Mock drafts aren't just for fans, media

This time of year, it seems, everybody is an armchair general manager.

Everywhere you look on the Internet there's another version of a mock draft with a new No. 1 pick. It's become a hobby for draftniks, a topic of debate for journalists, and a car crash for coaches and general managers -- they just can't look away.

"If you Google '2014 mock draft,' there are about 18 pages of them," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "Of those 18 pages, I don't think we have had the same player picked in any of them twice."

With an extra few weeks added to the evaluation period before this week's NFL draft begins, team executives had more time to spend -- err, waste -- reading the mocks. And, yes, they actually read them.

"Oh, I read them all," Arians said with a smirk. "I had two extra weeks this year, what else are you going to do?"

But Arians said most mocks aren't realistic, he said. The large majority are drafting based on a team's need, which leads to unlikely selections because the right "fit" may actually be a fourth-round grade.

"It makes for great banter and chatter and good bar talk but it's not much reality to it," Arians said. "It's fun to look at."

It could also lead to confusion.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim admits he reads the mocks, although not as many as Arians. But after a while Keim has to cut himself off. The more he reads about who other people think the Cardinals should draft, the more it gets him thinking. After a year of evaluating, grading and ranking, overthinking is the last thing Keim wants to be doing this week.

"They confuse you and get your mind scrambling for sure," Keim said. "I think you just have to be patient, trust your board. I think if you trust the way you have the players ranked, you know that at the end of the day, we're going to get one of those players ranked one through 20, and we feel good about every one of those guys."

Not all mock drafts are for fun and games, however.

Keim said the Cardinals' scouting department would be going through a final series of mock drafts Tuesday as they play through a variety of potential scenarios they could face in the first round.

"Our pro scouts will put together a nice, neat board," Keim said.

"Then we'll talk about our free-agency process a little more with our scouts and our coaching staff. We'll be ready to roll Thursday night."