, what NFL general manager can be trusted at this time of the year?

Listen to what the GMs or player personnel chiefs spew the closer they get to the draft and then think the opposite. Lying in March and April has become an art form among those who draft. It's a game with these guys. They all do it.

And yet, a lot of Browns fans actually believe Eric Mangini and George Kokinis throw up smokescreens to outsmart their colleagues. Say one thing, but mean something entirely different to throw everyone else off. Fake them one way, then move in the completely opposite direction.

All that's missing are the trench coat, hat pulled way down over the eyes, a well-smoked cigarette dangling from the lips and dimly lit street corners. The intrigue is almost intoxicating.

Fans have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. They have no idea what Mangini and Kokinis think. All they can do is imagine and guess.

And when the crapshoot ends on April 25 this year and the draft unfolds nowhere near the way the experts predicted, it'll start all over again. All the gurus will hunker down with an eye on next year's college draft. A lot of them already have their first-round mock drafts up for that one.

And you can bet those same fans will take them every bit as seriously as they did this year's. It never ends.

In case you're interested, WalterFootball.com predicts the Browns will finish this season with the second-worst record in the NFL by intimating they'll draft second next season.

And the player you can discuss because the mock for 2010 has him in Seal Brown and Orange next season? That would be Arrelious Benn, the big wide receiver from Illinois.

Carry on.


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