For the third straight preseason, I have the privilege of writing the final ESPN.com experts mock draft. This 10-team standard mock was the same format we did for the initial June 19 mock draft, with eight of the 10 analysts returning: Christopher Harris, Jim McCormick, Field Yates, Matt Williamson, Tim Kavanagh, James Quintong, KC Joyner and myself. Eric Karabell and Keith Lipscomb were replacements for Matthew Berry and Tristan H. Cockcroft this time around. The pick-by-pick breakdown of this 44-minute draft (which equates to one pick every 16.5 seconds) conducted Thursday can be seen at the bottom of this article, and revealed some interesting differences from two months ago.
Eighteen players who were drafted in June were not selected in this latest mock, but only three of these occurred in the first 12 rounds, all running backs -- David Wilson (who was injured and forced to retire), Tre Mason (who's now a No. 3 RB on his team) and LeGarrette Blount (whose Aug. 20 arrest may have scared owners off). Other notable players to be drafted in the first mock, but not in August, were QB Russell Wilson, WR Andrew Hawkins, now-injured WR Marvin Jones and TE Ladarius Green. As for the players with rising stock, a half-dozen new names were picked in the first 12 rounds: WR Brandin Cooks, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Knile Davis, RB Devonta Freeman, WR Steve Smith and RB Andre Williams.
In terms of rising/falling players who were drafted in both mocks, there were some interesting trends. The "rising stock" group consisted of eight players who were picked at least two rounds earlier this time around: RB Fred Jackson (jumped 51 spots from 109 to 58), RB DeAngelo Williams (50), RB Mark Ingram (43), RB Carlos Hyde (37), WR Anquan Boldin (33), WR Justin Hunter (33), RB Danny Woodhead (24) and WR Michael Floyd (22). The highest jump from a non-RB/WR was TE Rob Gronkowski (14), who went from Pick 37 to 23, and the highest quarterback jump was his teammate Tom Brady (10), likely no coincidence.
On the flip side, the "falling stock" was more about owners waiting longer on quarterbacks and defenses rather than significant plummets in overall value. Of the 15 players who fell at least two rounds, seven were QB or D/ST picks: Carolina Panthers (down 55 picks from 93 to 148), San Francisco 49ers (46), Robert Griffin III (40), Colin Kaepernick (29), Matthew Stafford (28), Cam Newton (28) and Nick Foles (23). The other eight sliders in this group were TE Jordan Reed (29), WR Golden Tate (28), WR Mike Evans (26), RB Knowshon Moreno (25), TE Vernon Davis (22), RB Chris Ivory (21), WR Danny Amendola (21) and RB Frank Gore (20). As you can see, this sliding group is comprised mostly of veteran players.
Participating in our staff mock drafts are a little different than the typical mocks I've been able to do for #MockDraftMonday, in that we all know each other's tendencies. We all expect quarterbacks to go much later than their ADPs, running backs are stockpiled early and often, and very few backup quarterbacks and tight ends will be picked, so you're almost assured to have the No. 12 QB or the No. 12 TE as the worst possible outcomes. With only 10 teams, nobody cares about bye weeks, and there are not many handcuff instances, either. I've also noticed that rookies will go earlier than expected, so analysts can feel good about a young team with upside, rather than an old, injury-prone team. With these expectations in mind, my goal was to stockpile running backs, wait on a quarterback until at least Round 8, and have my weak spot be at the wideout position, which I feel is the easiest position to fill on the waiver wire once the season is underway.
With more real drafts taking place in the days leading up to the regular-season opener, I wish you the best of luck for another fun (and winning) fantasy football season!
If you'd like to see the team-by-team rosters, you can simply click here.