2013 NFL Mock Drafts: Swarm Intelligence And Where First Round Offensive Linemen Are Slotted

Rob Carr

We review 22 mock drafts by some of the biggest names in the mock draft business and look at where the various mock drafts are slotting which offensive linemen and what that could mean for the Dallas Cowboys

Thursday is mock draft day here on BTB, but since we've already had mock draft summaries up on Monday and Wednesday, we'll do something different today.

Today we're going to introduce you to the concept of swarm intelligence (the collective behavior of self-organized systems without a centralized control structure that can lead to the emergence of "intelligent" global behavior, unknown to the individual agents). The concept of swarm intelligence suggests that the predictive value of many mock drafts is greater than that of a single mock.

Which is why we'll look at a summary of 22 mock below and see what they collectively have to say about the offensive linemen in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. We'll do that by looking at where the various mock drafts are slotting which offensive linemen:

Source Date Luke Joeckel, OT
Eric Fisher, OT
Lane Johnson, OT
Chance Warmack, OG
Jonathan Cooper, OG
D.J. Fluker, OT
Menelik Watson, OT
Don Banks (SI.com) 4/3 1 5 7 10 11 18 - - - -
Ben Standig (FF Toolbox) 4/3 1 5 7 10 18 21 - - - -
Russ Lande (National Football Post) 4/3 7 1 11 20 22 21 15 - -
Walter Football 4/3 1 4 11 7 10 18 - - - -
Al Fronzak (East Coast SportsNews) 4/2 1 4 5 19 12 21 27 15
Ricky Dimon (FF Toolbox) 4/2 1 4 11 7 18 19 - - - -
Drafttek 4/2 1 4 7 8 18 - - - - - -
Matt Falk (Draft Season) 4/2 1 4 7 8 11 18 - - - -
Rob Rang (NFL Draft Scout/CBS) 4/2 1 5 11 12 7 21 - - 32
Dan Kadar (SB Nation) 4/1 1 4 7 10 20 - - - - - -
Dane Brugler (NFL Draft Scout/CBS) 4/1 5 1 7 11 10 - - - - - -
Eric Galko (Sporting News) 4/1 1 5 7 18 22 - - - - - -
Dan Shonka (Ourlads) 3/7 1 2 11 10 18 24 - - 32
Ryan McCrystal (Draft Ace) 3/29 1 5 7 18 10 - - 29 - -
Todd McShay (ESPN) 3/28 1 4 7 8 12 19 26 - -
Peter Schrager (Foxsports.com) 3/26 1 5 7 11 18 20 22 - -
Charley Casserly (NFL.com) 3/25 1 4 11 18 10 19 - - - -
Evan Silva (Rotoworld) 3/25 1 7 11 14 10 - - - - - -
Scott Wright (Draft Countdown) 3/22 1 4 11 16 20 19 26 - -
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com) 3/20 1 7 11 12 10 20 - - - -
Great Blue North Draft Report 3/18 1 3 7 8 11 20 - - - -
Mel Kiper (ESPN) 3/11 1 2 11 18 10 20 24 - -

At first glance, it appears most draft analysts are projecting six offensive linemen to go in the first round. A couple of mocks only have five offensive linemen, others have up to eight taken in the first round.

The good news for the Cowboys - if you think taking a guard with the first pick is good news - is that 13 of the 22 mocks have either or both Jonathan Cooper (9 times) or Chance Warmack (6 times) still available when the Cowboys are on the clock with the 18th pick. If the concept of swarm intelligence holds, then there's a 59% chance the Cowboys can get Cooper or Warmack with their first-round pick. At the same time, there's a 41% chance neither will be available when it's time for the Cowboys to pick. That can't be encouraging if you've got your eyes set on a guard.

Using the same 22 mocks above, I've reordered the data to better understand which teams the draft analysts think are in the race for an offensive lineman. For the table below, I've listed all teams by draft position who have picked an offensive lineman in at least three of the 22 mocks above:

Pick No. Team # mocks with OL pick
1 Kansas City 22
4 Philly 9
5 Detroit 8
7 Arizona 17
8 Buffalo 4
10 Tennessee 11
11 San Diego 15
12 Miami 4
18 Cowboys 12
19 NY Giants 5
20 Chicago 7
21 Cincinnati 4
22 St. Louis 3

This table should be a pretty good indicator of which teams are likely to be in the hunt for an offensive lineman in three weeks. The Chiefs look like locks to take an offensive tackle, and Luke Joeckel is their choice in all but two of the drafts.

After that, the Eagles and Lions are left to do battle for Eric Fisher. Of the 17 combined times either team picks a tackle, only once do they pick Lane Johnson. So while it's not clear from these mocks where Fisher will go, it's a pretty safe bet to say he'll be gone by the fifth pick. Which leaves Lane Johnson as the third tackle, and his likely landing spot appears to be the Cardinals picking at number seven, who are predicted to pick a tackle 17 times out of 22.

After that, there's some minor interest in Chance Warmack by the Bills (picked 4 times), but the big hurdle for the guards are the Titans sitting at number 10. They pick an offensive linemen 11 times and it's always a guard (7x Cooper, 4x Warmack). Even tough I find it unlikely that a guard will be a top ten pick, the draft analysts disagree: there's a good chance one of the guards will be gone by the 10th pick.

At number 11, the Chargers are looking to do mop-up duty in case a tackle slips out of the top 10. Of the 15 times they're predicted to pick an offensive lineman, they pick Lane Johnson 10 times. The five remaining OL picks are split between Cooper (3) and Warmack (2).

After the Chargers pick, there is virtually no interest in a guard until the Cowboys are on the clock at number 18. 13 mocks have either or both Cooper (9 times) or Chance Warmack (6 times) still available when the Cowboys are on the clock, and the Cowboys pick a guard in 12 of those instances.

In summary then, there's a reasonable chance a guard drops to the Cowboys at 18. But if the Cowboys want to make absolutely sure they get Jonathan Cooper, they'll probably have to trade up to or ahead of the Titans. Bundling the 18th and 47th pick (1,330 pts) would probably get them the Titans' 10th pick (1,300 pts), but is such a trade-up really worth it? Probably not.

But that doesn't mean that a trade-up is necessarily out of the question. The Giants and Bears sit right behind the Cowboys, and both have O-line needs, so they may be considering leap-frogging the Cowboys if the right guy falls far enough. That would certainly cause a lot of teeth-gnashing and broken remotes among the Cowboys faithful, but should the Cowboys trade up just as a precaution? That's probably not a great idea either.

If the mocks above are anything to go by, this year's draft is interesting in that there is an uneven distribution of need for offensive linemen. The draft analysts suggest there's a good chance five offensive linemen could be gone by the 11th pick. But if one of the linemen makes it past the 11th pick, he could easily drop all the way to 18th, where the demand suddenly picks up again.

Market anomalies/inefficiencies like that don't last long, and somebody sitting between the 10th and 18th pick might quickly try to exploit that. Tampa Bay (#13), Carolina (#14) and New Orleans (#15) may easily begin soliciting offers from the Cowboys, Bears and Giants if one of the guards falls past Tennessee. The Cowboys' first and third (1,090 pts) would make an even deal for the Panthers pick (1,100 pts), but should the Cowboys let themselves be dragged into a bidding war?

If, as reports suggest, the Cowboys have their sights set on fan favorite Jonathan Cooper, how much, if anything, should they be willing to trade up to get him?

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