At 9:59 on the evening of Wednesday, April 21, Tom Slawinski put the final touches on a list of 20 predictions regarding the 2010 NFL Draft and hit submit.
Slawinski's predictions were the answers to a list of questions posed by Buccaneers.com in its annual "Twenty Questions" draft contest. The deadline to send in an entry to the contest was just over two hours away. Having done his homework, this well-informed Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan was ready to try his luck.
A total of 1,209 entries were submitted to this year's contest, of which Slawinski was responsible for five, the maximum number any one entrant could offer. His 9:59 effort was almost as good as any of the other 1,208.
Somewhere over the next hour, Slawinski would reconsider his 20 answers. Exactly 60 minutes later, at 10:59, he would submit his fourth entry, changing just two answers. One of those eleventh-hour alterations was the key to Tom Slawinski of Lake City, Florida emerging as the Grand Prize winner of the 2010 "Twenty Questions" contest on Buccaneers.com.
Slawinski would send in one more entry just before the deadline, but it was on his fourth try that he correctly predicted eight of the 20 answers. None of the other 1,208 submissions, including Slawinski's other four, would get more than seven right.
As the Grand Prize winner, Slawinski won the privilege of choosing any game on the Buccaneers' 2010 home schedule to attend along with three of his friends. The Bucs will supply four tickets to the game of his choice.
Kelly Stein of Montreal correctly predicted seven of the contest answers and is the First Runner-Up, winning two tickets to the game of her choice. Kyle Mynatt of Terra Ceia, Florida was the Second Runner-Up, which earned him an official Buccaneers shirt and hat. Mynatt's was actually one of 31 entries that got six of the questions right, and he was then chosen at random from among that pool to win the prize.
For Slawinski, the difference came down to underclassmen.
A huge influx of top-rated juniors made the 2010 draft the NFL's deepest in years according to most analysts. One of the challenges (see below for the full list of questions and answers) in this year's contest was to predict how many of the 32 first-round picks would be underclassmen. In his 9:59 entry, Slawinski predicted 18; an hour later, he had decided 17 was a safer answer. (His only other change switched one wrong answer with another.)
Slawinski would have tied Stein for the lead with his earlier entry, and would have then been subjected to a random draw for the top prize. By making that final switch, he stood alone. (An entrant can win only one of the three prizes, so Stein was the only eligible entry with seven and the third prize went to Mynatt's submission with six correct.)
Stein admits to getting help on her entry from her brother, David, one of the Buccaneers' more far-flung rabid fans. A former winner of the "Twenty Questions" contest, David makes annual sojourns to Tampa to take in Bucs games in person; Kelly plans to hand over her prize tickets to her brother. Mynatt, too, is an avid Tampa Bay fan; in fact, he chose to pick up his prize in person just so he could get a quick look at the Bucs' state-of-the-art facility.
The Buccaneers congratulate Slawinski, Stein and Mynatt on their "Twenty Questions" victories and hope that all of this year's entrants enjoyed this year's draft contest. It's never too early to start studying for the 2010 contest!
Below are the 20 questions that comprised this year's contest, followed by the correct answers and the number of entrants that got each one right. Contest entrants chose their answers from pull-down lists with a finite number of possible choices.
1. Who will the Buccaneers draft with their first overall pick?
Answer: McCoy, Gerald
This one was a bit easier than in most years, with the Buccaneers picking third overall and most draft analysts predicting the same results at the very top of the first round. In fact, when it began to seem likely that the St. Louis Rams would take McCoy's Oklahoma teammate, quarterback Sam Bradford, with the first pick in the draft, the obvious prediction simply made a lot of sense.
Unsurprisingly, then, the first question in the contest proved to be the easiest. Of the 1,209 entries, 792 predicted McCoy, a success rate of 65.5%. That would be the only question where more than 50% of the predictions were correct. Slawinski and Stein both got this one right but, amazingly, Mynatt actually missed this one and still found his way to a prize. Mynatt was one of 295 entrants who predicted the Bucs would draft Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who actually went second overall to the Detroit Lions.
2. From what position group will the Buccaneers pick with their second selection of the draft?
Answer: Defensive Tackle
The Buccaneers surprised many a draftnik, and almost all of our contest entrants, by going for another defensive tackle (UCLA's Brian Price) with their next pick. Only 54 entrants got this one right, and none of our three winners were on the money. The most common guess, by a long shot, was wide receiver, which as you'll see below was almost right.
3. From what position group will the Buccaneers pick with their third selection of the draft?
Answer: Wide Receiver
The Bucs couldn't pass on Price and the opportunity to rebuild their interior defensive line, but there's little doubt that receiver was a position the team was also targeting. When Illinois wideout Arrelious Benn was still on the board a few picks after the Price selection, the Bucs hastily traded up to get him.
Of course, because many of our entrants had expected that second pick to be a receiver, the guesses for question three were all over the board. That said, all three of our winning entries got this question right, mainly because they had predicted either defensive end or cornerback for the second question. A total of 368 entries predicted this answer, making it the third easiest question on the list.
4. Which team will be the first to trade down?
5. Which team will be the first to trade up?
Answer: San Francisco
These two questions are obviously tied together, and they both got their answers when San Francisco jumped up two spots in the first round, from 13th to 11th, in order to nab Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis. Denver would spend the next two rounds repeatedly trading up and down and eventually taking Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryious Thomas 22nd and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow 25th.
San Francisco gave up a fourth-round pick (#113 overall) to make the move up. Though there were many trades involving 2010 draft picks before the draft started, this was the first one that occurred after Commissioner Roger Goodell kicked things off on Thursday night.
Not many entrants got either half of this equation right. Only 35 predicted the move up by San Francisco and only 68 predicted the move down by Denver. None of our three winners was right on either of these.
6. To the nearest 10-minute mark, how long will the first round take to complete (in hours and minutes)?
The first round took three hours and 28 minutes to complete on Thursday night, which was a relatively brisk pace. A little studying of recent drafts might have helped entrants get in the ballpark on this one, but it certainly wasn't easy to hit the right 10-minute segment on the head. In fact, only 82 of the 1,209 entrants did so, a surprisingly low number to some degree. None of the winners got this one right either, though Slawinski guessed 3:40 and was that close to an even more dominant win.
7. How many cornerbacks will be drafted in the first round?
That would be Florida's Joe Haden (7th overall), Alabama's Kareem Jackson (20th), Rutgers' Devin McCourty (27th), Boise State's Kyle Wilson (29th) and Florida State's Patrick Robinson (32nd). As you can see, only a very late run at the position allowed the number to get as high as it was. With a class so deep at certain positions, it was anybody's guess as to where this run would begin. Stein is glad it happened before the second round began, as she was one of 63 entrants to get this question right. Slawinski guessed four and Mynatt was way off at two.
8. Which team will draft Florida QB Tim Tebow?
And once again, the Broncos pop up in our pool, though this wasn't where most of our entrants expected them to be. Given that Denver was one of the team's that was occasionally mentioned as Tebow admirers before the draft, it is shocking that only 18 of the 1,209 entrants got this one right.
Of course, teams such as New England, Buffalo and Minnesota had been named more prominently in such rumors, and they got 209, 154 and 81 of our entrants' votes, respectively. And, obviously, the Jacksonville Jaguars were the most common guess, at 377. None of our winners were right on this one, either.
9. Which college will produce the most 2010 drafted players?
This one was kind of put on a tee. It's no secret that the Gators were loaded with NFL-caliber players, and it's no surprise to see a local UF bias (in this case, well-deserved) come out. This was the second easiest question for our contest players, with 490 of the submissions getting it right. Florida led the way with nine players drafted, besting Alabama and USC, which had seven each.
Slawinski and Mynatt got this one right but Stein went with Iowa, which did have six players drafted.
10. Who will the Atlanta Falcons select with their first overall pick?
Answer: Weatherspoon, Sean
Atlanta stayed put at the 19th overall pick and grabbed the Missouri linebacker who had been rising up the mock drafts in the weeks leading up to the real thing. Weatherspoon was the second linebacker selected after Alabama's Rolando McClain went eighth overall to Oakland.
A fairly impressive total of 131 entrants got this one right. It is difficult to make an accurate prediction at any spot out of the top 10 picks in the draft, so it's surprising that more than 10% of our entrants were on the mark with this one. Slawinski and Mynatt picked up points here, but Stein went with Michigan DE Brandon Graham.
11. Who will the New Orleans Saints select with their first overall pick?
Answer: Robinson, Patrick
See, just 13 picks later and this proved well-nigh impossible for our 1,209 entrants. Only eight of those 1,209 got this question right, making it the second toughest one in the whole bunch. The guesses were all over the board, and none of our three winners nailed this one. The Buccaneers are glad that Stein's guess of Brian Price was inaccurate.
12. From what position group will the Carolina Panthers pick with their first selection of the draft?
Because the Panthers didn't have a first-round pick, we made this one a little easier and asked for a position prediction rather than a specific player. That allowed a healthy 237 predictors to hit this one on the head, though there may not have been many who envisioned Jimmy Clausen specifically falling to pick number 48.
That Clausen plummet looks like it might have saved Mynatt, who was the only one of our three winners to get this one right. That made up for him missing on two later questions, as you'll see below.
13. When will Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant be picked?
Answer: Picks 21-25
There was not much consensus before the draft as to what Bryant's fate would be. Some considered him a good bet to go in the top 10, while others felt he would slip out of the first round entirely. In the end, Dallas traded up three spots to #24 overall in order to nab the former Oklahoma State star.
This was a good question for our winners, all of whom got it right. Overall, 113 entrants were good on this one.
14. How many college underclassmen will be selected in the first round?
Slawinski went with 18 when he made his second-best submission, but an hour later subtracted one and got the win. One more than half of the possible 32 first-round picks were underclassmen, beginning unsurprisingly with the very first pick when Bradford went to the Rams. The Bucs' first pick, McCoy, was also a junior, as were the players picked fifth (Eric Berry), seventh (Joe Haden), eighth (Rolando McClain), 11th (Anthony Davis), 12th (Ryan Matthews), 14th (Earl Thomas), 15th (Jason Pierre-Paul ), 16th (Derrick Morgan), 18th (Maurkice Pouncey), 20th (Kareem Jackson), 21st (Jermaine Gresham), 22nd (Demaryius Thomas), 23rd (Bryan Bulaga), 24th (Dez Bryant) and 30th (Jahvid Best).
Slawinski was one of only 76 entrants to get this one right, with Stein just missing with a guess of 16. Again, this appears to be the question that tipped the balance in Slawinski's favor.
15. Which team will add the most to its total of picks from the beginning of the draft to the end?
The Eagles finished with an NFL-high 13 draft picks, but they had to do a lot of maneuvering to get there. Philadelphia started the proceedings with 10 picks and made the biggest jump up with a plus-three. Baltimore, Carolina, Denver and Washington all finished with two more picks than what they started with.
This was a pretty obscure question, intended to be one of the most difficult in the contest. A total of 42 entrants got this one right, but that most likely represents a lot of wild guesses. In fact, if the 1,209 entrants had split their answers evenly between the 32 teams, each team would have had about 38 sent in their direction. None of our winners were right on this one.
16. Which of these players will be the LAST one of this group to be drafted?
Answer: Griffen, Everson
The group also included Clausen, Graham, K. Jackson, McCourty, Pierre-Paul, Pouncey, D. Thomas, Weatherspoon, K. Wilson, Mike Iupati, Sergio Kindle, Taylor Mays, Jared Odrick and Dan Williams. The intent was to group a number of players who had been seen all over the board in various mock drafts.
And, even with Clausen's well-publicized fall, it was USC's Griffen that stayed on the board longest, going to Minnesota with the second pick of the fourth round, or number 100 overall.
Each of the 15 players on the list had been considered potential first-round picks at some point, and indeed 11 of them did go in the first round, beginning with Graham at number 13. Kindle, Clausen and Mays all went in Round Two.
Slawinski and Stein both made nice predictions on this one, leaving Mynatt one behind.
17. Which team will be first to take a defensive end?
The Eagles again. As a clarification, California's Tyson Alualu, who had occasionally been listed as a defensive end in pre-draft analysis, was announced by the commissioner as a defensive tackle. The NFL's official post-draft summary sheets also list Alualu at that position, not end. As such, Buccaneers.com made the decision that he was not the answer to the question, even though he went 10th overall to Jacksonville. Instead, the first end selected was Graham, by Philly at pick 13.
Slawinski and Stein both guessed Jacksonville, so the two top winners would have remained in the lead regardless. As it turned out, this was the hardest question in the entire bunch, with only three entrants getting it right.
18. Which of these small-school (FCS Subdivision) prospects will be drafted first?
Answer: Ducasse, Vladimir (Massachusetts)
This question, on the other hand, proved to be the fourth easiest, with 314 entrants getting it right. The contestants were presented with a list of 22 names of prospects from smaller schools, such as Ducasse, Hillsdale's Jared Veldheer and Fordham's John Skelton. Ducasse was the first off the board, going 61st overall to the New York Jets, late in the second round. Those who went with Veldheer had to be cursing that pick, because Veldheer went just eight spots later to the Oakland Raiders near the top of the third round. In all, 10 of the 22 choices on the list were drafted, including Citadel wide receiver Andre Roberts at #88 and Appalachian State wide receiver Armanti Edwards at #89.
Slawinski and Stein were both right on this one as well, though Mynatt missed it.
Interestingly, though not relevant to the contest, the Buccaneers ended up signing two of the 10 players on the list who were not drafted, Delaware defensive end Brandon Gilbeaux and Eastern Kentucky tackle Derek Hardman.
19. What position will "Mr. Irrelevant" play?
Answer: Wide Receiver
This question being a part of our draft contest is as traditional as Mr. Irrelevant himself. That's the title given, in a very good-natured way, to the last pick in the entire draft. This year, the honor went to Weber State wide receiver Tim Toone.
A total of 138 entrants got this one right, and that included Mynatt, making up for missing on Ducasse. Slawinski and Stein both guessed linebacker.
20. To which team will Mel Kiper give his lowest grade in his post-draft grading article?
It was possible that this question would have multiple correct answers, but Jacksonville was the only team that got a D in Kiper's article. Five teams were close, drawing C-minuses from the well-known draftnik – Miami, Denver, Washington, Minnesota and Atlanta. (The Bucs, by the way, got a B+).
Only 51 of the 1,209 entrants guessed Jacksonville (perhaps pessimistic fans from upstate?), but one of those 51 was Stein. In fact, the final question in the contest was probably the one that put Stein (and her brother) in line for some free ducats.
The vast majority of the Twenty Questions votes in this category went to three teams: Oakland (409), Chicago (130) and Carolina (103). Kiper gave the Bears and Panthers a B and bestowed a C+ on the Raiders. Only 33 of the 1,209 entrants were pessimistic enough to pick the Buccaneers.