MJ’s NFL Mock Draft 1.0 – can we learn from history?
Mock Drafts create more debate than anything else in the run up to each NFL Draft. The increasing number of Mock Draft Simulators over recent years means we can all have a go. Give our opinions and put them out there on blogs and social media. This then invites comment and more often than not criticism. Some people have perhaps lost sight of what Mock Drafts should be about, which is a bit of fun. A chance to be involved, in the knowledge we will usually be wrong! But here goes nothing.
This year I wanted to put forward Mock Drafts which were based in part on a bit of evidence. So for my first effort I wanted to look at the trends of which position groups have recently been drafted in the first round. Then I have used that information as the basis for my Mock Draft selections.
My sample size was the first round selections for the last 10 NFL Drafts (2013-2022). Here are the headline findings:
- The most frequent position groups were offensive tackle and edge rusher followed very close behind by wide receivers and cornerbacks. Interesting here that we essentially have mirror positions who go up against each other week in week out.
- The next groupings were linebacker and quarterback. The QB position was expected but LB was higher than I had anticipated.
- This was followed by a tight grouping of defensive tackle, safety and interior offensive line.
- Languishing way behind we have our final two groups of running back and finally tight end.
Averaging out the statistics to give a predicted number for each group in 2023 gave a ranking of finding to need the following (adjusted to 31 in total for this year):
- Offensive tackle, edge rusher, wide receiver, cornerback (4 each)
- Quarterback, linebacker, defensive tackle* (3 each)
- Safety and interior offensive lineman (2 each)
- Running back and tight end (1 each)
(* Defensive tackle was rounded up from 2.5)
Mock Draft Results
So now the hard bit. How do you take this distribution and create a 2023 1st round Draft?
As might be expected 3 of our 4 edge rushers are top 10 picks. Within those I have the Seahawks falling in love with the athletic traits of Tyree Wilson at #5. All 3 of our quarterbacks are also gone by pick 7 with the Texans, Colts and Raiders taking Young, Stroud and Levis respectively.
The one shock here might be at #9 with the Panthers taking running back Bijan Robinson. The thinking here is they have a good young defense and they were able to run the ball even after McCaffrey left. It would be a twist on draft night for sure, but Robinson is good enough to go top 10. Defensive back Brian Branch rounds off the tenth spot. The Eagles have the luxury of taking best player available and although classed as a safety for the purposes of this draft Branch can play a variety of secondary positions.
Time for some offensive lineman to hear their names called. Paris Johnson JR and Peter Skoronski are first up. The Texans new Head Coach, DeMeco Ryans, influences their second pick and trusts that Bryan Breese is over his injury concerns. We also start to see some wide receivers off the board. The Patriots pick very out of character but cannot resist the giant Quentin Johnston at #14.
I’d like to pair Jordan Addison back up with his old Pittsburgh team mate Kenny Pickett but their need at tackle is greater. Instead Addison goes to Seattle to give Geno Smith another quality receiver. Our one and only tight end, Michael Mayer, is off to Green Bay to catch passes off…well who knows at this point? Whoever it is, Mayer will upgrade the Packers offense. Before we hit #20 both the interior offensive lineman are selected in O’Cyrus Torrence and John Michael Schmitz, and the first linebacker is taken as the Detroit Lions continue to build their defense with Trenton Simpson.
Things become a little trickier at the back end of the first round as we bear in mind the position groups left to fill. Cornerbacks Joey Porter JR and Christian Gonzalez may not fall this far on draft night and the Ravens and Vikings mop them up at #22 and #23. Two more wide receiver position to take and both head for the NFC East. The Giants pick may be a surprise but how about they take Jalin Hyatt from Tennessee. Hyatt will stretch the field in a way Big Blue is crying out for.
The Cowboys follow that up by trusting Jaxon Smith-Njigba will recapture his 2021 form. Buffalo re-stock the secondary with the versatile Antonio Johnson whereas the Bengals look to the offensive line and get the ability to do more “bully-ball” with Broderick Jones. The Saints and Chiefs add to their trenches before round one is completed with our third and final linebacker position. Again, the Eagles have the luxury here and build strength on strength for the defense with a real leader and MIKE linebacker, Jack Campbell from Iowa.
There we have it. A 2023 first round Mock Draft based on the average number of players taken from each position group over the last ten years. Will it pan out like this? Probably not. This model does not take into account how strong each group is anticipated to be this year. This year’s tight end class is stronger than previous year so will possibly see more than one taken on day one. There are also notable absences, for example QB Anthony Richardson, but I have had to stick to the averages listed for this exercise.
Have a go against these numbers at each position! See how it pans out for you. I’ll be back looking at a different evidence-based Mock Draft further down the line. Enjoy your Mocking!
(Mock Draft Simulator courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database available on 99 Yards)