I know that when I make my mock drafts, I taunt the other teams about not caring what they drafted as long as the Bucs did right by me. I would say "You all could draft punters for all I care."
And then Jacksonville went and wasted - WASTED - a Third Rounder on a punter. I realize I really didn't want to wish that on my worst enemies. Well, maybe the Cowboys... But not Jacksonville. The fans there didn't deserve that.
So anyway, about the Bucs. Here's my take on the players drafted this year. The rules are: 1) Did the player fit a need and 2) Will the player make the team? And for the most part...
See after the jump:
First Round (7) - Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
I had us taking Morris Claiborne for three reasons: we had a terrible secondary, he was a near-perfect scouting value for the draft spot we were in, and while our biggest gap was actually Safety getting the best-possible CB of the last 4-5 years was a nice consolation prize.
I was horrified by the fanbase ecstatic over the idea of getting RB Trent Richardson: while RB was weak last season, we still had a good runner in Blount and teams can always find good running backs in the mid-rounds. Conversely, I didn't think much of Tampa Bay going after Barron even though he was the top-rated Safety of the whole draft: his scouting value was lower than where the Bucs were picking, and I wasn't sure if he was in the right position as Safety (he's more Strong than Free, right?) that the Bucs really needed.
So color me surprised when draft night came and rumors swirled about the Bucs trading up to get Trent. And when Cleveland traded up one spot to ensure THEY got the RB, the Bucs did what a lot of us were hoping they'd do if Richardson AND Claiborne was off the board: they traded down. But Claiborne was still there... for Dallas to trade with St. Louis and get him instead.
The fan response was pretty quick - FIRE DOM! - but then word got out real quick that the Bucs were going for Safety and with Mark Barron (albeit as the alternative to missing out on Trent).
In hindsight, it was a smart move: Safety WAS a bigger need than Cornerback. And you could see where the coaches and front office figured Cornerback was lower priority than we imagined: that CB Talib would still be there as the No.1 guy and new FA add-on Wright would be the No.2. Or if Talib would be off-field due to his court case, they had a contingency for that.
As for getting Barron: he was THE Safety to get this year. If he develops well he could be even better than John Lynch (well, okay, maybe not as hard a tackler, but still).
As for the trade-down: it DID net us a Fourth Rounder. But this is where I gripe: the trade for the player made sense; but the trade itself went too cheap! Compared to how St. Louis and Minnesota made out like bandits in their trade-downs, for the Bucs to get only ONE measly extra pick out of it was ridiculous.
Player Fit A Need? Yes Barron did.
Make the Team? Barring complete catastrophe - damn you Mayans, get back here and make us a new calendar! - Barron is a freaking Starter on Day One.
Grade: A for the player, C- for the trade DAMMIT DOM YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN MORE PICKS...!
(31) - Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise St.
Now THIS is when the battlecry of "FIRE DOM" died off. Trading back up into the First Round by merely handing over a Second Rounder that was 5 picks away from this spot and then trading Fourth Rounders with Denver, this became a steal draft pick of the night.
Martin was the second-best RB on most scouting boards right behind Trent. If we couldn't get Trent we got the next best thing, and at a better salary. While the Bucs were okay with LeGarrette Blount as a back, he wasn't an every-down back. Martin is: a threat to receive as well as block for the QB during pass plays, and then take a handoff for 15-20 yards with a solid O-line clearing lanes for him. Best historical comparison? Martin is another Warrick Dunn, arguably the second-best RB we ever had (behind Wilder). With Blount as a powerback akin to Alstott (albeit with a beautiful habit of jumping over would-be tacklers rather than bulldozing them over), we've got a new WD-40 run attack.
Best of all, the trade left us still with a pick in the Fourth Round, and all we did was basically make our scheduled Second Round pick a night early (and at the expense of the New York Giants who were openly sitting there at the 32nd pick waiting for Martin... bwha).
Player Fit A Need? Yes: Bucs needed an all-down running back.
Make the Team? Will pencil in as the starter ahead of Blount, who now has to get working on his pass-blocking skills if he wants that starter job back.
Grade: A for the player, A+ for the trade.
Second Round (58) - Lavonte David, Outside Linebacker, Nebraska
This is where the "DOM IS AN EFFING GENIUS" chatter began. The Bucs' GM went and packaged that Fourth Rounder he garnered this weekend and traded up from the Third Round back into the Second in order to snag one of the premiere OLBs still on the boards.
David was arguably a Top Five Outside Linebacker on most of the scouting boards: considered best on pass defense, but still an effective pursuer and tackler on run plays. Comparison? Derrick Brooks. You can commence squeeing like fangirls in 3... 2... 1...
While this trade pretty much knocked us out of the Third Round (as well as drop us back out of the Fourth Round again), it also secured us an OLB who can get penciled in as the weakside starter and every-down LB on Day One. The Bucs HAD four major needs: Safety, Outside Linebacker, Running Back, and Cornerback (in that order). In three trades, GM Dominick got rookie starters at the top three needs. At this point, as long as Dom didn't use a late-round pick on a punter - SORRY JACKSONVILLE - this could be arguably one of the top five best drafts in team history.
Player Fit A Need? Oh HELL Yes. The cries for any improvement at OLB were about as much as the cries for RB and CB. And David was a First-Round caliber talent just waiting there in the Second...
Make the Team? David is pretty much already ahead of veteran LB Quincy Black.
Grade: A for the player, A- for the trade
Third Round (traded) - all joking aside, there was no way the Bucs could have traded even more to get back into the Third: we pretty much had no chips left to deal outside of future draft picks (and for that I tend to say PLEASE NO).
Fourth Round (got, traded, traded away) - ditto.
Fifth Round (140) - Najee Goode, Inside Linebacker, West Virginia
At this late point in the draft is where you WANT to see questionable, what-the-hell reach picks. While CB or even Right Offensive Tackle (Zebrie Sanders, don't leave us...!) would have been optimal choices here, the Bucs did have depth needs for LB and at the middle spot too. Goode comes in as a "short" LB but with a strong work ethic, excellent winning record, and scouting reports of excellent tackling skills (the one thing the Bucs' defense lacked last season). Biggest knocks on him are lacking power to shed off blockers, and not enough pursuit speed. Schiano coached every year against West Virginia and apparently saw something he liked (especially considering how he never won against West Virginia...). It's nice to have gotten him: but I wonder if we could have gotten an ROT here instead and waited for Goode in the Sixth...
Player Fit A Need? Yes, as back-up and developmental need for LB.
Make the Team? He's going to have to earn his way onto the bench behind Mason Foster, but he's near-perfect for special teams play.
Grade: B- . I'd have preferred getting OT Zebrie Sanders, but I can live with this.
Sixth Round (174) - Keith Tandy, Cornerback, West Virginia
Okay, a run on Rutgers players, I'd understand. But getting kids from your big rival West Virginia? Coach, what up with dat?
My argument against getting a CB this late in the draft is because of two things: One, we have a surplus of Corners - Talib, Wright and Barber as starters; Lewis, Biggers and Gaitor as young draftees needing more development - to where the only reason to have gotten Claiborne was to get a surefire starter; and Two, I really do think the Bucs needed to get a good Right Tackle for the O-line to challenge "Personal Foul" Trueblood.
Tandy comes in with good scouting reports but nothing to wow the fanbase. He'll basically challenge his fellow backups Lewis/Biggers and Gaitor for one of their seats on the plane.
Player Fit A Need? Yes, but for developmental purposes only. The backups we currently have at Corner aren't so good.
Make the Team? Faces serious competition, and will have to impress over the likes of Biggers, Lewis and Gaitor. It's possible considering how disappointing those three have been last season, but this one of the few camp challenges we'll likely see this summer. The OTHER camp challenge...? See below.
Seventh Round (212) - Michael Smith, Running Back, Utah State
This was honestly a surprise pick: for one thing, RB need was fully addressed with getting Martin in the First; second, this wasn't a guy on a lot of people's radars. He wasn't the primary back at Utah St., although he racked up decent stats and all.
Pretty much the one thing he brings to the position is speed: fast, and very good at it. He's not a power-back like Blount is, so in most regards Blount shouldn't worry about losing his roster spot altogether. For Mossis Madu, though...
Player Fit A Need? No, not really. Running back was settled with getting Martin earlier.
Make the Team? Here's the other major camp challenge: the fight for the back-up spots at RB. Blount has an advantage of being a power-back type; the others will have to fight for the third spot on the depth chart.
Grade: B- Surprisingly good RB (not surprised the Bucs were getting trade offers for him during the draft), but not really a need pick
(233) - Drake Dunsmore, Tight End, Northwestern
Oh, I forgot to mention, as part of the trade-up in the Second to get LB David, we traded away Third and Fourth but also got an extra Seventh. So we still got some value from all that trading here.
Tight End in terms of starter need wasn't really there - Winslow is decent, although last season highlighted concerns; and Stocker was a well-valued draft pick but had an injured rookie year - but in terms of talent development there were some calls for getting a TE in the mid-late rounds. Dunsmore is technically a Fullback/Halfback but played a lot of offensive schemes where he lined up as TE. Scouting on him mentions excellent catching skills. If he shows up with the blocking skills needed for a TE/FB, this could well be a bigger draft steal than trading up for David (but not a bigger steal than trading up for Martin. That was huge).
Player Fit A Need? Yes, for developmental/depth needs.
Make the Team? A little more likely than some of the other late-rounders. Tight End doesn't have much roster depth at the moment.
Grade: B a solid end to a solid draft
Moves I Liked: Getting players like Barron, Martin and David. Starter caliber guys with the top three picks, something I haven't said about the top three in a long time.
Trading UP to get Martin and David. And making crafty trades to garner an extra pick that Dominick used to move around the draft to get David.
Getting solid developmental-type players like Goode, Smith and Dunsmore.
Moves I Didn't Like: Failing to get more draft picks out of Jacksonville on their trade-up to our fifth overall spot. When you looked at what Washington and Cleveland were willing to cough up to make their moves, the Bucs could have asked for another late rounder this year or else a mid-round draft pick in next year's draft out of the Jags as well as the Fourth Rounder we did get.
Drafting Tandy for CB, questionable in that all he'll do is challenge the guys we already have as back-ups, nothing more.
Failing to draft a solid Offensive Tackle for the Right Tackle slot to challenge Trueblood.
Overall Draft Grade: B-. The top three picks made this draft one of the best in a long time. Of course, ask me again in four years when we have a better idea how these players panned out...
So, what do you think sirs?