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Posted at 01:35 PM ET, 04/07/2011

Making a mockery of the draft

The mock draft season started in earnest the day after the Packers beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl and Anthony Castonzo immediately became a New York Giant. That is, every one of the 147 mock drafts published somewhere in February and March gave the 6-foot-7, 311-pound Castonzo to New York (How they came up with precisely "311'' is another story.)

With the draft less than three weeks away, Castonzo is no longer a Giant. That's because he has, in draftnik terminology, "moved up'' to the point where it's unlikely he will be available to New York with the 19th overall pick. Is that good or bad for the Giants? We don't know because Jerry Reese, who does the drafting, hasn't uttered a word on the subject and, of course, you never truly know about a guy who hasn't played an NFL game.

I bring this up because it illustrates how mock drafts (I call them moque) have gotten totally out of hand. It has nothing to do with the labor situation — they've been out of hand for a decade — anyone with a computer, an IPod, (or even a typewriter) can get in on the action and most do. Everyone wants to be a Mel Kiper, Jr. , even though Kiper is just as ignorant as the rest of us — a recent study by someone showed his percentage of direct hits at just over 25, which is as it should be because not even the teams know who will be available . 

As far as I know, the mock draft industry (or mock industry, because that's what it is) started more than 30 years with the late Joel Buchsbaum of Pro Football Weekly. Buchsbaum, who died in 2002 at the age of 48,. literally worked himself to death, rarely coming out of his Brooklyn apartment, where he spent his time talking to football people and watching tapes and coming up with a draft guide that was incredibly accurate in predicting success, failure and tendencies. He noted in 1997 that Tiki Barber would be fumble-prone, something that he did with regularity until late in his career.

How good was he? A senior ESPN football "insider'' told me after his death that he was far ahead of Kiper but that his Woody Allen-like appearance and squeaky voice made him unsuitable for television. I remember him showing up at the 1984 draft and explaining to mystified media members who Jay Schroeder was when the Redskins took him in the third round (No. 83 overall).

Sadly, Buchsbaum would probably be ignored today, when everyone has a draft, where do people get information?

The diminishing number of old-fashioned reporters talk to agents, scouts and GMs, who will tell you what other people are doing but never what they will do. The rest simply read other peoples' drafts, shuffle them around a little and publish their own — not plagiarism technically because a lot of them acknowledge they're doing it.

I will acknowledge that I've done it, although not in its entirety — I always had a group of agents, personnel people and GMs I trusted to lie only about half the time. And I actually once had a GM, the late John Butler, tell me when he was with Buffalo that he'd pick running back Antowain Smith if Smith got to him, "but he won't.''

Whoops! Smith did get to Buffalo at 25 and Butler took him. Which may say something about the accuracy of mock drafts.

Even the drafters have no clue what will happen.

Dave spent 41 years with the AP, the first part of of career covering politics, including the 1972, 1976 and 1980 presidential elections before switching to sports in 1982. From 1984 until he retired in 2009, Ihe was the main pro football writer. He has covered the last 27 Super Bowls and recently spent 1 1/2 years as a senior football writer for AOL Fanhouse. Follow Dave on twitter at @davegoldberg84.

By Dave Goldberg  |  01:35 PM ET, 04/07/2011

Tags:  NFL Draft, Dave Goldberg

 
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