For many years now, it has seemed like the biggest source of debate for fans of the NFL Draft revolved around what happened during the draft itself.
But seemingly more and more each year, the water cooler discussions have shifted -- and the debates are focusing on more of a cultural phenomenon among NFL fans: Mock drafts.
For those not familiar, a mock draft is just predicting which player each team will select in the upcoming NFL Draft -- whether it’s just trying to predict the first round, the first three rounds, or all seven rounds.
Comedian Joey Mulinaro put together a hilarious spoof on the obsession with mock drafts a couple of years ago, when he posted on Twitter a bit depicting a person who quit his job to focus on viewing mock drafts, and started his own podcast titled, “For Those About to Mock.”
Check out the bit below.
My Strange Addiction: NFL mock drafts pic.twitter.com/Qede2ua7L0— Joey (@JoeyMulinaro) April 21, 2020
Make no mistake about it, mock drafts are EVERYWHERE.
Prominent national websites such as ESPN and the NFL Network don’t have just one designated person making one mock draft. They have several analysts who put together multiple mock drafts in the months and days leading up to the draft, essentially calling them “Version 1.0” or “Version 4.0.”
Websites often produce hundreds of mock drafts before the actual draft commences.
Beat writers of NFL teams around the country get into the act as well, by releasing their own mock drafts for their publications, doing so multiple times before the draft.
So, why the obsession?
The draft itself offers a big reason for hope for NFL fans who know that drafting well is the biggest and quickest way for their team to see success.
Piggybacking off that theme of hope, mock drafts can also be a reason for fans to hope and dream that their team is either going to be good for years to come, or they are about to have a major turnaround.
A typical conversation among fans could go something like this:
Fan 1: “Did you hear Mel Kiper made a change from his third mock draft and in his fourth one, has our team trading up into this spot and taking that quarterback we need? He had that scenario in his first mock draft, but not in his other two!”
Fan 2: “Oh my gosh, that’s incredible! He must have heard that straight from the general manager of the team that this is what they plan on doing! If we don’t win 13 games this year, all the coaches should be fired!”
Fan 3: “I don’t like that trade. They need to stick where they are at and get help along the offensive line, like what 10 other mock drafts I read said they will do.”
Fan 4: “I’m just waiting for his Version 5.0 to come out. That will be way more accurate.”
What do mock drafters really know?
Given NFL general managers never tip their hand and they often lie about what their true plans are in the days leading up to the draft for the purpose of keeping negotiating leverage, the mock drafters don’t know much.
It’s probably easy to come up with who the top pick or the top five picks will be, but beyond that, predicting other picks or forecasting trade scenarios seems like throwing a dart at a board.
Still, the guessing game can be fun.
How much is too much?
Evidently, there can’t be enough mock drafts in the eyes of NFL fans. The media members who produce them certainly get that, or else they wouldn’t come up with so many versions.
One slight change in a selection or trade scenario in a mock draft can often send people rushing to the phones to call their local sports talk radio shows to voice their displeasure or praise.
The end of the NFL Draft doesn’t mean an abrupt end to mock drafts, either.
What’s the first thing websites such as ESPN or the NFL Network put out a few days after the draft ends?
None other than a mock for next year’s NFL Draft.
In short, Mulinaro couldn’t have named his fictional podcast any better.
When it comes to forecasting the NFL Draft, football fans around the country simply love to mock.
This story was first published in 2021. It has since been updated.