The 2011 draft was a wild one. 4 quarterbacks were selected in the first 12 picks. The Jacksonville Jaguars traded into the top 10 of the first round to draft Blaine Gabbert. The Vikings drafted Ponder at 12. Jake Locker went to the Titans. Cameron Jordan dropped all the way down the draft. Ryan Mallett went nowhere. Defensive ends kept falling down the draft, and the Bucs had plenty of options at #20. Let's take a look at the Bucs and the division rivals. We'll start with the #1 pick in the draft: the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers and the new regime there decided to rebuild with a quarterback. Cam Newton out of Auburn, to be precise. Newton is an intriguing player, a supremely talented but extremely raw quarterback. The Buccaneers likely won't have to be afraid of him initially, because there's going to be a significant transition period for him. The question may be whether he even develops at all, because a lot of things need to be fixed about Newton for the Panthers to start winning.
The next pick was made surprisingly by the division champion Falcons. Atlanta mortgaged their future to grab wide receiver Julio Jones out of Alabama, not even the top WR in the draft. Julio Jones is a great talent and the Falcons' offense will be a lot scarier next year. But the Falcons had many more holes they won't be able to fill now, because they mortgaged their future for this pick. It cost them this year's 1st rounder, this year's second rounder, this year's 4th rounder, next year's first rounder and next year's 4th rounder to trade up to #6 to select Julio Jones. If Jones busts, the Falcons have a major problem. If Jones doesn't bust but other holes on their team prevent them from winning, they still have a huge problem and no way to fix it. I love this move by the Falcons, because it means the Falcons will decline quickly.
And for similar reasons, I really like what the Saints did: they traded away this year's second-rounder and next year's first rounder to draft Mark Ingram. I haven't been impressed with Ingram. I think he's a fairly one-dimensional, patient, workmanlike runner. He'll be a good pro and a quality player, and he'll provide a solid running game, but nothing more. And the Saints gave up 2 quality picks for that, at a time when late-round running backs seem to be producing like crazy. I like this pick, because I think it makes the Saints worse in the long run.
The Saints also had their own first-round pick, though, and they chose Cameron Jordan with that pick. Their defensive line is looking a whole lot more formidable now, and Cameron Jordan will get the chance to go against Adrian Clayborn twice a year and prove that he should've been the higher pick. Cameron Jordan will immediately improve the Saints' front seven, and he could be a major problem for the Bucs' offense in the future.
And finally, we come to the Bucs. As we all know, they've taken Adrian Clayborn over Cameron Jordan and Da'Quan Bowers. Clayborn is a very confusing player to me, because he's so different from his junior to his senior year. If you put on the tape from 2009, you think you're getting an elite pass rusher. Put on the 2010 tape and you see a power player who didn't get into the backfield much. Supposedly Clayborn was asked to play more of a 2-gap system in 2010, limiting his pass rush opportunities. If that's true and the Bucs really are getting the 2009 version of Adrian Clayborn, they're getting a dominant defensive end. But if the Bucs are wrong about Clayborn, then they're going to end up with a good run defender who won't get to the quarterback much.