Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Making the Right Picks

The winners of the Twenty-One Questions draft contest were anything but lucky…All three displayed impressive draft acumen in landing a series of valuable prizes

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Did Brad Nixon know the Bucs would take Notre Dame WR Maurice Stovall in the third round? Perhaps

For Brad Nixon, the key was the third round.

Now, anyone sitting in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' draft room on Saturday, April 29, might have seen the team's third-round pick coming. The Bucs had glanced at Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall in the second round but elected to take Boston College tackle Jeremy Trueblood instead. So, when Stovall was still available a round later, it was a fairly easy call.

Of course, only a handful of people were allowed access to that particular room on that particular day, and Nixon wasn't among them. This Buc fan and Mississippi resident had neither access to this precious inside information nor the ability to wait for it. Nixon had to make his third-round prediction early, and on his own.

And, yet, he got it right. That, more than any other reason, is why he is the winner of the 2006 Buccaneers.com Draft Central contest, Twenty-One Questions.

Before we anoint Nixon as the next Mel Kiper, Jr., let us clarify that he didn't specifically prognosticate that the Buccaneers would draft Stovall in Round Three. Rather, he accurately predicted that his favorite team would go for a receiver in that round, which happened to be Question Number Nine of the contest. Out of the 2661 entries to Twenty-One Questions, only 440 got that question right.

More importantly, of the four entries that got at least 10 of the 21 queries right, Nixon was the only one to hit on Number Seven. That proved to be the difference in the contest, as Nixon scored an 11, just edging out the runners-up, who had 10.

Therefore, Nixon is the Grand Prize winner and will have the opportunity to choose any Buccaneer regular-season home game to attend this season. Once he's made his choice, the Bucs will furnish him with four tickets to the game.

Technically, Brian Stein of Montreal was our First Runner-Up, as one of the three entries to get 10 answers correct. However, sources indicate that the real brains of the operation is Stein's son, David, a self-described "Buc-maniac" who comes to Florida once a season with his father to attend a Buccaneer game. This year, with two free tickets in hand to the game of their choice, the Stein prognosticating team may decide to fly down to Tampa twice.

Among the correct predictions made by the younger Stein on his winning entry was that the Buccaneers would choose an offensive tackle in Round Two (Nixon also got that one right, but neither correctly predicted the team's selection of guard Davin Joseph in the first round). Stein's acumen even extended to the happenings on the Radio City Music Hall stage in New York, as he accurately guessed that the first overall pick would be wearing a tie whose basic color was black. Mario Williams, the surprise first pick by the Houston Texans, showed up in a boldly striped black and gray tie, so the Buccaneers accepted either of those two answers as correct.

Since there was a three-way tie for second, Stein was chosen as the runner-up through a random drawing. That was a bit of tough luck for Tallahassee's Jason Hansen, who happed to submit both of the other two entries with 10 correct answers. Obviously, Hansen won the Second Runner-Up prize, an official Buccaneer hat and t-shirt. He did have the distinction of nailing one answer that neither Nixon nor Stein predicted: The Carolina Panthers' selection of running back DeAngelo Williams in Round One. Only 210 of the 2,662 entrants got that one right.

Collectively, Nixon, Stein and Hansen managed to unseat our two-time defending draft contest champion. California's Chris Brown won the 2004 competition, which asked fans to predict the first 10 picks of the draft plus the Bucs' selection, then stunningly defended his title in a 2005 contest that was very similar to the one run this year. Alas, Brown tried to three-peat but peaked at nine correct answers this year.

Entrants to Twenty-One Questions had until Friday at midnight on the eve of the draft to submit their answers. They were asked to work their way through 21 questions regarding what would happen over the weekend, and each question featured a pull-down list of possible answers. Winning the contest was simple – with one point allotted for each correct answer, you simply had to outscore all of your competitors. That task proved difficult when the contest drew such an overwhelming response. Fans were allowed a maximum of five entries, though most chose to go with their instincts and submit just one.

Here is a look at the 21 questions that were asked in the contest, comparing Nixon's winning entry with the correct answers.

1. Who will the Buccaneers draft with their first overall pick?

Nixon's Prediction: CB Jimmy Williams Correct Answer: G Davin Joseph

Notes: Safe to say the Bucs surprised a few people, even most of their own fans, with the selection of Joseph, a massive and powerful interior lineman. Only 14 respondents made that prediction – which puts those 14 ahead of every mock draft that was published over the last two months – making this the second-hardest question to answer. None of the prize-winners got it right.

2. Which player will go one pick before the Bucs' pick?

Nixon's Prediction: CB Antonio Cromartie Correct Answer: LB Manny Lawson

Notes: This one was pretty tough, too, with only 129 entrants getting it right. Things may have become complicated a few days before the draft when that pick was traded to San Francisco by Denver. You can see a possible strategy in Nixon's first two picks, though; perhaps he thought the Bucs had their eye on Cromartie, as several analysts insisted, and would settle on Williams after the Florida State corner came off the board a pick earlier.

3. Which player will go one pick after the Bucs' pick?

Nixon's Prediction: CB Johnathan Joseph Correct Answer: CB Johnathan Joseph

Notes: And Nixon is on the board! Predicting a late-first round run on cornerbacks finally paid off when he suspected the Bengals would go for the South Carolina DB, and they did. This was another question on which Nixon was one of the few accurate predictors; only 75 entrants got this one right.

4. Which team will be the first to trade down?

Nixon's Prediction: St. Louis Correct Answer: San Francisco

Notes: While it's still not looking great for Nixon at this point, it's not like he's missed out on any easy points. Only 40 entrants got this one right, as the Rams traded down from 11 to 15, finding a trade partner in…

5. Which team will be the first to trade up?

Nixon's Prediction: Buffalo Correct Answer: Denver

Notes: …Denver! The Broncos saw Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler slip out of the top 10 and made a bold move, swapping four spots with the Rams, who ended up with Clemson CB Tye Hill at the 15th pick. Putting Nixon's answers together for Question Numbers 4 and 5, he was predicting that Buffalo would try to move up two spots with San Francisco, from 8 to 6, perhaps to get ahead of Detroit for Texas safety Michael Huff. Not a bad theory, though it didn't come to pass. Strangely, 182 people got this one right.

6. To the nearest 10-minute mark, how long will the first round take to complete (in hours and minutes)?

Nixon's Prediction: 5:20 Correct Answer: 4:50

Notes: Still just one right for Nixon, who only missed it by half an hour. This year's first round was almost an hour quicker than last year's, which helps explain why only 88 of the 2,661 entrants got this one right.

7. How many defensive backs will be drafted in the first round?

Nixon's Prediction: 7 Correct Answer: 7

Notes: Bingo! And not just for Nixon but a good group of respondents. While this one wasn't even close to the easiest question overall (more on that below), it was the easiest one so far, with Nixon joining 366 other entrants to predict the right answer. Cornerbacks and safeties were very popular in the first round, and on into the second round, too, as you will see in the notes for Question Number 14.

8. What position will the Bucs draft in the second round?

Nixon's Prediction: Offensive Tackle Correct Answer: Offensive Tackle

Notes: As mentioned above, this is where Nixon got on a role. Of course, he didn't know that the Bucs would also take an offensive lineman, albeit a guard, in the first round. Had Nixon known that, he might have gone a different direction here, so in this case, a miss on his Round One prediction helped. Nixon wasn't alone in this prediction by a long shot; 876 entrants got Question Number Eight right, or 32.9% of all entrants. It proved to be the fifth easiest question.

9. What position will the Bucs draft in the third round?

Nixon's Prediction: Wide Receiver Correct Answer: Wide Receiver

Notes: Only half as many entrants were on the money in the third round; as mentioned above, Nixon was one of 440 correct predictors here. This is where it slipped away from Stein, who had gotten the previous two questions right but predicted defensive end in the third round.

10. Which team will draft Texas QB Vince Young?

Nixon's Prediction: Tennessee Correct Answer: Tennessee

Notes: It's important to win the ones you're supposed to win. Nixon and Stein both got this right (tellingly, Hansen did not), but so did 894 of the 2,661 entrants. This proved to be the third easiest question of the contest.

11. How many of the first 12 picks of the draft will be offensive players?

Nixon's Prediction: 6 Correct Answer: 6

Notes: This one was bound to have a reasonably high score, since there were only 12 possible answers, and really only about six answers that made sense, given that most analysts correctly expected Reggie Bush, Vince Young, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Davis and Matt Leinart to go in the top 10. Add Jay Cutler to that list at Number 11 and you have exactly half of the first 12 picks used on offensive players. There were 651 correct answers to this one.

12. In which round will the first placekicker or punter be drafted?

Nixon's Prediction: 4 Correct Answer: 6

Notes: If Hansen gave one away on Question Number 11, he got it back here, correctly predicting the fourth round while Nixon and Stein both went with the sixth. The first kicker or punter drafted was Memphis K Stephen Gostkowski, who went to New England with the 21st pick of the fourth round. Though Nixon whiffed, 675 entrants got this one right.

13. Who will be the third defensive lineman drafted?

Nixon's Prediction: Kamerion Wimbley Correct Answer: Kamerion Wimbley

Notes: The drafters of the contest thought this one would be a bit tricky, because it really forces you to predict who the first three defensive linemen will be. After all, you can't pick Haloti Ngata to go third among D-Linemen if he's the second one taken. Obviously, Williams went first as expected, and then Ngata went second in his group to Baltimore at pick 12. As only 238 entrants predicted, Wimbley went next, to Cleveland at pick 13. Nixon, Stein and Hansen all got that one right.

14. Which position will have the most players drafted in the first two rounds?

Nixon's Prediction: Cornerback Correct Answer: Cornerback

Notes: Fortunately, the contest was saved from a bit of controversy by the overwhelming strength at this position. An early run on linebackers made it look as if that position might take the first two rounds, but the corners came on strong and finished with 10 to the 'backers' nine. This was true despite the fact that we counted Jason Allen and Michael Huff as safeties, though they might play cornerback for their new NFL teams. This was a fairly predictable outcome and the second-easiest question in the group, allowing 919 correct answers, including those made by all three of our winners.

15. The Buccaneers start the 2006 draft with 10 picks overall. Given the possibility of trades, how many picks will they eventually make during the draft?

Nixon's Prediction: 10 Correct Answer: 10

Notes: This was the easiest question, though only by a hair over the previous one. Of the 2,661 entrants, 921 got it right simply by playing it straight, as the Bucs did on draft weekend. The team started with 10 picks, steered clear of any trades and eventually executed all 10 picks. Nixon, Stein and Hansen were all able to foresee this outcome, along with 34.6% of all entrants.

16. Who will the Carolina Panthers select with their first overall pick?

Nixon's Prediction: Donte` Whitner Correct Answer: DeAngelo Williams

Notes: This was the one Hansen nailed, as mentioned above, along with just 209 other entrants. Both Nixon and Stein went with Whitner, an answer that fell apart awfully early when Buffalo took the Ohio State safety with the eighth overall pick.

17. How many of the 32 picks in the first round will change hands at least once before being used?

Nixon's Prediction: 5 Correct Answer: 9

Notes: All of our winners went way too low on this one. Stein said just two and Hansen went with four. In fact, this proved to be a very difficult question for the entire field, the fourth-hardest one overall, as only 42 entrants got it right.

18. Which conference will have the most players drafted overall?

Nixon's Prediction: ACC Correct Answer: ACC

Notes: Obviously sharp as a tack, David Stein might have been guilty of a northern bias here, as he went with the Big Ten, dropping a point to Nixon right there (he would get it back with the tie question). The ACC ran away with this question, sending an astounding 51 players into the draft. The Big Ten did come in second, with 41. This was the fourth-easiest question in the contest, with 882 people getting it right.

19. Which team will be the first to draft a wide receiver?

Nixon's Prediction: Denver Correct Answer: Pittsburgh

Notes: And here you have the hardest question of the whole contest! This didn't seem like a difficult question before the draft, but it's easy to see why only 10 of the 2,661 entrants got it right. First, Denver had been paired with Chad Jackson in a myriad of mock drafts, and it was clear that they had a need at the position. The Broncos fouled that up, though, by setting their sights on Cutler and still satisfying their receiver need by trading for Green Bay's Javon Walker in Round Two. And it's not as if Pittsburgh was a surprise destination for a receiver, it's just that at pick 31 it didn't seem as if the Steelers would get the first wideout. When Ohio State's Santonio Holmes was still available at pick 25, the Steelers traded up to get him, taking the first receiver off the board.

20. What position will "Mr. Irrelevant" play?

Nixon's Prediction: Wide Receiver Correct Answer: Wide Receiver

Notes: While this one would seem to be nothing but a flat-out guess – who knows what the team picking last is going to want with its seventh-round pick? – all three of our prizewinners got it right. So did 342 other entrants, putting this one in the middle of the pack in terms of degree of difficulty. The Oakland Raiders provided the answer when they took Maine WR Kevin McMahan with the 255th and last choice.

21. And just for fun (although it does count): What will be the primary color of the tie worn by the first player selected in the draft when he comes onstage in New York?

Nixon's Prediction: Brown/Tan Correct Answer: Black or Silver/Gray

Notes: As mentioned, we accepted either of two answers for this one, since there were only two colors in Williams' tie and they appeared to be equally dominant. Stein jumped into the winners' circle by nailing this one, though Hansen missed his chance to tie Nixon when he went with blue. Intriguing subplot: What if Houston had drafted Bush instead? His tie, while almost gold in hue, might best have been categorized as brown/tan, which would have only helped our Grand Prize winner.

In the end, Nixon didn't need that final answer to take home the big prize. Buccaneers.com extends congratulations to all three winners and a thank you to all 2,661 entrants. Log on again next spring to participate in the 2007 Buccaneers.com draft contest – Twenty-Two Questions, anyone?

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