Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Information Overload

We know the NFL Draft will be here on Thursday – FINALLY – after so much conjecture, analysis, over-analysis, and more over-analysis. Some people churn out a new mock draft every week and some even more often than that.

Wanna bet not a single one is going to even be that close to the real thing? Or if so, can you say whose mock draft will be the closest?

Didn’t think so.

Mock drafts aren’t the only thing “overdone” in pre-draft coverage this year.

Nope. The NFL released the actual team schedules a few days ago and already the so-called “experts” have even taken THAT to the extreme. Column upon column has been written….sorting schedules by division, by team, by coaching style, by the tax on the stadium – well not really, but sheesh! You get the point!

Right about this time every year – the week or so before the draft – “experts” spin their wheels and try to figure out what that last angle is on the teams, trying to get into each GM’s head, and trying to externally determine the best fit for a particular team need.

Complicating this approach is the fact that each team has a slightly different approach to the type of player they’re looking for. Some teams want more “athletic” offensive linemen while others just want the big, strong guys.

Take tackle Jake Long for instance. His previous head coach, Tony Sparano, loved the type of player he is – a big, physically dominating LT. Brute force personified. When Sparano exited stage left and Joe Philbin arrived, the perception of the position there changed. Enter tackle Jonathan Martin last year. He lacks Long’s prototypical size and muscle but makes up for it in the angles he uses to engage his man with and just being more light on his feet overall than Long.

Therefore, Long is now in St. Louis and Martin remained.

With that in mind, these mock draft experts would have us believe they know more than we do. The fact is, in many cases, they do not.

Sure, the best ones (like the love him or hate him Mel Kiper, Jr.) have some insight we don’t while a handful of others, like NFL Network’s Charley Casserly, actually were GMs in a previous life – Casserly with the Redskins and Texans and is responsible for the Texans’ taking Mario Williams over Reggie Bush as well as drafting WR Andre Johnson – but even these guys miss more often than not on a particular selection.

One thing that always seems to throw a wrench into the works is draft-day trades. With the rookie wage scale in place, trades have gone from a rarity to the other end of the spectrum. If you’ll recall last season, picks 2-7 were ALL traded in some form or fashion. The Colts stood on QB Andrew Luck with pick 1 and the Dolphins stood on QB Ryan Tannehill with pick 8.

The Washington Redskins’ trading up to #2 overall to grab RG3 was done well before draft day but the others mostly were done at the draft. When there’s SO much movement up and down the board, it’s just about impossible to accurately predict who will go where.

Some teams are going to value certain players differently and will have different grades on all of them. Throw in the uncertainty of trades and you might as well throw darts blindfolded to figure out where a guy will be taken.

Yes, mock drafts are fun and interesting because they spur discussion about the team, the player, and “how that player fits that system.”

Too bad they’re almost never accurate, especially once you get out of the top ten.

By now, we know more about our favorite players than even the players know about themselves, almost. Analysts have been over everyone multiple times. Even team schedules have been analyzed to a ridiculous degree because we don’t even know what their final opening-day rosters are going to be yet.

So, just remember when you’re reading all these last-minute mock drafts and insights…they only go so far, so don’t be fooled too easily or get your hopes up or down until you see the draft class performing at least in the pre-season. Things change in the regular season then again in the playoffs.

Enjoy this time of information overload. If you can’t find out what you want to know about your favorite prospects, you’re just not looking.

At this point, I’d rather just wait, watch the draft, and then try to put the pieces together.

It’s only a week away.

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