Cal WR DeSean Jackson was the prediction of two mock drafters trying to figure out who the Bucs would take this weekend
What do the assembled mock drafts say about what the Buccaneers will do this weekend? There's little consensus but plenty of interesting information
Tuesday night, less than four days before the 2008 NFL Draft, reports surfaced that the Kansas City Chiefs had agreed to trade defensive end Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings for a package of three picks, including the 17th overall selection in the first round.
Hours earlier, during a draft-related Q&A session with the local media, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Director of College Scouting had said that trades of that nature by other teams would not affect the Buccaneers' draft plans.
Legions of mock drafters are sure to disagree.
See, before Tuesday's trade, most of the pundits who had seen fit to predict the first round of this year's draft had Minnesota targeting either a tackle or a defensive end. By contrast, the general outsider's agreement on the Chiefs is that they should be going after a cornerback.
Kansas City's first pick of the draft is #5 overall, much higher than most analysts expect a cornerback to go. Now the Chiefs are also at #17, however. When the mock drafters polish up their latest versions on Wednesday or later in the week, could they slide someone like Aqib Talib or Mike Jenkins into that 17th slot, instead of, say, Phillip Merling or Chris Williams for the Vikings?
If so, start the domino effect for the picks below #17, including Tampa Bay's selection at #20. Many of these same mock drafters also had the Buccaneers nabbing a corner at their first pick of the draft. If you've just moved Talib from #20 to #17, do you then match the Buccaneers with a different corner, or move on to another position altogether?
In reality, Hickey is almost certainly right. It's doubtful that the switch from Minnesota to Kansas City at pick #17 will substantively affect the Bucs' plans at #20. If you're revising your mock draft, though, you're probably giving it some thought, given that you're not privy to how the Buccaneers really want to spend that selection. There were any number of predictions, and revisions to those predictions, two years ago when the Bucs held a similar draft spot, at #23. In the end, Tampa Bay selected the player they had been targeting for quite some time, Oklahoma's Davin Joseph, a choice none of the mock drafters had predicted.
It's all speculation on top of speculation, of course. That's pretty much the idea. And even the analysts putting together these mock drafts know that, outside of the top 10, they are unlikely to get more than a couple of their pick predictions right. The first curveball pick – e.g. Ted Ginn to Miami at #9 last year – tends to throw everything that follows out of whack.
Still, the fact that these mocks won't match after the events of this coming weekend does little to reduce the fun of reading them. Some analysts work hard to dredge up whatever useful information they can from amidst the acknowledged tons of misinformation being fed into the system, and then fill in the cracks with reasonable logic based on a study of each team's needs. Even if their predictions in the latter half of the first round don't eventually match, that doesn't mean the analysis that went into them was completely off base.
What about the combined analysis of all the mock drafters? Could that offer some insight into what the Buccaneers might do? Well, we can look, even if we won't know how accurate the predictions are until Saturday.
In a bit of pre-draft scouting we do at Buccaneers.com each April, we've collected a group of mock drafts to see if there is any consensus from the analysts on what Tampa Bay is expected to do on Saturday. This year, we've amassed the opinions of 14 different national draft prognosticators, from ESPN's Mel Kiper to NFL.com's Vic Carucci. We've also included one local voice, that of The Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds, to offer another perspective.
(Note: The on-line mock drafts are updated frequently and may have changed by the time you read this overview. Buccaneers.com used a collection of drafts as they appeared this past Monday, specifically not looking for updates after Miami's announcement that they would take Michigan T Jake Long with the first pick. We've chosen to analyze the predictions of the mock drafters approximately a week before the draft, before some final-week news makes some of the selections more obvious.)
The consensus: There is little.
The 15 different mock drafters paired the Bucs with 11 different players. Only three players got more than one vote; only one got more than two. The 11 selected players represent four different positions, two each on offense and defense.
On the other hand, 12 of the 15 analysts predicted the Buccaneers would take either a wide receiver (seven selections) or a cornerback (five). That indicates some form of agreement between the pundits, as do the five total votes for receivers Devin Thomas and DeSean Jackson.
Here are all 15 Buccaneer first-round picks by the mock drafters:
- Michigan State WR Devin Thomas (3): Chris Steuber, FoxSports.com, Clark Judge, CBSSportsline.com, Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com * California WR DeSean Jackson (2): Pete Prisco, CBSSportsline.com, Vic Carucci, NFL.com * South Florida CB Mike Jenkins (2): Mel Kiper, ESPN.com, Chad Reuter, NFLDraftScout.com * Houston WR Donnie Avery: Scott Reynolds, Pewter Report * Arizona CB Antoine Cason: Pat Kirwan, NFL.com * Texas RB Jamaal Charles: Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News * LSU WR Early Doucet: TheSportingNews.com * Oklahoma LB Curtis Lofton: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com * Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall: Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly * Tennessee State CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Don Banks, SI.com * Kansas CB Aqib Talib: Todd McShay, ESPN.com
The outlier appears to be Lofton, the Oklahoma linebacker paired with the Bucs by Pro Football Talk. Florio is the only mock drafter to predict a linebacker as the selection, and Lofton doesn't even appear anywhere in the first round of the other 13 national mocks (Reynolds' mock draft is for the Buccaneers only). Of the five mock drafts that continue into the second round, four have Lofton going in that round, none higher than the 11th pick. The fifth, Kiper's mock, has Lofton going midway through the third round.
Similarly, Reynolds' choice of Avery makes him the only mock drafter to put the prolific Houston pass-catcher in the first round. In fact, none of the 14 full mock drafts have Avery going in the second round; the three that continue into the third round all have him coming off the board then.
Other observations from this mash-up of mocks:
- That Banks is the only prognosticator to put Rodgers-Cromartie in the Bucs' slot appears to have a lot to do with the rest of the group's belief that he will already be gone by the 20th pick. Of the other 13 first-round mocks, 12 predict the Tennessee State defensive back to be drafted before the Bucs are on the clock; only Judge has Tampa Bay passing on Rodgers-Cromartie. Three of the 12 have him cracking the top 10, in fact. * Similarly, Pro Football Weekly is the only source that believes the speedy Mendenhall will still be around for the Bucs' consideration. Mendenhall's relative position in the first round draws a lot of consensus from the other 13 pickers, with all of them putting him between the 12th and 16th slots. Six think he will go to the Lions at pick 15. * ESPN.com's Kiper doesn't disagree with The Sporting News on the Bucs' interest in LSU's Doucet, only in how Doucet will come to Tampa. TSN thinks Tampa will jump on him in the first round, but Kiper thinks he'll still be there for the Bucs' pick in the second round, #52 overall, and that he will be the choice at that spot. * The other four drafts that go into the second round have the Bucs targeting Delaware QB Joe Flacco (TSN), Penn State CB Justin King (McShay), Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws (Reuter) and USC CB Terrell Thomas (Rang), respectively. The three drafts that go on to the third round have the Bucs taking Virginia Tech TE Duane Brown (Reuter), LSU FB Jacob Hester (Kiper) and San Jose State CB Dwight Lowery (TSN). Note that Reuter has the Bucs taking another corner in Round Three after tabbing Jenkins in Round One. * The most common prediction for Philadelphia, picking just ahead of the Bucs at #19 is Thomas, the Michigan State wide receiver. Four of the 14 have the Eagles tabbing Thomas, including Kiper, Florio, Gosselin and Nawrocki. Coupled with the three analysts who gave Thomas to the Bucs, that means half of the 14 first-round mocks have the Spartans wideout going either 19th or 20th. Another two (Prisco and Reuter) see Thomas going with the 21st pick to Washington. On the other hand, four of the analysts expect Thomas to be gone by pick 11, headed to Buffalo. * A few notes on the top five, though we're mainly looking at the predictions regarding the Buccaneers. 1) Eight of the fourteen mock drafters had become convinced that the Jake Long deal would happen. Three others liked Virginia DE Chris Long for the Dolphins and the other three went with Ohio State DE/LB Vernon Gholston. 2) None of the analysts had Jake Long falling out of the top five, though Florio and Reuter thought he might be there for Kansas City at that fifth pick. 3) Only six of the 14 think Boston College QB Matt Ryan will sneak into the top five, four sending him to Kansas City and two to Atlanta at #3. The rest all believe Ryan will become a Baltimore Raven at pick #8. 4) Of the 12 analysts that do not think Ryan will be a Falcon, 10 believe Atlanta will go with LSU DT Glenn Dorsey.
Will any of the mock drafts hit the Bucs' pick dead on? Well, just these 15 assembled drafts have predicted 11 different players, so their combined chances are probably fairly good. Then again, the Bucs might trade up, trade down or trade out of the first round, so who knows? Unless you're one of the select few in the Buccaneers' draft room, it's all just a guessing game; in a few days, we'll know who guessed best.