Yeah, I stopped doing this on my own HTML-based website when I realized I can confirm annoying people here with my assessments.
My rules: 1) Does the Pick Fill A Need then 2) Does the Player Make The Team (this is in short-term: anything goes once they hit Free Agency). At the end, I assess the draft's best moves, the worst moves, and give an overall grade for this year. Whether or not any of this actually comes to pass is entirely out of my hands, and my opinions can be ridiculed ten different ways to Sunday. Which happens to be in about 55 minutes of writing this. Anyway.
Starting with First Round: 20) Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
I have to admit, he wasn't my preference. I had my hopes on Ryan Kerrigan, who I saw as a more capable pass-rusher. Of course, Kerrigan got taken earlier, so... I had heard about Clayborn's palsy and that also gave me concerns. Even with the assurances posted by Landlubber which did calm most of my fears, I still feel Clayborn's just not going to be as dominant a pass-rusher as I'd like to see in a DE. His 2009 performance was impressive: but his 2010 season was not. That's been blamed on his coaches changing their defensive schemes. So it's now a question of how the Bucs' schemes will use him.
Does He Fill A Need: YES. The Bucs had serious problems with a D-line producing little pressure on QBs and having problems shutting down running backs. Any DE that can upgrade the talent at that position definitely fills the need. As long as he's good in containing the run, that's a good thing.
Does He Make The Team: YES. He's a First-Rounder. It's practically a given. Unless he's a total Ryan Leaf/Brian Bosworth, in which case... just cut the line and don't look back... Okay, seriously. Clayborn has a solid college record and there's little doubt he's motivated to prove his palsy won't stop him. But that's got to limit the number of moves a DE's going to need against the top OTs he's going to face at the pro level, so I see him working the side of the line designed to stop the run (the LDE, right?)
Second Round 51) Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Under normal circumstances the Bucs shouldn't even have had a chance of getting him: the pre-draft eval on Bowers put him at the top of the DE talent pool, and certainly one of the top three talents overall in the draft. Carolina could well have drafted him first overall (whenever the top drafting team goes for a non-QB, it's either for Best Ever OT or Best Ever DE. Few exceptions, period). But these were not normal circumstances, and there's a reason why Bowers slipped into the Second Round. There's a reason why the Bucs didn't even draft him at 20) where they took Clayborn.
It's that goddamn knee.
Where Clayborn was born with the palsy and has learned to play with it (which is where Landlubber gets it right), Bowers' recent knee surgery threw up every red flag in the draft books. While it's apparently a knee surgery that other NFL players recover from and keep playing with, there's no certainty WHEN Bowers was going to be at 100 percent. There's even some fear about the IF Bowers gets to 100 percent. Hence the slide.
If the knee heals properly. If Bowers can get on the field even halfway into the season. If. IF. If the IF pans out... then the Bucs will have the best goddamn pass-rusher the team's ever seen since Simeon Rice that Super Bowl year. If.
Does He Fill A Need: YES. Normally I question drafting multiple picks at one position, but the depth / talent issues at DE are poor enough that drafting multiple DEs this year made some sense.
Does He Make The Team: YES eventually. I would think the GM and coach are well aware of the knee and are going to be patient about getting him to 100 percent. Tossing him out too early = usually a bad idea. So here's hoping the team IS patient about this.
Third Round 84) Mason Foster, LB Washington
This was the first draft pick this weekend that I honestly felt good about. First glance at his bio/college career practically screams TACKLING MACHINE. Second glance just shouts it louder (if I could type larger than CAPS LOCK I would). This team keeps looking for The Next Derrick Brooks to claim the crown of Tackling Elite: Foster just may be the true heir to Brooks' legacy.
Does He Fill A Need: YES across the board. Bucs had a need at both MLB and OLB depending on how free agency shakes out (MLB Ruud and OLB Black could well leave). While there's depth at both spots, what Foster does is assure us starter quality talent at whichever needs it most.
Does He Make The Team: YES. He better.
Fourth Round 104) Luke Stocker, TE Tennessee
Bit of a surprise pick for me, as I figured the Bucs' Tight End roster is good. But we do face free agency defections and so depth and talent needs are here.
Stocker comes in as one of the top TEs of the talent pool, so getting him in the Fourth Round almost counts as a steal. He's a sure-handed receiver with the build to be a line-blocker when needed. The biggest complaint on the board so far has been that the Bucs traded up to get him, exchanging their later Fourth Rounder to move up as well as trading the 2012 Fourth Round to seal the deal. I don't have a problem with the trade: If you think the guy is going to fit a need, and you're worried that a team drafting ahead of you will take him (and there were TE-needy teams ahead of the Bucs), then make the trade. The thing is, don't trade away too much, which I don't feel the Bucs did here (just one extra pick, that's all. Some teams stupidly trade away more than that).
Does He Fill A Need. YES. With Gilmore on the FA market, depth at least needs filling. As a potential blocker-type TE, he compliments the starter Kellen Winslow and could make 2-TE formations work like gangbusters.
Does He Make The Team: YES. Otherwise Sander is going to sue for emotional damages.
Fifth Round 151) Amhad Black, SS Florida
I can always be counted on to be screaming for a Safety or Cornerback every draft year... ;-) What was amazing about this year's draft was how the Safety talent pool was barely touched for five Rounds, and that Amhad Black, rated one of the top three Strong Safeties on the board, was still sitting here by Fifth Round. (It seems the league scouts were not impressed with this year's crop of Safeties...) Black was Florida's biggest defensive playmaker last year and has put in a quality career at the college level. But the knocks on him are his height and lack of speed. Thing is... he shows up for the big plays, and has a knack for being in position for them.
Does He Fill A Need: YES. While our Safeties have some talent, there's also serious questions about depth (especially with Tanard Jackson still suspended re: His Stash) and with covering for injuries.
Does He Make The Team: YES. For now, Black is definitely talented enough for special teams, and one hopes he gains the skill needed to patrol the backfield on a regular basis.
Sixth Round 187) Allen Bradford, RB Southern Cal
There was clamor for the Bucs to look at RB this draft, as Cadillac Williams is facing FA and the Bucs needed to look at a change-of-pace Back that would compliment the current power back LeGarette Blount. So the Bucs go out and... get a power back who looks to be as much a pounding style back as Blount. Which... doesn't exactly make much sense.
Does He Fill A Need: NO. The Bucs would be better served keeping Caddy on the roster as the change-of-pace back, considering Caddy is getting the hang of receiving passes and blocking duties in third-down situations. Unless Bradford converts to FB - which is possible, as there may be a need there (if Earnest Graham or Erik Lorig convert back to RB and TE respectively).
Does He Make The Team: NO. As a Running Back. If he converts to FB, then maybe...
Seventh Round 222) Anthony Gaitor, CB FIU
Despite my qualms with some of the earlier picks, I never did a WTF moment until this pick. Mostly it's because I didn't think there were any players that were ready for drafting out of Florida International. Zing. But apparently Gaitor was a well-scouted Corner who was expected to be a late-rounder pick. He's a thin and short Corner... but given the Bucs' defensive schemes, that's sometimes considered excellent qualities (say hi to Ronde Barber).
Does He Fill A Need: a good old fashioned MAYBE. The Bucs are pretty good with Corners - youngsters Myron Lewis and EJ Biggers for starters... No, literally - but it's a question of depth depending on what happens to Aqib Talib.
Does He Make The Team: NO, I'm not seeing it. The roster is packed with Corners. He makes it if he impresses on special teams and if Talib is suspended/gone from the team and he fits the nickel package once the roster reshuffles itself.
238) Daniel Hardy, TE Idaho
Leave it to the Bucs to draft multiple picks at the same roster spot, again. This time it's with going after another TE for what looks to be depth / development needs. Hardy isn't a blocker-type but a receiver-type of TE (for some reason some scouts are looking at him as a convert to WR because of that).
Does He Fill A Need: NO, not really. Stocker did earlier, but is our TE roster going to be that barren if/when Gilmore departs via FA?
Does He Make The Team: NO. Unless he impresses the hell out of everybody catching the ball, I can't see him surviving the final cuts before regular season. If he makes the Practice Squad, past waivers...
BEST MOVES OF THE DRAFT:
- Filling need at Defensive End;
- Filling need at Linebacker, especially with a guy who can be the Real Next Derrick Brooks;
- Taking Chance on Bowers with Second Round
- Yes, trading up to get TE Stocker - considering he was a guy the team coveted, there were teams ahead of the Bucs who would take him, and all it cost was one pick from next year's draft. They didn't waste more picks than that like some teams would have. Let it go. Trades happen.
WORST MOVES OF THE DRAFT:
- Failing to draft Offensive Tackle or Guard for depth / possible talent upgrade
- Failing to draft a different style of RB than power back, as we've got that covered
GRADE OF 2011 BUCS DRAFT: B-
The top picks simply have a lot of question marks - the limited mobility of the shoulder on Clayborn, the knee on Bowers - to be fully satisfied those picks will pan out. That said, if Bowers recovers 100 percent, then the Bucs have pretty much gotten the scariest pass-rusher they've been looking for since the Bucs' D was at its 2002 prime. I just hate that IF. The good news is that overall the Bucs' draft was solid in garnering quality guys, especially with Foster as LB (either Middle or Outside, which is nice) and Stocker as the No.2 TE opposite Kellen. I also think getting Black where we did wasn't a bad move and that he'll find a way to contribute early and often. If we get three starters out of this draft (likely) then it's one of the better drafts in the last ten years.