There are hundreds of mock drafts posted on the Internet, reams of analysis of teams' needs, dozens of stories written every day as the NFL draft approaches about which franchises covet which prospects.
If you're an NFL talent evaluator, do you pay attention to any of this stuff?
"The thing we do look at is not [predictions of] where they're going to go, but who sent their head coaches to the workouts, who sent their offensive coordinator to private workouts, that type of thing - visits, anything that would give you an idea, even about a position [a team was leaning toward]," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said. "If Tampa worked out every quarterback, or every wide receiver, and if you're sitting there thinking, 'If we trade down, we're behind Tampa, and they're looking at wide receivers, and so are we,' you might not want to do it."
Teams have interns who look at just about everything, Heckert said, but very little importance is attached to most of the information. In other words, the Eagles aren't looking for draft tips from your neighbor's nephew's blog, even if he is the best "Madden" player at his middle school.
For fans, the explosion of available information - so different from 20 years ago, when all you had were a few magazines full of months-old speculation - is a bonanza. NFL teams, who have their own extensive scouting operations, don't necessarily see it that way. ESPN.com recently quoted Titans scout C.O. Brocato blaming mock drafts for giving players unrealistic draft-day expectations.
"The players monitor those things pretty closely," Brocato said. "They always believe the ones that have them going the highest, and then the poor guy's waiting for a phone call all day." *