Bill Freaking Belichick.
Things were looking very good for our mock draft until the Patriots went rogue and made the odd selection of Tennessee-Chattanooga guard Cole Strange with the 29th pick in the first round.
We definitely didn’t see that coming, but Strange was one of only three players that was selected in the actual first round of the draft that wasn’t included in our projection.
That’s pretty good.
Safety Lewis Cine of Georgia, the final pick of the first round, and Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam were the other players who snuck into the first round of the real draft.
The biggest mistake was overvaluing quarterbacks. Even though this was a down year for the position and it was tough to give any of them a first-round grade, we still included three in the first round just because teams always overdraft quarterbacks.
Maybe they are getting smarter. Or maybe this class was even worse than we thought.
Either way, that may be an adjustment to make in the future.
That’s just a bit of nitpicking, though.
Overall, this was our best effort since we started doing this each year. Four out of the top five picks were exactly right, even correctly predicting the surprise pick of Derek Stingley Jr. at No. 3 by the Texans.
The one that was wrong was the Jets pick at No. 4. They took cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner instead of offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu as we projected.
But our comment in the mock draft said the Jets should take Gardner, but they’re the Jets so they probably won’t do the right thing.
It’s clearly a new era for the Jets. Again, noted.
One of the biggest critiques of our mock draft involved Georgia linebackers. We had Quay Walker going at No. 21 and Nakobe Dean falling out of the first round.
A friend actually reached out to check if it had just been a mistake.
But Walker went with the No. 22 pick and Dean fell all the way to the third round.
Some Chiefs fans were upset that we had their team trading up in the draft to take cornerback Trent McDuffie instead of one of the receivers.
Kansas City did in fact trade up and sure enough, McDuffie was the target.
We had Pittsbugh taking hometown quarterback Kenny Pickett at No. 20 and sure enough, that’s exactly where he landed.
Perhaps the best call of all was tackle Tyler Smith being included in our first round. He was rarely mentioned in most mocks, but sure enough he was the choice of the Dallas Cowboys at No. 24 overall.
There was a little bit of luck involved with the success of our mock this year and a little bit of putting into practice lessons learned from the ugly attempts of the past.
Oh, and a whole lot of coffee for all-night film sessions.
If only Belichick would have played along, we’d really be looking at a great year.
But it’s probably fair to assume he knows what he’s doing a little bit better than we do.