A Mock Draft Mockery

IRVING, TX -- You can't un-ring a bell. You can't herd those horses back into the barn. And you can't get back the thousands of man-hours you spent hanging on every meaningless word uttered by Mel Kiper Jr.

But you can spend five minutes here in order to better spend next year's pre-NFL Draft man-hours. Now that the Cowboys and the other 31 teams have mined their draft gold, every franchise is proclaiming ecstasy. (Except maybe the Texans and the Vikings, who made the odd move of relying on executives to make picks on Saturday and Sunday and then on Monday began the process of firing those executives).

And who saw all that happiness coming? The mock drafters, of course.

Was there any real value in the professional work of the Draftniks? Let's look back. ... The Sporting News' Draft Magazine cost $7.99. Now granted, not having the immediacy of, say, TheRanchReport.com, deadlines come into play there. So acknowledging that, let's check out TSN's eight-dollars-worth Mock Draft:

They had Bush going No. 1 to Houston. Then Leinart to NO, then Ferguson to Tennessee, then Hawk to the Jets, then Mario Williams to Green Bay, then Greenway to Oakland. That's 0-for-6. At least, though, all six of those guys were actually taken in the first round.

The Sporting News goes on: Jimmy Williams will go No. 7 to SF. And DeMeco Ryans will go 12th. And LenDale White will go 13th. And also going in the first round will be Winston Justice, Chad Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Ashton Youboty, Max Jean-Gilles, Leonard Pope, Thomas Howard and Darnell Bing and D'Quell Jackson and Ko Simpson and Rodrique Wright.

And in reality, what do those 14 "projected first-rounders'' have in common?

None of them even went in the first round! Heck, Jean-Gilles, Simpson and Bing weren't even first-DAY selections. And Wright wasn't taken until Round 7.

By the time I got done re-reading The Sporting News, I realized they could've been almost as accurate had they simply predicted that Matt Leinart was going to EVERY team. Thus ensuring that they get ONE right.

Listen, everybody makes mistakes. Me, I personally never saw the Jessica Simpson-Nick Lachey breakup coming. But isn't this the best evidence yet that unless the information is coming directly from the teams themselves (and even then, hoping that the info isn't a smokescreen), the mock draft experts are in fact just tossing darts at a board? And doing so as if they are tossing darts with the wrong hand? The Dallas Morning News touts its NFL writer, Rick Gosselin, as being an inside guy when it comes to mocks. The paper celebrated the fact that Gosselin got 10 of the first 12 picks right. Not included in their self-congratulations: Gosselin got 18 of the next 20 first-round picks WRONG.

And then there is Kiper, who to his credit has made a living of getting himself heard. Like The Sporting News, like Gosselin, like you, Mel takes his work (and himself) very seriously. His mock drafts for ESPN are considered gospel. Except that, unlike the original gospel, it doesn't change every week.

Please don't make me go back and count 'em all, but between Mel's daily appearances on ESPN and his weekly mock drafts on ESPN.com, I recall him projecting the Cowboys at No. 18 taking. ... well, pretty much a different guy each week. Let's start, say, on Jan. 17. Mel said Dallas would take Jimmy Williams. A month later, on Feb. 21, Mel said Dallas would take Marcus McNeill. A month later, in March, Mel said Dallas needed to take a wide receiver.

And on and on it went, different projections every month, different projections every week, until, having posted 16 or so mock drafts, Kiper had assigned 16 different guys to the Cowboys. And yes, if we took the time to review each of those 16 weeks, I bet Bobby Carpenter was in there. Somewhere.

And I bet Mel is saying he nailed the pick. Just as he could say if Dallas had chosen Jimmy Williams, Marcus McNeill or a wide receiver.

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