One Mock to Rule Them All—Pooling Results from Draft Super-Predictors (2021)
Researchers use meta-analysis to synthesize the results of many studies on a single topic. It's a particularly useful tool when any one study likely contains error, or when studies produce conflicting results. Looking at a bunch of datasets in the aggregate can reduce the uncertainty associated with individual studies and get you closer to the truth.
That is the basic theory behind this mock draft. I selected eight "super-predictors" from the Huddle Report's rankings of the most accurate mock draft creators over the past five years. Six super-predictors come from within the top ten on the Huddle Report's list; selections were made based on website permissions and date last updated. I also chose to include an analyst that would place first overall on Huddle Report's list, but only has four graded mocks (instead of five) and so is not officially ranked. The final super-predictor created 2020's most accurate mock draft. This group of eight forms my pool of experts.
To make projections I simply identified the player that most of the super-predictors chose in each spot, starting at the top of the draft and moving sequentially through the pick order. Where there was no clear consensus, I considered agreement about position. A few corner cases required a bit more thought, which I lay out below.
The picks do not represent my own player evaluations or opinions about what a team should do. Rather, they represent the current state of knowledge within the mock draft industry; a collective best guess at how the draft will play out.
Round 1 Super-Predictor Mock Draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence—QB, Clemson
Lawrence to the Jaguars is a done deal.
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson—QB, BYU
Pick number two also appears locked in. All eight super-predictors see Wilson becoming Jet.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Mac Jones—QB, Alabama
This is where the uncertainty begins. Despite the odds in Vegas indicating that Fields is the most likely pick, six out of eight experts have Jones going to San Francisco. Is Kyle Shanahan playing mind games? Or are the reports from NFL insiders to be believed?
4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts—TE/WR, Florida
The experts are confident about this pick, with six out of eight predicting that the Falcons will select versatile pass catcher Kyle Pitts. The other two have Atlanta selecting QB Justin Fields.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase—WR, LSU
What is more important, the receiving corps, or the offensive line? We will soon learn the Bengals' answer to that question, as they will likely be choosing between the top OT and top WR in the class. Five of eight super-predictors believe Chase will be the pick.
6. Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith—WR, Alabama
The experts unanimously agree that the Dolphins are looking for a pass catcher, but they are split on who that will be. Four believe they will take Smith (one expert predicts Smith to Miami in a trade-down scenario). Both experts that mocked Fields to the Falcons at pick four have Miami taking Kyle Pitts, so perhaps that will be the pick if he is available.
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle—WR, Alabama
The experts have less of a read on the Lions than on any other team thus far. Five have Detroit taking a WR, with three converging on Waddle as that player. But two experts believe Detroit might go QB, and the last has them trading down to address their defense.
8. Carolina Panthers: Penei Sewell—OT, Oregon
After exclusively drafting defensive players in 2020, the experts firmly believe that Carolina will select one of the two top offensive tackles in this year's class. Five think Sewell will be available; the other three all mocked the Oregon OT to the Bengals at pick three, and have Carolina settling for Rashawn Slater.
9. Denver Broncos: Justin Fields—QB, Ohio St.
Three experts have the Broncos taking QB Trey Lance, and two have them selecting Justin Fields. But all three experts that mock Lance to Denver also have Fields getting selected before this pick. And there is near unanimous agreement that wherever they wind up, Fields will be selected before Lance. So Fields makes sense in this spot given that most experts would likely agree that Denver would take him if he's available.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II—CB, Alabama
All eight super-predictors have the Alabama corner linking up with former teammate Trevon Diggs in Dallas. Call it a Surtainty.
11. New York Giants: Rashawn Slater—OT, Northwestern
The Giants are a true wildcard; our super-predictors have no idea what to do with them. Edge, middle linebacker, and wide receiver all seem like options, but three experts have them opting for an offensive tackle. Two have Slater as that tackle, and the third likely would have as well if he hadn't already mocked Slater and Sewell to the Panthers and Bengals, respectively.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaycee Horn—CB, South Carolina
Massive caveat, here: four experts have Philly selecting WR Jaylen Waddle, and only two have them taking Horn. So if Waddle makes it past the Lions at seven he could easily find himself in Philadelphia. But given the way the board is playing out in our draft, Waddle is unavailable and Horn is the second-most supported option.
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Darrisaw—OT, Virginia Tech
The experts are in wide agreement that LA will select an OT. It could be Slater if he's available, or even Alijah Vera-Tucker, but the plurality think that Darrisaw is the pick.
14. Minnesota Vikings: Alijah Vera-Tucker—T/G, USC
Four of eight experts think that the Vikings will select an offensive tackle, and Vera-Tucker has experience at both LT and G. Three experts think Minnesota will opt for a defensive end, though, making EDGE a strong possibility.
15. New England Patriots: Trey Lance—QB, North Dakota St.
Five experts believe that the Patriots will come out of the draft with one of the premier signal-callers. Two have New England trading up for their guy. Our super-predictors don't agree about whether it will be Fields, Jones, or Lance, but in this mock Lance is the player that falls to 15. Everything would change, of course, if the experts are wrong about the 49ers taking Jones at three overall.
16. Arizona Cardinals: Greg Newsome II—CB, Northwestern
The Cardinals appear poised to take a cornerback. Whether that player is Newsome II, Jaycee Horn, or Caleb Farley remains to be seen. But with Horn off the board, Newsome II edges Farley out as the pick.
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Kwity Paye—EDGE, Michigan
Six experts agree that the Raiders will address their defense with this pick, but they are all over the place when it comes to who exactly that defender will be. Safety? Linebacker? EDGE? The Raiders have needs everywhere, and our experts don't appear to have a read on what the Mayock/Gruden brain trust is cooking up.
18. Miami Dolphins: Micah Parsons—iLB, Penn State
Parsons' range appears to be pick nine (Denver) to pick 18 (Miami). The experts don't know exactly where he'll land, but these boundaries are pretty well-supported across their mock drafts.
19. Washington Football Team: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah—S/LB, Notre Dame
JOK really comes into play at pick 17 for the Raiders. But three experts mock him to the WFT and two have Zaven Collins and Jamin Davis in this spot, suggesting that LB is very likely to be the pick even if it's not JOK.
20. Chicago Bears: Teven Jenkins—OT, Oklahoma State
There are clearly a ton of high quality offensive tackles in this draft, and our super-predictors appear to have picked up on some rough tiers: Sewell and Slater at the top (with Sewell slightly ahead of Slater), Darrisaw and Vera-Tucker in the middle (with Darrisaw slightly ahead of Vera-Tucker), Teven Jenkins in a tier by himself, and Alex Leatherwood, and Samuel Cosmi, and Jalen Mayfield closing out the list as first round-hopefuls.
21. Indianapolis Colts: Jaelan Phillips—EDGE, Miami
It looks like the Colts will choose between offensive tackle and EDGE. Perhaps they will go EDGE if forced to choose from the Leatherwood/Cosmi/Mayfield tier, as they would be doing here. Meanwhile, Phillips' range appears to be somewhere between 14 (Minnesota) and 27 (Baltimore).
22. Tennessee Titans: Caleb Farley—CB, Virginia Tech
Our super-predictors see the Titans making a defensive selection. The pick could easily be DT Christian Barmore, but CB appears more likely. Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome II have a similar mid-to-late first round projected range, according to the experts, but Newsome II has already come off the board to the Cardinals.
23. New York Jets: Travis Etienne—RB, Clemson
The super-predictors have no idea what the Jets will do at pick 23. EDGE, cornerback, and running back all seem to be strong possibilities. Offensive line could be an option as well if someone (Vera-Tucker?) slips.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris—RB, Alabama
Three experts have the Steelers selecting RB Najee Harris. Four experts actually have them opting for an offensive tackle, which would make sense since they lost Alejandro Villanueva to the Ravens. Our experts couldn't agree on which tackle it would be though, so the consensus around Harris makes him the pick.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevon Moehrig—S, TCU
Five experts have the Jaguars taking Moehrig, which is really strong alignment at this point in the draft. Only one expert mocked Moehrig to a different team in the first round (Las Vegas); the others have him falling to day two.
26. Cleveland Browns: Azeez Ojulari—EDGE, Georgia
Collectively, the experts are confident that Cleveland will select a defensive player. But there is disagreement about who that player will be. Ojulari received two votes, making him the pick. Ojulari looks most likely to be a mid-to-late first rounder, but our experts also have him going as high as 11 to the Giants.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Terrace Marshall Jr.—WR, LSU
This pick comes down to WR, iOL (Landon Dickerson), and LB (Zaven Collins). Our experts lean towards WR, with Marshall Jr. edging out Rashod Bateman. It's worth noting, however, that Bateman has been mocked to other teams that are picking earlier in the round. Despite falling to day two in this mock, it's very possible that Bateman goes to a team that's in the WR market in the back half of round one.
28. New Orleans Saints: Elijah Moore—WR, Ole Miss
New Orleans is shaping up as a total wildcard. They could go defense, and they could go WR. If WR is the pick—and four of eight experts think it will be—the super-predictors believe that Sean Payton will opt for one of the premier slot players.
29: Green Bay Packers: Kadarius Toney—WR, Florida
The experts are split on whether the Pack will go defense or wide receiver. Like with the Titans, DT Christian Barmore looks like a strong option and WR Rashod Bateman is once again in the mix. It's a really close call, but with three experts predicting a WR Toney is the pick.
30. Buffalo Bills: Gregory Rousseau—EDGE, Miami
Rousseau has been in play since the Giants' pick at 11, but this is the first time that more than one expert has linked him to the same team. Seven out of eight super-predictors believe that the Bills will add to their defense, and Rousseau is the most popular pick.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Zaven Collins—LB, Tulsa
Most of the mock drafts that this exercise is based on have not been updated to reflect the recent KC/BAL trade, through which the Ravens acquired this pick. But if we look at the experts' predictions for pick 27, it's clear that they think the Ravens are selecting from three options: WR, LB, and iOL. After taking Terrace Marshall Jr., they now have the opportunity to take a LB (Zaven Collins) or an iOL (Landon Dickerson). Collins looks like the more likely first rounder, so he is the pick.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Barmore—DT, Alabama
Several experts think that the Bucs will add an offensive weapon: Rondale Moore, Javonte Williams, or Elijah Moore or Travis Etienne if they slip. But this is the third time that two experts have mocked Barmore to the same team; perhaps this time they are right.