A Deep Dive Into the History of the NFL Mock Draft

Legendary NFL writer Rick Gosselin didn't invent the mock draft, but he did perfect it and had general managers calling him while on the clock

Recently, Sports Illustrated’s Raiders Maven writer and publisher Hondo S. Carpenter had the opportunity to talk with acclaimed NFL writer Rick Gosselin.

After going through part one of the conversation, we’ll continue to dive through what one of the most well-regarded writers around the league had to say.

We might as well start then with the first question that Carpenter asked Gosselin, which had to do with how Gosselin perfected the NFL Mock Draft.

“I spent two years covering the (Dallas) Cowboys, and then they flipped me and put me on the NFL beat, and my sports editor Dave Smith told me he wanted me to grade drafts,” said Gosselin.

While not the creator of the mock draft, Gosselin’s work for the Dallas Morning News in the 1990s helped create what is now the standard that mock drafts go by.

Gosselin knew, though, that in order to make the most accurate mock draft he needed to talk to the people who were involved with the real draft.

“I’m a writer, I don’t watch tape, I don’t know what a player looks like, so I talk to the people that do, that are in draft rooms," Gosselin said. “I’ve talked to general managers, personnel directors, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts, even some agents.”

By the time that Gosselin did his last mock draft in 2011, he had a contact list with about 130 people from all 32 teams.

The key thing for Gosselin wasn’t simply focusing on the first round and the Trevor Lawrence level prospects, but going over the entire draft board.

“I spent as much time talking about prospects in the fourth round with head coaches and GMs as I did with the first round,” Gosselin said.

Being able to then create an entire draft board, it became almost academic for Gosselin to predict what players would be picked.

“I knew the team’s needs, I had my board in front of me, and it was just a matter of putting the player with the need.” 

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Rick Gosselin has covered the NFL for 48 years for United Press International, the Kansas City Star, and the Dallas Morning News. He has covered the Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys. He has been a Hall of Fame voter for 25 years and, in 2004, won the Dick McCann Award for "long and distinguished reporting on professional football. He is a living legend in the NFL and you can read him at Talk of Fame Network and find him on Twitter at @RickGosselin9