Reality check for mock drafts: Zach Wilson traded to Broncos

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson tries to elude Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in a December 2023 game.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson tries to elude Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in a December 2023 game.

News early this week that impacts the 2024 NFL Draft reminded me why in six decades covering this event, I have not yet authored a mock.


You know, that fantasyland guesswork that lists who goes when and to whom. Recently, they are often concocted just to leverage faux-reality, click-bait headlines: 


"Dallas trades Prescott to Chicago for chance to draft Caleb”


You must click on that to see if it is real, right? Mocked again, suckah.


The whole thing becomes a ubiquitous, multipronged, multimedia assault on the senses. The term mockery takes on an enhanced meaning, yet it still wrestles reality for attention if you let it. And you obviously do or they wouldn’t be so damn popular.


So it is only in the interest, and apparent needs, of an expectant public that NFL Draft Scout does indeed publish a mock draft. Our resident expert, Jeremy Bissett, is considered one of the best. His NFL Draft Scout Mock Draft not only rationalizes selections and trades and other tomfoolery in Round 1, but he picks all seven rounds for each team. Heady stuff.


Is it believable? We would guess that Vegas odds would be very long against hitting the 257 players correctly, let alone to the right team. But we are a country of dreamers, current nightmarish political polarization notwithstanding.


My wonderful wife reminds me to pick up that Powerball (lottery) ticket every Wednesday and Friday. When I hand it to her, we dream of how the winnings will afford us those things that our brilliant retirement planning did not underwrite.


Last Saturday, somebody in California won more than $1 billion, before taxes. Next Saturday’s Lottery pot will be only in the millions, but that’s still more than we stuffed into our retirement cookie jar.


Speaking of lotteries, the NFL’s college-player draft erupts in a glitzy, prime-time, Academy Awards-type show Thursday (8 p.m. ET on every broadcast channel in which the league has a vested interest).


And all those draft mockers who intended to forecast the contents of this extravaganza received news Monday that probably demands they rewrite their work. That could be especially galling for those diligent draftniks who were already on version XXX. That’s not a television rating. It’s the Roman numeral for 30, in keeping with the league’s Super Bowl accounting rules.


MONDAY NEWS: Reality Check


Late Monday, it was announced that the New York Jets traded quarterback Zach Wilson to the Denver Broncos, who previously ate $85 million to send Russell Wilson, once an elite passer with Seattle, to Pittsburgh. That left the Broncos with Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci as quarterbacks and in obvious need of an upgrade at that position.


Most mockers guessed the Broncos would grab a quarterback in the draft or trade for one. NDS’s Bissett predicted Denver would trade into the top of the second round and take Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, whom many thought might be the sixth signal-caller taken in the first round. But the NDS mock and almost all others will probably undergo some surgery.


Also Monday, agents representing North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye reportedly told the Chicago Bears, who have the No. 1 pick, that their client does not want to go there. The issue is probably moot since the team and the city have expressed overwhelming — albeit unofficial — desire for USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who is, after all, rated by most as the No. 1 player in this draft.


As mentioned elsewhere, we don’t understand why the Chicago-Williams fit is thought to be such a fait accompli by the team and the public. Williams, at 6-1 and 214 pounds tops, is an entertaining force with the ball, but we don’t see him as the guy equipped to guide the Bears to greatness in the cold and the wind and the snow in Chicago, with at least one annual game in Green Bay.


That seems like a task that would be better handled by the 6-4 3/8, 223-pound Maye, whom we envision as a stud five years down the road, in the mold  of a Ben Roethlisberger. For reasons explained in our scouting reports, Williams has several red flags that we won’t ignore. At QB1 in our ratings, NDS vacillated between the big, strong, young, athletic Maye and the fast-ascending dual-threat LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels.




Want to sort the draft list your own way? By position, school, height, weight, class, and 40 time? Go here and click on the designations at the top to filter your way. It’s fun!




For what it’s worth, projecting Williams’ greatness is also a leap of faith considering he is the first Indy Combine attendee to opt out of even the physical. His only reported injury in the last two years in college was a pulled hamstring. But combine medicals “discover” previously unknown physical issues every year.


In news that could be directly tied with the Bears’ draft decision, the team revealed Monday it will announce plans to build a domed, lakefront stadium adjacent to where Soldier Field now stands.


If we did a mock draft that took Chicago’s weather into consideration, we might be reconsidering, depending on the definition of a mock. Does it reflect what we think could happen or what we think should happen? There’s something that should be defined with each mock.


If we produced a mock reflecting what we think should happen … then we would have Maye going No. 1 to Chicago the whole time, or at least since the Bears traded away Justin Fields (a rant for another time).


The announcement of plans to build a domed stadium wouldn’t change our minds, since new temperature-controlled digs still wouldn't make Williams the better pick. Regardless, we are familiar with how slowly projects get done in Chicago. This stadium deal is “in collaboration with city officials,” and there are a lot of hurdles to clear.


With that in mind, if the Bears do draft Williams and the stadium construction moves forward, the question is this: Which will be finished sooner, the new domed stadium or, for whatever reason, Williams’ career?

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