The tagline for the reality series Big Brother is “Expect the unexpected.” Spoiler alert: eh, if you’re a Big Brother fan, you know that you can expect just about everything that happens on that show. Where would that tagline fit better? Probably the NFL draft.
And wouldn’t you know it, this year’s draft also happens with a bunch of people trapped in a house, just like Big Brother.
Typically when you write about something having to do with the draft, especially when it’s a mock draft or an evaluation of certain players in a certain range, you receive comments about how “Player A will never go past Pick B” and “Player C will obviously not go that high, you moronic Writer D.” Why? Because
heaven bestowed only a few people in the world to have prophetic powers and those people are sports fans people expect what they expect.
The qualifications are usually that they read a mock draft. Hell, I would imagine they even read several! I’d even say that they read several mock drafts over the course of several months. Never mind the fact that over the course of those months, the mock drafts changed considerably and that comment about “Player A” in January looks downright silly in March and forget about it in April.
Or that a good mock draft gets maybe eight picks correct, batting .250.
Somehow when a team takes a player earlier than expected we ridicule the team for reaching instead of the mock drafters for being incorrect in their evaluations. Somehow when a team takes a player later than expected, we pat ourselves on the back for being so incorrect about the evaluation. Because regardless of how you feel about the prospect, you must admit that you were wrong about how the NFL viewed that prospect.
That’s like predicting that it’s going to be sunny tomorrow and then when it rains you blame the earth.
You made the error. Not the league. Not the teams. Not the players. You. The writers. The fans. Me. There’s another CBS reality series, Survivor, the best show on TV, and they do live the “expect the unexpected” lifestyle unlike its sister series. And one thing I love about Survivor is that the winner of the show is the winner. They did the show the best that season. It’s indisputable because the winner is simply the person who didn’t get voted until, made it to the end, and then got the votes to win. As long as they cheat, how can we say they’re not the winner?
You can say that a team “reached” — say last year when few expected the Raiders to pick Clelin Ferrell fourth overall — but what proof does anyone have that Ferrell would have been available to the Raiders at any spot later in the draft? How can you anticipate that he won’t be picked at five when you didn’t anticipate that he’d be picked at four? Therefore, Clelin Ferrell will always be the fourth overall pick of the 2019 draft. It’s indisputable. If you mocked Ferrell to four (as nobody did), you were right. If you didn’t ... you were wrong.
Anyways, about the 2020 NFL Draft that begins on Thursday. There’s been building speculation that the mock draft experts will be even more wrong this year than most previous years.
I believe we'll see less groupthink in the draft this year. At pro days, coaches & scouts (from diff teams) spend so much time around each other & they end up forming a consensus on players. Not the case this year. Some will be shocked at how high/low these guys go.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 17, 2020
I know that for me the long-standing unpopular opinion I’ve held since January is that Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is not a top-10 pick. He may become a great quarterback at the next level, but given all the extenuating circumstances around him in regards to injury and inconsistencies against quality competition at the college level, I would simply not draft him anywhere near the top-5. I think he’d be a good option in round two, and that’s an even more unpopular opinion.
Well maybe it’s because a bunch of people have watched a lot of Tua and see him as being that much better on tape than most other QB prospects ever. And that’s perfectly okay, I’m not going to argue with you. But I’d say that in the case of most people, it would be because mock drafts don’t say anything like that and if I can’t get my information about draft value from mock drafts, then where can I get it?
Seriously, where do you get your draft values for each player? Do you make them up? Or do you read mock drafts and scouting reports with an expected round or overall pick value? I know that I don’t make my own. But in the case of unpopular opinions, like mine with Tua, you have to balance your own feelings with the general feeling.
My own feeling is that based on what top-5 quarterbacks have had on their resume prior to Tua, that he doesn’t quite line up in that area for me, in spite of his statistical dominance for much of his tenure at Alabama in the last two years. But if Tua goes in the top-five, I won’t be surprised. I simply have the bonus of not being surprised if he goes 20th.
If Jalen Hurts goes in the top-10 though, I will be surprised. We all get to be in that boat. Why? Mock drafts and Jalen Hurts evaluations don’t indicate anything like that happening. But what if they’re wrong? After all, did you know that there are actually four QB prospects in the same tier this year, not three? That’s not according to a mock draft writer.
That’s according to the GM of the defending Super Bowl champions.
On Monday, Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach said to “expect a lot of curveballs” (could be the new tag for Big Brother, or the next MLB season, or a remake of the movie Ed) based on their being “four quarterbacks” and “four premium tackles.” We know who the tackles are, but is Jordan Love the fourth quarterback who may be as good as Tua and Justin Herbert, at least?
That seems to be a purveying thought too.
“Any time you have a draft with four quarterbacks and four premium tackles, expect a lot of curveballs. I think there are going to be a lot of players that maybe the public didn’t think would be there late first round.” - Chiefs GM Brett Veach.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) April 20, 2020
Why not Jalen Hurts? He also went to Alabama. He’s got size. He’s got stats. He played at a high level for a college that has produced the last two number one picks. Why not Hurts? Well, it could be for all the reasons you expect and the scouts expect and it could make all the sense in the world. But really why not Jalen Hurts?
Because nobody has said so yet.
It seems more and more possible that there will be many surprises during Virtual Draft on Thursday and that could mean that the LA Rams have some more interesting names to work with on Virtual Friday, when they’ll be on the board at picks 52 and 57 in the second round. Could it be that some of the names we consider to be “unavailable” at pick 52 and 57 because we read a lot of mock drafts will actually be available?
Will it be an offensive lineman? A cornerback? A linebacker? A running back?
I unexpect that any of that could happen.
Who would you like to unexpect being available at 52?