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Expectation And How It Affects Evaluation

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The Bucs picked nine different players in the 2010 draft. However, they will be judged much differently come their first year on the team. 

Third overall pick Gerald McCoy will be scrutinized much more than fellow first rounder Brian Price. Second round WR Arrelious Benn will have much higher expectations than fourth round WR Mike Williams, despite the consensus opinion that Williams has the higher upside. 

Seventh rounders Cody Grimm and Erik Lorig will be deemed to have successful years if they simply make the team. 

Why is this? 

The simple reason is opportunity cost. By taking McCoy at No. 3, we gave up the opportunity to select 31 other players before our next pick, Price. Same thing goes for Benn (picked 39th overall) and Williams (101st overall).

Let's say McCoy and Price put up identical lines: 26 tackles, five passes defensed, three sacks, and one forced fumble. How would you grade each one? I am betting that no matter how you see it, good or bad, Price will almost always come out with more favorable marks. 

The reason being that we are not just grading these players on their individual performances, but also on the performances of the players picked behind them, since the team had an opportunity to pick those players at that spot. So, in essence, the mere fact that Price puts up the same numbers in this hypothetical situation means that McCoy's accomplishments are, to a certain degree, diminished.

Again let's look at a direct comparison. Let's assume Benn catches 35 balls for 520 yards and four touchdowns, while Williams puts up 35 catches for 448 yards and four  scores again. With these two, it's a little closer than the McCoy/Price debate. The reason being that, as stated before, Williams is considered an equal talent and only dropped in the draft due to perceived character issues. 

Just as in every walk of life, results almost always mean nothing on their own, because our mind has to contextualize them. Therefore based on as much data as we have available we put together expectations, and then weigh the results against the pre-conceived expectations.

So, my question to you becomes, what are your expectations for this year's draft class? What constitutes a successful year for any/all of our rookies? Would you take the hypothetical numbers I threw out there for the higher profile picks as a "good" first campaign or do you expect more?

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.