Mock drafts have become a cottage industry within the cottage industry of the draft season for the NFL. Every outlet churns out seemingly as many mock drafts as it can, more and more every year. We’re certainly no exception. Not only do we relay some of the most prominent mock draft content from elsewhere, we probably produce a couple dozen of our own, all told.
But that’s because it’s content that is craved. Mock drafts are seen as a valuable exercise for those interested in the process, in learning about the prospects, and in numerous other means that might not be readily transparent.
From a team’s perspective, however — at least for the Pittsburgh Steelers — it holds minimal value, which is, as general manager Kevin Colbert explained yesterday, why they no longer hold mock drafts on their own, trying to predict how it will unfold in front of them, and they haven’t for over a decade.
“We’ve never worried about what the folks in front of us will do,” he told reporters yesterday during the team’s pre-draft press conference. “We used to do the mock drafts and it was a complete waste of time. What we’ve done now is — and we’ve done this, what, for the last 12 years or so, we just mock ourselves.”
Basically, the Steelers simply pick as many players, in the order that they would draft them, up to their spot in the draft. So in theory, this year, they should have a template set up, in order, of the 24 players that they might possibly select 24th overall later this week, with the first one available near the top of the list being the one they draft.
“When we’re done with this process,” Colbert said, “we’ll have 24 guys in an order that we would take them, and it’s not necessarily the order that you have on your board. So the order of the picks is set and you just wait and watch, and the only decision you have to make is whether you’re going to trade up or trade back. It doesn’t matter what happens in front of you because you’ve already made that decision.”
Of course, in a trade-down scenario, they will have to make additional selections beyond their own. And as Colbert also explained, in a trade-down scenario, they would only move down a number of spots in which they know mathematically that they would still be 100 percent guaranteed to have a player available to them they are fully happy with.
So in a sense, Colbert and the Steelers do still do a mock draft of sorts, except they’re the only team in the league in their scenario. What the 23 other teams do in front of them really doesn’t matter as far as who they will select is concerned, with the way that they map it out.