Should You Follow NFL Mock Drafts in NFL Betting?

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NFL Draft Betting

NFL mock drafts are fun to follow for the NFL Draft enthusiast. But if you’re wagering your hard-earned money during April’s draft, should you take a mock draft seriously?

The short answer is “yes” and “no.”

Yeah, you can make a safe bet that a few of those 32 picks in the first round of a mock draft will win you some money — very few of those picks. 

If you look at any mock draft from any NFL season, you can often see how low conversion percentages are, even among draft gurus like Mel Kiper. 

So, if you’re wagering your money on who is going 15th overall and are unsure if you should use a mock draft to help predict the pick, this post will solve your problem. 

What Is an NFL Mock Draft?

An NFL Mock Draft is nothing more than a simple projection about where a prospect will begin their pro career. 

Mock drafts come in many forms. Some will mock the first through third round, while others will even go with all 253 to 256 picks in an upcoming draft. 

The best mocks flesh out the first round and don’t involve projected trades unless such a trade is likely. For example, in 2021, you have two marquee quarterbacks projected to go 1-2 in Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields if they declare for the draft. 

Let’s say the Cincinnati Bengals own the second pick of the draft. The Bengals, who have a quarterback in Joe Burrow, won’t pick one. But if the Jacksonville Jaguars are sitting at the third spot and another quarterback-needy team—like the Denver Broncos—are sitting at the fourth spot, expect a trade. 

You can make a surefire bet that the Bengals will trade down with either Denver or Jacksonville to the third or fourth spot and draft a tackle, while the New York Jets and whoever wins the sweepstakes for the second overall pick draft the quarterbacks. 

Again, this is assuming the above scenario plays out. So, unless they set something like this in stone, don’t follow a mock with projected trades. If Lawrence declares and Fields stays in school, there’s no need for any of the aforementioned teams to make a deal. 

In short, an NFL mock draft predicts which prospects go where and when. They often aren’t accurate, as it takes just one missed pick from a draft analyst or expert to bust the mock draft. 

Figure Out What NFL Draft Game You’re Playing 

There are plenty of ways to wager on the NFL Draft, so make sure you know which games you’re wagering on before you bet your money. 

Some draft bets don’t even involve players, but positions. Som instead of predicting that the Jacksonville Jaguars will pick Justin Fields, the real bet would predict they’re going to draft a quarterback. But still, others don’t even go that far, instead projecting positional units. 

Other NFL Draft games involve predicting the pick, which predicts which overall spot a prospect will land. If Clemson running back Travis Etienne enters the draft, you won’t state that you think he will go to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will pick 30th in this scenario.

Instead, you’ll predict Travis Etienne goes 30th overall. Or if you think the Steelers will trade up with another team to draft Etienne, with the Arizona Cardinals who will pick 21st, then you’ll ink Etienne in with Arizona’s spot at 21 because you’re betting the Steelers trade up to that spot. 

NFL Football

And still, other games are pure and it’s nothing more than predicting who goes where, which team will trade up, which team will trade back, which name will fall out of the first round, which name will be the surprise pick of the first round, etc. 

There are many scenarios, so learn the game or the games you’re playing before you even place a bet. If you play Predict the Pick, learn the game before you wind up playing a game that is a pure prediction of who goes where in the first round, instead of who falls where. 

Remember, Predict the Pick only deals with the overall selection of the player. But if you’re making your own mock draft and wagering it, you’re predicting the overall selection AND the team the player is going to. 

Should you use a mock draft when you’re making and wagering your own NFL mock draft?

The following sections will dive deeper into the question. 

When NFL Mock Drafts Are Good to Follow

Mock drafts are good to follow for about 10 picks, and even then, it’s not a bright idea to copy Mel Kiper’s Draft Board. Remember 2018, when Kiper botched the first overall pick, predicting the Cleveland Browns would pick Josh Allen, and they ended up picking Baker Mayfield?

If someone wagering on the draft followed Kiper’s advice, they just lost a lot of money. Of course, they would make money if they predicted the position (quarterback), so this leads to another hint of advice. 

Pick a few mock drafts to follow and see how their authors fared when picking not players, but positions, or overall positional units.

So, if the selected unit was offense and Kiper went at least 20 for 32 in his last five mocks with offense and defensive selections in the first round, he’s an excellent resource. 

But if Kiper went 12 for 32, look elsewhere.

The same goes for individual positions. 

Did Kiper’s mock accurately predict the position a team drafted more often than not?

If so, it’s good to follow Kiper’s advice to an extent. 

But if Kiper got the players wrong, or botched the projection of the overall selection in which a player landed, look elsewhere. Kiper isn’t the best bet here. 

When NFL Mock Drafts Are Not Good to Follow 

If you’re playing a game where you’re building a straight-up mock of all 32 teams and placing an undisclosed amount of money into a pool in your fantasy football league, steer clear of every mock draft because they’re lucky to get five picks correct. 

That’s a shade over 15%, and it’ll likely lose you the hundreds or perhaps even thousands of dollars wagered. 

Don’t look at Kiper’s, Todd McShay’s or anyone else’s mock.
Instead, look at position needs and recent tendencies of NFL teams. 

For example, if the Arizona Cardinals pick the best player on the board regardless of need, look at a few draft boards (but not mocks) and pencil in the best player remaining for the Cardinals. Whether they’re picking 21st or 28th, jot down the best player. 

NFL

If the Denver Broncos are picking fifth and the Cincinnati Bengals are picking second, and the Broncos need a quarterback, project a trade. 

But if you’re playing Predict the Pick, you just pencil in the quarterback going second overall, even if the Bengals are in that slot. 

See how that works?

In short, mock drafts aren’t good to follow if you’re building a straight-up mock. They’re good if you’re looking to familiarize yourself with NFL Draft prospects. But there are times these so-called “draft experts” mock a player in the first round and they fall to the seventh. 

Ages ago, I remember of a prominent NFL Draft Magazine predicting former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Jonathan Crompton to land in the first round. Crompton went in the fifth and flamed out early in his NFL career. 

When to Follow and When Not to Follow

This section breaks down the previous two even further. 

Follow a mock draft when you are betting on positions or units. But make sure you follow mock drafts whose authors have a proven track record of getting the unit or individual position correct. If they were incorrect over 40% of the time, don’t follow. 

It may take a while to find reputable mocks, and it probably doesn’t involve Mel Kiper or Todd McShay. WalterFootball, Draft King (the draft site, not the popular fantasy football outlet DraftKings), and Draft Countdown may be what you’re looking for. But even then, you may dig deeper. 

Don’t follow a mock draft if you’re playing games like Predict the Pick or if you’re building your own mock draft and throwing it into a pool. Another game growing in popularity that you need to steer clear of mock drafts with is live NFL Draft betting. 

If your state allows it, you can play it, and don’t follow a mock draft if you play. You may find it wise to tune in to the NFL Draft and see who the experts believe will fall at that pick once that doesn’t involve their mock draft. 

For example, if they’re predicting the live pick, it may give you an idea on who will fall at, say, the 15th selection of the NFL Draft. 

Conclusion 

As you can see from this post, it depends on what game you’re playing. You will benefit from an NFL mock draft in some games and in others, you’re better off just throwing money in the garbage, because that’s probably where it will land. 

Know what game you’re playing and go from there. But whether you follow a mock draft, follow them lightly, and don’t make those draft magazines your sacred book for any potential pick. Teams often bust those mocks weeks before the NFL Draft even begins. 

Have you used NFL mock drafts as a resource before betting on your own NFL Draft games? Tell us how well you fared in the comments. 

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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