It’s real. It’s happening. The NFL draft is tonight, with the Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Oakland Raiders (in that order) getting the first pick of the cream of the crop – the top 5 players in the NFL (or trading pieces, depending on how you look at it).
Many of us at Simply Measured are sports geeks, but all of us are social media geeks…so we took to Twitter, the ultimate pulse-reader, to catch the buzz around the football world’s biggest popularity contest to make our predictions on who the top picks will be. Here are the 5 players with the most mentions in the past month.
As you can see, quarterback Johnny Manziel is the big winner here. Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer, who holds two first-round choices (including No. 4 overall), has called him “exciting,” “electric,” and “dynamic,” and described him as a head-turner. That said, Manziel is considered a big risk with the possibility (but not the promise) of a big reward in a lot of circles, thanks to various off-field behavioral issues. Despite this, the Cowboys are clearly very interested.
Next up is Jadeveon Clowney, a defensive end who played football at the University of South Carolina, becoming a unanimous pick for the All-American award as a sophomore in 2012. He’s described by ESPN as “one of those rare game-changers on defense.”
Coming in third in Twitter mentions is Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver at Clemson University who’s forgoing his senior season to enter the Draft. Sammy Watkins has been in a neck-in-neck competition for the wide receiver top pick with Mike Evans – who falls right below him in Twitter mentions. Could this perhaps be a sign that Sammy Watkins will rank above Evans tonight too?
And speaking of Mike Evans, he comes in fourth. Hailing from Galveston, TX, he’s leaving Texas A&M early to enter the Draft, despite having only played one season of varsity football. NFL.com calls out his major strengths of “outstanding size and length,” the downside of being a “monotone mover with pedestrian speed,” and a bottom line identifying him as a “prep hoopster with shooting-guard size… Evans combined with Johnny Manziel to form one of the most dominant quarterback-receiver connections in the nation the last two seasons.” Oh yeah, did we fail to mention that? Evans + Manziel = dream team by all accounts.
Outside linebacker Khalil Mack is fifth in our mention tally.
Only a two-star prospect out of high school and barely on the radar until recently, many news sources are saying that Mack has a legitimate chance to “come out of nowhere” and take the top slot during the 2014 NFL Draft. In that event, his level of mentions won’t correspond to his Draft position at all. Only time will tell.
Do Twitter Mentions = Draft Picks In Real Life?
Tonight, we don’t just want to know who will get picked first, who will get traded first, and how teams will shake out in the end – we want to know how well the crowds are tapped in. Will your predictions line up with who teams are choosing for the season ahead. What do you think? Are mention counts a reliable way to predict Draft picks? Let us know in the comments below!
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