I don’t think for a second that David Caldwell, Ruston Webster, or their staffs, are scouring MockTilYouDrop.com or the Twitter account of @IShouldBeAnNFLGeneralManager. (Don’t go searching. I made them both up. You get my point.)
But while we tend to mock “credible” mock drafts, teams do pay attention.
Some NFL decision-makers will say, at least publicly, that they would never waste so much as a second looking at what some journalist has to say.
But in my recent conversations with Caldwell and Webster, neither was shy about admitting, or embarrassed to reveal, that he or someone on his staff looks at particular mock drafts. The ones on the observation list are ones compiled by writers the teams regard as insiders. The general managers know the people writing them are talking to people who have information, and it’s the job of general managers to glean information heading into the draft.
“There is information there,” Caldwell said. “During my time in Atlanta we actually tracked the mock drafts year after year to kind of see where guys were accurate. There are certain ones that are better than others and obviously they are doing their homework and they are getting their information from somewhere. So there is some information there that is valuable.”
Said Webster: “We definitely look at them, see what the trends are and where things are going. We see if we can get anything out of it. Sometimes you do, more when you get closer to the draft.”
Maybe some decision-makers around the league don’t spend any time on mocks or have any one in their offices do so. I can’t imagine Bill Polian ever did.
But it shouldn’t be a surprise that others do.
Teams routinely read what’s being read about them and their competition, and mock drafts may be a great deal more predictive but fall under the same umbrella.