I was listening to 620 AM WDAE the other day when Derek Sharp stated in his Sports Attack that Todd McShay released his second mock draft on ESPN. He reportedly has the Buccaneers selecting University of South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul with the third pick of the draft.
I did a double take at the radio on my desk, blinked my eyes a couple times...looked at my coffee cup to make sure I hadn't been drugged....shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and went back to work. Jason Pierre-Paul? With the third pick? To call that potential move suprising at this time would be an understatement in my humble opinion. Pierre-Paul is a player with a ton of upside, but is a raw talent that will have to improve his technique significantly to make an impact in the league. With that in mind, and with the memory of the struggles of the former #4 overall pick and late Gaines Adams, I see no way the Bucs' heavily-scrutinized front office takes that kind of a risk at a crucial time like this. How McShay doesn't see the same is beyond me, but c'est la vie.
Moving on to other "experts", Mel Kiper Jr.'s most recent mock draft has the Buccaneers taking S Eric Berry after the Rams and Lions take the two impact defensive tackles #1 and #2 overall...
He has the Rams taking Ndamukong Suh and the Lions snaring Gerald McCoy. Can't say I blame him for either pick. However, it's becoming more and more possible that the Rams are looking at drafting and grooming a budding young star QB rather than acquiring a scab or a stopgap QB through a trade or free agency. Sam Bradford is a real possibility for them, especially if the new ownership group isn't shy about spending money. It's become pretty clear that Marc Bulger's battered body has been relegated to no better than a backup and Keith Null and Kyle Boller are absolutely dreadful. Unless they plan to fail miserably again and secure Jake Locker in 2011, they need to get their future in motion with a QB in this draft. If so, one of the two DT's could be in play for the Buccaneers. However, all that being said, it wouldn't completely shock me to see Kiper's prediction come true, and if so, I'd be thrilled with the Bucs taking the safe, sure-fire selection of Eric Berry.
The Sporting News Pro Football War Room's early Top-3 is a little more interesting and unconventional....they predict Suh to the Rams, DE Derrick Morgan to the Lions, and DT Gerald McCoy to the Bucs. I....heh.... I dunno about the Lions taking a shot at Morgan with the 2nd pick. I think it's pretty safe to say that Derrick Morgan's technique and overall play are more refined than Pierre-Paul at this point in time. That said, it's just too big of a risk for teams like the Lions and the Bucs with holes everywhere to roll the dice on a player that you can't look at right now and say "that guy is a pro-bowl calibur player in the next season or two", which is what you should be getting out of a top 3 - top 5 player. Of course, we're still pre-combine...and this year will undoubtedly have a Gaines Adams/Vernon Gholston/etc-type guy emerge at the combine as an alleged stud, but right now I think that's too risky of a pick for Detroit with more seemingly-NFL-ready impact guys like McCoy and Berry sitting there in this mock. Remember, Detroit sat at the bottom of the league in pretty much every significant defensive statistic, so they have room for an impact player at every position.
NFLDraftScout.com, as seen on cbssports.com, has a pair of mocks up. With both DTs off the board, Rob Rang has the Bucs taking Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung, and Chad Reuter has the Bucs snapping up Eric Berry. Okung is generally considered the best offensive line prospect in the draft, but would it be a case of adding to a position of relative strength on this team, with the defense having plenty of holes and thin depth? That statement should be qualified...if Penn and Trueblood are converted into RFA's based on the expiration of the CBA, I would absolutely expect the Bucs to tender and retain both of them. Thus, although long-term questions remain about the futures of Penn/Trueblood, I think their presence in 2010 would favor the Bucs looking towards addressing that defense first, especially if either McCoy or Suh is still in play.