Everyone is focused on tonight's start of the 2016 NFL Draft, a process that will be spread over three days and seven rounds. By the end of the process, most fans and analysts will be trying to figure out exactly how the draft class fits with the individual teams. There is, however, another post that comes within a day or two of the end of the draft that always gets some attention.
It's the "way too early" mock draft for next year.
Come Sunday or Monday, we will already be seeing the mock drafts for the 2017 NFL Draft. Some people will complain, saying it serves no purpose. Some people will enjoy getting an early look at some prospects. And some people will completely ignore it. No matter what, though, they will be posted.
Which brings up an idea (...that I am stealing from Niners Nation's David Fucillo). Why not take a look back at the 2016 way too early mock drafts from Todd McShay and Dan Kadar.
Immediate thoughts from both mock drafts:
- Quarterback changes: Kadar projected three quarterbacks to land in the first round: Cardale Jones, Christian Hackenberg, and Connor Cook. McShay had Hackenberg going first overall, with Cook second. He also had Cook and Jared Goff in the first round. In reality, it appears Goff is the only one of those four players who will be selected tonight, with Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch also in the mix.
- Jaylon Smith: Smith is a giant question mark hanging over this Draft. He is a player who McShay has said would be his number one prospect if not for the devastating injury that may make him unable to play football again. McShay had him 24th in the way too early mock last year while Kadar had him being selected seventh. There are still rumors that he could be selected as early as the second round (with a couple of mentions as a possible late first-round pick), but Smith is going to fall, and whichever team does select him is taking a risk.
- Familiar names at the top of the drafts: Despite being made a year out, there actually are a lot of the same names near the top of the way too early mocks as are at the top of the mocks coming out today. Joey Bosa, Vernon Hargreaves, Ronnie Stanley, and Jalen Ramsey could all be top 10 picks this year, and those were the top four selections for Kadar. He also has Laremy Tunsil, Ezekiel Elliott, Taylor Decker, in the top half of the Draft, all of which could happen. As for McShay, after Hackenberg and Cook, he had Bosa, Tunsil, Hargreaves, Goff, and Stanely all in the top ten picks. The next five players should all be first round selections as well, with Decker, Ramsey, Laquon Treadwell, Jack Conklin, and Elliott.
Miami Dolphins selections:
- McShay: 29th overall pick - Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama - Yes, McShay (and Football Outsiders who projected the records) had Miami making a deep run in the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Instead, they finished 6-10 and were 8th overall until they traded back to the 13th position. Interestingly, he does have Miami adding a running back, one of their top needs this year, and if the team makes a move up to land Elliott, or if he somehow falls back to them at 13, McShay will have at least projected the right position for Miami.
- Kadar: 14th overall pick - Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama - Okay, was it obvious after the Draft in 2015 that Miami needed to add a running back? Did everyone know Lamar Miller was going to leave the team? What is up with this? Kadar also picked Miami to add Henry and nearly nailed their draft position (using the Super Bowl odds for 2016 as the draft order). Again, if Miami does land Elliott, Kadar will have picked the right position for Miami.