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Mel Kiper Mock Draft: How Kiper’s first mock of last year turned out

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NFL Combine - Day 4 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his first mock draft of 2020 this week and of course we all talked about it. Fans of every team gathered in droves to start imagining, with Kiper, what a first round in April could look like. It is nice to imagine things. Our imaginations give us all kinds of things to dream of and since we share the love of football, these are dreams we are happy to indulge in.

But alongside that we must also acknowledge that these are only fantasies, dreams, and figments of Kiper’s imagination. The real draft will look nothing like Kiper’s projections, not now and not when he posts his final mock in three months. He’s horribly wrong. And that’s okay. We all will be.

In Kiper’s first mock of 2019, here are a few things he got right and horribly wrong:

  • Kiper had Nick Bosa going first overall to the Arizona Cardinals, which was not far off. Bosa was projected for a long time as the best player in the draft and he ended up going second overall to the San Francisco 49ers. However, when a quarterback emerges in top overall consideration, he can’t be ignored. That QB for Arizona was Kyler Murray, who Kiper originally had going 13th overall to the Miami Dolphins.

Instead, the Dolphins traded a second round pick to the Cardinals for Josh Rosen and the Cards began to build their franchise around Murray.

  • He had the 49ers taking pass rusher Josh Allen since Bosa was off his board. Instead, Allen went fourth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who Kiper originally had selecting Greedy Williams. The LSU corner ended up falling out of the first round entirely, landing 46th overall to Cleveland.
  • Kiper’s third pick was correct: The Jets took Quinnen Williams.
  • At six, Kiper had his first QB come off the board: Dwayne Haskins to the New York Giants. Instead, the Giants took Daniel Jones, who Kiper had going to the New England Patriots at pick 29. (This was before the Patriots won the Super Bowl and got pick 32.)
  • Instead of Allen, who was off the board, the Jaguars picked offensive lineman Cody Ford out of Oklahoma. Ford went 38th overall to Buffalo in real life.
  • Kiper had Rashan Gary going ninth overall to the Bills. Instead, the Bills picked Ed Oliver and Gary went to the Green Bay Packers at 12. Kiper had Oliver going 14th.
  • Deandre Baker went 10th in Kiper’s draft, but 30th in reality.
  • Jawaan Taylor was 11th, but he “fell” to 35th in the draft.
  • (I don’t really like saying players “fall” in the draft because their fall is from something imaginary. It’s a fall from our incorrect observations and guesses of what would happen, not because of something that player did unless we are talking about specific examples like La’El Collins or Laremy Tunsil or even maybe injury concerns like Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack. Saying that a player falls or is a “reach” in a draft implies that the fault is on the team or the player instead of on the observer, which is the reality. The NFL is the entity that dictates draft order and big board rankings, not us.)
  • Clelin Ferrell went 12th in Kiper’s draft, but fourth overall in reality.
  • Kiper had Jachai Polite going to Washington at 15, but Polite went all the way down to 68th after a disastrous draft season. He was released by the Jets prior to the first game.
  • Kiper gets his second pick of the draft CORRECT when he has Brian Burns going 16th overall to the Panthers. He also has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Devin Bush 20th overall; the player is correct, though the Steelers traded up to 10 in order to secure Bush.
  • Maybe recognizing that Pete Carroll loves to “reach” for players, Kiper has the Seahawks selecting Oshane Ximines with the 21st pick. But Kiper makes no mention of the fact that Seattle has traded down or out of the first round in every year since 2011. The Seahawks traded down and eventually picked L.J. Collier, who was considered a “reach” in his own right and not in Kiper’s first round.
  • Kiper has the Baltimore Ravens picking the right position (receiver) but not the right player. He has them taking A.J. Brown, and as good as Marquise Brown was, he’s not looking like the other Brown so far. He has “Hollywood” going 24th overall to the Raiders, who ended up picking Josh Jacobs instead. Kiper doesn’t have Jacobs in his first round.
  • He has Dexter Lawrence going 26th, but he went 17th.
  • He has Irv Smith going 27th, but he went 50th.
  • He has the Chargers taking Christian Wilkins, but they selected Jerry Tillery. Wilkins went 13th overall to Miami.
  • He has the Rams taking Dre’Mont Jones at 30, but they picked Taylor Rapp. Jones went 71st.
  • The biggest discrepency is at 31, where he has the Kansas City Chiefs taking safety Deionte Thompson. Kiper says that Thompson would help “immediately” but he fell to the fifth round, going 139th overall to Arizona.

Overall, Kiper posted a mock draft with 32 selections and he ended up getting three of those picks correctly, and that’s giving him the Steelers and Bush without the trade. He was wrong on the projected draft slot of Bush, so it’s more like 2.5 correct. That’s less than 10%.

Kiper had the Chargers picking Justin Herbert in his first mock draft but as we saw with Murray, Haskins, and Jones, it’s just really hard to know how the quarterbacks (or any position) will fall this early in the process. Joe Burrow seems like a better lock than Nick Bosa just because it’s much easier now to see that the team picking first has a need at QB and he’s by far the best prospect there, but the draft season process can and will change a lot.