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2023 Off-Season Mock Drafts: Pre-Combine Compare and Contrast

We offer up one last mock draft before the NFL Combine has a major impact.

Anthony Richardson

A week ago, for the first time in this series, I looked at a real-life mock draft. Following that draft, I wanted to see how a mock using DLF’s Mock Draft Simulator Tool would compare to the results from an actual mock with human participants. So, I set up the mock draft simulator with the same settings as the real-person mock: a 12-team, superflex, PPR, rookie draft.

This will be my final mock draft article prior to when the NFL Combine impacts the entire rookie landscape, so it will be interesting to compare these results again in a few weeks after we see who over – and under – performs in Indianapolis.

I will be referencing last week’s draft quite a bit. If you want to check back and forth and see how it played out, you can use this link to the article. Now, let’s see how everything played out.


Not a shocker, but once again, at the top, Bijan Robinson went 1.01. Nobody in recent memory has been more locked in at first overall than him. In the real-person draft, the top-six picks were the top two running backs and top-four quarterbacks. Here, with the simulator, we saw two receivers squeeze into the top-six picks. The big “faller” was Anthony Richardson, who I was able to get at 1.09.

When real drafts roll around, I suspect we’ll see things play out more like last week’s draft as opposed to what results we got here. Richardson is likely going to put on a show at the combine, and as his potential draft hype gains steam, he’s going to keep climbing. Richardson has the highest upside among this year’s top signal-callers, so landing him with the ninth picks would be a godsend. I already like the start of this draft more than last week’s.

Once the top two running backs and three receivers were gone, I really had no other option here anyway. To many, there is a clear top nine in superflex drafts. No matter how it ends up shaking out in picks one through eight, you should be happy with whoever you land at 1.09, and you have the perk of not wasting any energy making a decision, you just grab the best guy not already taken.

After my pick, the simulator went with Michael Mayer, Kayshon Boutte, and Zach Evans – none of whom went in the first in last week’s draft.


Last week, I selected Cedric Tillman here, and my only regret in the draft was not going with Tyjae Spears instead. However, I was able to rectify that choice this time around, and Spears was an easy pick. He was my highest-ranked player, but I don’t think he will remain in this late-second-round range for much longer.

I might have considered Hendon Hooker here had I not taken Richardson in the first round. Hooker fell to 3.07 in my last mock, so I held out hope he would possibly be there for me at 3.09. If I needed a quarterback out of this draft and missed out on the top four, grabbing Hooker at the end of the second round doesn’t feel like a reach.


The player in this range who fell the most was Deuce Vaughn. In the previous draft, Vaughn was pick 2.10, but here, he almost fell a complete round to 3.07. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chris Rodriguez was pick 3.11 here but went undrafted in the last draft with actual people pulling the trigger. Aside from those two players, things were pretty “normal” in round three compared to previous drafts.

With pick 3.09, I secured one of my favorite Senior Bowl players, Jayden Reed. I have no idea what kind of draft capital he’ll get, and obviously, nobody knows what teams will draft which players. But there are a few spots where Reed could be a starter as soon as the draft ends. There are other great spots for dynasty, too, like with the Chargers, for example. Mike Williams is a cut candidate after 2023, and his contract expires after 2024. Keenan Allen is in the exact same contract situation, and he’s almost 31 years old. I don’t know if Reed can be a legit NFL alpha, but he can absolutely be a top two or three option on a team. I love this pick and the upside it brings.

(Note: At the time of this draft, Stanford’s Michael Wilson was not in the system for superflex rookie drafts. The issue has been addressed, and Wilson is now in the Mock Draft Simulator player pool for drafts with these settings)


Maybe I’m just a sucker for sleepers, but I really like a lot of the names we have left in the fourth round of drafts. I’ll double down on that point because I generally like the players- but love them at their ADPs. Jonathan Mingo, Tank Dell, Darnell Washington, Chase Brown, Dontayvion Wicks, and Evan Hull would all be players I would be thrilled to add to my rosters (Note to self: trade back and acquire a bunch of fourth-round picks).

Collectively, I like the fourth-round players more than the third-round players. In the end, I landed Tyler Scott. I’ll admit, I didn’t know much about Scott until a couple of weeks ago when his name started making the rounds on Twitter. But now, he’s got my attention, and I like what I’ve seen so far. I’m excited to see him at the combine.



There were several differences in this mock completed with the mock draft simulator tool versus the actual person mock. Like all things, the truth lies somewhere in between. I suspect once the combine wraps up and we have a bunch of highlights, lowlights, and actual numbers to compare, we’re going to see some shake-ups in mocks and ADP compared to what we’ve been seeing over the last two(ish) months. Truthfully, at this point in the dynasty off-season, mocks are a great tool to familiarize yourself with names before the rubber hits the road. The combine will alter the landscape a bit, and of course, the NFL draft has the potential to flip everything on its head.

Although we’ll see things change, don’t dismiss this early off-season information as pointless. As I showed in a previous article, many of the players who saw their ADP move early in the process were the players who continued to move in that direction throughout the process. Dynasty writers and dynasty owners are a savvy, knowledgeable bunch. The early trends are a trend for a reason, and they’re often correct when we look back on things years later.


We have a story of two halves. I liked my two early picks better in this draft, with Anthony Richardson and Tyjae Spears in rounds one and two, respectively. I mentioned my affinity for Spears in two consecutive articles, so finally landing him was a big win for me. It is also hard to not think it’s a plus to get a quarterback in a superflex draft at 1.09, especially when you consider the Josh Allen/Cam Newton potential Richardson brings. As much as I thought I was happy with Quentin Johnston and Cedric Tillman, the duo I locked up in this draft brings so much more upside, so I prefer them.

In rounds three and four, I’m going to have to go with my previous draft as the winner. I’m a huge Michael Wilson guy, so his presence alone automatically puts the last draft into the leader spot. Although Tyler Scott is growing on me, I still have Jonathan Mingo ranked higher. It’s no knock on Reed and Scott, I like them both, but Wilson and Mingo are higher in my ranks, and they become the winning duo in the second half of my drafts.

At the end of the day, if I have to pick which complete draft I preferred, I’ve got to go with this draft. I like the diversity of my picks, getting a quarterback, running back, and two receivers opposed to the all-receiver draft from last week. And again, coming out of a superflex draft, you always want to add a signal-caller to your roster when possible. Many times you exit a draft making a stink-face at one or two of your players, and I’ve got to say, I’m happy with each of the eight players I landed in these drafts.

I hope you enjoyed this comparison between an actual human draft and a mock simulation. We now have a nice baseline to work off of before the combine changes. Once we start seeing blazing 40-times or shameful three-cone drills, we are all going to start adjusting our player rankings. As players start moving up and down our boards, it is good to know where they were at the beginning of the process so you can compare them fairly to their peers. Enjoy the combine, and I’ll see you back here next week.

2023 Off-Season Mock Drafts: Pre-Combine Compare and Contrast
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