News & Analysis

Using PFF’s mock draft simulator to gauge the public’s view of the 2021 NFL Draft

Dec 19, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) on the field in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL's 32 general managers will be the ones on the clock tonight at the 2021 NFL Draft, but the countless fans who have been drafting away on PFF's Mock Draft Simulator have been on the clock for a few months now.

This year's draft will bring the mock draft simulator's second year to a close, and thanks to a major overhaul, it worked better than ever. Once again, we saved every pick and trade you made. In this article, we will look at how you, the fans, saw the draft unfolding.

[Editor’s note: The information about picks and trades is the only information we saved from our users]

View PFF's 2021 NFL Draft position rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | T | iOL | DI | EDGE | LB | CB | S

Number of drafts

Our users completed more than 10 million mock drafts since the new version of the PFF mock draft simulator went live in early December.

Rounds

Even more so than last year, most users endured and enjoyed all seven rounds of the draft, as 73% of all drafts went all the way through to Mr. Irrelevant.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
4% 2% 8% 7% 4% 2% 73%

Favorite Teams

Just like last year, Cowboys Nation is the No. 1 fan base among our users, at least in terms of volume.

Player picks

The following charts show an overview of the first two picks for each team in the simulator. To give an idea of how the player-team pairings are a developing process, we cut the draft season into four parts:

  • The time prior to the Super Bowl, when most fans are still busy following the games.
  • The time between the Super Bowl and NFL free agency.
  • The time after free agency, when there is clarity about team needs.
  • The final two weeks before the draft, when the amount of information available to each of us is at its peak.

Here are each team's five most frequently drafted players with their first and second picks. The selections are split by the time of year.

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WFT

ARIZONA CARDINALS

ATLANTA FALCONS

BALTIMORE RAVENS

BUFFALO BILLS

CAROLINA PANTHERS

CHICAGO BEARS

CINCINNATI BENGALS

CLEVELAND BROWNS

DALLAS COWBOYS

DENVER BRONCOS

DETROIT LIONS

GREEN BAY PACKERS

HOUSTON TEXANS

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

LOS ANGELES RAMS

MIAMI DOLPHINS

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

NEW YORK GIANTS

NEW YORK JETS

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

TENNESSEE TITANS

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Trades

Our users were very active on the trade market, fabricating a total of 14.2 million trades at roughly 1.4 trades per draft. Our users won 87% of their trades for an average gain of 0.44 WAR and an average win percentage of 62%.

In terms of the number of trades per draft, the Minnesota Vikings fans were clearly most active on the trade market, even though their number could be boosted by one user trading a staggering 133 times during one draft, the highest total we’ve observed.

Who made the best trades? At the top, we find the teams that will be drafting very early, such as the Jets, Falcons, Jaguars and Dolphins. This reflects the reality that the best trade-down opportunities come at the top of the draft.

While we obviously do not expect the Jets or Jaguars to trade back tonight, the Falcons and the Dolphins may receive a haul via a possible trade.

Given that our users mostly made good trades, it’s not surprising that a large chunk of them came from teams trading back. The variance among teams also isn’t very high. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting anecdote that the New York Giants, of all teams, had the highest rate of trades that moved down.

No teams moved up the draft more than the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. Once these trades had been executed, Mac Jones and Justin Fields were the favorite picks among Patriots fans; Christian Darrisaw, Rashawn Slater and Kwity Paye were most frequently selected by Vikings fans; and Mac Jones, Rashod Bateman and Christian Darrisaw were the most popular trade -up targets for the Bears.

Conclusion

The second version of our mock draft simulator was a great success, and we hope you had as much fun playing around with it as we did.

Thanks to all of our users for using the simulator. We will be happy to see you again next draft season, and we have already planned a lot of improvements that you will be excited about.

However, this year’s draft season is not quite over yet. Naturally, you can still simulate this year’s draft, and once the draft begins, you can choose to continue the draft with the next unknown pick. The actual picks will be updated live during the draft.

Good luck, and happy drafting!

 


More of PFF's 2021 NFL Draft tools here: 
2021 NFL Draft Big Board | 2021 NFL Draft Guide | 2021 NFL Draft Stats Export | NFL Mock Drafts | NFL Mock Draft Simulator

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