Many of us love playing with the mock draft simulators. They are fun, but many are very unrealistic. The goal of this exercise is to compare the simulators and determine not only which one is the best haul, but which is the most realistic. Hopefully after reading these results, you will know what you are looking for in a mock draft simulator.
We are breaking down six simulators: Fanspeak, The Draft Network, Pro Football Network, NFL Mock Draft Database, PFF, and Walk The Mock. On each simulator, I chose the default settings but took advantage of the simulators that allowed trades. If you have a favorite simulator to use, feel free to share the results in the comment section.
Let’s get to the mocks!
This simulator has a few players that are way too low on the board, and trades are not free. See for yourself.
24. Micah Parsons — ILB — Penn State
55. Javonte Williams — RB — North Carolina
87. Quinn Meinerz — C/G — Wisconsin-Whitewater
128. Jordan Smith — EDGE — UAB
140. Anthony Schwartz — WR — Auburn
216. Darren Hall — CB — San Diego State
245. Paris Ford — S — Pittsburgh
254. Josh Ball — OT — Marshall
Parsons is not falling to 24 in the real draft, and Meinerz is likely a second round pick. The day three picks were realistic, but several of these guys have gotten almost no buzz. Smith doesn’t have the best bend, but he is a solid athlete who produced against inferior competition. Round four is likely the area that he will be taken in. Hall tested very well at his pro day, but the tape is somewhat inconsistent. He seems like an athletic corner that the Steelers would take a shot on and likely struggle to develop, but in round six, it is worth the risk. The reason I took Ball in round seven was because the offensive tackles flew off the board early on. Ball has off-field concerns, but he has starter potential. He is one of the many tackles in this class with incredible length but not great technique.
Trades are not free, and their board seems to favor high floor players. Overall, I left the draft with a realistic haul.
24. Travis Etienne — RB — Clemson
55. Quinn Meinerz — C/G — Wisconsin-Whitewater
87. Hunter Long — TE — Boston College
128. Walker Little — OT — Stanford
140. Shaun Wade — CB — Ohio State
216. Malcolm Koonce — EDGE — Buffalo
245. Darius Stills — DL — West Virginia
254. Josh Palmer — WR — Tennessee
At pick 24, Najee Harris was already off the board. I would have considered a cornerback, but the top three were gone as well. Etienne is not a natural receiver or pass blocker, but he improved in those areas in 2020 and will likely be a first round pick. At 55, both Creed Humphrey and Landon Dickerson were gone, and on the defensive side of the ball, Asante Samuel, Jr. and Aaron Robinson went off the board a few picks before me. Meinerz does not have much experience at center, but that is where he projects best in the NFL. Pick 87 was simply a value pick. I am not the biggest fan of Long, but he is a complete player who will likely go in round two in the real draft.
On day three, Little made too much sense in round four. He hasn’t played since the beginning of the 2019 season, but he would have been a first round pick if he had not opted out. Wade struggled on the perimeter in 2020, but his natural fit is as a slot corner, and that is where I expect him to play in the NFL. We also are in desperate need of depth at outside linebacker. Mel Kiper, Jr. pegged Koonce as a second round pick in his 4.0 mock draft. I wanted Patrick Johnson, but he was already taken. Getting Koonce at that point is great value. Stills was another value pick who, if given a year or two to develop, could become an eventual starter as a 3-4 defensive end. Lastly, I grabbed Palmer not because he was my top rated receiver available, but because he seems like a Steelers wide receiver. He is not the biggest or the fastest, but he makes tough catches when they are needed the most.
Disclaimer: The trades made this one unrealistic, but man, did I ever love the results!
I took advantage of the flaw in the simulator and traded back one spot at a time. Based on trade value, the simulator thinks it is fair value to trade back one spot at a time and gain an additional 4th and 7th round pick each time, even if the team you are trading with has no need to trade up. I did that from pick 24 all the way to pick 29. This could be a realistic simulator, but their trade function makes it too easy to cheat. From moving five spots back, I gave up picks 24 and 254 and gained picks 29, 131, 132, 133, 135, 145, 220, 229, and 249. In round three, I traded pick 87 for picks 90, 143, and 223. Then in round 7, I traded 220 for 227 and 238. I did move up in the fourth round, however, trading 120 and 145 for 108, 182, and 219. Davis Mills will likely go in the first two rounds, which is why I felt it was excellent value to snag him at the top of round four. Later in that round, I traded back, acquiring picks 147 and 158 for pick 135.
29. Samuel Cosmi — OT — Texas
55. Javonte Williams — RB — North Carolina
90. Shaun Wade — CB — Ohio State
108. Davis Mills — QB — Stanford
131. Anthony Schwartz — WR — Auburn
132. Trey Hill — C — Georgia
133. Tyler Shelvin — DT — LSU
140. Tre McKitty — TE — Georgia
143. Robert Rochell — CB — Central Arkansas
158. Divine Deablo — S — Virginia Tech
182. Patrick Johnson — EDGE — Tulane
216. Cade Johnson — WR — South Dakota State
223. T.J. Vasher — WR — Texas Tech
227. Elijah Mitchell — RB — Louisiana
229. Chris Garrett — EDGE — Concordia St. Paul
238. Daelin Hayes — EDGE — Notre Dame
245. Nick Niemann — ILB — Iowa
249. Jaylon Moore — OL — Western Michigan
There is no way that this would happen, nor do we need three receivers and three edge rushers, but if you enjoy dreaming, you should like that one.
I will warn you that their draft board has prospects that are not even in this draft, and the haul is somewhat unrealistic. Here are the results.
24. Christian Darrisaw — OT — Virginia Tech
55. Pat Freiermuth — TE — Penn State
87. Aaron Robinson — CB — UCF
128. Kendrick Green — IOL — Illinois
140. Pete Werner — ILB — Ohio State
216. Talanoa Hufanga — S — USC
245. Rhomandre Stevenson — RB — Oklahoma
254. Trevon Grimes — WR — Florida
I feel like I got each of my last six picks at least one round later than what they should have gone. Darrisaw is my dream pick at 24, but there is maybe a 10% chance of him falling. If he is there, run to the podium. Robinson will likely go round two, but I could not resist him when he fell all the way to 87. Stevenson is likely a day three pick, but it will probably be early day three. He shed about 20 pounds and did not run a great 40 at his pro day, but his skill set provides a team with three-down value. He could be the Steelers’ backup plan if they fail to land Najee Harris in the first round.
This one is probably my least favorite simulator simply because the board is ridiculous. They also have a feature where you can force a trade. In other words, I could trade my 7th round pick for Jacksonville’s 1st round picks. I did not use that function, but I did make a few trades. I traded picks 24 for picks 42, 76, and 196, pick 128 for 137 and 176, and 196 for 205 and 215. I felt like I grabbed an impressive haul, but PFF thought it was barely above average. Here are the results with PFF’s grades. Apparently, they only have two different grades for their picks.
42. Travis Etienne — RB — Clemson (A-)
55. Creed Humphrey — C — Oklahoma (C+)
74. Brady Christiansen — OT — BYU (A-)
87. Jamin Davis — ILB — Kentucky (C+)
137. Milton Williams — DL — Louisiana (C+)
140. Tommy Tremble — TE — Notre Dame (A-)
176. Malcolm Koonce — EDGE — Buffalo (C+)
205. Patrick Jones II — EDGE — Pittsburgh (C+)
215. Nashon Wright — CB — Oregon State (C+)
216. Frank Darby — WR — Arizona State (C+)
245. Sadarius Hutcherson — G — South Carolina (A-)
254. Tariq Thompson — S — San Diego State (C+)
Etienne would be a nice fit for Matt Canada’s offense, and finding him at pick 42 is incredible value. Literally each pick in this mock outside of Etienne and Christiansen are deserving of going at least one round sooner than they did in this exercise. Koonce, Jones, and Wright all have a chance to be taken on day two, and I am hearing that the Cowboys may consider Williams in round two. Whether you like PFF’s analysis or not, I think we can all agree that their simulator has flaws.
This is my favorite mock draft simulator. Trades are free, the board is realistic, and it has a function that allows other teams to send you trade offers. If you enjoy doing simulators, I recommend this one for those reasons. In this mock, I did not propose any trades, but I was given many offers and accepted two of them. I traded pick 24 for picks 29 and 92 and pick 55 for picks 59 and 110. Here are the results.
29. Creed Humphrey — C — Oklahoma
59. Asante Samuel, Jr. — CB — Florida State
87. Walker Little — OT — Stanford
92. D’Wayne Eskridge — WR — Western Michigan
110. Trey Sermon — RB — Oklahoma
128. Jaylen Twyman — DL — Pittsburgh
140. Daelan Hayes — EDGE — Pittsburgh
216. Ernest Jones — ILB — South Carolina
245. Mac McCain III — CB — North Carolina A&T
254. Dwayne Johnson, Jr. — S — San Diego State
I tried mixing up the selections in these mocks to keep them from getting stale, but this mock still came out realistic. Before anyone gets frustrated because I did not take a running back earlier, both of the top running backs were gone at 24. I could have taken Javonte Williams, but I took my chances hoping that he would be there in round two. Even though he went a few picks before I was up, I had the opportunity to move down and acquire a player that the Steelers have shown a lot of interest in. The round three picks may not happen in real life, but both players are exceptionally talented and could become stars at their respective positions. I realize that defensive line is not a need, but Twyman has loads of talent and could develop behind Cameron Heyward as a 5-Technique. That isn’t his ideal fit in the eyes of draft pundits, but I believe that is where he best projects in a 3-4 scheme.
After seeing the results from each simulator, we see that each one is quite different. Personally, I believe that the two most realistic mocks are the ones from Pro Football Network and The Draft Network. I like having the free trades, which is why I give the slight edge to PFN. Overall, it depends on personal preference, but if you like trades, I recommend PFN. If you would rather have no trades, I recommend The Draft Network.
But what are your thoughts on these simulators and selections? Do you see any of these picks as realistic targets for the Steelers? Which one is your favorite? Be sure to share your thoughts by commenting down below!