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Two Harbors men find fame online with mock NFL draft

Mike Iupati and Kareem Jackson might not be household names to fans of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings right now, but the Two Harbors trio behind Draftseason, an NFL mock draft website, predict they will be wearing Packer gold and Vik...

Faux NFL draft founders
Eric Falk (from left), Matt Falk and Nik Edlund, all of Two Harbors, make up the draftseason.com team. Their Web site is devoted to following the top prospects in the NFL draft. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com

Mike Iupati and Kareem Jackson might not be household names to fans of the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings right now, but the Two Harbors trio behind Draftseason, an NFL mock draft website, predict they will be wearing Packer gold and Viking purple after Thursday's first round of the NFL draft.

At least they did a few days ago when they compiled a mock draft for the News Tribune. But brothers Matt and Eric Falk, and their brother-in-law, Nik Edlund, also acknowledge that forecasting the NFL draft is akin to predicting the Twin Ports weather -- it's always in flux, there are myriad variables, and a 1.000 batting average is a pipe dream.

So, will Iupati, an offensive guard from Idaho, be the Packers' pick at No. 23? Will the Vikings nab Jackson, a cornerback from Alabama, at No. 30?

Possibly. But unpredictability is the NFL draft's trademark, and that's why so many websites, such as draftseason.com, have sprung up along the information highway. Rabid NFL draft fans have strong opinions, and they all want to share them with the masses.

Matt Falk, 30, tacked his first mock draft onto the Internet nine years ago.

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"We've always been big draft guys. In 2001, we put this really cheesy generic website together," he said. "All it was when you went there was a one-round mock, nothing else.

"I think we averaged like six hits a month."

But Matt kept adding pages and amenities to the site -- player rankings, multiple mock drafts, team grades and interviews with prospects, such as current superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets. Matt's older brother, Eric, 33, and brother-in-law, Nik, 29, also became regular contributors.

Now it's not unusual for draftseason.com to receive 400,000 hits a month and 40,000 or more a day leading up to the draft. Matt also said they receive calls from NFL agents, hoping to score interviews for prospects they represent. They've done radio interviews for stations around the country and have received some ink from USA Today.

In the crowded world of online NFL mock draft sites, draftseason.com has steadily climbed over other challengers to have its voice heard by ardent draftniks.

"It's fun to type your name into Google and see how high you come up in the search," Eric said.

What began as a fun hobby has grown into a labor of love -- advertising on the site pays the bills, but doesn't fill their wallets -- with an office dressed in NFL memorabilia inside Matt's house.

"We started out just doing it for fun, but then we started getting 30,000 people coming a day," said Matt, who added that they mix their own opinions with the thoughts of NFL experts to formulate their mock drafts. "We all have full-time jobs. When we get home, we're all just powering away on this, trying to keep our wives out of the room to work on Draftseason."

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The Draftseason trio said people enjoy their site because they don't take themselves too seriously.

"We try to make [our mock drafts] light-hearted and funny," Edlund said.

They also try to maintain that humor when some of their fans take their selections a little too seriously.

"You'll get diehards who will just give you hate mail -- 'I can't believe you have this guy taken this high.' It's funny, but we'll respond to them anyway. It's just opinions ... tons of opinions butting heads," Matt said. "What's unique about us is that we'll say how it is. We'll rip on a team, we don't care. We'll butt heads on players."

"And each other," Eric added. "He'll have somebody going in the first round and I'll have them going in the third round."

But despite their growing notoriety among disciples of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, Matt said it's easy to stay humble.

"It's funny. We'll get 50,000 hits on a Monday, and maybe five people in town know what we do."

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