Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE
What would a Buccaneers draft look like if they could only draft Rutgers and West Virginia players? An exercise in fun and futility.
Greg Schiano loves Rutgers players and he loves West Virginia players, for two very different reasons. He knows his Rutgers players, he knows whether they fit his idea of a Buccaneer man and they're familiar with how he runs his team. When Schiano took over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the team's first big moves was to re-sign guard/center Jeremy Zuttah to a long-term contract. Zuttah played his college football at Rutgers, as did many of the free agents the Bucs picked up during the offseason. Four of those players ultimately stuck, as Gary Gibson and Tiquan Underwood got substantial playing time, while rookie Desmond Wynn ended up on injured reserve.
But Schiano likes West Virginia players, too. And that became really obvious during the draft, when the Bucs took little-known defenders Najee Goode and Keith Tandy in the fifth and sixth round respectively. Both of them were West Virginia products, and neither of them managed to do much on the field during their rookie season. Schiano's infatuation with WVU players is easily explained: in 12 tries, he did not manage to secure a single win. Not one. That's impressive futility, and that sort of thing rubs off on coaches.
So, without further ado, here's what Tampa Bay's draft could look like if they drafted only Rutgers and West Virginia players. That isn't going to happen -- but it's still amusing to think about.
Round one: Geno Smith, quarterback, West Virginia
The quarterback board is incredibly murky. No one knows who is at the top of the quarterbacks lists, which quarterbacks will be seen as valid first-round picks and which ones won't, and where each player will be selected. While Smith is generally seen as the top quarterback, he has plenty of competition and he could fairly easily slide to the Bucs' pick at 13. He's the 16th overall player in Mocking the Draft's rankings, so it would be no real surprise if he did slide to the Bucs.
And why would the Bucs pick Geno Smith? Well, here's what he did against Greg Schiano in two games: 43/58 (74%) for 570 yards, five touchdowns (one rushing) and no interceptions. That's pretty impressive, and it will have cemented his name in Schiano's mind. Smith had a stellar start to the 2012 season but that performance came back to earth after some 8 games. Still, he looks like a good player who would at least provide some serious competition for Josh Freeman.
Alternate pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Austin would be a bit of a reach in the first round and he's unlikely to be available in the second round, but he's an explosive weapon for any offense perhaps best compared to Percy Harvin. He would be a good fit as a slot receiver and all-purpose weapon, including returner, with the Bucs. If the team trades down, he could be their target.
Round two: Logan Ryan, cornerback, Rutgers
In the second round, the Buccaneers address a massive need: cornerback. Ryan is one of a slew of good-but-not-great cornerbacks who should be available in the second round. He's not a shutdown cornerback, but he's good enough to start in the NFL early on. He's physical and a good tackler, as is usually the case with Schiano defenders, and would obviously fit his scheme wonderfully.
Alternate pick: Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers
Greene is basically Lavonte David: a fast, instinctive but undersized outside linebacker. It may be a challenge to get both David and Greene on the field at the same time, but it sure would be fun to see.
Round three: Stedman Bailey, wide receiver, West Virginia
Another slightly undersized but very explosive receiver, he was ridiculously productive the past two seasons, racking up 2,901 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns in 2011 and 2012 combined. That kind of production is obscene, but he may still be limited in the NFL. He is, after all, on the short side and he could fall a little because of that. Still, if he does, the Bucs should snap him up and quickly make him a major part of their offense.
Round four: Jawan Jamison, running back, Rutgers
The Bucs don't have a great change-of-pace back to relieve Doug Martin, and Legarrette Blount is likely to leave in free agency. Jamison wound up rushing for 1,075 yards in 2012 and was given a third-round grade by the NFL Draft advisory committee. He's a versatile player who also had 28 catches for 323 yards on the season. Despite his third-round grade, he could easily fall a round or so. Because, well, that's what tends to happen with running backs.
Round four (from Patriots): Mark Harrison, wide receiver, Rutgers
This would be a pure upside pick. At 6'3", 234 lbs. and projected to run around a 4.5 40-yard dash, Harrison has outstanding measurables. Unfortunately, he has not had outstanding production at Rutgers. He's a bit of a long strider with a wide catching radius, and is the same type of player as Vincent Jackson. He had 42 receptions for 583 yards in his senior season -- hardly stellar production, but he didn't get much help with poor quarterback play. Would he be worth a late fourth-rounder? It all depends on how likely he is to turn his physical gifts into production in the NFL.
Round five: Scott Vallone, defensive tackle, Rutgers
The Buccaneers could use some extra depth at defensive tackle, and Vallone has the ability to be a decent nose tackle next to Gerald McCoy. He's a disruptive run defender who can hold the point and has some upside as a pass-rusher. If the Bucs don't re-sign Roy Miller, Vallone could be his future replacement.
Round six: Terence Garvin, linebacker/safety, West Virginia
He's big, physical and could be an outstanding box safety if used correctly. He's not great but has some upside as a sixth-round pick, and the Bucs could use him as either a linebacker or a safety. More likely, they'll use him as a box safety in certain situations and a core special teams player.
Round seven: D.C. Jefferson, tight end, Rutgers
It's getting really iff now, but we soldier on! The Bucs need a tight end, and Jefferson has good size, decent ability as a blocker and very little production as a receiver. 20 catches for 168 yards in his senior season isn't exactly great, but I have to find some players to fill the roster with. He does have good athleticism and good upside, but it never came out in college. But hey, the Bucs love drafting tight ends late.