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The rite of spring is more than a batted baseball. It’s the NFL mock draft.
Everywhere you look this time of year, somebody somewhere is updating team-by-team projections for the first round of the 2018 draft … which is great, until the first Draft Day trade is made or the first reach is taken. Then the mock draft becomes as useful as mittens in July.
But so what? If there are two rules of NFL mock drafts they are that 1) ultimately, they will be wrong, and 2) they’ll draw a gazillion eyeballs. And it’s that last point that has us asking. “Why?” Why is an industry that is so universally imperfect so universally followed by legions of pro football fans?
For an answer, we consulted one of the most respected … and knowledgeable … mock draft forecasters out there, Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com, on the latest Talk of Fame Network podcast. Rang, who just returned from the annual NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, has been doing mock drafts for years … and he’s been doing them so well that he’s a go-to source for writers and broadcasters everywhere.
So we asked him: Why are we so addicted to mock drafts when they’re about as accurate as Jalen Ramsey guarantees?
“In one word, I would say, ‘hope,’ ” said Rang. “With the fan bases of these NFL teams, they believe that if their team makes the right choice they can turn around their franchise. And, fortunately, we see evidence of that just about every year.”
Dallas did it in 2016 with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Jacksonville did it last year with Leonard Fournette, and New Orleans was close behind with Alvin Kamara. But they’re only a handful of the players chosen the past two years … and Prescott and Kamara weren’t even first-round draft picks.
No problem, that hasn’t stopped draftniks from projecting picks into the second and third days of the draft where batting averages are below … and I mean way below … the Mendoza line. But who cares? People can’t wait to devour them, and we can’t wait to ask why.
“I think that part of it is that there are a lot of armchair quarterbacks out there, to speak, who watch college football,” said Rang, “and they essentially believe that they can scout, as well; that they can see these players who are very productive at the Alabamas, the Ohio States (and) the Clemsons of the world. They think: Well, if my team can just grab that player … it’s as clear as day, this guy is a difference maker. I think there is that belief. People are so passionate about their college teams and NFL teams.”
More than that, they’re passionate about their NFL mock drafts. So Rang helped us dig deep into the root of this obsession, and what we found is here if you click on the following hyperlink: