You've seen a thread somewhere on your favorite messageboard. "Mock Draft Signup!". Odds are good you've seen several of these threads by now. Some promise seven rounds, others three, others just the first thirty. But it doesn't matter. You're hungry to take the ropes of a team at the (fictional) draft table. But before you go and book your social calender solid with twenty mocks, here are some tips- good for both participants and commissioners alike.
1. You Can Count on Me
There's nothing more frustrating than being the lone dedicated participant in any kind of Internet-coordinated activity. So before you jump right in, take a look around. I'm lucky; there are a group of regulars who get together every year on the board I frequent, and we all know we're pretty reliable. Some are even moderators. But you might not have that luxury. Take a look around- are there many participants with a post count under 10? That's probably not a good thing.
2. The Departed
You may have run into this if your board features one, maybe two, major mock drafts. There are still five or six teams left, but your first… and second, and third, and fourth choices are gone. Here's my super-secret backup plan: pick the team with the worst possible prospect pool. Tampa Bay is my favorite in this situation. Since the Lightning really could use anything in the pipeline, you're free to draft whatever you like. I tend to get my place in the annual big mock I referenced earlier with my favorite team, and then find a second draft in which I play the part of the TBL. In the first draft, I stick pretty close to addressing my team's needs. In the second, I get to let loose and take all those risky players- Angelo Esposito, Luca Cunti, Mark Katic in '07, for example.
3. The Hi-Lo Country
Let's get one thing straight: if you have no patience, and just want to pick your guy, stay as far away from mock drafts in which trades are allowed. You aren't going to be happy. Deals take time, a team may go right to the end of their time on the clock to do one. This also goes back to pedigree- if all you're seeing draft discussion is "can we trade?" or "all draft picks available", you're probably in a bad place. If you've already opted in and a resolution on allowing trades has passed, recommend a cap on the number of moves.
Is the draft commish proposing a 24-hour time limit for picks? Do the math to see if that's reasonable. If it's just one round, that's not bad- at worst, your draft will take a month to complete, and you'll be done by the first round of the playoffs if you started now. But it's pretty easy to see that a 24-hour limit is NOT going to work for a full seven round affair. If, at worst case- and you should always be thinking worst case- everyone takes the full time they're on the clock, you'll be done your draft in… seven months. That's the start of training camp for next season. Commishes, do this