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Consensus Mock Draft 2014

NFL mock drafts are notoriously bad at predicting much of anything that happens in the real NFL Draft. They typically end up picking only about 5 of 32 players in the correct slot, and most of those occur in the more predictable top 5 draft picks. Real life draft day trades also complicate the matter, but even apart from them most mock drafts generally fall flat. But occasionally they do provide some general insight. Sometimes a certain player is commonly linked to a certain team that does end up drafting him, or a certain team is commonly linked to drafting a certain position.

In this article, we will take a "wisdom of the crowd" approach to measure exactly how much value can be gleaned from mock drafts in general. If there is any value in mock drafts, it should be more noticeable by looking at a collection of many mock drafts rather than looking at a couple individual mock drafts. We have recorded 20 different mock drafts from among the most popular sports media outlets to see what the most apparent overall trends are among them. A few of the mock drafts include mock trades, which complicate things slightly, but for our purposes we will ignore them.

Outlook By Player

Below is a list by player of their mock draft outlook. To avoid complications between 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, we have used new position names including ER (Edge Rusher) and IDL (Interior Defensive Lineman), while LB means specificially pass coverage linebackers. "Rank" is determined by awarding points to players for each mock draft in which they occur (32 pts for 1st overall, 1 pt for 32nd overall). "Draft Range" is the typical range of number pick that a player is mocked to, excluding only outliers. "Most Common" is the number pick that a player is most often mocked to, with the number of times out of 20 that the player is mocked to that number pick in parenthesis.

Rank Player Position College Draft Range Most Common
1J.ClowneyERSouth Carolina1-31.HOU (19)
2G.RobinsonTAuburn2-62.STL (17)
3K.MackERBuffalo1-53.JAC (11)
4S.WatkinsWRClemson3-54.CLE (9)
5J.MatthewsTTexas A&M2-126.ATL (11)
6J.ManzielQBTexas A&M3-164.CLE (7)
7M.EvansWRTexas A&M4-137.TB (15)
8T.LewanTMichigan5-199.BUF (6)
9A.DonaldIDLPittsburgh7-1414.CHI (9)
10E.EbronTENorth Carolina9-199.BUF (9)
11J.GilbertCBOklahoma State8-2510.DET (8)
12B.BortlesQBCentral Florida5-2620.ARI (7)
13Z.MartinTNotre Dame9-1912.NYG (10)
14A.BarrERUCLA8-2016.DAL (10)
15H.Clinton-DixSAlabama8-2213.STL (7)
16D.DennardCBMichigan State9-2715.PIT (7)
17O.BeckhamWRLSU9-2815.PIT (7)
18C.MosleyLBAlabama8-3121.GB (5)
19C.PryorSLouisville13-2913.STL (7)
20K.FullerCBVirginia Tech10-2622.PHI (4)
21R.ShazierLBOhio State19-3121.GB (8)
22B.CooksWROregon State18-3022.PHI (6)
23M.LeeWRUSC18-2723.KC (10)
24B.RobyCBOhio State24-2724.CIN (8)
25T.JerniganIDLFlorida State14-32+16.DAL (5)
26D.CarrQBFresno State20-32+26.CLE (5)
27J.VerrettCBTexas Christian23-32+25.SD (4)
28C.KouandjioTAlabama19-32+28.CAR (5)
29X.Su'a-FiloGUCLA19-32+32.SEA (7)
30M.MosesTVirginia19-32+28.CAR (6)
31L.NixIDLNotre Dame21-32+25.SD (5)
32T.BridgewaterQBLouisville20-32+26.CLE (6)
33R.HagemanIDLMinnesota23-32+29.NE (7)
34C.LatimerWRIndiana22-32+30.SF (3)

Outlook By Team

Below is a list of draft picks and what teams are mocked to do with them (assuming they don't trade them). "Common Positions" lists the positions mock drafts have teams drafting most often, with the number of times out of 20 in parenthesis.

Pick Team Common Positions Most Likely Player
1HOUER(20)ER J.Clowney (19)
2STLT(19),ER(1)T G.Robinson (17)
3JACER(12),QB(5),WR(3)ER K.Mack (11)
4CLEWR(10),QB(7),T(2),ER(1)WR S.Watkins (9)
5OAKWR(9),T(5),ER(5),QB(1)WR S.Watkins (8)
6ATLT(18),QB(1),WR(1)T J.Matthews (11)
7TBWR(15),QB(4),IDL(1)WR M.Evans (15)
8MINQB(5),IDL(5),LB(5)IDL A.Donald (5)
9BUFTE(9),T(9),WR(1),CB(1)TE E.Ebron (9)
10DETCB(12),S(3),T(2),IDL(2)CB J.Gilbert (8)
11TENCB(8),ER(6),QB(5),TE(1)ER A.Barr (6)
12NYGT(15),TE(3),IDL(1),LB(1)T Z.Martin (10)
13STLS(14),WR(3)S H.Clinton-Dix (7)
14CHIIDL(10),S(8),LB(2)IDL A.Donald (9)
15PITCB(12),WR(7),ER(1)CB D.Dennard (7)
16DALER(11),IDL(5),QB(2)ER A.Barr (10)
17BALS(8),TE(4),T(3),LB(3)S H.Clinton-Dix (4)
18NYJWR(13),CB(5),TE(2)WR O.Beckham (6)
19MIAT(12),G(3),LB(3)T Z.Martin (5)
20ARIQB(12),ER(4),LB(3),WR(1)QB B.Bortles (7)
21GBLB(13),S(3),TE(2)LB R.Shazier (8)
22PHIWR(11),CB(6),S(2),LB(1)WR B.Cooks (6)
23KCWR(15),CB(2)WR M.Lee (10)
24CINCB(14),LB(3),IDL(2),S(1)CB B.Roby (8)
25SDCB(14),IDL(5),WR(1)CB B.Roby (5)
26CLEQB(13),WR(3),CB(3),T(1)QB T.Bridgewater (6)
27NOWR(7),CB(7),C(2),ER(2)WR M.Lee (3)
28CART(14),WR(2),S(2)T M.Moses (6)
29NEIDL(12),TE(4),QB(2)IDL R.Hageman (7)
30SFWR(6),IDL(6),CB(5),ER(2)IDL R.Hageman (4)
31DENT(5),G(5),LB(4)G X.Su'a-Filo (5)
32SEAG(7),T(3),ER(3)G X.Su'a-Filo (7)

Summary

While our collection of many mock drafts gives a much clearer picture of likely outcomes, it still can't be considered an accurate distribution of probabilities. The problem of mock drafts is two-fold. First, analysts agree too much on which positions teams will draft. And second, they agree too much on the ranking of players within those positions. A more accurate overall distribution of possible draft outcomes would likely have each team choosing between more positions, and having more variation among which player they choose at those positions. After the draft, we will re-visit our collection of mock drafts to see how accurate they were overall, whether certain individual mock drafts were more accurate than others, and whether our wisdom of the crowds approach really did beat most individual mocks on their own.

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