The best part about the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft? We almost immediately get way-too-early 2018 mock drafts.
Skeptics will stand atop their soapbox and scream "way too early!" and angrily question the accuracy of projections 51 weeks before the 2018 draft. Though it's never "too early" for mock drafts, are they correct with the accuracy qualm? Are way-too-early mock drafts even remotely accurate?
Five days after the conclusion of the 2016 draft, ESPN's Todd McShay published his "Way-Too-Early 2017 NFL Mock Draft". Let's break it down.
Four of his 32 first-round picks returned to school: Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (No. 18), Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (No. 21), Ole Miss linebacker Marquis Haynes (No. 29) and Georgia running back Nick Chubb (No. 30).
Of the remaining 28, 13 were actually drafted in the first round. Just three players in his top 10 (Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, No. 1; Myles Garrett, No. 3; and Leonard Fournette, No. 4) were taken in the first round, but five of his eight picks between 16-24 stayed in the first round.
While LSU running back Leonard Fournette is the only player to be drafted exactly where McShay predicted (No. 4), he narrowly misfired on many other predictions, among them: Derek Barnett (predicted No. 13, actual No. 14) and Jabrill Peppers (predicted No. 23, actual No. 25).
However, there were some big whiffs. Gigantic, mind-boggling, what-the-hell-where-you-thinking whiffs.
Not only did Miami (FL) quarterback Brad Kaaya not go second overall, he didn't even go in the top 200, falling to the Detroit Lions at No. 215. After a top-10 prediction for Malachi Dupre, the LSU receiver was the seventh-to-last pick, going No. 247 to the Packers, a miss of 237.
The biggest indiscretion came at No. 25. McShay infamously called Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner "a late riser to keep an eye on, similar to Blake Bortles and Carson Wentz." This drew the biggest groan from college football fans. Leider had thrown for only 4,499 yards on 644 attempts the last two seasons (6.98 yards per attempt), had barely more touchdowns (25) than interceptions (19) and posted a completion clip of 56.5 percent.
Leidner's mediocrity continued and he wasn't drafted.
After removing the four returnees and generously giving Leidner an actual draft slot of 254 (one slot after the final pick of the draft), McShay missed by an average 56.9 slots, a number skewed by Kaaya, Dupre, Leidner and others. A more friendly and rather impressive number is a median miss of 18 slots.
Fifty-one weeks before the draft — before a draft order, full college football and NFL seasons, proper film study, workouts and interviews with players, coaches, general managers and more — Todd McShay had a median miss of just 18 slots. He missed 18 players by 25 or fewer slots and 10 players by 10 or fewer slots.
Here's a full breakdown of his mock draft from May 5, 2016, compared to actual draft position:
|1||D. Watson – QB, Clemson||12||11|
|2||B. Kaaya – QB, Miami FL||215||213|
|3||M. Garrett – DE, Texas A&M||1||2|
|4||L. Fournette – RB, LSU||4||0|
|5||T. Tabor – CB, Florida||53||48|
|6||T. Williams – LB, Alabama||78||72|
|7||J. Allen – DE, Alabama||17||10|
|8||J. Smith-Schuster – WR, USC||62||54|
|9||C. Robinson – OT, Alabama||34||25|
|10||M. Dupre – WR, LSU||247||237|
|11||R. Johnson – OT, Florida State||160||149|
|12||J. Adams – S, LSU||6||6|
|13||D. Barnett – DE, Tennessee||14||1|
|14||C. Harris – DE, Missouri||22||8|
|15||M. McDowell – DT, Michigan State||35||20|
|16||O.J. Howard – TE, Alabama||19||3|
|17||J. Davis – LB, Florida||21||4|
|18||M. McGlinchey – OT, Notre Dame||N/A||N/A|
|19||R. Foster – LB, Alabama||31||12|
|20||T. White – CB, LSU||27||7|
|21||L. Lotulelei, DT, Utah||N/A||N/A|
|22||Z. Banner – OT, USC||137||115|
|23||J. Peppers – S, Michigan||25||2|
|24||C. McCaffrey – RB, Stanford||8||16|
|25||M. Leidner – QB, Minnesota||Undrafted||229|
|26||D. Cook – RB, Florida State||41||15|
|27||C. McDermott – OT, UCLA||211||184|
|28||D. Wise, Jr. – DE, Arkansas||131||103|
|29||M. Haynes – LB, Ole Miss||N/A||N/A|
|30||N. Chubb – RB, Georgia||N/A||N/A|
|31||R. McMillan – LB, Ohio State||54||23|
|32||M. Williams – WR, Clemson||7||25|