Mocks no more, it’s Draft Day, not a moment too soon

News flash — the 2022 NFL Draft begins tonight.

Which means, I suppose, the first Mock Draft for 2023 will pop out next week. Seriously.

If you’re somebody who is immersed in the Mock World, this real draft is the realization of football prophecy. What a weekend! All these months of speculation play out and we see if Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock draft had more on the money picks than Todd McShay or Daniel Jeremiah or … Billy Bob Bivens from Biloxi.

I think he has one. There is no shortage. Looking at the ole w-w-w, there are even sites that track how “draft analysts” have performed over the last few years to give observers (bettors, right?) guidance on who’s the boss.

There were well over 100 listed, and graded, over the past five years on one site. Somewhere near 30th place, I noticed one name I recognized as a somewhat prominent NFL analyst – none of those mentioned above, except perhaps Billy Bob from Biloxi, cracked the top 100. This list could’ve been an off-Broadway collection. I did not scan it long enough to know.

It’s astounding that real people have real time to devour dozens of mocks and their reshuffles, and I am happy for you people who do. No shame in that; glory to you and your insight on the tight end from Northern Idaho State who could be a great third-day sleeper.

Is my pal Mel (fact! More in a sec) and his 2.0 Mock graded against the real results, or is it just his final version? Or is his 2.0 compared to McShay’s 2.0 and all the rest, and their 3.0’s, and … I’d rather revisit my 12th grade trig class. Same level of understanding. I got a B. It was my favorite graduation gift.

More on Mel: 40 years ago, I was just out of college and working at UL Lafayette in the sports information office. He was the same age, and had already begun analyzing prospects as a teenager and sent his breakdowns to the GM of his hometown team, the Baltimore Colts. Ernie Accorsi was impressed enough to suggest Mel sell his reports to fans (no small feat before the internet) and eventually offered Kiper a job in the Colts organization – just before they bolted for Indianapolis, which took that option off Mel’s board.

Kiper called to check on a Cajuns’ prospect. A few months later, I noticed a story in a Football Gazette newsletter explaining why he insisted on being called Mel Kiper Jr., to honor his dad. Next time he called, I told him I enjoyed it. More than a decade before Al Gore invented the internet, Mel had never seen the story. I mailed the clipping (remember those?) and we were BOYS.

When we spoke through the years, either with him calling to gather info or me calling to glean insight on the draft potential for a Northwestern State player, his photographic memory was everything you’ve seen on air, and more. He could instantly narrate the draft bio and outlook for the young man that was desperate to hear an objective take on his prospects. He was blunt – passionate, charming, but he did not put icing on the cupcake. The players might cringe at what he said, but they appreciated it.

So I like Mel Kiper Jr. He is the John Glenn of the Mock Draft industry. I admire him.

But tonight will be the first time I’ll watch his analysis of the 2022 NFL Draft. I guess starting next week, ESPN will be treating us to coverage of drone racing and cornhole competitions.

Those, like Mock Drafts, have their place. Just not on my TV or computer screen.