2023 NFL mock drafts mean next to nothing right now

2023 NFL mock drafts mean next to nothing right now

The Detroit Lions season is over and it’s time to shift focus to the offseason and the many events that come along with it. Along with that, it’s time to present the first of many mock drafts. I fired up a mock draft simulator for the first time this week. It was then that I realized that there is another occurrence that comes along with the off-season. It’s “there’s no way that guy’s falling” season.

With the Lions’ sixth pick, I selected Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson. I took it because it fell there. I was met with many comments about how I was dreaming if I thought he would fall that far. This is paraphrasing like 40 different comments, many with fouler language.

My first desire was to tell every person that it was a simulator and I got it because it fell. But more than that, my overwhelming desire is to shout from the highest tower that it’s only January and everything we think we know about the 2023 NFL Draft is so incredibly wrong.

The draft is predictable to a point. You can predict that a handful of players will go in a first-round bracket. Beyond that, anything can happen and anything usually does.

There is still a lot of process to go with NFL draft evaluation. There’s the Senior Bowl, the Shrine Bowl, the NFL combine and college pro days. Of course, game tape matters more, but a scout’s work is far from over until January.

And don’t forget about free agency and trade. The team’s needs could change drastically over the next four months, which could reshape the entire 2023 NFL draft board. Then there are weird stories that come out of nowhere like “Kayvon Thibodeaux has a bad work ethic” and suddenly a guy who was once considered the number one choice falls.

A lot can happen between then and now. Just get last years draft. Let’s look at a January 21, 2022 mock draft. This is Daniel Jeremias’ first mock draft of the year after the 2022 season was over and the dust from Black Monday had settled. Here are his initial mock top 10s:

Jaguars: Evan Neal Lions: Aidan Hutchinson Texas: Kyle Hamilton Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux Giants: Ikem Ekwonu Panthers: Sauce Gardner

Right off the bat you can see a ton of stories here. Hey, one of them is totally right. The Lions drafted Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick. This guy Jeremiah knows what he’s talking about. Now, let’s see what actually happened after all the processes were out of the way.

Jaguars: Travon Walker Lions: Aidan Hutchinson Texas Derek Stingley Jets: Sauce Gardner Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu Giants: Evan Neal Falcons: Drake London Seahawks: Charles Cross Jets: Garrett Wilson

So what happened? Everything happened. Travon Walker’s athleticism caught everyone’s attention at the combine and his pro day, and he rose to the number one pick. He was the 13th in Jeremiah’s first mockery. Stingley did the same. The running backs in the class rose to the top when everyone realized they were the best part of this draft. That allowed Evan Neal to drop from one to seven. Everyone loved Treylon Burks and his big hands, until he didn’t have the biggest combine. Meanwhile, Drake London stunned everyone.

The Broncos traded their pick to the Seahawks in the Russell Wilson deal. They were essentially the only team with a quarterback need in the top 10. Kenny Pickett fell all the way to the Steelers. He ended up being the only quarterback taken on day one. Jeremiah had three quarterbacks going into his first mock.

Like I said, almost everything that could happen to change the draft, did. This was also not an anomaly. 2021 saw many changes. The 49ers were traded up, Miami was traded up, and the Cowboys were traded up. That was all in the first 10 picks. It completely changed the original understanding of how the draft would go down.

So for Will Anderson and Jalen Carter fans out there, the dream is far from dead. Teams can move past the Lions to get in at quarterback, the player’s stock can rise or fall dramatically in a matter of months. The Lions can also fill several positions of need that will change who they are looking to draft. Anything can and will happen.

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