Normally I'd be putting this up on my html website, the section dedicated every year to the Bucs' NFL draft. But this year I decided, Forget It. I've got you wonderful people to annoy here on bucs nation and I figure I can get more readership this way. >:-)
Well, that and I got a new computer and decided to not reinstall my old copy of Dreamweaver 4 onto it. Just not in the mood to mess with it for the moment...
So. How this works: I list the position (Offense, then Defense). I then determine how the current talent is, and if there is a need for either talent or depth / development. I also guess at which round the possible draft pick gets taken. So, beginning with the QB:Quarterback: I am going to be eating crow about the Josh Freeman draft selection for the rest of my life.
Past that, our need at QB is not that high: not for rookie talent, anyway. Freeman has just started. The next guy, backup Josh Johnson, was drafted one year earlier: while his talent is still considered raw, he's shown some flash of skill. Not a lot, just some. As long as Johnson develops into a decent call-player and ball-tosser, our need at QB is good until Johnson leaves via trade or free agency. Rudy Carpenter is the third-stringer. Not much to say there. The deal is, drafting a rookie here makes little sense. Getting a veteran backup via FA, maybe. But not another youngster.
Draft Need: Non-existent.
Running Back: Blount. Done.
Okay, seriously. Blount earned the right to be starter. The team currently has Cadillac as the veteran backup and third-down back, who has developed nicely into a blocking and receiver type RB. Without Blount, Caddy's runs were terrible: With Blount, Caddy's carries have gone for more yardage. So it's a good combo as long as both stay healthy. The problem: Caddy is a FA this off-season. If he takes an offer elsewhere, the Bucs have a serious depth issue here. While shuffling Earnest Graham back to RB might help, the team could be tempted to use a mid-round draft choice on an RB. I haven't seen enough of Lumpkin to know how he might step up from third-string.
Draft Need: Non-existent if Cadillac Williams stays. If he leaves, Mid-High Need and possible Third Round draft pick
Fullback: While Earnest Graham converted well enough to FB, he wasn't as good a blocker you'd want in a fullback. The Bucs converted DE Lorig into a blocker-type FB and he seems to be excelling at it. However, it'd be nice if the team could consider getting a player who's accustomed to the demands of the position and able to work well as both blocker, runner, and fourth-option receiver.
Draft Need: Low. If Graham converts back to RB this becomes a Mid-Range Need, but most likely a Seventh Round selection
Wide Receiver: Under Gruden, we seem to draft wide receivers every year. Some years even multiple picks getting made. With almost none of them panning out. Two years into the Morris/Dominick era and we're looking at the possibility of not drafting a WR for another 5 years.
Mike Williams has been that kind of a Fourth Round Steal for us. Relious Benn was slow to develop but was looking better each game until injury knocked him out. Stroughter has developed nicely into a possession-type third receiver. Even Michael Spurlock, brought on originally to be our kickoff returner, has worked in nicely into the WR corps. This is even without considering UFA acquisition Delmon Briscoe whose performance in the last game as injury replacement wowed the fans. The possible loss of veteran Stovall to FA won't even faze the team.
Our WR corps is one of the youngest in the league, but also developing into one of the best. There doesn't seem to be much call to try and fill more roster spots with rookie WRs.
Draft Need: Non-existent
Tight End: Kellen Winslow. No, that's about it. All we've got is Kellen Winslow.
I kid. John Gilmore is on the roster as well, and he's a good enough backup as TE to make this a low-priority need for the Bucs come draft day.
Draft Need: Non-existent
Offensive Tackle: this comes up as an issue because of two things. 1) Half the scouts think we can do better than Donald Penn at LOT, and 2) Half the fans know we can do better than Jeremy Trueblood at ROT.
Trueblood has been one of the more frustrating players the team's had. His talent is there, and when his head is focused he can be a great blocker. But he's penalty-prone, especially with personal foul stuff. He's been more prone to it than Kenyatta, and that's saying something. While James Lee has come out from UFA status to take the ROT job, when (and not if) Trueblood leaves the roster (he's FA) the Bucs have a serious depth issue. Left Tackle is in good hands with Penn, regardless of some of the scouts thinking we'll be using a First Rounder on an OT this year.
Draft Need: Right Tackle only. Third Round at best.
Offensive Guard: The real problem with the Guards is with injuries. The roster was fluctuating for half the season. We've got First Rounder Davin Joseph (is he FA this year or did the Bucs extend his contract?), and Jeremy Zuttah has been consistent but not excelling. But Zuttah's been busy covering for the injuries at Center, leaving Ted Larsen (who?) and a few other Practice Squad guys get some play time in. Our need at Guard kind of looks high when you look at it on paper. In practice though the patchwork line held. It'd just be nice to have guys less injury-prone and more consistent to create the running lanes up the middle and pass-block the DTs.
Draft Need: Mid-Range. Fourth Round at best.
Center: Jeff Faine was a huge FA acquisition. Too bad most of 2010 had him out of action.
Gauging the need for C depends entirely on if this aging veteran can rebound well from the injury roster. The good news is that depth-wise the Bucs can count on Zuttah or Larsen from the Guard spots to cover this need. Drafting a Center isn't as high a priority for now. It could happen if the team thinks of freeing up the Guards to stick with their slots...
Draft Need: Not really.
Placekicker: Ever since Gramatica, I think the team has cooled on the idea of using a draft selection on a PK. Wasting one pick last year on a Punter who never even played for the team doesn't help. You can get fresh kicking legs off the Unsigned Free Agency lists post-draft anyway. And our Kicker Conner Barth is good enough to keep.
Draft Need: Non-existent.
And Now, for something completely different: The Defense!
Saved for Part II