We're a week away from Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft and, yes, the mock drafts are in full flight. The Eagles, with the 12th pick in the Draft, will take ... Do you have any idea? Do the mocks provide any indication into the way a team thinks, or is this stuff just fill-in-the-time-until-the-Draft-gets-here rumormongering that keeps it fun?
It's probably a little bit of both. First, a description of the mock draft from The New York Times in 2011: "Some draftniks diligently base evaluations on careful research and tape study. Others blend workout results, regurgitated wisdom, generalities, jargon, rumors, hallucinations, and educated guesses into elaborate and seemingly precise scouting reports."
The mock draft has been around for decades, popularized with the rise of the internet and expanded coverage of the NFL Draft. Sports Illustrated suggested in a 2019 article that the very start of the mock draft, although unsubstantiated, goes back far beyond what any of us might imagine.
"People have been making lists of draft prospects as far back as the 1940s. Ray Byrne, a Pittsburgh-area funeral home manager, is believed to be the first person to publish the names of available prospects. Then over the years, a few others started making a career of it. The Sullivan brothers, the Marasco brothers, Joe Stein, Palmer Hughes. Some of them even went on to work in pro football. By the late 1970s-early '80s, a handful of people started publishing their own draft books, complete with player rankings, scouting reports, and, yes, mock drafts. Jerry Jones – no, not that one – was a pharmacist in Mariemont, Ohio, who, in his spare time, produced a book called The Drug Store List. In Brooklyn, a reclusive 20-something named Joel Buchsbaum convinced Pro Football Weekly to hire him as a draft expert; he became the author of the PFW's draft book. Then down in Baltimore, Mel Kiper Jr. dropped out of college and started making his own book in his parents' basement."
This is big business and draftniks are properly heralded by fans for their ability to "get it right" in the first round or two. Television and websites devote space to the mock draft, starting minutes after the current real draft has ended. If you're interested in seeing whom the Eagles might draft with their 2022 first-round draft picks – three are possible – you won't have to wait long at all to begin speculating. Stay tuned for the "too-early-to-know-but-here-it-is-2022-NFL-mock-draft" mock draft to show up on your screen less than 48 hours after the 2021 NFL Draft has concluded.
All of the mock drafts combine to add to the fan experience. They don't have any impact in the various teams' draft rooms, although every single NFL team is aware of what the mocks are saying as they hope to glean even a nugget of what another team is thinking leading up to the draft weekend. But how often do the mock drafts actually get it right? According to this chart on TheHuddleReport.com, not very often.
OK, so let's get back to the Eagles, which is why you are here. They've got 11 picks overall. They've got needs across the board with a transitioning roster. There is a new coaching staff on board that has a different way of seeing and employing players than the previous coaching staff. There are a lot of variables at play here, which heightens the intrigue. Does anyone outside the NovaCare Complex really have a feel for what the Eagles might do on April 29? The Eagles have options and Head Coach Nick Sirianni is digging in to bolster his team. The truth is, the Eagles can go in a lot of different directions at No. 12, if they stay there in Round 1.
I made an appearance on a local radio show the other night and was asked this question: "Dave, why are the Eagles so in love with (Alabama wide receiver) Jaylen Waddle? I have him rated ..." It made me laugh. Who from the Eagles, I asked the host, has said they are in love with Waddle? "Well, I saw a mock draft ..."
The NFL mock draft. It has kept the draft-obsessed fans – and we love each and every one of you – engaged for a year. But at the end of the day, the mock draft, based on pure facts, gets the first handful of picks right and then throws darts at the wall. They are more fun than fact, and that's OK. We still have one agonizing week to play out all the scenarios in our heads about what the Eagles will do, not just in Round 1 but with all seven rounds. After that, the draftniks will assign an immediate grade to the draft class – unfair as it certainly is – and move right on to 2022, just in the nick of time.