When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded down two spots in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, from the fifth pick to the seventh, and grabbed Alabama safety Mark Barron, it's safe to say that few outsiders anticipated the maneuver.
In fact, when it came to the "Twenty Questions" draft contest on Buccaneers.com, precisely no one saw it coming.
Back for an eighth consecutive year, the popular Twenty Questions contest challenged fans to predict the answers to a series of questions regarding the 2012 draft, before the draft took place. Entrants were asked to guess the eventual answers to such issues as how many defensive ends would go in the first round and how often the Buccaneers would trade their picks once the action started.
And, of course, Question #1 was the most obvious one: Who would the Buccaneers select with their first overall pick. A total of 1,672 entries were submitted for this year's Twenty Questions contest; not one of them predicted the Bucs would land on Barron.
In a way, that means the 1,672 entrants were playing a game of 19 Questions with each other. With the first question a blank, whomever could get the most right out of the remainder would be the winners.
And now we're here to tell you who succeeded in that quest: Danny Barich, Ron Gaschler and Troy Nicholson, a curiously international crew. Mr. Gaschler hails from nearby Lutz but Barich entered the contest from Canada and Nicholson all the way from Australia. Buc fans are certainly spread far and wide!
Barich, Gaschler and Nicholson were three of the four entrants who correctly predicted 10 of the 20 questions in the contest. The final tiebreaker question, which asked entrants to guess how many total minutes the first round would take on Thursday night, determined the prize order:
- As the Grand Prize Winner, Barich will receive four Club Seat tickets to the 2012 Buccaneers regular-season home game of his choice
- As the First Runner-up Prize Winner, Gaschler will receive two Club Seat tickets to the 2012 Buccaneers regular-season home game of his choice
- As the Second Runner-up Prize Winner, Nicholson will receive an official Buccaneers shirt and hat
Our three winners were united in their incorrect prediction that the Buccaneers would take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, who actually went to the Dallas Cowboys at pick #6. More importantly, however, they agreed on seven other questions in which they were correct: the position the Bucs would target with their second pick; the position the Bucs would target with their third pick; the first team that would select a tight end; the position that the Atlanta Falcons would fill with their first pick; the team that would draft Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden; the second cornerback who would come off the board; and the offensive or defensive tilt of the Bucs' draft efforts.
Barich's best prediction was correctly guessing the order that Barron, LSU DT Michael Brockers, Stanford G David DeCastro and Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw would come off the board. Neither of his fellow prize-winners hit on that correct order. However, Gaschler made up for it by being the only one of the three to correctly predict that 19 of the 32 players drafted in the first round would be on the defensive side of the ball. In the entire contest, less than 100 entrants were right on that one. Not to be left out, Nicholson was the only one of the prize-winners to foresee that Memphis DT Dontari Poe would climb as high as the 10-12 pick range.
Obviously, their answers differed, but all three ended up with an impressive 10 correct predictions, and that was enough to take home some very coveted prizes. So congratulations to this year's three winners, thanks to the record number of participants who took part in the Twenty Questions contest, and we look forward to entertaining you all with another contest next spring.
In the meantime, here's a look at the answers to each of the 20 questions in the contest and a rundown of how well our entrants predicted them as a whole.
1. Who will the Buccaneers draft with their first overall pick?
Answer: Barron, Mark
Correct Entries: 0
We told you how many people got this one right above, but it bears repeating: None, zip, zero, zilch. Ironically, the fact that the Buccaneers were picking quite high in this year's opening round, which would seem to reduce the number of likely predictions and therefore lead to more correct guesses, is essentially what tripped everybody up.
Obviously, many of our contests entrants waited until the final week before submitting their guesses, and by then the assembled mock drafts had seemed to reach something close to a consensus on the expected first six picks. Nearly every mock draft one could find online had the Buccaneers paired with either Claiborne or Alabama running back Trent Richardson, and our contests entrants clearly took their clues from that.
Then, something as simple as a trade down of two spots changed everything. The Buccaneers brain trust had targeted Barron all along, and knew they could slide down a few spots and still safely get him (though there were likely some tense moments when the Cowboys, who were thought to be interested in Barron, traded up to #6). That maneuver took everybody outside of Tampa Bay's draft room by surprise.
Had the Buccaneers originally been slotted a bit farther down the draft order, it's likely that some portion of our entrants would have recognized that as a good fit for the team and made that prediction.
2. From what position group will the Buccaneers pick with their second selection of the draft?
Answer: Running Back
Correct Entries: 542
The next two questions, however, went decidedly closer to the form that many expected the Buccaneers to follow, beginning with the selection of Boise State running back Doug Martin. The Bucs actually traded up from the top of the second round into the bottom of the first to make it happen, and that made almost a third of our contest entrants happy (for several reasons, one imagines).
As mentioned, all three of our prize-winners were right about this one. Indeed, this was one area where the various NFL and draft analysts across the nation agreed, as those who did not think the Buccaneers would draft Richardson in the first round expected them to address that shallow position shortly thereafter. This proved to be the third "easiest" question in the bunch.
3. From what position group will the Buccaneers pick with their third selection of the draft?
Correct Entries: 513
Again, the Buccaneers traded up to make this pick happen and, again, it was a choice that many of our contest entrants saw coming. Just over 30% of the entries had this question right, and that was pretty close to the total for the previous question. The Barron maneuver might have surprised some, but the efforts to shore up the linebacker and running back positions were what many fans expected heading into the draft.
Once again, all three of our prize-winners were in agreement on this one – all three may have thought the team would start its draft with Claiborne, but that didn't stop them from getting off to a fine start in the contest with two of the first three right. Chances are that it didn't go as well for any entrants who predicted the Bucs would use their first-rounder on Richardson or Penn State linebacker Luke Kuechly.
4. Which player will be drafted immediately after the Bucs' first overall pick?
Answer: Tannehill, Ryan
Correct Entries: 31
This was another question on which our entrants were thrown for a loop by the Buccaneers trade down from #5 to #7. The fact that the Miami Dolphins went with Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill at the #8 spot wasn't at all surprising; in fact, that was the prediction on most mock drafts. What surprised Buc fans was that their team ended up in the slot right before Miami.
In that regard, it's a bit surprising that even those 31 entrants got this one right. The most likely reason, beyond just random guessing: Some entrants probably believed that the Dolphins or some other team would have to trade up in order to secure Tannehill. It's not that the Buccaneers would be picking seventh, but that the Dolphins would somehow wind up at #6, or perhaps both teams would move up into, say, the third and fourth slots.
In any case, what actually happened was obviously unexpected, and none of our three winners were right on this one.
5. Who will the Carolina Panthers draft with their first overall pick?
Answer: Kuechly, Luke
Correct Entries: 80
Barron and Kuechly seemed to be the two defensive players whose "stock" was rising the fastest in the last 24-48 hours before the first round began, but that may have been too late for most of our entrants to adjust their thinking. Most mock drafts still had Carolina focusing on one defensive tackle or another, but the Panthers happily snapped up the Penn State inside linebacker when he remained on the board at #9.
All three of our prize-winners incorrectly guessed that the Panthers would go for Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
6. How many of the Buccaneers' six picks heading into the draft (as of 4/11/12) will be traded at least once during the three days of the draft?
Correct Entries: 27
The low success rate on this question was just a little bit surprising, as the team's current management has always shown a willingness to trade, both during the draft and at other times during the year. Presumably, our entrants felt the team was too fixated on a particular player to risk trading down in the first round.
All three of our prize-winners predicted a number of two or less, with Nicholson even saying zero. Unfortunately for those three, they were proven wrong before the second round of the draft was even over, as the Bucs pulled off a serious of maneuvers to get in position for three of its most coveted players: Barron, Martin and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David.
The Bucs traded down to get in position for Barron, picking up a fourth-round pick in the process. They then traded up for Martin, which cost them a swap of fourth-rounders of about 25 overall spots. On Day Two of the draft, Tampa Bay used that lower fourth-rounder (they were already without their own fourth-round pick) to move from the top of the third round into the bottom half of the second to get David. Apparently satisfied, the Bucs stayed put with their four draft picks on the final day of the draft.
7. How many defensive linemen will be drafted in the first round?
Correct Entries: 91
As was made clear in the contest rules, the answer to this question would be based on the designations that Buccaneers.com made for players who might be listed at more than one position. In other words, some players are commonly thought of as linebackers in college but are drafted as defensive linemen, and vice versa. As always, Buccaneers.com used the designations given to players on the official draft coverage on Buccaneers.com.
As such, there were 10 defensive linemen selected in the opening round, from Dontari Poe at #11 to Nick Perry at #28. Even though that's almost a third of the entire first round, that's not an uncommon number – pass-rushers are always at a premium – and this year's class was considered deep on the line, if not necessarily top-heavy. The deciding factor may have been a sudden run on offensive playmakers starting near the end of the first round. WR A.J. Jenkins, RB Doug Martin, RB David Wilson, WR Brian Quick and TE Coby Fleener went in succession from picks #30-34, and that may have been what kept DT Derek Wolfe and DE Andre Branch out of the bottom of the first round.
Two of the three winners of the Twenty Questions draft contest scored again with a correct prediction on this one, but Nicholson missed by one, guessing the total would be nine first-round defensive linemen.
8. Which team will be first to draft a tight end?
Correct entries: 231
The success rate shoots back up to nearly 14% on this question, probably because Fleener to the Colts was a relatively popular prediction before the draft began. There were no tight ends off the board in Round One, so Indianapolis was able to stay put at the second pick of the second round and get their man to team with their new quarterback, Andrew Luck, both out of Stanford.
All three of our prize-winners were right on this one, which means at this point in the contest Barich and Gaschler are already running at the 50% success rate that will get them to their final score.
9. Who will be the first wide receiver drafted in the SECOND round?
Answer: Quick, Brian
Correct entries: 25
The low success rate on this one is a bit of a surprise, as well, because there were only 11 choices on the pull-down list, and two of them – Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd – were obviously going to be first-round picks. That left only nine other players to choose from, two of whom (Kendall Wright and A.J. Jenkins) ended up also going in the first round.
Still, very few entrants thought the answer would be the Appalachian State wideout, who was actually the first pick of the second round, by the St. Louis Rams. In fact, this ended up being the third "hardest" question in the entire contest.
Wright making it all the way up the board to #20 in the first round (to Tennessee) was one of the main problems for our contest entrants, as he was a popular answer to this question. In fact, that was Barich's prediction. Both Gaschler and Nicholson missed it, too, by going with one of the other most popular choices, Alshon Jeffery.
10. The Atlanta Falcons do not currently own a first-round pick (as of 4/11/12); what position will they target with the first pick they DO make?
Correct entries: 191
There were 12 possible answers in the pull-down list for this question, and if one prudently disregards the kicker/punter position, there were really only 11 to pick from. If one divides the total number of entrants by 11, one arrives at 152, which is pretty close to the number of people that got this one right.
In other words, y'all were probably just guessing on this one.
Or maybe not. As it turns out, all three of our prize-winners were right on this question, which is pretty impressive given that the Falcons didn't pick until #55 overall, 23 picks into the second round. When they did choose, they got a player many mock drafts had included in their first-round predictions, Wisconsin center Peter Konz. That Barich, Gaschler and Nicholson all predicted a pick like this is an indication that some critical thinking probably went into it, and the Falcons were seen to have a need on the front line.
11. The New Orleans Saints do not currently own a first-round pick (as of 4/11/12); what position will they target with the first pick they DO make?
Answer: Defensive end
Correct Entries: 169
Once again, the number of correct entries and the expected number from a random distribution are about the same here, so it could have been lucky guessing on the parts of Barich and Nicholson, both of whom got it right. Gaschler, sadly, predicted linebacker, which means that is point Barich is the only one of the three to have six predictions proved right.
This prediction was tougher than the one above because the Saints didn't have a pick until late in the third round. At that point, while teams are still filling specific needs, it's harder to zero in on one specific need as most likely to be filled since it depends largely on which players fall that far. The Saints went with Regina defensive end Akiem Hicks, making Barich happy.
12. Which team will draft Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden?
Correct Entries: 524
This was the fourth easiest question to predict, right between the Bucs' second and third pick position targets. In this case, pre-draft coverage probably helped contest entrants quite a bit. There was disagreement over how much the Browns might be interested in Weeden, but Cleveland had still been identified as one of the handful of teams most likely to be looking for a quarterback in the draft.
In fact, after the Dolphins were linked pretty strongly (and accurately, in the end) to Tannehill, many viewed Cleveland as the next most likely team to be targeting a passer. In fact, that line of thinking proved correct and Weeden came off the board at #22, with the pick that Cleveland had received from Atlanta the year before in the Julio Jones trade.
All three of our contest winners were among the 524 who got this one right.
13. Memphis DT Dontari Poe has seen his draft stock skyrocket since the Scouting Combine. How high will he eventually rise?
Answer: Picks 10-12
Correct Entries: 262
A success rate of about 16% on this question by our entrants seems about right, because there were wildly conflicting opinions on Poe's "stock," right up to the week of the draft.
Poe, of course, was an interesting draft subject – and thus the basis for one of our questions – because he was the player most helped by his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. Displaying an incredible mix of speed and athleticism for his size, Poe went from a borderline first-round prospect to a player some were predicting would go in the top 10 based on his potential.
Because there are almost two months between the Combine and the actual draft, however, there was plenty of time for the inevitable backlash to develop. Many analysts began moving Poe back down their first-round order, believing teams would value players with college production over Combine measurables.
In the end, at least one team bought into Poe's potential, as the Kansas City Chiefs made him the first defensive lineman off the board, at #11 overall. This is where Nicholson made up for his narrow miss on Question #7, as he was the only one of the three prize-winners to be right on this prediction. Gaschler was very close, predicting the 13-15 range; Barich predicted 19-21.
14. Who will be the SECOND cornerback drafted?
Answer: Stephon Gilmore
Correct Entries: 684
This was the second easiest question in the contest, and that was thanks to another player who did well at the Combine and sent his stock soaring.
In February, the most popular answer to this question would probably have been Dre Kirkpatrick, or perhaps Janoris Jenkins. Obviously, the presumed first cornerback off the board was Claiborne, who did indeed get that distinction at #6 overall. That left only five other players in the pull-down list connected to this question, and that too made a high number of correct predictions more likely.
Gilmore, like Poe, was considered a potential first-rounder when he headed to Indianapolis, but he left with much more solid footing in that opening frame and, over the following weeks, steadily climbed up the mock draft boards. In this case, the analysts had it right, as Gilmore eventually rose as high as #10 overall, to the Buffalo Bills. All three of the prize-winners got this one right, not surprisingly.
15. How many of the first 15 picks in the draft will be defensive players?
Correct Entries: 274
The first five picks in the draft were all offensive players, so about an hour into the round it looked like a lower-number guess would be ideal here. However, eight of the next 10 picks all were on the other side of the ball, so those who believed defense would have a slight edge in the top 15 were proven right. None of our three winners were among the 274 who got this one correct, however.
Actually, from picks 9-19, defense dominated, with 10 of the 11 selections on that side of the ball. Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, who went to Arizona at #13, was the difference. Had he gone three picks later, the correct answer here probably would have been nine. That wouldn't have mattered to our three winners, however, as all of them predicted a total of seven or fewer.
16. In what order will the following four players be drafted: Alabama S Mark Barron, LSU DT Michael Brockers, Stanford G David DeCastro and Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw?
Answer: Barron, Brockers, DeCastro and Upshaw
Correct Entries: 137
These four young men were courteous enough to get drafted in alphabetical order, and that particular order also happened to be the first of the 24 possible combinations in the pull-down list for this question in the contest. Still, a surprisingly low total of entrants got this one right; it proved to be the 10th hardest question.
This prediction did allow Barich to storm into the lead, however, as he was the only one of the three winners to get the order right. Again, the Buccaneers' well-hidden interest in Mark Barron played a role in knocking contest entrants off the mark. Both Gaschler and Nicholson chose predictions that had Barron going second among those four players, guesses they surely would have changed had they known that the Bucs (and, reportedly, several other teams) had Barron so high on their board.
17. How many of the 32 players drafted in the first round will be underclassmen?
Correct Entries: 93
As for the low number of correct guesses on this one, chalk it up to the high number of options in the pull-down list, it would seem. Obviously, there were 32 possible predictions, 1-32, although the more sophisticated predictor would probably lop off about seven or eight from the top and bottom of that range.
Fact is, underclassmen routinely make up about half of the first round these days. The logical approach would be to start at 16 and then make your guess somewhere in the range of four or five above or below that. Barich missed by a wide margin, predicting only 10 underclassmen in the first round, while Nicholson was closer at 16. However, this is the question that kept Gaschler in the prize range, as he was the only one of the three winners to get it right.
18. Will the Buccaneers draft more offensive players, more defensive players, or will it be an even split (kickers/punters excluded)?
Answer: More defensive players
Correct Entries: 1,171
And here we finally get to the question that proved the easiest for our assembled entrants. A whopping 70% of the contest participants got this one right, assuming that the Bucs would pay extra attention to recharging the defense after a difficult 2011 campaign on that side of the ball. That line of thinking probably got a boost from the fact that the offense had already received a significant upgrade in free agency with the signings of Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson.
The Bucs ended up with seven picks, four of which were used to add defensive players (Mark Barron, Lavonte David, Najee Goode and Keith Tandy). The offense made a late charge, as both seventh-round picks went to that side of the ball (Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore), but it wasn't enough and the majority of our contest entrants were pleased. That was true of all three prize-winners. At this point, Barich has a one-point lead on Gaschler and Nicholson, with just two questions to go.
19. What position will "Mr. Irrelevant" play?
Correct Entries: 20
That this proved to be the second-hardest question of the whole contest is baffling. This is a question that has been included in the Twenty Questions competition every year of its existence, and it would seem that there is no obvious logic to figuring it out. Presumably, one could identify the team picking last and try to guess the positions at which it would seem needy, but that's a stretch. Teams are more likely to draft players based on their potential in the seventh round than to try to fill a particular need.
Considering that line of reasoning, this would seem to be a straight-out guess, and there were only 12 options to choose from in the pull-down list. Dividing 1,672 by 12 produces a total of 139 for each position option, but the quarterback position had far fewer supporters than that. None of the three prize-winners got it right, for instance. Barich and Nicholson went with linebacker and Gaschler predicted tight end.
20. Alone in the Green Room: At which overall pick will the last prospect attending the draft in New York be selected?
Answer: 40 or later
Correct Entries: 440
It is fortunate for Barich that he ended up as the Grand Prize winner through the tiebreaker anyway, because it was on this final question that he narrowly missed putting the contest away for good.
The final answer was the last choice in the pull-down list, 40 or later, as LSU wide receiver Reuben Randle was not taken until the penultimate pick of the second round, going to the New York Giants at #63 overall. Gaschler and Nicholson both chose the "40 or later" option, but Barich went with "38," and that kept him from getting to 11 while the other two winners caught him with 10 correct predictions.
In retrospect, "40 or later" was probably the safest pick because the NFL invited a record 26 players to take part in the proceedings in New York this year. That greatly increases the margin for error in terms of how high analysts predict a player to be drafted and how strongly he is actually valued by team decision-makers.