This year especially showed us that mock drafts are more of a fun exercise than a way to predict what will actually happen. Thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, mocks did not do very well when it came to correctly slotting picks. I mean, I pulled names out of a hat for my mock draft, got only two picks correct and still did better than a few analysts.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let's look ahead to next year with a 2014 NFL mock draft from SB Nation. The Detroit Lions are slated to pick 13th (based on SB Nation's latest power rankings), and they are predicted to take Stanford offensive tackle David Yankey. After missing out on the top tackles this year, it would make a lot of sense to build more depth on the offensive line in 2014. And next year seems to be shaping up to be another strong year for tackles with Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews going fourth and fifth in this mock draft.
Another 2014 NFL mock draft from SB Nation has the Lions taking Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Considering the Lions just drafted Darius Slay in the second round this year, I have a tough time seeing a first-round cornerback in 2014. They have three cornerbacks who were drafted last year as well, so the hope would be that this position is set going forward.
The most interesting thing about these mock drafts is that the top three is the same in both. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick (to the Jacksonville Jaguars) instead of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (the No. 2 pick to the Oakland Raiders). The No. 3 pick in both mocks is the New York Jets taking USC wide receiver Marquise Lee.
The 2014 draft already seems to have more talent at the top of the first round than this year's draft did. Then again, a lot can change in a year. Just look at the first 2013 NFL mock draft SB Nation did a year ago. Matt Barkley was the No. 1 overall pick, and the Lions were projected to take Kenjon Barner with the 28th pick. Hell, just a few months ago Damontre Moore was one of the favorites to be taken fifth overall by the Lions. Things can change very quickly when it comes to the draft.
(Side note: I do have to give SB Nation's first 2013 mock some credit, as it correctly predicted that D.J. Fluker would be the No. 11 overall pick a year in advance. Now that's impressive.)