TAMPA, FL - MAY 4: Running back Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks to the media after a rookie practice at the Buccaneers practice facility May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
We're nearly two weeks removed from the 2012 NFL Draft, but articles are still being written about the event. The next few months are going to be pretty quiet, after all. One of the ways in which sites examine draft classes is in the form of 'impact players'. Which rookies will provide the biggest impact early on in their careers? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers feature prominently on this list, as Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David are all mentioned. Let's go through a few of them.
"The Bucs were hoping to get Claiborne, but they won't be disappointed with the draft's top safety. Barron will help clean up many things on the back end of their run defense. His inside coverage ability will lead to preventing big plays and making a few. Tampa Bay finished last in scoring defense and 30th in total defense last year. Barron will be a huge boon to improve those numbers."
I find it interesting that Barron is consistently mentioned as a candidate to clean up things on the 'back end' of the Bucs' run defense. To me,he seems more likely to make an impact as the eighth man in the box, filling one of the gaps in run defense. That role will be especially valuable in nickel defense. It's not the back end that will improve with his presence, as replacing Tanard Jackson with Cody Grimm should do that. It's the front end of run defense that will improve with Barron's presence.
No. 3: S Mark Barron
The middle of the field wasn't safe for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. Barron adds two things -- he can match up against tight ends in pass coverage and he's a play-making safety who can offer leadership to a young defense.
Hey, they didn't mention Barron's run defense. And that's a good thing to remember: Barron isn't just a run defender, he'll be a terrific asset for the Bucs in coverage as well.
No. 9: RB Doug Martin
Martin is a tough, all-effort runner who should thrive in the Buccaneers' running system under Greg Schiano. Trent Richardson probably will gain more yards, but Martin's yardage may translate into more victories.
Martin will most likely be the foundation of this offense, no matter how much I hate a run-first offense. He'll have a big impact and big numbers, barring injury.
Mel Kiper - Early impact from Round 2 and 3: LB Lavonte David
No surprise I'd have David on this list. If a team had taken him as high as, say, Detroit at No. 23 overall, I still would have liked the pick. He'll be great as a weakside linebacker for the Bucs.
Lavonte David will be an instant three-down starter at linebacker. While he's a physical, fast, downhill linebacker in the run game, I'm most excited to see his impact in coverage.