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Mock drafting for best player available

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Notre Dame v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

It’s the Sunday before the 2022 NFL Draft, meaning fans across the league are working themselves into a frenzy about the surefire Day 1 superstar their team will add, along with the Day 3 gems that will change the future of their favorite franchise forever.

For Pete Carroll and John Schneider of the Seattle Seahawks it means holding their highest draft pick since their first draft in charge of the team in 2010. Fans are both excited and terrified of the possibility of the player that could be taken with pick nine. Seattle fans have seen safe first round selections turn into busts, and so the debate between taking the best player available compared to drafting for need has raged for weeks.

Obviously, one of the most important factors in what the Hawks do when they come on the clock Thursday during the first round will be what the eight teams in front of them have done. That will determine not only which players are available for Seattle to select, but also which players may have dropped to the ninth spot who are attractive enough for other teams to feel the need to trade up to fill in the missing piece.

In any case, I don’t watch much college football, since as an alum of the University of Kansas I graduated from a school that doesn’t have a football team, meaning on a scale of 1 to 10 my knowledge of the prospects entering the draft is somewhere between 1 and 2, rounding down to 1.

So, in order to address the FOMO of the mock draft frenzy of the past several weeks and months, I did three different mock drafts conducted solely based on selecting the best player available without regard for team need. To define best player available, I simply selected the highest ranked player available each time the Seahawks came on the clock using three different prospect rankings:

Without wasting any more time, here is how each of the three mocks turned out for Seattle.

PFF Big Board

1.9: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
2.40: DI Travis Jones, Connecticut
2.41: CB Jalen Pitre, Baylor
3.72: LB Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma
4.109: T Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
5.152: C Joshua Williams, UNC Pembroke
5.153: T Matt Waletzko, North Dakota
7.229: QB Brock Purdy, Iowa State

Arif Hasan Consensus Big Board

1.9: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
2.40: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
2.41: CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
3.72: T Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
4.109: RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
5.152: TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
5.153: RB Brian Robinson Jr, Alabama
7.229: T Dare Rosenthal, Kentucky

ESPN Draft Player Rankings - 2022

1.9: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
2.40: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
2.41: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
3.72: DI Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
4.109: LB Damone Clark, LSU
5.152: WR Velus Jones Jr, Tennessee
5.153: ED Amare Barno, Virginia Tech
7.229: WR Dai’Jean Dixon, Nicholls State

So, welcome to Seattle, Kyle Hamilton.

These results are most certainly unrealistic, but obviously drafting is not simply about taking the best player available regardless of position. Sure, if a blue chip prospect is available at a position that is not necessarily a position of immediate need for the Seahawks at nine, drafting that player is not the end of the world. However, once a team gets into the heart of the draft, whether a player has the best grade or the second best grade or the fifth best grade is likely largely irrelevant. Once past those prospects who are unquestionably the best, the human element of evaluation and grading has likely influenced the grades to the point where selecting the best available player who fits a need is just as likely to yield a quality player as selecting the player who happens to have a slightly higher draft evaluation grade.

In any case, one never knows how things are going to turn out, regardless of pre-draft evaluation, for a variety of different reasons. For example, someone could take a list of say ten college players who had been called out for their work ethic by their coaches and see that while a couple of them developed into quality NFL players, others ended up as career journeymen for whatever reason.

At the end of the day, the draft is an inexact science, and just one tool available to teams as they build their rosters for 2022 and beyond.