NFL Mock Draft

The 2024 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and the mock drafts are hitting overdrive trying to track the latest rumors. Scouting reports have been analyzed, and every pick for every team has been predicted (if you’re one of those fans who reads every mock draft all the way through to see who your favorite team is picking in the seventh round, please stop. Find something to watch on Netflix).

Every fan should know by now those mock drafts and scouting reports are flawed. NFL scouts and analysts often make brutal mistakes in assessing players, and mock drafts are far more wrong than right, even in the first round. Here’s a look back at some NFL players the mock drafts and/or scouting reports completely botched.

QB Lamar Jackson (2018)

Mock draft projections: Early first round

Actual draft position: No. 32 overall by Baltimore Ravens’s scouting report said a few positive things about Jackson, noting he had “rare speed and athleticism and can single-handedly win games.” But then under “Weaknesses,” the analyst went full skeptic on Jackson: “Carries spindly legs and a thin base … Lackadaisical in setup … Flips it rather than throws it … Sails throws that can end up in the hands of a safety … Highly inaccurate with throws on the move throughout the 2017 season.”

That sounds less like a future two-time NFL MVP and more like a guy who got cut from his high school team. There were also reports before that draft that several teams had asked Jackson to work out at both quarterback and wide receiver. Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian was among those saying he should switch to receiver.

Given all those doubts, no wonder the Cardinals passed on Jackson with the No. 10 overall pick and made a “safer” selection … quarterback Josh Rosen. Ouch.

WR A.J. Brown (2019)

Mock draft projections: No. 25 overall pick to Baltimore Ravens

Actual draft position: Round 2 (No. 51 overall) by Tennessee Titans‘s scouting report shared these weaknesses about Brown: “Swagger level against LSU and Alabama appeared lower than usual … needs to prove he can work downfield against NFL speed … drops appear when focus declines.” Here’s an update on Brown’s “swagger level” and ability to beat defenders.

The Ravens did pick a wide receiver at No. 25, Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown. We probably would have heard by now if the Ravens actually wanted A.J. Brown but accidentally gave NFL draft officials the wrong Brown’s name. Marquise, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, is having a very nice NFL career, but A.J. has been an All-Pro the last two seasons.

CB Richard Sherman (2011)

Mock draft projections: Fifth round

Actual draft position: Fifth round, No. 154 overall by Seattle Seahawks

Sherman’s speed was suspect (36th-fastest DB at the combine), and scouts worried about his tackling and recovery skills. In the 2011 Senior Bowl, Sherman got burned on a double move, and his team coach, Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals, bluntly told him, “That’s why you’ll never ******* make it in this league.” recounted that incident in an article entitled “How Seattle’s Richard Sherman pick in 2011 changed the next 10 years of the NFL.” The five-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champion is a future Hall of Famer.

QB Patrick Mahomes (2017)

Mock draft projections: No. 12 overall to Houston Texans

Actual draft position: No. 10 overall by Kansas City Chiefs

The Texans traded up in the draft from the No. 25 spot to No. 12 so they could grab Mahomes. The Chiefs pulled a fast one, trading up for the 10th pick to draft the former Texas Tech star. It’s sounds crazy now, but there were questions about how his game would translate to the NFL. A Sports Illustrated mock draft had him going late in the first round, and described his skills with this bizarre analogy: “The Patrick Mahomes experience is a bit like watching someone slice a banana with a playing card — you’re not entirely sure how it happened, but it looks cool as hell … he’ll also try to strong-arm passes into nonexistent windows. His 2016 interception total of 10 could have easily been higher.”

With Mahomes off the board, the Texans used the No. 12 pick on Deshaun Watson, their quarterback of the future — if four seasons meets the definition of “future.”

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (2021)

Mock draft projections: Rounds 2-4

Actual draft position: Fourth round, No. 112 overall by Detroit Lions

Projections were all over the board for the former USC star. Given his production so far, including his 119-catch, 1,515-yard 2023 performance, even the second-round projections now look too low. How did all the scouts whiff so badly on the former USC star? Too often NFL player personnel fall in love with physical skills, and all the draft profiles on St. Brown noted his average speed, size, strength and leaping ability. predicted he’d go in the fourth round, dismissing him with the prediction, “Solid back-up.”

DE Vernon Gholston (2008)

Mock draft projections: Early first round

Actual draft position: No. 6 overall by New York Jets

Gholston set the then-Ohio State sack record with 14 in 2007, and was a beast at the combine, wowing scouts with his skills and physique. What could possibly go wrong? Gholston even negotiated a $9 million clause in his contract that would pay off if he collected either one sack, a forced fumble, or fumble recovery. Incredibly, he never cashed that in, finishing his disappointing three-year career with zeroes in all three categories. It’s worth noting that there always seems to be one scouting report that gets a projection everyone else missed totally right. Bleacher Report noted about Gholston, “The 6th pick in the draft, Vernon Gholston, will be a bust!”

QB Mac Jones (2021)

Mock draft projections: No. 3 overall pick to San Francisco 49ers

Actual draft position: No. 15 overall by New England Patriots

The 49ers ended up drafting QB Trey Lance with that No. 3 pick. To be fair, both Jones and Lance might still prove to be good NFL quarterbacks, but the early results are not promising. Still, it’s hard to fault either the Patriots or 49ers for their picks, as both players were touted as future stars. Both teams needed a quarterback, and in retrospect, the 2021 QB class was not good. Here are the eight quarterbacks taken in the first three rounds: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1), Zach Wilson (2), Lance, Justin Fields (11), Jones, Kyle Trask (64), Kellen Mond (66) and Davis Mills (67). Some fans are even beginning to question Lawrence’s seeming lack of progress after three seasons. Quarterback prospects may not fail any more often than other positions, but everyone notices when they don’t pan out.

WR Davante Adams (2017)

Mock draft projections: Late second round

Actual draft position: Second round (No. 53 overall) by Green Bay Packers

Scouts weren’t terribly high on the former Fresno State star (Bleacher Report on Adams: “Plays sloppily at times … Modest speed limits his effectiveness as a deep threat”) but the six-time Pro Bowl receiver has made all those draft projections look silly. And while most mock drafts correctly considered him a late second rounder, the Packers were a surprise destination. listed 12 NFL teams that could use Adams; the Packers were not included on the list. However, the site did give us this glimpse of the future. “The Raiders have some receivers, but if they draft [Derek] Carr in the first round, perhaps they will want to give him his favorite weapon with their second selection.”

RB Austin Ekeler (2017)

Mock draft projections: Round 7 or undrafted

Actual draft position: Undrafted, signed by Los Angeles Chargers

Ekeler played at DII Western Colorado University, so there were obvious questions about his level of competition. Despite putting up great numbers at his school’s pro day (4.43 40), teams dismissed him.

Maybe teams should have read the scouting report by, filed after the Chargers signed Ekeler as a UFA. While other experts were expecting him to vie for a practice squad role, that report predicted Ekeler could become a starter. “This kid is going to surprise you from the first time he touches the ball in a preseason game. If you get out to [training camp] this summer, the guy wearing the No. 3 jersey is going to catch your eye.”

QB Brock Purdy (2022)

Mock draft projections: Rounds 5-7 or undrafted

Actual draft position: Seventh Round, No. 262 overall by San Francisco 49ers

Purdy entered the NFL as “Mr. Irrelevant,” the last pick in the 2022 draft. There are still some naysayers who question if he’s the real deal, or simply landed in a dream situation (great coach, explosive playmakers). Whatever the case, he’s certainly exceeded expectations so far.

So how were the scouting reports so wrong on Purdy, a two-time Big 12 first-team QB? The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman found an anonymous NFL coach in early 2023 who shared his pre-draft scouting report on Purdy. It’s ugly stuff. The quarterback was too short, his arms were too short, his hands were too small, he was too slow and he couldn’t jump. “Did not test well, limited athlete that has a maxed-out body,” the coach’s report noted. “Sawed off … not a very good athlete … limited arm, both in strength and throw repertoire.”

But that coach admitted Purdy looked like a much better athlete when he got to the NFL. While Purdy’s 4.84 40-yard dash didn’t impress anyone before the draft, he appears to play much faster. Here’s 49ers tight end George Kittle with a creative “scouting report” on Purdy’s speed.

DE Clelin Ferrell (2019)

Mock draft projections: Mid-to-late first round

Actual draft position: No. 4 overall by Oakland Raiders

The former Clemson star projected as a talented edge rusher who could help the Raider replace recently departed All-Pro Khalil Mack. After going to the San Francisco 49ers last season, Ferrell is now on his third team in three seasons, the Washington Commanders. To be fair, Ferrell has been good against the run. But teams don’t invest No. 4 overall picks on edge rushers looking for a run stopper. Even though the Raiders drafted him higher than his projections, scouting reports made him seem like a very safe bet to produce. reported, “Off his speed, athleticism and length, Ferrell has the potential to be an impactful edge defender with double-digit sack potential as a pro.” Instead, Ferrell has just 13.5 sacks in five seasons.

RB Kyren Williams (2022)

Mock draft projections: Rounds 3-7

Actual draft position: Fifth round, No. 164 overall by Los Angeles Rams

No one reading his scouting reports before the draft would have predicted that within a couple of years he’d be regarded as one of the top NFL running backs. The former Notre Dame star’s weaknesses were described by as “Below-average burst … unable to find sudden acceleration … lacks power to break tackles … too many fumbles. Average elusiveness.” That’s not a future NFL All-Pro, that’s an Arena Football League hopeful.

QB JaMarcus Russell (2007)

Mock draft projections: No. 1 overall pick to Oakland Raiders

Actual draft position: No. 1 overall by Oakland Raiders

Since Russell is widely regarded as the biggest draft bust in NFL history, we thought it might be fun to share this 2010 Sports Illustrated piece on what the scouts had to say before that draft. ESPN’s Todd McShay noted, “I can’t remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days.”

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock jumped on the hype train. “This year, I can’t get over how good and talented JaMarcus Russell is. It just blew me away. … From a physical skill set perspective, I’ve never seen a college quarterback with more ability than Russell. You put the tape on and it’s frightening.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper compared him to a certain Hall of Fame quarterback. “Three years from now you could be looking at a guy that’s certainly one of the elite top-five quarterbacks in this league. Look out because the skill level that he has is certainly John Elway-like.”

So Russell went from being a player compared to a Hall of Fame QB to a failed quarterback archetype who haunts the dreams of NFL player personnel. No GM wants to be the guy who drafts “The next JaMarcus Russell.” Luckily, GMs can rely on scouting reports to help avoid these types of mistakes, right?

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.