McAllister: Mock drafts like opinions; everybody has one
The mock draft might belong to one of the "experts," such as Mel Kiper or Joel Buchsbaum. Or it might belong to your football-crazy neighbor down the street, the one trying to fill space on his free GeoCities home page.
It doesn't matter. If there's an NFL mock draft on the Internet, Todd Indre probably has seen it. He evaluates draft projections like NASA scientists evaluate trips into space.
A funny thing, though. Indre, a staff member for a Cleveland Browns fan site called BerniesInsiders.com, doesn't create his own mock draft.
Instead, he takes what he considers as the best 40 mock drafts on the Internet and cross references each first-round pick to produce a mock draft average for every selection. His compilation list is known as the "Mock Draft Muncher" – and it's just another way to predict how this weekend's NFL draft will play out.
"It's fun to see all the different drafts," Indre said. "But as a true barometer? Who knows? It's such a crapshoot."
Even so, that hasn't stopped the proliferation of mock drafts the past few weeks. Almost every sports- and NFL-related Web site has one.
Most project only the first round. Others offer two or three rounds. A few daring (re: foolhardy) sites even predict the entire seven rounds. For instance, TheHuddleReport.com is pretty sure the expansion Houston Texans will take Tulane punter Casey Roussel with the 261st pick.
"I guess you could call it gutsy," Indre said of the seven-round mock drafts. "But it's also useless, in my opinion."
About the only Web site not producing a mock draft is the one you'd most expect to – NFL.com.
Being the official site of the league precludes team-by-team predictions. So Gil Brandt, the former Cowboys personnel director and one-time draft guru, offers a list broken up by three groups of players, any of whom fall into a specific range on the draft board. He based his evaluations on his contacts around the league and from attending the scouting combines and private workouts held for draft prospects.
"I'm not sure how you formulate a [player-by-player] list," Brandt said. "In a lot of cases, they've never seen the players work out. ... I'd like to think I'm a little bit wired in."
Brandt does put stock into two mock drafts – the one produced by Buchsbaum (found at ProFootballWeekly.com), and the other by Dallas Morning News NFL writer Rick Gosselin (found at DallasNews.com). And he appreciates what all those Internet mock drafts have done for the league.
"It's good for football," said Brandt, who'll offer immediate draft analysis on NFL.com this weekend. "It creates a lot of interest for people who might not be able to coach, but they can be the general manager."
Mike McAllister is a reporter for DallasNews.com