Schwartz: Boldest Sports Prediction Ever Speaks Well Of Hawkeyes
If you’ve made the mistake or had the misfortune of reading my takes before, you might know how much I love predictions despite personally being so horrible at them. And what’s not to love? There’s no incentive to be right, no consequence for being wrong, and if you go out on a limb and say something nutty – no worries – nobody will ever remember what you wrote in the first place.
But this column from CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso, which forecasts two Hawkeye football players going in the Top 10 of next year’s NFL Draft – man, I’ll tell you what – this takes predictions to a whole new level.
Trapasso has the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs with the sixth overall pick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting defensive end AJ Epenesa with the seventh pick.
The issue here has nothing to do with including the Hawkeyes, where Trapasso included them, or what their strengths and weaknesses might be. The issue here isn’t an issue at all. Instead, sit back, smile, and salute all the variables that have to go into a predictions column that predicts something that isn’t going to happen for nearly a full year, and something that has so many moving parts that trying to pin them all down is next to impossible.
Look at all these moving parts! The writer has to consider: A) Which players he wants taken and where, since this is a draft column after all; B) Next year’s NFL Draft order, which is based on their 2019 season record – a season that hasn’t even started yet; C) And what each team’s need will be, a Herculean feat given how many player transactions will take place over the next 11 months.
To help with section B), Trapasso makes a wise move and goes with CBS Sports’ already-in-existence NFL win projections. Because the NFL won’t know the order of its draft until February 2020, this is brilliant stroke by Trapasso, who now has a framework to work within.
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The NFL’s free-agency period will begin March 2020 – more than a month before the draft. That means we won’t know until then what a team’s needs really are. Perhaps the Jaguars sign the best offensive lineman available in free agency. If that happens, will they really need Wirfs with their first pick? Or perhaps Jawaan Taylor, the offensive lineman the Jaguars took in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft, turns out to be a great player. How will that impact their need to draft another offensive lineman that high?
What Trapasso is trying to pull off is, in a word, remarkable. He’s really sticking his neck out by producing a mock draft 11 months before the draft, and it will be fun to revisit this column 11 months from now to see how good or not good his predictions were.
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Plus, it’s wonderful to see two Hawkeyes placed so high atop his board. Given what happened this year with TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant both going in the first round, to have four first-rounders in two years could mean a lot to the Iowa program.
It also shifts the ground underneath the feet of Kirk Ferentz and his staff. The Hawkeyes went 9-4 this past season. At minimum, that is what they’ll be expected to do in 2020, too, but as Jon Miller pointed out earlier this week, next season’s schedule will be one of Iowa’s most challenging in recent memory. So, let’s say it’s a 7-5 season, which means that over a two-year period with four first-round NFL Draft picks, two other NFL selections, and whatever else happens at next year’s NFL Draft, the Iowa coaches might suffer nine losses. (For the record: I think they’ll be better than 7-5, but stay with me here.)
From a recruiting standpoint, this has to be a spectacular development for the Hawkeyes, but it does add some pressure to the on-field performance. More likely, however, this is a fan-concocted pressure, and Ferentz and his staff will continue to prepare and perform like they always do.
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Which brings this back around to Trapasso and his bold, Hawkeye-heavy predictions. To Hawkeye fans, whether he’s right, wrong, or close-ish, this moment is about Iowa clearly enjoying a spotlight, at least from an individual-personnel perspective. How will that translate into wins? Will it translate into wins? It’s hard to say, but if you’re looking to kill time, I bet you could convince Trapaso to post his 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.