General Manager Bruce Allen, hear scouting talent at last month's Senior Bowl, knows the Bucs can get a premium player at pick four
Even with an aborted first attempt, the whole thing took about 30 seconds, a mere fraction of the 15 minutes of draft clock time it represented. When it was over, however, the picking order for the 2007 NFL Draft was finally set.
For the record, the call was "Heads."
The coin came up tails, and thus the Cleveland Browns will pick third in the first round of the draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will pick fourth in the first round but General Manager Bruce Allen, who made the call before the coin was flipped by NFL Director of Player Personnel Ken Fiore, didn't seem particularly disheartened.
"Obviously, the higher the pick in any round, the better the value," said Allen, noting that the two teams will rotate between the third and fourth picks for the remaining rounds of the draft. "There might be equal value, in this draft, being one selection higher in the second round as in the first round. We'll just see how it plays out."
The bottom line, and the reason there was little reason for either club to be nervous about Friday's flip: It doesn't exactly hurt to be picking third or fourth in the first round of this draft.
"We're in a good position to get one of the rare talents of the draft," said Allen.
Allen and Browns Senior Vice President and General Manager Phil Savage convened in an unoccupied ballroom of an Indianapolis hotel early Friday morning to finalize the draft order. A coin flip was necessary because the Bucs and Browns finished the 2006 season with identical 4-12 records and tied strength-of-schedule percentages. The meeting was presided over by NFL Vice President of Player Personnel/Football Operations Joel Bussert, with Fiore executing the flip. Otherwise, only a crew from NFL Network was present.
Allen actually supplied the only necessary equipment, a special commemorative coin presented to him on behalf of the commander of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. A beautiful, multi-colored coin emblazoned with a motto that always inspires Allen – "Mission First. People Always. America Forever." – it is almost always in his possession. MacDill representatives gave it to Allen before a game last season to recognize the outstanding relationship the team and the military have long enjoyed.
On the "Heads" side of the coin was a colorful crest with the words "6th Air Mobility Wing" above it. On the "Tails" side, which was silver with blue words ringing the edge, was the Air Force insignia and the above motto.
Allen volunteered to call the flip and Fiore immediately sent the coin into the air. That first attempt didn't take, as mentioned, because the participants still had some (admittedly half-joking) questions, such as whether the coin was going to be caught or hit the floor. Fiore snatched the coin back out of the air, then executed the flip that counted.
It came up Tails, with Allen's favored quote staring back at him. The Browns were not given a choice as to what pick to take; rather Bussert informed them that the winner of the flip was automatically slotted third. Allen congratulated Savage, and that was it.
Even without the coin's cooperation, the Bucs will potentially make their highest selection in the first round in 17 years. The team was last slotted in the top four in 1992, when it was scheduled to pick second but had traded that first-rounder to Indianapolis. It last picked in the top four in 1990, when it tabbed Alabama linebacker/defensive end Keith McCants with the fourth selection.
The Bucs' second-round pick will be the 35th choice overall. Tampa Bay also owns the last pick of the second round, having obtained that selection from Indianapolis in a midseason trade of defensive tackle Anthony McFarland.