In NFL, mock drafts not mocked by all

There are hundreds of NFL mock drafts out there. Surprisingly, some teams actually have a use for them, Matt Mosley writes.

Updated: April 18, 2007, 7:12 PM ET
By Matt Mosley | ESPN.com

One of the first signs that the NFL had completely brainwashed America and portions of Southern California was the introduction of the mock draft. At first, only a chosen few were allowed to produce these lists, which helped feed enthusiasm for what used to be a relatively low-key event in Philadelphia.

After ESPN hired all these men and required them to remain on the air for months at a time, people such as the pasty man in the next cubicle felt empowered to hold their own mock drafts.

We're able to spend countless hours doing this type of thing because -- let's face it -- some of us weren't meant to successfully interact with other humans.

As of this morning, I was the only NFL writer -- and I use that term loosely -- without a mock draft, but that will change before nightfall.

Anyway, after reviewing 10 mock drafts this morning, including one that lasted seven rounds, I started to wonder if teams ever take a peek at these things. Does Cowboys owner-G.M. Jerry Jones ever throw up his hands and say, "Who does Harold in Bedford, Texas have here?" (Obviously, Cowboys fans know the answer to this question.)

Turns out that a few organizations actually admit to reading mock drafts, although maybe not yours.

Former Bills general manager Tom Donahoe came clean with his enjoyment of mock drafts Wednesday afternoon and said they could actually be helpful.

"Whether teams admit it or not, they're looking at them," he said. "If you keep seeing a guy in the first round who you don't have there, it's probably a good idea to take another look at him."

For the record, Donahoe said Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News) and Mel Kiper (ESPN) provide the best mock drafts.

"Mel does so many, he's gotta be right on something," Donahoe joked.

Most teams are "reading" certain positions this week. It's a process in which position coaches and coordinators add their analysis to the exhaustive evaluations that scouts have spent up to two or three years producing.

A few organizations won't allow coaches to see their draft board until next Saturday because there's a fear of them talking to friends on other staffs. Some scouts believe those conversations are the reason teams end up reaching for certain players, and it seems to happen most frequently in the late second or third rounds.

Veteran Chargers scout Tom McConnaughey goes out of his way not to look at mock drafts.

"You've spent all this time coming up with a full body of work on a player," he said. "You don't want to get too far away from that. For us, looking at a mock draft is like watching grass grow, but I can see how it's become so popular for other people."

The Chargers and several other teams will do their own mock drafts, although they rarely publish them on the Internet. The Cowboys don't conduct a traditional mock draft, but Dallas scouting chief Jeff Ireland and his staff hole up a couple of days before the draft and go through numerous scenarios.

Longtime Titans scout C.O. Brocato said he also avoids mock drafts, and blames them for a lot of the disappointment that players experience on draft day.

"The players monitor those things pretty closely," Brocato said. "They always believe the ones that have them going the highest and then the poor guy's waiting for a phone call all day."

Some franchises don't have much use for mocks.

"I'll grab one or two just to see," said Oakland college scout Calvin Branch. "But unfortunately, it's been pretty easy for us because we're picking so high."

And since I have yet to release my 2007 mock, feel free to provide suggestions. Let me warn you that Anthony Arline is the fastest riser on my board for reasons I'll explain at a later date.

Matt Mosley covers the NFL for ESPN.com. He may be reached at matt.mosley@sbcglobal.net.