What numbers will the Bucs' rookies be wearing in 2015?
NFL DRAFT Links
In the weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, we conducted a four-part first-round mock draft here on Buccaneers.com. Joe Kania, Casey Phillips, Andrew Norton and I took turns making predictions, meaning each of us made exactly eight selections. You can review Parts 1, 2 and 3 if you wish, or head to Part 4 for a complete list of the 32 picks.
If the four of us learned one thing during the mock drafting process, it's that the best way to look like you know what you're talking about is to go first. I generously assigned the pole position to myself and then made the groundbreaking prediction that the Buccaneers would draft Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Check.
If we learned two things during the process, the second one would be that you should always wait until the last possible minute to post your predictions, or at least be ready with updated versions. Part 1 of our mock draft was actually posted 15 days prior to Round One, and that proved to be a pretty significant fortnight in terms of draft developments. Sure, we could have expected some movement in the mock drafts in that span, but it's not often that there are newly-uncovered issues significant enough to drop a top prospect well out of the first round (a la Randy Gregory) or out of the draft completely (a la La'el Collins).
As the mock drafter responsible for distributing both Gregory (#5 to Washington) and Collins (#25 to Carolina), I took it on the chin with those developments. That more than balanced out my gift of a pick at #1. And there you have it, my "the sun was in my eyes" excuse for my uninspiring performance in the Third Annual Buccaneers.com Mock Draft. (This comes on the heels of a fairly strong outing in our 2014 Mock Draft.) So, who actually did fare well in our four-way mock? Well, we won't be giving out any gold stars, but if we grade this thing on a curve the winner would likely be Andrew Norton.
Let's take a closer look…
This one goes to Andrew's prediction of Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton to the Cleveland Browns at #12. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell got a massive bear hug out of that Browns selection, and Andrew got the only full check mark beyond the Winston pick in our whole mock draft. Maybe we aren't very good at this.
Honorable mention goes to Joe Kania for giving Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead to the San Francisco 49ers at #15. The 49ers actually took Armstead at #17 after trading back two spots with the San Diego Chargers, who moved up to get Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon. That's not quite a full check mark for Joe, but it's pretty darn close and that's more than I can say about the other 29 predictions.
Well, let's see: The player I predicted on April 15 would go #5 overall to Washington didn't actually get drafted until May 1 – the second night of the draft – and well into that evening, too. That would be Nebraska's Gregory, whose slide was finally stopped at #60, late in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys. There were extenuating circumstances, of course, but it's not often that you miss a first-round prediction by 55 spots.
There are quite a few possible choices for honorable mention. Andrew gave the Broncos Pitt tackle T.J. Clemmings at #28 (with D.J. Humphries and Cedric Ogbuehi still available) but Clemmings actually lasted to pick 110. Come to think of it, that 82-spot difference might be worse than my Gregory selection. Still, I'll go with Kevin White going third overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, as prescribed by Joe. Your best chance to score any points in a mock draft is in the first five picks, and Dante Fowler was the chalk pick here for a long time. Joe probably overthought this one.
Listen, Casey went oh-for-eight in her first Buccaneers.com Mock Draft, waaay behind the one-for-eight scores posted by the two vets, me and Andrew. But, upon closer examination, that was mostly the product of two things: Players being unrealistically available when she picked in the first half of the draft, and getting the idea right but the specific player wrong in the later going.
For instance, Casey gave Marcus Mariota to the Jets at pick #6 and Amari Cooper to the Rams at pick #10. I'm willing to bet those teams would have been very interested in those players if they hadn't gone at #2 and #4 in real life. Same thing with Ereck Flowers at #18 to the Kansas City Chiefs. Casey correctly predicted that the Dolphins and Ravens would go for receivers, she just got the wrong ones. And even the idea of a cornerback to Green Bay at #30 isn't far off, since some believe the Packers will play safety Damarious Randall, their actual pick, at that spot.
Honorable mention: Andrew got the right position but the wrong player in his picks for Atlanta at #8, Houston at #16, Philadelphia at #20 and New England at #32. He gave the Patriots defensive tackle Jordan Phillips because in our mock draft I had slotted defensive tackle Malcom Brown way too early, to San Diego at #17. Had Brown been available in our mock, I'm sure Andrew would have taken him at #32 over Phillips.
Andrew also believes he deserves partial credit for predicting tackle T.J. Clemmings to the Broncos at #28 when the actual player taken there was guard Laken Tomlinson, by the Detroit Lions. Andrew is wrong.
Not good. Not good at all. I truly believe we would have done better if we conducted the whole draft on April 28, rather than just the last eight picks. Still, we're not here to make excuses; we'll strive to do better next year.
As I said, the "winner" of this fiasco is Andrew, since he got the only non-#1 correct prediction and also got the right position at four other incorrect choices. Joe's pick of Arik Armstead for San Francisco was the next best prediction, only off by its spot in the draft, but overall I'd give second place to Casey for her several near-misses. I'm not giving myself any credit for the Jameis Winston pick.