clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Buccaneers' Odd 2013 Draft Still Has Earmarks of a Successful One

From Revis to Mike James, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did a little bit of everything in this year's NFL Draft.

Johnthan Banks joins the No Fly Zone
Johnthan Banks joins the No Fly Zone
Kevin C. Cox

Coming into draft week, the Buccaneers had a glaring weakness at CB, depth issues across the defensive line, linebacker, LeGarrette Blount in moth balls and Dan Orlovsky as a backup quarterback.

By the time Mr. Irrelevant's name was read out, Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik worked his magic - completing 4 trades moving up and down the draft board to address all of the teams needs - at least in theory.

Of course, this draft will forever be known as the Revis draft - as in the trade that brought 4 time All Pro Darrelle Revis to the Bucs' starving secondary. The trade cost the Bucs this year's first round pick (and a 3rd round pick in 2014) but Revis' impact on the Bucs secondary could push a franchise on the cusp over the hump.

As insurance, the Bucs spent their first pick of the 2013 draft (43rd overall) on Johnthan Banks, a corner out of Miss. State. All Banks did was cover the best wide receivers the SEC had to offer and won himself the Jim Thorpe award, given to College Football's best defensive back. While not a speedster, Banks uses technique and instinct to not only blanket receivers but make plays on the football (16 interceptions in his career).

Banks will battle Eric Wright for the second corner spot and possibly Ronde Barber (if he elects to returnt) for the nickel spot to complete the Revis coined "No Fly Zone". Needless to say, the days of the Bucs starting Danny Gorrer and Leonard Johnson at corner appear to be over.

Then things got weird.

It began with the drafting of Quarterback Mike Glennon. Look, Glennon is a talented kid. He's got great touch on the deep ball, seems to read defenses pretty well and delivers an accurate ball (despite his 60% career completion percentage). He was victimized by some downright awful receiver play or his numbers could have been much better. However, Glennon is a lot like the incumbent starting quarterback in Josh Freeman - he's a Wow-What QB. He can deliver a play that will make you "Wow, this kid is amazing". Then on the same drive have you going "what the hell was that?"

His decision making is questionable and while he'll stand in and take a hit to deliver the football, sometimes the pressure will cause him to make crucial mistakes.

The Buccaneers drafted Mike Glennon as insurance for this must win campaign. The Bucs simply aren't comfortable with the prospect of Dan Orlovsky taking the reigns if something catastrophic were to happen to Freeman. Its why the Bucs were in on Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel while discussing a trade for Ryan Mallett.

In the end, they felt a young clone of Freeman would be enough to get them through a rough patch if Freeman was unable to answer the bell.

Its also insurance that if Freeman struggles and the Bucs have to part ways with him at the end of the 2013 campaign, they already have a young gun in the fold with a year in the system under his belt.

Were there better prospects on the board when Glennon was selected? Maybe. But the Bucs had a feeling there would be a run on quarterbacks before their 4th round selection came about and it proved to be true as four quarterbacks went in that round.

Were Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib better options? Perhaps. But Barkley honestly didn't fit what Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan want to do and that's attack with the vertical passing game. Nassib may not have had the accuracy on the deep ball that Glennon had and that's why the Bucs chose the mammoth NC State product over him.

After Glennon, the Bucs went to work on their defensive line. First, they traded up in the fourth round to draft a Roy Miller clone in Illinois' Akeem Spence. For Bucs fans wondering why the Bucs got rid of Miller just to draft another guy like him - it's all about the benjamins, folks. Why pay an older player $2.5 million a season when you can pay a young rookie a lot less to do the same job?

With the need at DT satisfied, the Bucs decided to become riverboat gamblers, drafting Michigan State DE William Gholston with their second 4th rd pick and DE/LB Steven Means in the 5th. Gholston has all the physical traits to be a dominant pass rusher - but lacks the motor to do more than flash. If Schiano and Bucs pass rushing guru Bryan Cox can get Gholston's light to turn on, the Bucs could have a steal. If not, he will go down along with his cousin Vernon as busts.

Means is an interesting project. As a DE at the University of Buffalo, he should some flashes as a dominant pass rusher. I had to scour the internet to find some tape of this kid but what I did find showed some elite level quickness, with a nice moves and good work with his hands. The Bucs appear to be interested in playing him at DE as a pass rushing specialist.

The kid had probably one of the more memorable quotes of the draft, telling reporters, "I get mad at somebody just lining up across from me. Just thinking that they can block me gets me mad."

As for Legarrette Blount, an undrafted free agent who signed with Tampa Bay after getting cut by the Tennessee Titans and then rewarded the Bucs by rushing for over 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, we had a feeling his end was coming. While a talented runner (as his highlight reel hurdles of sprawling defenders would attest), Blount was a one trick pony with a penchant of putting the football on the turf.

With the emergence of Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, Blount didn't have a role with Tampa Bay. He couldn't serve as a third down back because he was terrible at pass pro and was not a solid route runner out of the backfield. Despite his hulking frame, in his brief career he's proven ineffective in short yardage or goal line situations. He was expendable.

Tampa Bay spent most of Day 3 looking for takers and finally found the New England Patriots. For Blount, the Bucs got the rights to Florida speedster Jeff Demps and a 7th round selection in this year's draft.

The Bucs then parlayed that 7th round selection to move up in the 6th and select Miami running back Michael James.

Demps' focus has been on his track career. He wants to play football, but the pigskin isn't first for the silver medal Olympian. At this point, Coach Schiano and the Buccaneers seem to be okay with Demps' aspirations to return to the Olympics in 2016 and all that goes in to qualifying for that.

They're willing to wait for the diminutive Gator to join the team, possibly in mid-August because of his speed and ability to make people miss in the open field. Demps would fill a need for the Bucs at kick and punt returner.

James appears to be a poor man's Earnest Graham. He's likely never going to break off Dougernaut-esque explosive 80 yard runs but he can be a time grinder and a yardage churner. Most of his 17 career rushing scores came inside the 10 yard line. James also is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and does a solid job at pass protection.

At the end of any draft week, you look at your football team and hope you got a bit better. If you factor in Revis, the Bucs certainly took a step to competing in the NFC South for a division championship,

Did they do enough? At the very least, it appears they added to their depth - something every team needs in the war of attrition that is an NFL season. We'll see in about eight months if it was enough to end the Bucs' playoff drought.

A previous version of this article indicated that Steven Means would play at outside linebacker. However, following the draft Coach Schiano told reporters, "He's going to be a defensive end and he's going to have an opportunity to rush the passer."