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NFL mock drafts aren't useless; they're about ownership

Let's talk about mock drafts - their appeal, their value, and what they mean to the NFL offseason news cycle.

Streeter Lecka

In the lead-up to the 2011 NFL Draft, I was writing mock drafts for on a weekly basis. It was that spring that, once the draft season concluded, I decided that I'd never write a mock draft again. It's been three years now since I've done one, and I don't miss it at all. Nor do I spend much time reading or talking about them, either, even as we cover the occasional notable mock here at Buffalo Rumblings for discussion purposes.

I am also aware that I am in the distinct minority of NFL fans - and probably Buffalo Bills fans especially, given the team's proclivity for only being relevant this time of the year for the past decade and a half - when it comes to my stance on mock drafts. Yet every year, mock drafts are declared useless and utterly lacking in value while simultaneously commanding more eyeballs than just about any other sports-related topic on the Internet.

Those decrying mock drafts as wasted time are caught up in the right and wrong of it all. Entire sites are maintained to score these things, or to point out that nobody gets these things right. What's missed by those who take it too seriously, and by those who make a mockery of the mocks, is that mock drafts were never about accuracy, or finding the secret to predicting the impossible to predict.

They're about ownership; about making something tangible when there's nothing tangible to be made (not until mere hours before the draft actually begins, at least). Mock drafts give fans something to chew on, to wear as a badge of honor or to simply run through different scenarios. They aren't meaningless until the actual picks are made, because they generate discussion. Done well - and in variety (mocks written by one person have since evolved into group mock drafts, like the one we do every year here at SB Nation, or those involving trades) - mock drafts are an exercise in thinking through, and trying to wrap our heads around, a massively complex ordeal.

Mock drafts are meaningless, yet the debates they spark have value. Mock drafts are harmless, until they're made into something they're not. But that's just my opinion. What's yours?

Here are three questions to get you started in our general discussion on how mock drafts are perceived - but feel free to ignore these completely and take the discussion in your own direction.

  1. Think back from the moment you first read a mock draft to today. Do mock drafts still have the same appeal to you now as they did then?

  2. What utility, if any, do mock drafts provide your pre-draft discussions and preparations?
  3. Would you want to live in a world where mock drafts did not exist?