Last year I put out some bold predictions prior to the NFL Draft. You can find that full article here. With this year's draft looming, I figured it was a good time to look back and see how I did. Turns out I did pretty well. Let's take a look at the tape for all my greatest hits, and misses:
Prediction: I think four QB's in the 1st round is a lock
Result? False. QB's went #1 & #2 overall and then not again until pick #52
Lesson: QB hype is easy to get caught up in. This year is no exception. The talk that 5 QB's go in the first round this year is just as silly as it was last year. The 10-year average for QB's in the first round? 2.6. The 5-year average? The same 2.6. Pick three QB's (at most) who might go in R1, and slot the rest in father on down.
Prediction: The second RB chosen will be selected at least 1 full round (32 picks) after Ezekiel Elliott
Result? True. Zeke got picked at #4 overall and the next back off the board came in at pick #45 (Derrick Henry).
Lesson: RB's can be very valuable at the top of the draft IF they are special players. Zeke was. Fournette is too. Will there be a round between RB's this year? Nope. Too much talent at the position. I doubt any RB goes as high this year as Zeke did last year either.
Prediction: Will Fuller is chosen before Laquon Treadwell
Result? True. Will Fuller was picked at #21 overall and Treadwell went 2 spots later at #23.
Lesson: Team needs play a big role in where players get chosen. No analysts I knew had Fuller over Treadwell talent-wise, but the Texans needed deep speed in a big way and Fuller had that skill. Will started off the year on fire and then cooled off quite a bit. Treadwell never really got on track in Minnesota but I have a suspicion he'll rally a bit this year.
Prediction: Jaylon Smith is not drafted in the first two days (3 rounds) of the draft
Result? False. The Cowboys stepped in and stopped Smith's fall at #34 overall (R2:P3).
Lesson: Teams will gamble on talent, even if the odds aren't very good. I hope their bet pays off because Smith was an incredible player before his injury in a college bowl game. He has progressed a long way in his rehab but the nerve in his leg is still not firing. He will attempt to play without it, but to my knowledge no player ever has overcome that condition to achieve high-level success.
Prediction: Myles Jack is drafted in the top 5; right where you thought he'd be all along
Result? False. Jack was drafted at #36 overall (R2:P5), two spots after Jaylon Smith.
Lesson: Stick to your guns. I had my reservations about Jack (which I chronicled here) but the draft-world was in love with him. I went back to the tape many times to see what I was "missing" but came away with the same impression: Jack was very talented (especially athletically) but not the top-5 football player that everyone was making him out to be. In the end I resigned myself to the fact he'd be picked higher than I thought he should and made this prediction. I should have just stayed true to my initial read and trusted the tape (and my eyes).
Prediction: 4 OT's go in round 1
Result? True. Ronnie Stanley, Jack Conklin, Laremy Tunsil and Taylor Decker all went in the first round. In addition, Germain Ifedi snuck in at the end of the round to make it 5 OT's off the board overall.
Lesson: The desire for O-line talent will always be high. Once a run starts teams will pay what they need to so they can snare that talent before it is gone.
Prediction: There will be another big trade within the top 5 picks
Result? True. This was my biggest hit. The mega-trade that landed the Eagles the #2 overall pick occurred less than 12 hours after I posted this article.
Lesson: There is no price too high for a team that sees a QB it wants. If you don't have a quality QB in this league you are doomed to lose more than you win, and teams know it.
Prediction: Noah Spence will be chosen after Leonard Floyd
Result? True. Floyd became a Bear at #9 and Spence lasted until #39 (R2:P9) where Tampa Bay chose him.
Lesson: "Upside" is a thing. I was a fan of both players but thought Spence was the better pass rusher coming out. Both players had good first seasons and Spence racked up 5.5 sacks to go along with 3 forced fumbles (Floyd had 7 sacks and 1 FF). Chicago gambled on Floyd's length and potential to develop into something even greater.
Prediction: The Patriots will pick a player by the 5th round who I have never heard of at all, or only heard of in passing
Result? Near miss. I am giving myself 1/2 credit for this one as it did happen, but it took the Patriots one round longer than I guessed. They chose linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill out of Eastern Illinois in the sixth round.
Lesson: The Pats board is really their own and it doesn't look like anyone else's... and it will always be that way as long as Belichick is in charge.
Prediction: Only one TE will be chosen in the first two rounds, making it the loneliest position on the draft board
Lesson: This year's TE class is special. There has not been a ton of draftable talent at the position for a while now, and we could easily see 4 TE's off the board in the first 2 rounds this year.
There were 10 total predictions and I scored hits on 6.5 of them. Not too shabby given the typical volatility of the NFL's Annual Selection Meeting. Nailing the Eagles trade less than 24 hours before it happened felt great.
Lesson: the draft is completely addicting and I cannot wait for this year's edition. It's going to be wild... you can bet on it.
Any bold predictions you want to commit to in digital ink before the big event? Drop them in the comments section below anytime before Thursday evening. Free timestamps provided!