I like to brew beer. It is something that I started doing a couple of years ago and something I can see myself doing for many more. When I started, I viewed it simply as a way to get some pretty good beer at a pretty cheap price. With each brew, however, I found myself becoming more interested in the details of the production. First, it was how I could streamline my brewing process, focusing more on the task and not so much on the worry of finding a sanitary place to lay the stirring paddle. I moved deeper into adjusting recipes to promote a higher ABV, then learning how the alpha/beta acid of hops affects the boil or how their oils can impart flavor and aroma. I say all of this not to talk about brewing, although I would love to anytime, but to show how interest in a topic can become about the process as much as it is about the product.
I feel pretty safe in assuming that if you are on this site it is because the San Diego Chargers are of at least marginal interest to you. You are here because, to some degree, you enjoy following the team as it navigates the NFL season in hopes that they can break through and bring home a championship. I count myself as one of you, proudly, yet my interest in this team has progressed beyond the products of wins and losses. Obviously this is not the case for all fans, but it is so for enough of us to sustain the demand which keeps the Kadars, Kipers, Jeremiahs and our own Kyle Posey busy churning out reports and mocks for us to consume.
I understand the complaints of those who find Mock Drafts to be nothing more than acts of mental masturbation this early in the process. As John put it in his Gennaro-ly Speaking this week, "Every few days they want to readjust themselves. The chargers today are gonna take Jason Verrett, three days from now they are gonna take Bradley Roby. What changed? Nothing. Nothing at all changed. Who cares? Just keep doing it. Keep throwing crap against the wall." It makes perfect sense and it a completely valid argument, as long as you look at Mock Drafts as an attempt to predict the draft outcome. John further states that any attempt at such a feat would mean the author is "completely ignoring free agency." This is true of course because the landscape of each team and their individual needs will be vastly different from what they are currently due to the addition and subtraction of talent. However, this illuminates what is to me a misconception of mock drafts.
When I read mock drafts, I read them to familiarize myself with potential draft picks of the Chargers. I especially enjoy when different positions are mocked, leading me to peruse a new list of prospects. I see a name associated and I immediately check out what certain scouts whose opinions I enjoy have to say about that player. Some mock has Verrett at 25? CBS thinks he has fluid hips, quick reactions allowing him to stay in a WRs pocket and is active in run support, though needs to work on pad level at point of attack and gets grabby. Another one has Van Noy slotted to SD. Posey sees awareness, setting an edge and coverage as strengths, while burst and the ability to disengage are areas of possible improvement. Jeremiah with Nix to the Chargers, saying he has the tools to be a dominant three-down player. Now maybe one of them will be the pick, and maybe not, but that isn’t the point. I am able to learn more about these players and stay connected to the team throughout any and all movements between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of training camp. In a way, the exhaustive attention to the draft is really just and extension of what I already do during the season itself, spending hours reading about possible offensive and defensive matchups or tracking play counts and package frequency.
I don’t expect everyone to agree on this issue, obviously, but perhaps have a different perspective of just what mock drafts can mean. Are they useless exercises? Perhaps, but then isn’t that what being a fan is all about? Nothing we do as fans really has any tangible effect on the team, yet many of us devote our time to better understand the team’s moves. Mocks can be useless or they can be a source of continued connection to the team and fellow fans, depending on how you choose to view it. If you're so inclined, throw together a mock and post it below. We’re all just waiting for that beer to brew anyway, right?
Seventeen Years-Ratatat (via Zainab J)