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A Mock Draft Experiment

I grabbed a few of my friends to simulate Draft Day. Here’s what happened.

NCAA College Football-Colorado Buffaloes at USC Trojans Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY Sports

I hate Mock Drafts.

The idea of mock drafts are great - and there are genuinely insightful ones out there - but for the most part, in a time where the over-saturated media market is almost entirely reliant on clicks to survive, 95% of mock drafts are mindlessly pumped out in order to hit a quota. Mock Drafts are quick to write if you ignore the trivial matter of doing some research, and they get views. The by-product of that is every man and his dog are making mock drafts these days, with the focus more on robotically churning out content, rather than trying to make a prediction with any semblance of accuracy.

You know how most mock drafts in the past couple of years have had the Chargers taking a safety? Research would tell you that Tom Telesco doesn’t value the safety position much, and definitely not enough to spend the #7 pick on one.

Christian McCaffrey to the Chargers? I can’t remember who started that rumour, but it absolutely blew up. By draft day, most mock drafts had McCaffrey pencilled into the Chargers at #7. Considering the Chargers have Melvin Gordon, and had more pressing needs than a backup RB at #7 (like a 5th string WR) that wasn’t exactly a realistic selection, but it’s easy to plug him in there based on ‘sources.’

Instead of doing a standard mock draft, a few of my friends and myself decided to actually simulate the real draft experience. We were each assigned 8 teams, and went away to do research on team needs, team schemes and preferences, the GMs draft tendencies, things like that.

Then it was time to draft. Roughly five minutes on the clock per pick, with ‘GMs’ calling around with trade offers, just as you’d get in the real thing.

I’m by no means saying that this mock draft is perfect, or that it’s going to be an accurate simulation of what transpires come draft day. Indeed, I have a sneaking suspicion the Giants GM may have had quite a bit to drink with the moves that he made. However, at the very least, this should be a mock draft that has (relatively) well-informed picks.

Let’s get into it!

1: Browns select QB Sam Darnold

If the Browns take Josh Allen here, they should cease to exist as an NFL Franchise. They grab their franchise QB, setting them up in prime position to take their next franchise QB with the #1 pick in the 2019 Draft.

2: Bills Trade with Giants and select QB Baker Mayfield

Giants receive: 2018 picks #12, #22, #53, #56, #65

Bills receive: 2018 pick #2

I was the Bills GM, and this trade didn’t exactly get a favorable reaction, but I stand by it. The Bills are desperate for their franchise QB, and they’re going to need to move up to get one. With the top guy off the board and an array of QB needy teams ready to pounce, the Bills jump in front of their division rivals to grab Baker Mayfield. Did they give up a lot? Sure, but it’ll be worth it.

3: Jets select QB Josh Rosen

With Darnold and Mayfield now off the board, the Jets make it three QBs in a row, picking up their (hopeful) franchise QB in Josh Rosen. He’s got to be better than Christian Hackenberg, anyway.

4: Browns select RB Saquon Barkley

A few options for the Browns here, but the athletic talent of Saquon Barkley is just too hard to pass up for Browns GM John Dorsey. Some people point to the Carlos Hyde signing as evidence the Browns aren’t in play for Barkley, but Hyde isn’t so good that it’s worth passing on Barkley for. Besides, the Carlos Hyde contract comes with an ‘out’ after just a year.

5: Broncos select OG Quenton Nelson

I’m hoping that this won’t happen in real life, but the Broncos get an elite talent at #5 in Quenton Nelson. He’s not the flashiest of picks, but he’s good enough to hold down that OG spot for a decade.

6: Colts select EDGE Bradley Chubb

I don’t think you’d find a Colts fan in the world unhappy with this pick. The run of QBs means Bradley Chubb falls to #6, and the Colts add a pass rusher that they so desperately need - a pretty good pass rusher, too.

7: Buccaneers select CB Denzel Ward

Vernon Hargreaves is going to be playing in the slot for the Bucs next year, having failed to live up to expectations on the outside - which makes the Bucs badly in need of an outside CB. Denzel Ward isn’t the biggest CB, but he’s good enough to play outside, and the Bucs get the top CB in the class to shore up their secondary.

8: Cardinals trade with Bears and select QB Josh Allen

Bears receive: #15, #47, 2019 6th round pick

Cardinals receive: #8

The Cardinals need a long-term answer at QB (which, full disclaimer, I absolutely do not think Josh Allen is, but I’m not an NFL scout), and they give up a second round pick (as well as a future sixth) to move up seven spots and secure Josh Allen.

9: 49ers select DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

The 49ers could potentially upgrade at S after the departure of Eric Reid, but their real need in the secondary is at CB. With Denzel Ward off the board, the 49ers turn to Minkah Fitzpatrick to play alongside Richard Sherman and fill that hole.

10: Raiders select S Derwin James

A world where the Broncos get Quenton Nelson and the Raiders get Derwin James doesn’t sound like much fun to me, but that’s the way the board has fallen. Reggie Nelson is about 74 years old, and it leaves their 2017 2nd round pick Obi Melifonwu in the lurch, but Derwin James is too good to pass up for the Raiders at #10 here.

11: Dolphins select LB Tremaine Edmunds

QB could have been a possibility, but with the big four off the board, the Dolphins turn their attention to one of the most exciting players in the draft in Tremaine Edmunds. The Dolphins badly need a linebacker, and they’re going to bank on the upside of Tremaine Edmunds over the (potentially safer pick of) Roquan Smith.

12: Giants (from Bills) select CB Joshua Jackson

Dave Gettleman’s New York Giants have moved down to 12, and to say they badly need a CB is an understatement akin to saying Andre the Giant was ‘quite big.’ It’s hard to predict exactly where Josh Jackson will get drafted, but multiple teams are going to fall in love with the playmaking ability and ball skills. The Giants are the team that bites here.

13: Redskins select DT Da’Ron Payne

There are other defensive tackles on the board, but Da’Ron Payne is an almost perfect fit for Washington at #13 here. He brings incredible strength and athleticism, is a gargantuan against the run, and has enough about his game to get after the passer, too. He’s exactly what they need to shore up a lackluster defense.

14: Packers select OT Mike McGlinchey

Maybe a bit of a surprising pick on paper, but Bryan Bulaga is 29 years old with a worrying injury history. After tearing his left ACL in 2013, Bulaga tore his right ACL in Week 9 of last year. It’s even rumored that Bulaga could be cut before the start of the 2018 season. When Jason Spriggs is the other option at RT that’s not going to happen, but new Packers GM Brian Gutekunst decides to bring in Mike McGlinchey and give himself options at the RT spot.

15: Bears (from Cardinals) select EDGE Marcus Davenport

The Bears’ anemic pass rush gets a major boost here in the form of Marcus Davenport. He’s not the most pro-ready EDGE in the draft, but his potential is through the roof, and the Bears put their trust in Vic Fangio to develop him.

16: Ravens select LB Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith paired next to CJ Mosley? Yes, please.

17: Chargers select QB Lamar Jackson

If Roquan Smith had still been on the board, I might have had a more difficult decision to make, but this was an easy decision. The Chargers need to start getting serious about the succession plan for when Philip Rivers hangs up his boots, and while Lamar Jackson won’t help the Chargers this season, he is absolutely the right choice here for the long term. He’s a good quarterback with a huge ceiling, and he fits what Anthony Lynn wants to do. For me, this was a no-brainer. What do you guys think? What would you have done here? Let me know in the comments.

18: Giants trade with Seahawks and select RB Derrius Guice

Seahawks receive: #22, #102, #139

Giants receive: #18

The Giants desperately need some help at RB. Derrius Guice is that help. as they trade up to get an absolute bowling ball of a running back. Kyle Posey is very high on Derrius Guice, and Dave Gettleman agrees here. Their offensive line is still a mess, but that won’t matter when Derrius Guice is trucking the entire defense.

19: Falcons trade with Cowboys and select DT Vita Vea

Cowboys receive: #26, #90, 2019 5th round pick.

Falcons receive: #19

It’s not cheap for the Falcons to move up here, but they can’t risk Vita Vea being taken. The Falcons are a Playoff calibre team with few holes, but the biggest hole they do have is for a bigger DT to play alongside Grady Jarrett. Dontari Poe did it last year, but after departing for the Panthers in Free Agency, the Falcons trade up to select one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft.

20: Lions select EDGE Harold Landry

The Lions could do with another edge rusher, and at #20, Harold Landry is the best player on their board left regardless, making this an easy selection.

21: Bengals select EDGE Sam Hubbard

Probably a slight reach, but it’s entirely possible that the Bengals have Hubbard this high on their draft board. EDGE isn’t the biggest need in the short-term, but you can never have enough pass rushers, and smart teams (which the Bengals clearly aren’t, seeing as Marvin Lewis is still employed) plan for the future. The Bengals also met with Hubbard this week.

22: Seahawks select OG Billy Price

Price suffered an injury at the combine, but he’ll be ready to go when the regular season comes around. It’s no secret that the Seahawks OL is a mess, and so they grab a monster of a man to help keep Russell Wilson... well, alive.

23: Giants trade with Patriots and select OG Isaiah Wynn

Patriots receive: #53, #56

Giants receive: #23

The Patriots move out of the first round with one of their first rounders, picking up both second-round picks that the Giants gained in the trade with the Bills. The Giants OL might be even worse than the Seahawks, and Eli Manning doesn’t quite have the elusiveness that Russell Wilson possesses, so in comes Isaiah Wynn - as the Giants third first-round selection - to protect Eli Manning and help new RB Derrius Guice in the running game.

24: Panthers select WR Calvin Ridley

The Panthers need WR help, and Calvin Ridley becomes the first receiver off the board. People question his age, his size, and his hands. Even if Calvin Ridley was 47 years old, 4’10, and only had a left hand, he’d still be the Panthers WR #2.

25: Titans select OG Will Hernandez

A bit of a run on OG’s here, as the Titans add an excellent interior lineman to compliment one of the best LT/RT duos in the league in Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin. They have a lot of bodies at guard, but no real ‘quality’ starter. Will Hernandez changes that.

26: Cowboys (from Falcons) select DT Taven Bryan

The Cowboys are another team with a big need at DT, and after trading down they grab Taven Bryan. His production wasn’t superb in college, but Rod Marinelli is the ideal coach to capitalize on his undoubted athletic ability.

27: Jaguars trade with Saints and select WR Courtland Sutton

Saints receive: #29, 203

Jaguars receive: #27

The Saints know that they can wait and still get their guy at #29, so they’re happy to pick up a sixth-round pick and simply drop down a couple spots. The Jaguars WR corps is a real weakness right now, and they address it by bringing in SMU WR Courtland Sutton, a solid possession receiver with some upside.

28: Steelers select LB Leighton Vander Esch

As heartbreaking as it is, it’s incredibly unlikely that Ryan Shazier steps foot on an NFL field anytime soon. That means the Steelers need to find a replacement at LB, and they need look no further than Leighton Vander Esch. One of my personal favorite players in the draft, Vander Esch is athletic, superb in pass coverage and plays the run well. He’s a gem.

29: Saints (from Jaguars) select TE Hayden Hurst

The biggest knock on Hayden Hurst is his age, as he’ll be 25 by the time his first NFL season gets underway That doesn’t matter to the Saints, who are in major need of a TE. Hurst is the best one in the class, and if Brandon Weeden can be a first-round pick at 28 years old, there’s no reason to avoid such a talented TE in Hurst.

30: Vikings select OC/G James Daniels

The Vikings need a new interior lineman after the retirement of Joe Berger, and after the run on OGs earlier, the athletic James Daniels becomes the selection here. His versatility is a big boost for the Vikings, as Daniels and Pat Elflein can both move around between C and G.

31: Patriots select QB Mason Rudolph

Tom Brady can’t stay this good forever, so Belichick drafts Mason Rudolph in order to have a suitable vessel to transfer the soul of Tom Brady into and continue the Patriots dynasty*.

*I’m joking. I think.

32: Giants trade with Eagles and select DE Arden Key

Eagles receive: #34, #176, 2019 6th round pick

Giants receive: #32

The Giants move up a couple spots to make their fourth(!) 1st round selection, taking Arden Key. In fairness, it’s not totally inconceivable that they could be in a position to make four first-round picks in the draft this year, would they so wish. There are more red flags than you can count with Arden Key, but he could be a dominant player if he can put it all together.