Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/4/14
As the NFL Draft quickly approaches, we scour the Internet for as many mock drafts as we can find. We like one, hate another, and hope another would never happen, but what are they all about? Is there any value in mock drafts other than pure entertainment? What about the actual drafts, what are the biggest “reach” and “value” picks? Do those labels (and the ratings they’re based on) even matter? Mel Kiper, Jr. and Don Banks have become two of the industry experts when it comes to mock drafts. Their final first round mock drafts have included 81% of the players actually chosen in the first rounds since 2009. However, they have only gotten 17% of the exact picks correct in that period of time. The experts, as well as the thousands of aspiring draftniks, know who should be selected in the first round but they don’t always know where they’ll go. Accuracy at the top of the draft is very high, but the precision quickly drops off due to unexpected decisions and trades. The table below shows Kiper and Banks’ accuracy by draft position since 2009. Kiper and Banks have a combined 39 players in their first round mock drafts for 2013. The only quarterback that appears in both drafts is Geno Smith.  Clearly there’s a bit of group think in these mock drafts. In the four mock drafts currently showcased on NFL.com’s draft page, there are only 44 unique choices after removing all of the duplicates. There were a total of 128 mock picks in those four mock drafts. These mock drafts are usually created based on overall rankings (which are probably from a limited number of sources) and actual team valuation isn’t taken into much consideration. That’s probably a large reason why recent mock drafts have the Bills selecting a guard at eighth overall. (Remember when the Bills had a “need” at tackle yet chose Gilmore at tenth last year, only to grab Glenn in the second round? The Bills decision-makers like selecting impact players from impact positions. My guess is they rank players on their “big board” accordingly.) Most Bills fans want nothing to do with an offensive lineman at eighth overall and want Buddy to find us the new franchise quarterback, if he exists. If the Bills were to choose a quarterback, most analysts would call it a “reach” pick. But teams rarely pick on par with the published rankings. I determined “reach” picks by calculating the difference between Football’s Future prospect rankings and their draft position. The average value of “reach” and “value” picks since the 2009 draft are in the graph below. “Reach” picks are negative (picked earlier than expected), “value” picks are positive (picked later than expected). As the graph shows, the average value or reach of each pick is pretty random. That emphasizes the fact that teams value positions and players differently than the “experts” creating the prospect rankings or mock drafts. To further that point, the top twenty reach picks (largest difference between their “draft value” and their actual place in the draft) since 2009 are in the table below. Those reach players are a mixed bag. There are some lingering question marks in that group (Larry English- four games started since 2009, James Carpenter- torn ACL in 2011, Jake Locker- named and unnamed a starter a billion times per my last count, and Tim Tebow- no explanation needed). There are some solid players (Cam Newton, Eric Wood when healthy, Ryan Mathews before last season).  Then there are those that the jury is still out on (Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden). Reach players aren’t necessarily mean bad players. Using FootballsFuture.com’s rankings for this year’s draft prospects, Matt Barkley would have a reach value of 9. Geno Smith would be a reach by 10 spots if the Bills chose them with their eighth pick. Neither would have been a top-twenty “reach” in the last four drafts. Of course this rankings system called Cam Newton a reach by 14 spots in 2011, which we all know is a bit ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, that 2011 ranking had Blaine Gabbert at eight and JJ Watt at 14. Watt was the defensive player of the year and Blaine Gabbert is about to be run out of Jacksonville. So the mock drafts are really only good at telling us who will go in the first round and the overall prospect rankings are pretty flawed but still interesting. If Buffalo selects a quarterback at eight on Thursday, we can expect criticisms screaming “REACH!” or “they should’ve waited until the second round!” But the only true risk of selecting a player higher than they are ranked is missing out on an impact player that won’t be around for your second pick. That’s when Buffalo will weight their opportunity cost: is there a bigger drop off from their desired quarterback(s) than their top-tier and second-tier positional players? My guess is that the quarterback opportunity cost is greater, and Buffalo will fill their need at quarterback in the first round. Either way, I don’t want to hear about reaching for a quarterback. It’s mostly hot air.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Corey Brewer: We got our butt kicked, it was embarrassing

Brian Kelly hints Notre Dame will have fast offense

John Madden: Last play of Super Bowl will 'torment' Pete Carroll

Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat trick, sets career high for goals

WATCH: Cormier tells Jones to get his s-- together

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fans holding 'Free Tom Brady Rally' at Gillette Stadium

Josh Hamilton to be activated by Rangers

WATCH: Top CB recruit makes insane catch doing backflip

Biggest surprises of the MLB season

Marcus Mariota leads NFL in jersey sales for May

Report: Scott Skiles frontrunner for Magic coaching job

Seahawks fan starts GoFundMe for Russell Wilson's contract

Billy Donovan thanks Florida fans with full-page ad

WATCH: Daniel Cormier gets into it with Ryan Bader

Jim Harbaugh compares his driving to Jeff Gordon's

WATCH: High school seals win with perfect hidden ball trick

Warriors crush Rockets in Houston to take 3-0 series lead

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell whiffs on horrible golf swing

Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

PHOTO: Don Cherry wears wild suit even for his taste

PHOTOS: Gigantic sinkhole at Jack Nicklaus golf course

WATCH: Memphis player catches defense sleeping, scores

WATCH: Astros turn around-the-horn triple play

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kelly drops hint about ND offense

John Madden: Last SB play will 'torment' Carroll

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Marlins players skip own charity event

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.