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Kendre Miller

2023 Off-Season Mock Drafts: Real Life Rookie Draft Comparison

John DiBari analyzes what he has seen from post-NFL Draft rookie drafts so far.

Kendre Miller

All off-season prior to the NFL draft, I’ve looked at NFL mocks and multiple rookie and start-up mocks for fantasy. At various points in this series, I’ve discussed the potential shortcomings of mocks, despite viewing them as a useful tool overall. Although this has been a series about mock drafts, I wanted to show some real-life draft results for you to compare and contrast with what you’ve seen in your drafts so far. It’s even better if you haven’t drafted yet, to give you an idea of where sharp, seasoned dynasty players are drafting the incoming class.

Throughout the article, I’ll be referencing a 14-team dynasty league with several known dynasty writers and podcasters. I kept it anonymous here so nobody gets attacked for anything on Twitter. It is a superflex league, where we start nine players with a slight tight end premium in scoring. There is a “15th pick” awarded in the first round as well. As I show the results of the actual draft, I’ll also look at the same picks from DLF’s most recent post-NFL draft May ADP. This way, we can compare what happens in actual drafts when people have money on the line versus theoretical mocks.

Round 1

For the most part, the top 15 were the same in mocks and real life. Jonathan Mingo looks to be going earlier in actual drafts than in mocks, so be prepared for that if he is someone you’re targeting. Dalton Kincaid went three spots earlier in May’s mock drafts than in the real draft, and this is a tight end premium league as well, so that was a little surprising. Even in the heaviest-premium tight end premium leagues, most dynasty folks don’t like burning early capital on tight ends, and considering how deep this class is, I suspect Kincaid will be a 1.10-1.12 pick in 99% of leagues. Because even if you miss out on Kincaid, there are several other tight ends that you would probably be ok with landing in this class if you missed out on the only first-rounder.

The one unusual result I see here is Kendre Miller going 17th overall in the actual draft and 14th in the mocks. He has been universally a late-first in almost every 12-man draft I’ve seen. But, overall, the May mocks and the real-life top-15 look pretty close to one another.

Round 2

The top-15 had many similarities, with only one player missing/added; that’s not the case with picks 16-29, where we see a lot more movement. Pick 16 in the actual draft; Tyjae Spears was going as pick 23 in mocks. In half of the May mock drafts, he was selected with pick 24 or later. I’ve seen him fall more often than not, and I personally won’t be drafting him anywhere once I heard about his knee problems.

Luke Schoonmaker is another huge mover. He was selected 20th overall in the tight end premium draft but was 26th in the mocks. He seems more popular within the fantasy writing and podcast community than the general public, so I’m not shocked to see the discrepancy. Sticking with tight ends, Sam LaPorta saw a bump too, but I also attribute that to the TE premium scoring.

Josh Downs was an interesting player to watch throughout this entire off-season process. Many loved him early in the process, and he was in the top-5 receiver conversation for many. Then Downs measured in smaller than many had hoped, and he didn’t blow the doors off the combine either, leading to some of the rosy glow being washed away from him. Downs was 17th overall in mocks as WR6, but in the actual draft, he was 25th- WR8. However, early rookie camp reports are raving about him, so I suspect he’ll be trending upwards in the near future.

I referenced this pick in a previous article, but Cameron Latu was selected 29th overall in the actual draft- ahead of several universally higher-ranked tight ends. He’s been undrafted entirely in May’s mocks, so this is either a terrible selection or someone is a lot smarter than the rest of us. The other shocker, to me, at tight end was Luke Musgrave falling to pick 32 in the third round of the tight end premium draft while he is going 28th in the mocks. As far as I’m concerned, Musgrave is the clear, locked-in TE4 in this class, and I would think in TE-premium leagues, he would be a bona fide top-24 pick- if not earlier.

Round 3

As you get deeper into any two drafts, you start seeing more and more movements and player draft-spot wings. For example, in the actual draft, Justin Shorter was picked 43rd overall, and in the mocks, DeWayne McBride was pick 40- both of them have been undrafted in the other draft. I’m shocked Shorter was not selected in a single mock in the month of May. He could be a steal later in drafts if other players in Buffalo don’t continue to develop (I’m looking at you, Gabe Davis, and Khalil Shakur).

Kayshon Boutte seems to be maintaining some value in mocks, being 31st off the board, while he is falling in real drafts, going 38th in this example. I think he’s way too high in both. The same can be said for the 179-pound Deuce Vaughn. 33rd in mocks and 40th in the actual draft, and I’m uncomfortable with an undersized running back at either price.

Similar to the previous round, Tucker Kraft was selected lower in the tight end premium league than in the mock drafts, just like teammate Luke Musgrave, which I find very strange. I prefer Musgrave, but it’s within the realm of possibilities that Kraft leapfrogs him to become the Packers’ TE1 of the future.

Tank Dell is the only big mover in real life compared to the mocks in this batch of picks. I know he has excellent tape and looked incredible during Senior Bowl Week, but the dynasty community needs to pump their brakes. At the end of the day, Dell is a 5’8″, 165-pound receiver; what can people realistically expect from him? He was picked 28th in the superflex draft and is going 35th in the mocks, and I don’t see a way for him ever to become a week-in-week-out fantasy contributor.

Round 4

As I mentioned in the previous round, we start seeing more and more volatility as we get deeper into drafts, and rightfully so. As these picks are less valuable in the eyes of many, the opportunity to throw a dart at high-upside players becomes more palatable. This is especially true in rookie drafts, where you’re also allowed to draft free-agent veterans too, as was the case in my example draft. With Colt McCoy and Trayveon Williams selected at the end of the fourth, two more rookies from the 2023 class will find themselves in the free-agent pool once the draft concludes. Rakim Jarrett and Keaton Mitchell were another duo of players that were drafted but completely omitted in May’s mocks. Jarrett was a devy darling at one point but fell off the map entirely, while Mitchell is an undersized back who is currently RB4 on a team that usually features a full back too. I prefer the mocks to the actual draft of these two players.

The biggest mover between the two drafts was Saints’ quarterback Jake Haener. Haener was 36th in the superflex draft, as QB6. In May’s mocks, though, he was 56th as QB9. Once you get past the indisputable top-five signal-callers in this class, Haener should probably be the next player off the board, just as he was in the NFL draft. Truthfully, after QB5, they’re all garbage, but Haener is probably in the best spot. To see him plummeting in the mocks and even going undrafted several times is crazy in superflex drafts.

I mentioned several of the more significant movers between these two drafts, but scroll through and comb over the two drafts above and let me know who you think is being slept on or overdrafted. Who have you seen going higher and lower in your drafts? Please reply to the article below or reach out to me via Twitter; I always like to see who is rising and falling in various leagues, as no two drafts are ever alike. Good luck in your rookie drafts ahead of this coming season.

DLF Dynasty Draft Coverage

2023 Off-Season Mock Drafts: Real Life Rookie Draft Comparison
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