This is it. This Thursday is the Big Evening Event for Bucs fans everywhere (including the sizable fanbase in the UK, whom I don't blame for those terrible London games (I blame the Glazers and Man U Soccer, bastids)).
And so, with consideration towards who the Bucs SHOULD draft with their 6 picks this year, I offer up this list of possibles and ought-tos and why-the-hell-nots. With a poll as always with helpful suggestions about how much medication I should be using...
Again, I am planning on dining out at the Palm Harbor's Selmons Restaurant on US 19 ( http://www.leeroyselmons.com/locations/store/7 ) and hope to get a good crowd of Bucs fans to join me as we pray to High Heaven we don't waste the First Rounder on QB Tannehill (AAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUGGGGHHHH NOT AGAIN).
After the jump:
First Round (5) - Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
The cutting of Tanard "Stash" Jackson may hurt the Safety position most, but the whole secondary is affected by this move. And we're still not sure what the situation is going to be with Talib and his Court Case Of Doom. Logic says you take care of greatest need first, and on my list team needs are 1) Safety 2) Outside Linebacker 3) Cornerback 4) Running Back. Problem is, this draft is one of the weakest for Safeties since, oh, last year's draft. Mark Barron is the only one deemed worthy of a First Rounder... and even then not a value in the Top 5 (or Top 10... or Top 15...).
I went with CB and with Claiborne for two reasons: Claiborne is scouted as one of the best Corners entering a draft in years; and the uncertainty with Talib and unlikelihood of any of the remaining Corners (Biggers, Lewis, even FA acquisition Wright) stepping up as a Number 1 Corner. We CAN wait for the mid-rounds to get a decent RB to complement Blount.
The smartest move the Bucs can make? Trade this spot and move down a few places in the First Rounder, meanwhile snagging extra picks in the Second and/or Third Rounds in order to cover the needs at S, OLB and RB. But there aren't a lot of players left that teams are willing to trade up FOR... unless Claiborne gets taken by the Vikes as feared and OT Matt Kalil slips to where we are. And while I normally say "Never sneeze at a draft pick for a starting LOT", we're actually pretty good with OT Donald Penn and can afford to trade our spot (and Kalil) in order to take care of more pressing needs... That said, if we do end up with Kalil due to Claiborne going to Minnesota and nobody wanting to trade up, I won't mind too much... I'll just be sighing over what could have been.
Second Round (36) - LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon
If we get Claiborne in the First, and fail to snag more picks, then our scenario should be to get quality players at the remaining need spots. Safety is still a need, but quality? We could wait until later for that. The next big need would be Outside Linebacker, but I'd been informed that OLBs slide down a lot in the previous drafts (I am concerned that this year's draft may see a run on OLB though). Again, we could wait for OLB. That leaves RB.
James may be going higher than what the scouts would rate him on, but I am afeared that he could be off the boards by the time the Bucs pick again in the Third. And James would make a complementary passing-down back to Blount's more power-run back. With the added bonus of being a good runner (cough Lumpkin cough).
Alternate picks here would be OLB Sean Spence from UMiami, OLB Bobby Wagner of Utah St., and RB Doug Martin of Boise St. If we took Kalil in the First, CB Chase Minnifield of Virginia could get considered here.
Third Round (68) - Sean Spence, Linebacker, U of Miami
Taking care of CB and RB was easy. Now it's a toss-up between taking care of the last two major - bigger - needs. Linebacker AND Safety play last season was atrocious... but the way the draft worked out this year, the Bucs were in poor position to take care of either one in the First and Second rounds. Of the ones on the scouting boards that should be at this point in the draft, Spence is the one with the best scouting report. It says basically "Great instincts, great tackling, stops the run." The biggest knock on him is size: but we've had undersized LBs before (Derrick Brooks was considered undersized, correct?) and what mattered most was getting to the ball-carrier and stopping him.
If the Bucs go with Safety, Markelle Martin of Oklahoma St. or Antonio Allen of South Carolina could be here. But again, this can wait for the Fourth Ro... uh...
Fourth Round (traded) - there goes our shot at getting a good value at Free Safety... sigh.
Fifth Round (140) - Eddie Whitley, Safety, Virginia Tech
Getting the best available Safety still on the boards by the Fifth Round is a MUST if the draft works out the way I have it.. He may not be a starter but adds depth to a thinned-out roster spot. Whitley's scouting report has him as a good tackler and good angles to the play. He's not too fast and apparently not good in man coverage. But they've got him as a special teams contributor on Day One.
I'd like to see Terrell Young from South Florida get drafted as a Safety to the Bucs, but I doubt it. Sigh. There goes my annual push to see a Bulls player re-take the field at Raymond James...
Sixth Round (174) - Don Barclay, Offensive Tackle, West Virginia
The O-line's starting line-up seems set (maybe new coaching can get Trueblood playing better...) but depth is an issue. Barclay can work as a back-up ROT and hopefully work his way into the roster.
Seventh Round (212) - Tahir Whitehead, Outside Linebacker, Temple
I had us getting Whitehead here for mostly special teams/talent evaluation. I don't see much of a reason to shift this around. Really by this point the Bucs can draft anybody (JUST NO PUNTERS! We GOT one already!).
I STILL regret the Bucs not getting any Compensatory picks. Le Sigh...
Needs not taken care of: There may be calls for drafting a Tight End early, but I'd like to give second-year Luke Stocker a chance for a healthy season. With regards to Winslow, I'd like to think his off-year last season was due to poor playcalling by the coaches AND I don't see anyone draft-worthy this year that can unseat him right off the bat, so why waste a pick there when we've got needs elsewhere. Also, Free Agency took care of WR, G, and D-line depth.
So, what do you think sirs?