I listen to the podcasts. I subscribe to the RSS feeds. Simply, I can not get enough of the draft. When you consume sports, no matter how many side orders of blogs and podcasts you choose, ESPN is usually the main course. ESPN fronts its NFL draft with Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. If you are anything like me, you have probably heard more from these guys over the last two weeks than your wife and boss combined.
But how good are they really? I got to wondering because in their March 10 mocks (version 3.0) they both were right that my Raiders' would draft Bruce Campbell of Maryland. However, both had it at the 8th pick, not the 106th pick and missed it by 4 rounds. Though that pick was adjusted in the final mocks (he was 59 in the Scouts Inc final mock), I spent a few weeks thinking the Raiders were doomed to yet another workout warrior to complement their other recent first rounders.
I have sympathy for any job that deals in projections. I am responsible for capital planning for one of Europe's largest banks and I can comfortably say that I'm never "right". I'm close for various reasons, but certainly never "accurate".
In an NFL draft, there is certainly a ton of misinformation about players and teams' interests, there is no way to know what trades will happen or what guys will fall and cause a domino effect created by positional need. Regardless, I graded the graders, mocked the mockers, if you will. I focused only on each analyst's first round picks of the final mocks for Kiper and McShay to see how well they knew their stuff this time around.
Of the 32 picks, the two had the same pick 15 times, including all of the top 6, which they both nailed. Both also picked Earl Thomas at #14 and Maurkice Pouncey at #18. Of the 7 other identical picks, they both blew Sergio Kindle by 31 picks (#12 vs #43) had 4 picks they missed by 6-9 spots and another 2 picks (C.J. Spiller and Rolando McClain) within 3 spots. All in all, when they had the same pick they averaged missing by 4.3 draft slots in the first round. Take away those top 6 and they missed the other 9 common picks by 6.9 slots.
Both guys also had first rounders Jahvid Best (#30), Patrick Robinson (#32) and Tyson Alualu (#10) off their boards entirely, though only Alualu appears to have really slipped through the cracks.
Now to the head to head. Who fared better?
Let's start with Kiper. He's among the more abrasive TV or radio/podcast profiles out there, so it's important that he knows his stuff.
For all 32 picks, Kiper was off by an average of 5.7 slots. He also left Devin McCourty (#27) off the board in addition to the three players above. For the 17 picks where he differed from McShay, Kiper missed by an average of 7.0 picks, with Jimmy Clausen to the Raiders (who passed on him twice) his biggest mistake (#8 vs #48, McShay had him going #30 to the Vikings who also passed on him twice at #30 and at #34).
Aside from Clausen, Kiper also missed on Linval Joseph (#17), but was within 10 slots for the other 15 individual picks. Kiper was spot on for Dan Williams and Jerry Hughes and within three for five other individual picks.
By comparison, McShay was off by 5.2 slots on average for all 32 picks and missed by 6.1 slots when he differed from Kiper. Of those 17 picks, 3 were exact (Jason Paul-Pierre, Jermain Gresham and Demaryius Thomas) and 6 were within 3 slots. More impressive, on picks that were unaffected by trades and less likely to be disturbed by the noise of all of the transactions, McShay only missed by 3.5 slots to Kiper's 4.8 slots.
McShay's biggest gaffes were Clausen and Joseph (each missed by 18 picks) as well as Williams, (missed by 17 picks), whom Kiper correctly pegged to go the Cardinals at #26. McShay also left Tim Tebow (#25, Kiper had him at #30) and Sean Weatherspoon (#19, Kiper had him at #15) out of his final mock draft.
All in all its a toss up. McShay was slightly better, but in the 31 mock picks excluding Clausen, Kiper was more accurate than McShay. Kiper went out on a limb with Jimmy Clausen and struck out. We'll see if the Panthers fare better with their new second-round quarterback.