NFL players will never have to press a 45-pound bar loaded with four 45-point plates off their chests during a game. They will never have to execute during games any number of the training exercises that help prepare their bodies for NFL life.
That doesn't render these exercises irrelevant. They're an important part of preparation.
My thinking regarding mock drafts is similar. Focusing on how many selections they correctly forecast risks missing the broader point. Mock drafts have value as exercises. They help us think through some of the nearly endless potential scenarios.
If some of the "projections" line up with how the draft actually unfolds, all the better. But who are we fooling here? Not even the NFL teams themselves could predict with accuracy how a draft will actually unfold. As noted previously, there would be 263,130,836,933,693,530,167,218,012,160,000,000 ways to order the first round if we knew which 32 players would become first-round picks. But we cannot even know that.
A year ago, ESPN's divisional NFL bloggers got together for a mock draft in which each of us made the selections for the teams we cover. It was lots of fun. We wound up projecting eight of the first 13 picks to the correct teams, five of them in the correct slots. But so what? The fun was in the process.
I'll be shocked if we come anywhere close to matching eight first-round picks to the right teams from our 2013 blogger mock draft, set to begin at noon ET.
The 2013 draft seems tougher to predict without prized quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III available as slam-dunk choices for the teams holding the first couple selections. That's OK. We're going to have fun thinking through the possibilities. Rules allow for trades, which will enhance the experience at the expense of accuracy. Matt Williamson, who scouts the NFL for ESPN.com, will critique the process in real time.
Those of us participating in the draft will face dilemmas when certain players become available later than we anticipated. Should we select them based on value, or should we stick with the selections we think are most likely to happen on draft day?
We'll post to the blog at noon ET a console allowing you to come along for the ride. I'll be making the seventh, 16th, 22nd and 31st picks for NFC West teams. Those slots could change based on trades. Last year, I traded the 12th pick from Seattle to New England for the 27th and 31st picks. I wound up having the Seahawks select Chandler Jones at No. 27. The Patriots wound up selecting him 21st instead.