I did my first mock draft today, and look, I get it: It’s still really early. The season is a whole month away, preseason games haven’t started yet and players are only just showing up to training camp. In a few weeks, everything’s going to change as studs start to get injured or as rookies begin to emerge during the preseason. But hey, some leagues even hold their actual drafts this early and have to suffer the preseason consequences. And I wouldn’t be the first to start thinking about draft strategy and the regular season this early either. Rankings are already out, and people are generally getting antsy for some football.
I do mock drafts mainly because they’re a fun way to kill an hour while listening to some music, and they actually have some value in terms of giving you a sense of where players are being drafted, who seems to be going higher and lower than you would’ve expected, and perhaps a mentality about how to think going into draft day. If you’re like me and will end up having Pick 10 or 12, with back to back snake draft picks, depending on how those first nine picks shake out will really shape the remainder of your draft.
For instance, if I have Pick 10 and 11, and Gronk is still on the board by then, I’m taking him. Now I don’t have to worry about TE, but I certainly have to worry about prioritizing RB and WR for the next couple of picks. Suddenly I’m taking a QB later than I would expect, and I have to pick and choose between some of the middle of the pack position players. If Gronk does get taken, suddenly I’m left with whichever of the RBs or WRs in that first tier are left. Do I really want to settle for Lamar Miller as my #1 overall pick? Or Ezekiel Elliott and take that gamble on a rookie? Or on the injury risk of Jamaal Charles? By mocking, you eliminate some of that guess work when it comes to draft day.
On the other hand, mocks aren’t entirely predictive or useful. I haven’t been in a single draft where every player remains in the draft the whole time. Sometimes they claim a spot, then immediately change their mind and leave, and the spot never gets filled. Sometimes people bail after the first four picks or so, because who wants to wait around till Round 15 for something that doesn’t matter? But that honestly sucks if you do want to get a full sense of how a draft might go. Suddenly the computer’s auto draft is taking a kicker in the 9th round because that’s the slot a team needs. I may even not take the player I really want just to see how far said player might drop. It might be useful for anyone looking at snagging a suspended Le’Veon Bell. And finally, mocks can never completely emulate how your draft will behave. The people in my fantasy baseball draft took all Cubs early because we’re all from Chicago, whereas they never went that early in mocks. Your league may have unusual settings and rules that can’t be replicated, or maybe even keepers that will surely change your strategy on draft day.
But let’s take a look at how my first mock went. I drafted in a 10 team standard league on NFL.com, which defaults to 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 QB, 1 TE and a Flex. I picked 10th, because that’s where I’ll be picking in this particular league this season.
In this year, if you have the first pick overall, you’re probably taking Antonio Brown. After that, it’s a bit more nebulous, and I’d honestly rather be later in the pack and see who’s left. AP turns out to be a perfectly fine, stable RB1 and definitely good value at Pick 10 when everyone else went the high upside of younger guys like Gurley, Jones, Beckham, Elliott, Johnson, Gronk and for some reason Andrew Luck (I told you mocks are screwy). At Pick 11 I had a choice between Hopkins and Dez, and I could go either way. Your mileage may vary. Last year I picked Dez and got burned due to an injury, and Hopkins already had his breakout, but might still be on the rise. He got that many yards and TDs even with a garbage QB throwing to him. He’s a stud, and a great WR1.
By Round 3, I think there will always be people who will scoff at being the first to take a QB, but I think the 3rd round is great value for last year’s MVP by a mile, don’t you? Do you really prefer someone in that second tier of RBs over him? And if you get Cam, suddenly you don’t have to worry about when to pick a QB. You can wait on a backup QB now. I very much doubt though this’ll work as well come actual draft day, and if I can’t get Cam, I’ll let someone else take Rodgers or Luck that early.
C.J. Anderson had a bit of a letdown season last year, but then so did every running back. This year with a new QB in Denver, they’re going to run the ball a lot. I like it. Edelman and Decker are two guys who always seem to be undervalued, and I think they make a great pair of WR 2 & 3 depending on the matchup. Though I might’ve preferred someone like Amari Cooper or Jeremy Maclin were they still available. And finally Delanie Walker. You could probably wait even longer on a TE, but this guy always tends to drop low in drafts and always tends to be surprisingly consistent. Sure there’s some decent TE 1 value after him even later in the draft, but he’s better value than taking say Greg Olsen two full rounds earlier.
Here’s the remainder of my draft. I don’t know why Ivory is going as low as he is (something to do with his age or the move to Jacksonville?), but then I even saw guys like DeMarco Murray and Jeremy Hill going after defenses. That’s ridiculous. Now that Jeremy Langford is the full time back for the Bears, I like him to be able to capitalize on his first full season, especially as a fourth running back. I was tempted to take Kirk Cousins over Blake Bortles as my backup QB, but I think you’d do fine with either. Fleener is going to get a lot more looks as Drew Brees’s TE. And I had to go with Blair Walsh, the Official Kicker of the 06010 podcast!
I’d be pretty stoked if this were my team going into the year. What do you think?