Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

For most football fans, the NFL draft is associated with one name: Mel Kiper Jr. The ESPN analyst has been lauded as America's most famous draft expert for decades. We wondered how well his highly-publicized pre-draft rankings would hold up, though. Are the players Kiper claims will be NFL stars actually destined for success?

In order to answer this question, we looked at Kiper's final pre-draft top 20 from 2008 and 2003 (five and 10 years ago, respectively) and how those players turned out. Since players at different positions are difficult to measure against one another, we're using the Weighted Career Approximate Value statistic, as used by Pro-Football-Reference. (Details here.)


Of Kiper's 40 selections, only 12 ended up being in the top 20 of their draft class. 17 of the players ended up being average, and 11 were complete busts. Perhaps more importantly, Kiper missed more future superstars than he predicted.

Visualizations by Jim Cooke.

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