It is strange how a housekeeping ritual can grow to such a magical height that a continental gaggle of disparate people, all of whom have no role in the actual ritual, nonetheless make a career out of selling their verifiably incorrect ritual predictions to the same enthusiasts year after year after year.
In other words, the NFL draft is coming to your world on Saturday (rounds 1 and 2), and Sunday (rounds 3 through 7). In round 1, the incumbent Super Bowl champion picks last, the Super Bowl loser picks second to last. Playoff teams are similarly placed. The remaining teams are set according to their regular season records. Thus, this year, Detroit, coming home with a formidable 0-16 pedigree, has the number-1 pick. The 8-8 San Diego Chargers have the number-16 pick.
Do you want to hear about exceptions and details? I thought not.
Anyway, the point of this is not the mechanics of the draft but the mighty industry of mock traders and sportswriters who report and glorify their own failure to a national audience of people who could care less about results. Granted, this is not a bad way to make a living.
There are 32 picks in the first round, and it’s near impossible not to get the first two picks right. World Galactic Sports Media has been talking about the number one and two picks for a year. So, we’re starting out by giving the above-mentioned villains two correct picks.
I’ll come back to this, but right now I want to show you some random sportswriters and their Detroit (number 1) and San Diego (number 16) picks. Note how no information is passed on to the reader, only a used bag of soundslikeinformation.
ESPN insider and future late-night TV gold-bullion salesman, the loathsome Mel Kiper. Number-1 pick Detroit Lions: “Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia: Stafford is worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick, thanks to his overall skill set.”
Number-16 pick San Diego Chargers: “Rey Maualuga, LB, USC: Maualuga is capable of becoming a quality ‘Mike’ linebacker in the NFL but needs to use his hands better to ward off blocks and must be more consistent from week to week.”
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco. Detroit: Matthew Stafford. San Diego: Michael Oher, OT Ole Miss.
USA Today, six columnists. As to Detroit, four picked Matthew Stafford, two picked Jason T. Smith, OT Baylor. As to San Diego, three picked Chris “Beanie” Wells (RB, Ohio State), two picked Tyson Jackson (DE, LSU), and one picked Rey Maualuga (LB, USC).
Sports Illustrated, Don Banks. Detroit: Matthew Stafford. San Diego: Chris Wells, Ohio State.
Dallas News, Rick Gosselin. Detroit Lions: Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest. San Diego: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia.
Websites: NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan. Detroit will pick Matthew Stafford. San Diego will pick Rey Maualuga, LB USC. “Maualuga is a blend of former USC greats Junior Seau and Troy Polamalu. He will bring a presence to the Chargers, and he can wear that green dot on his helmet (to receive signals and call the defense).”
SBNation.com. Detroit Lions: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. San Diego: Rey Maualuga.
Getting back to why this is a fraud... Happily, coldhardfootballfacts.com has been tracking six football writers and draft “experts” since 2005. They track their first-round picks only; they do not track second-round picks because no one has ever made an accurate second-round pick. In the 2008 draft, the six correctly picked 19.9 percent of their first-round picks.
Not so bad, one out of five. Particularly since the coldhardfootballfacts in-house prognosticator, Bonzo the Idiot Monkey, a proud simian “who makes his mock drafts by blindly pulling names out of the pocket of Kerry’s dirty Texas A&M hoodie,” came in with a 6.5 percent correct-pick rate.
But — just a minute — everybody knew the first two 2008 picks. In fact, the number-one pick signed with Miami before the draft started. So, if you take away the first two picks, the experts selected 14.4 percent of their first-round picks right.
Hang on. Everybody knew the Raiders would pick Darren McFadden because Al Davis, Raiders owner, saw his adoring letters to McFadden published in newspapers. There were similar revelations concerning Felix Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.
If you — and you should — subtract what was notorious public knowledge (that is, the names of the number-one and -two picks — the Oakland pick and the Dallas pick), then the draft experts got 9.9 percent of their first-round picks right, just beating out the monkey, who had an off year.
And the lads will do it again on Saturday.