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So Easy a Monkey Could Do It: Mocking the Mockers

Hey everyone...just a quick post here before the draft gets started...

We have our own resident draft guru here on NN. His name is briandean. Fooch doesn't pay him anything to drop knowledge on Niners Nation; and that's too bad. It's too bad because ESPN now has two resident draft gurus, Mel Kiper, Jr., and Todd McShay, and they're getting paid a lot of money. Funny thing is...I bet anyone 10-1 on their money that the difference in mock draft accuracy between briandean and the ESPN guys isn't going to even come close to approaching the difference in level of paid compensation. In fact, I'll go ahead and predict right now that briandean's 1st-round mock accuracy is going to be within 6 correct picks of Mel or Todd's.1 Here's the simple truth about why:

Kiper and McShay aren't much better than Bonzo the Idiot Monkey.

In true me form, I did a little calculation to get to the bottom of this...

If someone - anyone - was to mock the 1st round only knowing the names of the 32 players that will be selected, the odds against that person picking 7 or more correctly - simply by dumb luck - are about 20,000 to 1. To put that in perspective, it's the same chance you have of penciling in a (legitimate) 1 one your golf scorecard after any given hole.

Of course, Mel and Todd are getting paid big bucks to know more than just the names of the 32 players. Mel, for example, claims to spend 24 hours a day for 361 days per year - he says he takes 4 days off - gathering information to increase his draft knowledge base. In contrast, Dumb Luck spends exactly 0 hours a day gathering draft knowledge. So the question really is, "If Fooch were to feel generous and pay Dumb Luck $1/yr for mocking the 1st round each draft, is ESPN getting its money's worth with Mel and Todd?" Well, the answer is obviously no because - and I'm going out on a limb here - Mel and Todd's salaries are way higher than $20,000/yr. In other words, the pick accuracy benefit doesn't even come close to outweighing the "draft guru" cost.

And if you think evaluating Kiper and McShay based on exact picks is a little too harsh, take a look at the gold standard of mock draft evaluation: The Huddle Report's Mock Draft Scores. As their scores show, Mel was tied for 29th, and Todd was tied for 59th, among the 94 big-time mock drafters in 2008. And their rankings among 47 mock drafters based on average scores from 2006-2008? Kiper 9th and McShay 22nd. Incidentally, Mike Mayock was tied for 75th in 2008, and is 13th-best over the past 3 drafts.

So, when you watch the draft today, whether on ESPN or NFL Network, keep in mind that the guys who spend all year researching this stuff are - dollar-for-dollar - not much better at actually, you know, predicting picks than Dumb Luck and Bonzo the Idiot Monkey.

1 Just in case you were wondering, here's a table showing the odds against Dumb Luck getting a given number of picks (or more) right provided he knows the names of the 32 1st-rounders:

Number Correct

Odds Against

1 or more

1 to 1.7

2 or more

2.8 to 1

3 or more

11.9 to 1

4 or more

57.6 to 1

5 or more

336.2 to 1

6 or more

2,386.5 to 1

7 or more

20,335.4 to 1

8 or more

204,934.2 to 1

9 or more

2.4 million to 1

10 or more

32.8 billion to 1

So, what, you figure that Mel and Todd make somewhere in the neighborhood of $2M/yr in ESPN salary, right? If that's true, then, based on these odds, Mel needs to outpick Dumb Luck 9-1 in order to give ESPN their money's worth; 10-1 and Mel needs his agent to renegotiate that contract, stat!