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How did we do on our first 2017 NFL mock draft

Only 11 of our initial first round picks lived up to expectations.

NCAA Football: Russell Athletic Bowl-West Virginia vs Miami Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The days following the NFL draft mean two things; a celebratory period for the players who found new homes at the offseason’s biggest party, and a hard reset for mock drafts everywhere.

Dan Kadar’s first 2018 draft went up Saturday afternoon, shortly after the final pick of the 2017 event. CBS, FOX, and USA Today all jumped back on the horse in the hours following Chad Kelly’s crowning as this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. Those three released their “way-too-early” (actual titles, not an exaggeration) 2018 mock drafts as NFL fans scramble to fill the Mel Kiper-shaped void left in their hearts. In all four, players like USC quarterback Sam Darnold, LSU linebacker Arden Key, and Florida State safety Derwin James are all projected to be early day one picks.

But those prospects shouldn’t go racking up credit card debt in anticipation just yet. These 11.5-months-away mock drafts are notoriously inaccurate. For proof, look no further than SB Nation’s first crack at the class of 2017.

Dan Kadar’s May 2, 2016 look at this past draft featured a few notable hits -- but several more misses. Eventual fifth-round pick Brad Kaaya shows up at No. 2 overall. Five picks later comes Kelly, a mere 246 slots away from his eventual landing spot. Other Day 3 selections like Zach Banner, Conor McDermott, and Malachi Dupre showcase just how difficult it is to get even a fraction of a mock draft right before a player’s final NCAA season. Georgia lineman Greg Pyke went from projected first rounder to undrafted free agent.

SB Nation's first 2017 mock draft vs. actual results

Mock Selection Player School Actual Selection Difference
Mock Selection Player School Actual Selection Difference
1 Deshaun Watson Clemson 12 -11
2 Brad Kaaya Miami 215 -213
3 Tim Williams Alabama 78 -75
4 Cam Robinson Alabama 34 -30
5 JuJu Smith-Schuster USC 62 -57
6 Roderick Johnson Florida State 160 -154
7 Chad Kelly Ole Miss 253 -246
8 Raekwon McMillan Ohio State 54 -46
9 Leonard Fournette LSU 4 5
10 Teez Tabor Florida 53 -43
11 Adoree' Jackson USC 18 -7
12 Eddie Vanderdoes UCLA 88 -76
13 Myles Garrett Texas A&M 1 12
14 Mike Williams Clemson 7 7
15 Lowell Lotulelei Utah n/a n/a
16 Zach Banner USC 137 -121
17 Dalvin Cook Florida State 41 -24
18 Nick Chubb Georgia n/a n/a
19 Jonathan Allen Alabama 17 2
20 Cameron Sutton Tennessee 94 -74
21 Conor McDermott UCLA 211 -190
22 Kemoko Turay Rutgers n/a n/a
23 Jabrill Peppers Michigan 25 -2
24 Tre'Davious White LSU 27 -3
25 Malachi Dupre LSU 247 -222
26 Greg Pyke Georgia n'a n/a
27 Derek Barnett Tennessee 14 13
28 Jake Butt Michigan 145 -117
29 Pat Elflein Ohio State 70 -41
30 Charles Harris Missouri 22 8
31 Cordrea Tankersley Clemson 97 -66
32 Christian McCaffrey Stanford 8 24

That doesn’t mean Kadar didn’t have his share of hits, however. Leonard Fournette only wound up one spot from his projected landing spot at No. 9. Jonathan Allen’s draft day slide dropped him only two selections from his early destination at 19th. The Titans were tagged to draft Adoree’ Jackson in the middle of the first round and did -- just at No. 18 rather than No. 11.

The slides of three players who wound up returning to school showcase the struggle in mocking up a draft nearly a year from its start date. Lowell Lotulelei, Nick Chubb, and Kemoko Turay returned to school after failing to live up to their pre-draft hype. Lotulelei and Chubb each appear in at least one of the three aforementioned “way-too-early” mocks above, but they’ll need to have successful 2017s to reclaim the draft stock 2016 left behind.

All mock drafts are a buckshot approach at predicting an unpredictable process. There’s no regression analysis available to tell you the Bears are going to ship four draft picks to the 49ers in order to move up one spot in the first round. But “way-too-early” drafts deserve to be taken with a grain of salt so big it could sink a luxury sealiner — no matter who the expert behind it is.