Do we ever stop writing mock drafts?
No, we don't. Sometimes it's tough to tell when one NFL Draft process ends and the next one beings. The day after the 2013 NFL Draft ended, I was sitting on a plane back to Missouri typing my predictions for the 2014 NFL Draft. Oddly enough, the top two players on our board stayed the same since last April. Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater are still no. 1 and no. 2 on our top 200.
But a lot of other things have changed since. First, here's a look at that initial mock draft.
Who dropped off?
Tajh Boyd and David Fales: Entering the offseason, Tajh Boyd and David Fales were our top two senior quarterbacks. Both came on strong late in their junior seasons and looked like first round picks, and both subsequently tapered off a bit as seniors and are unlikely to be drafted in round one. Boyd had the more dramatic drop off, as he seemed to regress at reading the field and made too many careless throws. Fales is a player we're still reasonably high on, but some of the physical limitations in his game held him back in his final season at San Jose State.
Adrian Hubbard: Admittedly, we were a bit too high on Adrian Hubbard preseason. We projected some development from the physically and athletically gifted linebacker, but he put together a mostly disappointing season for the Crimson Tide. The potential is still there, but he needs to develop more of a mean streak and a better understanding of the game.
Colt Lyerla: This mock draft just shows how much Colt Lyerla threw away by getting kicked out of Oregon for disciplinary reasons. He went from a possible first-round pick to a player who may not get drafted.
The three biggest omissions from this mock draft are Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson and Blake Bortles. Bortles and Mack are two players we were high on during the preseason, but it took us a while to put them in the first-round. Greg Robinson was completely off our radar as a redshirt sophomore, but he had a dominant season.
What changed in November?
After my first 2014 NFL Mock Draft, I took about a six-month break before publishing another one. But it was a doozy. People said mean things about me, there were GIFs, and of course, there were plenty of changes from my first mock.
Check out that entire mock draft here.
At that time, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr was playing some of the best football he had played all year, so I had him as a top five pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two other quarterbacks in that first round were Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley, both of whom returned to school for another season. Mariota and Hundley were part of a trend.
The biggest faller has probably been Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson. During the preseason, he looked the part of a player who could develop into a first-round pick. After another lackluster season, he fell out of the first round in most projections.
The NFL Draft process is a fluid one. While a fair amount of the players in our first mock draft could still be first-round picks, the board looks a lot different now than it did a year ago. It even looks a lot different now than it did in November. Why? Teams get to talk to players, put them through workouts and learn more about them. That also gives those teams plenty of time to over-think things. That's how a player like Teddy Bridgewater falls. As crazy as the draft is to predict, that's part of what makes it fun. People who scoff at mock drafts a year early are missing the point. The more mocks we do, the more we can track the process. On Thursday Dan and I will release our final mock drafts. When the 2014 NFL Draft is over, get ready for our 2015 NFL mock drafts, because the process starts all over again.