What A Mock-ery

Feb. 28, 2007

By Adam Caparell



Adam is CSTV.com's football editor and national football writer.
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So where do you think you'll be landing?


Ask any potential NFL Draft pick where he thinks he'll be selected come April and you'll get the same answer Marshawn Lynch had.


"I'd be happy to play wherever," the former Cal running back said.


Uncertainty is one of the hallmarks of the draft and if there's one certainty all the players share surrounding the draft is all those mock drafts are a waste of time. They're a joke. Nothing more than a yawn and barely deserving of a passing thought. 


Just ask Doug Datish what he thinks about them.


"You know why it's called a mock draft?" the former Ohio State center said. "Because it doesn't mean anything."


In the players' eyes, mock drafts are about as valuable as a $3 bill. And whether it's superstition, or other personal reasons, players go to great lengths to make sure they don't see them, read them or hear about any mock drafts on their own.


"I don't want to know nothing about it. Don't even put it in my mind," former Rutgers tight end Clark Harris said. "I have no idea what is going on with them."


It's almost impossible to keep those closest to you out of your ear. Lynch, for instance, has been projected in some mock drafts to fall to No. 16 with the Green Bay Packers. And he hasn't heard the end of it from his workout buddies.


"The guys I've been working out with say, `You ready to pack those ear muffs? You're going to Green Bay,'" Lynch said.


A player's family and friends can be the worst. They're the ones who are on top of the draft projections, the ones who can recite where they're headed just as soon as rattle off their 2006 stats.


"I'll talk to my parents and some of my family and I'll be like, `Shut up!'" Harris said.


And of course, family and friends will dream and fantasize about what city their loved one will wind up in.


"I'm pretty sure they'll tell me where they want me to land," former Auburn wide out Courtney Taylor said.


Some players say the mock drafts are distractions. They take their focus off their training. Start stressing about what team is going to pick you and it quickly becomes an act of futility.


"I don't want to get distracted by any of them. It doesn't mean anything. It's not the real draft," former Penn State tackle Levi Brown said.


One of the biggest reasons the players don't care about the mock drafts is because they have no say in the matter. It's out of their hands and those projections we all have so much fun making carry no weight until the big day comes.


Just ask the Heisman Trophy winner. He's not going to worry about something he can't control.


"I don't hold the key to anything," Troy Smith said. "The only thing I can control is what goes on in my life, getting better as a man and getting better as a quarterback. Those are the only things I can control, perfecting my trade and becoming the best quarterback I can be."


Another reason the players hate the mock drafts is because of their critical nature. Smith, for instance, has gone from being heralded as the best player in college football last season to a potential second-round draft pick at best, according to the projections. It's another critique, on a very personal level, that they would rather not concern themselves with.


"The people who make those opinions don't really have a say to where we go," Smith said. "People's opinions don't really matter."


But the curiosity can sometimes be too great a power to ignore. Players do sneak peaks and a good portion of them -- through their agents -- know where they're going to land in the draft, anyway.


So take it from Taylor, who admits his urge to see where he may wind up.  


"You can be a little curious," Taylor said. "But at the same time...I don't think they're that good."


Mock drafts are about as inexact a science as there is in sports. The people who put them out make educated guesses, and of course, it's easy to correctly pick the early first round when teams clearly make their interest known in the game's best.


But when it comes to those later rounds, and the "take the best player available" mantra gets weighed against a team's needs, predictions become nothing more than stabs in the dark.


So why put any stock in such an uncertainty. Taylor, a projected third round pick, isn't.  


"Mock drafts are disappointments."



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