Michigan WR Braylon Edwards, a likely top pick, will be in New York for the first round on Saturday
Barring a trade, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a new, high-profile player no later than 1:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 23.
Even that scenario requires five times – likely the 49ers, Dolphins, Browns, Bears and Bucs – to use every second of their allotted 15 minutes in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Figuring a more likely 10 minutes per team, the Bucs may get their man a bit before 1:00 p.m.
But what about New Addition #2?
If the 2005 draft proceeds at a pace similar to last year's selection process, then the Bucs may be looking at a second pick at about 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. In 2004, the first round rambled on for five hours and 24 minutes; the Bucs pick fourth in Round Two (again, barring any trades) and there is a 10-minute time limit on selections in that round.
Those are estimates, obviously, provided for the Buccaneer fan who may be looking to cherry-pick his NFL draft observation this year. One thing the on-and-off viewer won't have to worry about this year is figuring out which channel to surf during various parts of the weekend. The entire draft will be carried on the main ESPN channel this year, from noon to its conclusion on Saturday and from 11:00 a.m. to Mr. Irrelevant on Sunday.
That covers a total of 255 picks, by the way. How does the NFL arrive at that number? Start with 32 times multiplied by seven rounds for a base figure of 224 selections. Then add in compensatory picks, which are awarded to teams that had a net loss in free agency the year before. The way those picks are distributed each year changes, but it has been 32 added selections for three years now, matching the number of teams in the league.
That pushes the total picks to 256. However, Denver was forced to forfeit a third-round pick due to a CBA infraction, reducing the picks to 255. The Bucs will still be active near the end, as they own pick number 253, their lone compensatory selection. Two slots later, the New England Patriots will select Mr. Irrelevant, the tongue-in-cheek title given each year to the last pick in the draft.
Here's another new thing about the 2005 draft: Location.
After calling Madison Square Garden its draft home for the past decade, the NFL will set up operations in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this year. It's still in New York City, of course, and the real pockets of activity are spread out at the 32 team headquarters.
As usual, the Bucs will make all of their draft-weekend decisions from One Buccaneer Place. They have converted the large team meeting room into the Draft Room, which is now ringed with white boards, magnetic name markers, computer monitors, videotape stations and bookshelves. There are also two phones on the main table that will be dedicated lines to the team's representatives at the Javits Center. During draft weekend, those lines will be open during every second of the seven rounds; when it's time for the Bucs to pick, the chosen names will be sent over those lines before being announced in New York.
On the other end of the lines will be Jimmie Giles, former Buccaneer Pro Bowl tight end, and Dave Levy, the team's long-time video director. While Giles and Levy will not be involved in the draft decisions, they will ultimately control the team's selection. Whatever names are on the cards they hand in will be the Bucs' new players.
Giles and Levy are in for a long weekend of manning the phones. The first day of the draft, which covers Rounds 1-3, will stretch well into the night; Round Three ended at 10:11 p.m. ET last spring. On Sunday, the picks start an hour earlier but still usually run until about 6:00 p.m. ET. After the second round, every pick has a five-minute time limit.
Buccaneer fans may get to see the team's first selection slip on a Tampa Bay ball cap in New York, depending on who the choice is. Six players have accepted invites to be at the Javits Center on Saturday: Texas RB Cedric Benson, Auburn RB Ronnie Brown, Michigan WR Braylon Edwards, California QB Aaron Rodgers, Miami CB Antrel Rolle and Utah QB Alex Smith.
We're only a week away from knowing if the Bucs' pick is one of those six or not. And when noon on Saturday, the 23rd, rolls around, the Bucs will know they're about an hour away from their newest addition. After that, dig in for a long, unpredictable and exciting weekend.