Beware of the mock draft

When I was at the NFL Combine two years ago, I had a discussion with draft analyst Mike Mayock. I asked him what round he had my client, Tyrell Johnson from Arkansas State, going in.

“He’ll go in one of the later rounds,” Mayock said.

Tyrell was drafted in the second round by the Vikings.

Last year, many so-called draft gurus had Mitch King, Iowa’s stud DT, slated as a second-to-fourth-round pick. RealGMfootball had King rated as the 62nd pick overall in the second round. NFL Draft Scout projected him as a fourth rounder. The Ourlads draft site had him rated as the fourth-best defensive tackle going in the third.

Result: King wasn’t drafted at all.

The fact is that after the top-rated 32 players, it’s very difficult to gauge where a player might be drafted and what will affect his draft value.

Now that the so-called draft gurus can watch players at the combine on TV and get their workout numbers instantly, it does help the evaluation process. But they still don’t get the type of information that NFL regional scouts and NFL teams can. They don’t get to see medical and training reports. They don’t get to interview the strength coach or even the position coach about the player. They don’t get to hear what other players are saying about him. The majority of scouting Web sites and services rely on second-hand information. Most don’t even have access to game tape.

So what questions should you ask before you read them?

Does the scout(s) have any real NFL experience?

Do they have access to game tape, not TV tape?

Do they go to the combine and all the all-star games?

Do they converse, debate and exchange information with real NFL scouts?

Is it their full-time job?

Do they interview hundreds of players?

Are they immune from the influence of agents?

Do they have talent (an eye) to evaluate?

Were they mentored by someone who was a seasoned evaluator?

If the answer is yes to all or most of these questions, then it’s most likely a draft expert/service you can trust. To my knowledge, there are only about six individuals in the country who are true experts whose opinions should be respected. Most of them are on TV, and two work online.

Before every draft, I sit down with each of my clients and give them the best and worst case scenario to correctly set expectations. Sometimes they don’t like what I have to tell them, but they usually appreciate it later -- especially if they don’t get drafted.

Most NFL draftees have finished school, so they have a lot of time on their hands. Time to jump on line and see where the draft pundits are rating them. If they aren’t doing it, I guarantee you their father, brother, girlfriend and/or buddies are. This can be dangerous since it sets false expectations.

There’s nothing worse than a prospect having a party on draft weekend and his name never gets called. What was supposed to be one of the most celebrated days of his life turns into one of the worst – all thanks to false expectations and the so-called draft gurus.

So for all those players and their families spending time online reading the draft reports, please don’t get too caught up with them. For what it’s worth, I do like Todd McShay, the NFP’s Wes Bunting/Michael Lombardi and Mike Mayock (even though he was off on Tyrell).

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