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Bucs draft trend: moving on up

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TAMPA FL - DECEMBER 05:  Receiver Arrelious Benn #17 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs after a catch against the Atlanta Falcons during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 5 2010 in Tampa Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
TAMPA FL - DECEMBER 05: Receiver Arrelious Benn #17 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs after a catch against the Atlanta Falcons during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 5 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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While the current front office has only been in place for 2 years, there are some identifiable trends in the way they work. They prefer to draft instead of signing free agents. They'll take youth and potential over experience. They're not afraid of piling responsibilities on inexperienced players. They value character but not to a fault - Mike Williams is the only draftee with character concerns, and most recent draft choices were team captains in college. And they'll do their own research on players and won't be afraid to take someone if they think the character issues won't be a problem in the NFL. Lastly: the Bucs like moving up for a position of need. 

When Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris first took over this team in 2009, they identified a need for a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately it seemed like they weren't in position to draft one: Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez were the top rated quarterbacks and likely to go in the top 10, while the Bucs picked 19th. Josh Freeman was the only other quarterback worth drafting, but he was seen as more of a project than an instant starter. But when both Stafford and Sanchez were selected early in the draft, Freeman became the Bucs only hope of finding a franchise quarterback in 2009. They were convinced he could be the man to build a team around, and when he fell to #17 the Bucs traded a sixth-rounder to move up two spots and secure his services. The Bucs had a need for a franchise quarterback, and were convinced they needed Freeman to do so. They didn't break the bank to draft him, but they did move up quickly once he fell within reach. 

In 2010, the Bucs had a need for a wide receiver. Antonio Bryant was not resigned, and the 'stars' of the wide receiver corps were Reggie Brown, Maurice Stovall and Sammie Stroughter. That group doesn't strike fear into any defensive coordinator's heart. The 2011 draft was pretty deep in receiving talent, but it wasn't very top-heavy: only Dez Bryant was seen as a top receiver. In fact, only he and Demaryius Thomas were drafted in the first round of the draft. When it came time for the Bucs top pick in the second round it was logical to expect them to grab a wide receiver then, but Brian Price's talent was too great to ignore. This left the Bucs with a glaring need on offense. Instead of standing on their next pick, they moved up 3 spots to select Arrelious Benn - the top wide receiver on the board.

This year, the Bucs have on glaring need: an edge rusher. And at 20, they're not in position to select any of the true top defensive ends of the draft. In fact, it's possible that all the pass-rushing threats will be off the board by #20 and the Bucs will take a defensive end like Adrian Clayborn instead: a power defensive end more suited to the left side of the line than the right. Instead of letting that happen, the Bucs could trade up a few spots if a pass-rusher they covet drops to the middle of the first round. The Patriots are always fond of trading down and seem like a natural trade partner at #17, although they themselves may be in the market for a pass rusher too. Another option would be the Dolphins at #15, who have no need for a pass rusher right now. There will be opportunity to move up and get an impact pass rusher, instead of waiting and finding out that all the pass rushers are gone.