Trying to predict the first 32 picks of an NFL draft is like trying to teach a fish to climb a tree. And noted smart dude Albert Einstein once (allegedly) said, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
What I'm trying to say here is, don't judge us! We're just fish here, lost in a forest of information, misinformation, secrecy and Dave Gettleman. We were never meant to see the sunlight.
Mock drafting is a fool's errand, destined for failure. But it's entertaining failure! And the fact that there are now more than 300 episodes of Ridiculousness on MTV tells us that people really enjoy laughing at failures. So we hope you were entertained by our own mock drafting efforts, in which we got nine picks right (but only if you add our two mocks together).
Every year, the most accurate NFL mock drafts get about 10 of the 32 selections exactly right. Fortunately for Carmen Vitali and me, we're not grading our efforts against those top mocks; rather, we matched our own drafts head to head. After going through six editions in which we joined forces and made alternating picks, Carmen and I each did an entire 32-pick round for our final mock so we could see who did best.
And your winner: Carmen Vitali!
View some of the top photos from Bucs LB Devin White's first day with the team.
We'll get into the near-misses and the partial credits later, but in terms of picks that were the exact right player to the exact right team at the exact right draft spot, Carmen got five and I got four. That included two selections that we both predicted, specifically Kyler Murray to the Cardinals at number one (I know, impressive!) and Josh Jacobs to the Raiders at number 24.
My downfall came annoying close to home – I overthought the Buccaneers' own pick. Actually, 'overthought' is giving myself too much credit. 'Failed to believe the obvious signs' is probably more accurate. Despite the fact that a solid 50% of the mock drafts on the internet had the Bucs taking LSU linebacker Devin White, I banged the drum for a dive into this year's allegedly deep class of high-end pass-rushers. Carmen accurately made the White prediction, but I went with Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who actually went ninth overall to the Bills.
I knew White would be a great addition to the Bucs' defense, but what I failed to take into account is that he, too, can help Tampa Bay's pass rush. Oh, and he can cover dynamic backs like Alvin Kamara, too. And make plays from sideline to sideline. Basically, Devin White can do it all in the Bucs' new defense, he was the perfect fit and the perfect pick. Kudos to Carmen for realizing that. Shame on me for getting too cute.
Other than that pick and our two shared triumphs at picks one and 24, Carmen accurately put a pair of pass-rushers in the right spot, sending Josh Allen to the Jaguars at number seven and Brian Burns to the Panthers at number 16. I got on a little run right outside the top 10, accurately pairing Jonah Williams with the Bengals at pick 11 and then Rashan Gary with the Packers in the next spot. That's where the run ended.
(Hey, Carmen, you can stop reading now. Really, there's nothing else to see here.)
Psst. The rest of you. If you happen to be on Team Scott and want me to be the winner here, I can give you a little bit of ammunition. See, I predicted that Miami and Carolina would swap the 13th and 16th picks, with the Panthers trading up to get Brian Burns and the Dolphins then taking Christian Wilkins a few spots later. Those two teams actually stayed put, but the Dolphins did take Wilkins and the Panthers did take Burns. Add those two picks in and I'm the winner, 6-5! Yay, Team Scott! I'm going to conveniently not mention that Carmen accurately gave the Raiders Clelin Ferrell…23 picks later than they actually took him. Okay, so maybe it's a tie.
Just kidding Carmen, I know you're still reading. Would you like to add anything at this point before I continue?
Carmen Vitali: It's not a tie.
Fine. Now, getting back to the subject of close calls like that, there are some areas in which we can claim partial credit, though I'm not going to assign it any point value. At pick number 10, Carmen predicted that Denver would take tight end Noah Fant and I thought they'd go with quarterback Drew Lock. What happened instead is that Denver traded down in the first round and up in the second round and ended up taking…Noah Fant and Drew Lock. So, we were both right!
I had the Jaguars taking offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor but they went with Allen, as noted above, when he surprisingly slipped to number seven. (That didn't surprise Carmen, as also noted above.) Jacksonville did eventually take Taylor, however, early in the second round.
We both thought the next three picks after the Murray opener would be defensive linemen/edge rushers, and that proved to be the case. We just didn't get them in the right order. Both of us thought the Dee Ford acquisition would lead San Francisco to Quinnen Williams at number two, leaving Nick Bosa for the Jets at number three (or, as Carmen guessed, Ed Oliver). Instead, it went chalk, Bosa to the 49ers and Williams to the Jets. And, of course, neither of us saw Clelin Ferrell going fourth overall to the Raiders) which essentially tied us with every draft analyst in the world (unless you count ex-analyst Mike Mayock, who had some inside info).
Vitali: Allow me to interject here for some self-scouting and agree that this is where I went most egregiously wrong. I followed the full-on sandwiches (not just breadcrumbs) to the Bucs picking Devin White, so why in the world would I try to get cute with Nick Bosa sliding and Quinnen Williams going second instead of third? If I had gone with the obvious there, I would have a commanding lead on Scott, making all of this 'partial credit' talk moot. But hey, a win's a win, no matter how ugly or close it was. There is no partial credit on life, Mr. Smith. You don't get points for trying. Who says all millennials want participation trophies?
Um, okay, now we're getting unsolicited Carmen interjections. And for the record, I've coached a decent amount of youth sports teams and I can tell you with no hesitation that kids who get participation trophies do not think they won the league. They know which team won the league – it's the one that just got the first-place trophies. Some of the kids on the other teams didn't care about the participation trophies but it made some of them feel good for a few minutes before it was all forgotten. What's the problem with that? What I'm saying is, now I want a participation trophy.
Back to the analysis. We thought the Giants would take Dwayne Haskins. They went with Daniel Jones instead, which admittedly some mock drafters got right. (Few analysts think the Giants got it right, though.) We both thought the Vikings would take guard Chris Lindstrom at number 18 and we might have been right if the Falcons hadn't nabbed him four picks earlier. Instead, the Vikings took center Garrett Bradbury. Carmen thought the Texans would pick Andre Dillard to shore up the protection in front of Deshaun Watson, and perhaps they would have if Philly hadn't traded just in front of them to get Dillard first. The Texans did go with another offensive tackle, Tytus Howard.
I predicted the Seahawks would trade down from number 21, though I didn't get the landing spot right. I had them swapping with the Chargers at number 28 and picking a safety, specifically Johnathan Abram. But the 'Hawks actually moved down to 30, trading with the Packers…and then traded down two more times, finally making the pick at number 47 of Marquise Blair who is…someone I had not heard of before Friday night. But he's a safety! Trade down for a safety – nailed it! (Yes, I will also point out that Carmen had the Seahawks taking Abram, too, at pick 29, which they got from the Chiefs just before the draft in the Frank Clark trade.)
Both of us thought the Ravens would take a receiver, but neither of us got the right one, which proved to be the speedy Marquise Brown (whom they took after a small trade down). I said Parris Campbell, Carmen said Deebo Samuel; those two were both second-round picks.
What did we got most egregiously wrong? Well, Jones went sixth to the Giants, as mentioned above, and neither of us even had him in our first round. We ignored history's lesson: Quarterbacks always rise. Actually, I specifically noted Jones as the player I somehow left out of the first round in our notes at the bottom of that final mock draft. Right position, but it was Lock I should have let slide. Carmen's noted player in that regard was Montez Sweat, who did get a little closer to falling out of Thursday's round but finally landed in Washington after they traded up to number 26.
I'm not going to fault either of us for missing on Ferrell at number four or a couple of the other draft-night curveballs, like T.J. Hockenson to the Lions at number eight or Darnell Savage to the Packers at number 21. That said, we should have gone with the masses and flipped Bosa and Williams, and we should have read D.K. Metcalf's plummeting draft stock. We both put Metcalf in Washington at number 15 and he didn't hear his name called until the last pick of Round Two. Throughout or various versions, and in the final mock, we both kept trying to give the Titans a pass-catcher, whether it be a receiver or tight end. But Tennessee stubbornly refused and went defense instead, playing the long game with injured defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.
That about covers it. It might not have proved terribly accurate, but it was fun! Just wait until next year, when we finally get that fish up the tree.