I'm all for being held accountable and pointing out my mistakes in predicting how the NFL Draft will play out. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun and interesting to take a hindsight look at my final mock draft for the 2016 NFL Draft and see where I did well, what wasn't very good, and what was terrible.
Almost a week before the 2016 NFL Draft, I wrote a rumormill entry about how the Denver Broncos were looking to trade up in the first round, most likely for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. Sources told me the Broncos and Browns were calling teams in the 20s about a potential move up. I felt strongly that Denver would follow through on that and had them taking Lynch in my final seven-round mock draft. That sourced information was spot on as the Broncos ended up trading up for Lynch, and I was happy to nail that rumormill entry and pick in my mock draft.
In my final mock for the 2016 NFL Draft, I had the Jets taking Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. I got the impression from speaking with Jets sources that the organization was really interested in Hackenberg, but they were still playing things close to the vest. On the WalterFootball.com fora, I mentioned that to posters as well. I listened to my gut and read between the lines to have the the Jets taking Hackenberg in Round two. I'm happy that I followed my inclination there.
As one scout told me, I was ahead of the rest of the media with Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd being a top-10 pick. Late in the pre-draft process, other media caught on to Floyd going high, but I had him going ninth overall for months in advance. Floyd ended up going at No. 9, although I was incorrect with the team being the Bears in a trade up and not Tampa Bay.
In past years, I've gotten multiple picks right for a specific team in my respective final mock drafts, but I think the most I ever had was two with a first-round and second-day selection for a single franchise. I shattered that mark in the 2016 NFL Draft by hitting on four of the Texans' six selections picks. In my final 7-round mock draft, I had Houston taking Will Fuller, Nick Martin, K.J. Dillon and D.J. Reader. I think I can say that is ridiculously good for a projection of one team.
Since the draft ended, I've gotten a number of compliments from team sources, including general managers, for having guys going in the right range. A lot of NFL evaluators aren't as concerned with mocks having the right projection of player and team, but rather having players going in the correct range. That helps them when they look at mock drafts to think of where players will be going who they are targeting. So in that regard, teams have told me I did well.
I also hit on seven picks on Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft. Correctly putting teams and players together in the late rounds of any NFL Draft is very difficult, so I feel pretty good about that.
Starting in the beginning of March, I had Laquon Treadwell locked into the Vikings. The fit made perfect sense as Minnesota needed a big possession receiver who was a red-zone weapon. Treadwell's run blocking also made him a great fit for the Vikings and their ground-based offense with Adrian Peterson. Then the day before writing my final mock draft, I switched the pick to Josh Doctson. Team sources told me that Doctson was rated higher than Treadwell and they are similar receivers who would bring the same things to Minnesota's offense. I didn't listen to my gut when it was telling me to stick with Treadwell. That was a bad decision on my part.
I had the same scenario with Jack Conklin going to the Titans. Part of me felt like somehow, some way, Conklin was going to be a Titan either through Tennessee trading up or Conklin falling. But, sources told me the Giants would take him if he got to their pick. I've heard since the 2016 NFL Draft that the Giants were planning on taking Conklin before the Titans traded up to No. 8 to select him. If Tennessee had taken Laremy Tunsil after the trade up, Conklin would be a Giant right now.
I made another blunder in listening to the media on Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon and Utah running back Devontae Booker. I had feeling those two would slip to the third day of the 2016 NFL Draft. I knew teams that felt that Dixon was a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none-type back who also had poor ball security. Booker teams liked a lot, but he had major issues when it came to learning the offense at Utah. Thus, teams were down on him. I was way too high on those two being second-day picks.
This one gets me mad. I was wrong in a blog entry I wrote before the 2016 NFL Draft that the Redskins pick was coming down to an Alabama lineman. I was told that trio of finalists were center Ryan Kelly, defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson and defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Kelly didn't make it to the pick, and the Redskins passed on the defensive tackle for Josh Doctson. That was some bad information, and I apologize to the readers for it; I was fed smoke there. Days earlier, I asked sources at the Redskins about taking a receiver and they said, "Hell No!" So, I was misled there. I'm told the Redskins would have taken Kelly if he had made it to their pick, but I don't know how can I trust that information. Definitely a lesson learned on my part.
Late in the lead up to the 2016 NFL Draft, I heard from teams that Florida safety Keanu Neal and West Virginia safety Karl Joseph could go in the first round. I didn't listen to that and had them in the second round. That was a big mistake on my part as both prospects were top-20 picks. While they may have been a bit of reaches there, I should have had them higher and listened to that information.
Another bit of information that I was wrong on had to with Tampa Bay and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. I spoke with sources about Hargreaves, and they just sounded lukewarm on him. However, teams can have differing opinions inside their front office on how they evaluate players and the man making the pick (Jason Licht) felt strongly about Hargreaves. I apologize to readers and radio listeners for leading them astray on that pick, although I did have Hargreaves going 11th overall, so I had him pegged at the right spot, but the wrong team.