Mocking the Mock Drafts: Which Draft Experts Would Be 1st off the Board?
NFL mock drafts are all the rage year-round now that the NFL draft has become a national event bigger than some other sports' championships.
The fine folks who take the time to endow themselves with the endless knowledge required to put together a mock draft are some of the most dedicated (or is it crazy?) and hard-working analysts that exist within the spectrum of sports.
But what if the tables were turned? How would you, the fans, go about mocking each expert if most were thrown into a pool of candidates? Whose opinion can you absolutely not live without?
In the following slideshow we'll attempt to answer that very question.
Mocking an NFL draft is an inexact science, and not one person who makes an attempt should be discredited—no matter how wild the predictions are. After all, the NFL draft is unpredictable in its own right, so give credit to these guys for even trying.
NFL draftniks are a very special breed of fan themselves. This slideshow is a way for fans to be exposed to the very best of the best.
Besides, if it weren't for these guys, what else would you be doing NFL-related until Roger Goodell walks to the podium?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Not everyone can make the cut. The work of NFL mock drafts is exponentially growing, so there will be some omissions from any list you dare to compile. Here are some guys in no particular order who just missed out on being top-10 prospects in the NFL draft community.
Gbajabiamila isn't the most well-known name, but he does quality work.
Brandt is an expert in the utmost sense who is typically spot-on with his predictions.
Casserly doesn't receive enough credit for his work, but is one of the rare few you should actually be listening to each year.
Shottey is a rising star in the draft community who does excellent, sensible work with each mock draft he publishes.
Give credit where it's due—Norris is an expert in every sense and is one of the rare few who is actually brave enough to include trades within his mocks. Very nice.
Brugler is a trusted name in the community, but isn't the best CBS has to offer.
See Brugler's entry.
One more time.
10. Bucky Brooks, NFL Network
Bucky Brooks in 1996 before his outstanding analyst career began.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Starting the list is NFL Network's very own Bucky Brooks. Despite being relatively new to the game, Brooks has already managed to become one of the most respected names in the mock draft community.
Before picking up the pen and microphone for outlets such as Sports Illustrated and NFL Network, Brooks played in the NFL for five different teams over the course of five seasons.
He acted mainly as a special-teams returner, but flipped his knowledge of the game into quite the impressive analyst career so far.
This year, Brooks is helping lead the charge for NFL.com's draft coverage. His picks are usually on the money thanks to his various connections within the industry.
9. Charlie Campbell, Walter Football
Walter Football's stellar NFL draft coverage year in and year out is the result of the hard work of one draft expert himself—Charlie Campbell.
Navigate to Campbell's page at any point of the year to find the most detailed info about prospects who are eligible to enter the draft years in advance.
Campbell's mocks are infamous for their stunning detail, listing picks that have changed since the last rendition and usually ending up more accurate than most.
8. Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
Don Banks leads the charge for Sports Illustrated in regard to its NFL draft coverage after joining the company back in 2000. Before that, he'd spent most of his career covering the NFL for a variety of newspapers.
While not the biggest name when it comes to mock drafts, Banks is one you should know and whose opinions you should keep track of at all times.
Over the years, Banks has continued to prove that his stellar track record pertaining to the ins and outs of the draft is better than most. He won't wow you in front of a camera like some, but his knowledge is up there with the best.
7. Todd McShay, ESPN
Todd McShay may be in the process of being groomed as Mel Kiper's replacement at ESPN, but he certainly doesn't need the company's help to take the torch.
McShay became part of the ESPN family back in 2006 and worked his way up through the company rather quickly.
He regularly appears on television to debate Kiper and usually hits the nail on the head with his mock drafts (even if it is hiding behind a pay wall).
The easy-to-understand knowledge McShay can drop on most collegiate athletes in a brief amount of time is impressive and earns him a spot in the top 10 of this mock.
6. Russ Lande, National Football Post
Russ Lande has been navigating the NFL draft waters for quite some time now, and is an industry leader as a result of his extensive knowledge acquired over the years.
Lande works now for the groundbreaking National Football Post, but has worked for a variety of outlets such as CBS, the Sporting News and The NFL Today and even served as a scout for the Cleveland Browns (per Russlande.com).
With experience learning under names such as Dick Vermeil, there aren't many who compare to Lande, Be sure to hold his opinion in high regard each year.
5. Rob Rang, CBS
Rob Rang has an encyclopedic database of knowledge on anything NFL draft-related and proves it on a daily basis. Go ahead, ask him about a small-school prospect set to enter the draft in a couple of years on Twitter.
It's a safe bet Rang knows exactly who you are talking about and can predict fairly accurately where he will land.
Rang continues to lead the way for CBS in its NFL draft coverage. He's turned down offers to work more intimately with scouting departments in NFL—the fact the league itself wants Rang should be reason enough to trust his opinion.
4. Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network
First things first—when you have a Twitter handle as awesome as Daniel Jeremiah's, (@MoveTheSticks—get it?) you're basically given a pass to spew whatever you want and no one will care if you're wrong.
The thing is, it's hard to name a source more trustworthy than NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah when it comes to the NFL draft.
Jeremiah spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens before taking his prowess to the world of media.
Now Jeremiah resides as the go-to source at NFL Network for anything draft-related. His connections are almost unmatched, not to mention his extensive knowledge on all things NFL draft.
3. Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
Matt Miller is Bleacher Report's NFL Draft Lead Writer just years after founding his own website, New Era Scouting.
Miller has proved through his unrivaled work ethic and extensive experience scouting players that his fast rise to the top of the draft community was no mistake. He's received a laundry list of accolades along the way, having his work appear in numerous publications and even making an appearance in Madden NFL 13.
Unlike some, Miller is always readily accessible via social media; he makes the entire process a fun experience while proving to all who look to have a similar impact in the industry that hard work will pave the way.
Miller's work is routinely accurate, and barring a few major names, he should be your main source of info for the NFL draft year-round.
2. Mike Mayock, NFL Network
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to being an endless database of knowledge about everything NFL draft-related, look no further than NFL Network's Mike Mayock.
There aren't many folks who are trusted and valued enough to work for Fox Sports, ESPN, ABC, CBS and NFL Network—Mayock has done all of the above at one point or another.
Mayock played in the NFL as a member of the New York Giants before taking the media by storm. Now he broadcasts games live and remains one of the most respected names in the industry when it comes to player evaluations.
1. Mel Kiper, ESPN
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Were you expecting someone else?
Mel Kiper started back in 1984 on what has now separated itself and become its own sustainable entity; it even compares financially to some sports as a whole.
Of course, we're talking about the only reason you are reading this slideshow—the NFL draft community. Mock drafts, prospect rankings, big boards, you name it—it all started with Kiper back in the 1980s when he decided to take draft information, a niche market at the time, and flip it into a multi-million-dollar business.
You may not agree with everything Kiper says (or his never-changing hairdo), but you can't name a drafnik with whom you can—and frankly, he's the reason we're all here.
Make no mistake, if all the draftniks were thrown into a mock draft, there would be a consensus No. 1 each time—no matter what.
Follow me on Twitter for more NFL news and analysis.