I've been dreading grading the Bucs Draft. It almost feels like homework in a way, so let me go ahead and get this out of the way.. Forget the teasers, I'm gonna throw it out there: The Bucs deserve an B+ for last weekends draft results.
The Bucs solved their Cornerback question, added speed to the offense, and got guarenteed hog mollies for both sides of the line. First the obvious, Nobody has questioned Talib's ability, just his character and I think the two year drug-less period he's had proves that he has turned the page. Surely theres no guarentees, as we're all human and susceptible to relapses. At any rate, you could argue drafting Mike Jenkins over Talib, but they're almost one in the same and if you had to wager money, I'm sure you would bet Talib has the better athleticism of the two corners...
A ton of fans were angered by the Bucs 2nd Round selection, many felt the pick was a reach. I too would have liked to see the Bucs move up to nab a more battle tested Receiver, but #1 - It cost a Kings Ransom to move up in the Draft (just ask the Jags), #2 - Lets be honest with ourselves, there isnt/wasnt a single Wide Receiver in that Draft that would turn the Bucs offensive woes around. The time it takes to learn Gruden's offense is the first mountain, the second mountain is trying to work your way into the fold (for some reason Clayton receives chance after chance, along with "Has-Been" free agent pick-ups). We needed a burner for the offense and specifically the return game and Dexter Jackson may have been the fastest receiver in the draft. Sure he played for a
Div-II DivI-AA school and may not have the softest hands, but he will be a factor on the field for the Bucs.
Even more fans were puzzled by a third round pick being used on a potential back-up player. Several scouts had Zuttah as a 2nd round pick and by his own accounts he seems eager to mix it up in the starting rotation. I don't think adding depth to the line was such a bad thing here. Who knows if Petitgout can make it through a season. Who knows if Donald Penn can duplicate or improve upon last seasons production. I think Gruden's learned a valuable lesson and its evident in the teams
disgusting acquisition of veteran QB Brian Griese.. This team cant afford to have guys go down and not have capable back-ups ready to step in. We've seen guys go down throughout Gruden's tenure and its guarenteed to continue
Maryland's DT Dre' Moore has been recounted as a steal by many draft scouts. He was projected to go in the late first or early 2nd round and fell all the way to the fourth round. Moore is known for his run stopping ability and by the end of the season, teams figured out to the run the ball to the opposite side of Moore. His achilles heel appears to be his conditioning or lack there of. He has a high motor and rarely ever takes plays off, thus he's pretty well spent by the end of ball games. I don't think he'll have a problem with conditioning in Monte's defense, as his position rotates fairly often. It would be nice to find a vocal leader for the d-line as Moore is anything but. He's about as solid as they come for a 4th round pick though. He should push Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan...
On to the most shocking pick of the weekend or was it? We all saw this selection coming a mile away. We may not have known who the QB would be, but we knew he was coming regardless. It's been a while since the Bucs had success come from the 5th Round of the Draft and beyond (the last coming in S Jermaine Phillips in '02), so blowing a fifth round pick on a Div-II QB shouldnt hurt the Bucs grade. Johnson's speed, strong arm, smarts, and accuracy led Gruden to draft the San Diego star. His sheer numbers didnt hurt his case either; He threw for 2,988 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 1 interception against Div-II competition and thats the only knock on Josh. Can he hack it against elite competition? Can he read the more elaborate defensive schemes of the NFL? Time will tell.. Although he's a QB, the Bucs didnt go wrong with this pick
Their 6th round selection of LB Geno Hayes was the only question mark of the weekend for me. Had the Bucs drafted Hayes in '07 I would have been ecstatic, as Geno was amazing. This year however, his play left alot to be desired. Against the rival Florida Gators, Geno had all of ONE Tackle.. way to show up. Granted the program around him is/was a complete mess, he should still have put forth full effort. Putting last season behind me, Geno always seemed to play above his abilities. You were often watching him play and for no reason you would start to cheer him on. He's got good size at 6'2 and deceptive speed. He covers the field well and attempts to get in on every play. He's got good instincts which allows him to spy the Quarterback and disrupt the underneath patterns. If Geno can stay out of trouble he could turn out to be a bargain in the 6th round, but I'm not so sure he has the focus to do so.
Runningback was the one position I thought the Bucs would surely overlook in the Draft, especially considering the amount of backs they currently have on the roster. Cory Boyd seems to be a more complete version of RB Kenneth Darby who the Bucs drafted in the 7th round last season. Darby and Boyd both possess speed and agility, but Boyd adds the combination of power to his running ability. I don't expect Boyd to contribute in the running game any time soon and it would have to be one heck of a disaster season for him to see the field, but special teams is an area he should be able to contribute in immediately.
I know alot of you are disappointed the Bucs didnt draft another Wide Receiver, but outside of the 5th round, there really wasnt an opportunity to look toward the wide receiving position again. I think the Bucs had a very solid draft. They filled several voids on the team and added just enough spark to make next season even more interesting. Report Card closed!