Had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers retained their first-round pick in 2013, it's likely that tight end Tyler Eifert would now be playing in pewter and red. That's what Pewter Report writes in their weekly must-read column SR's Fab 5 that the highest-rated player on the Bucs' board when the thirteenth pick rolled around was the Notre Dame tight end, who was widely seen as the best tight end in the draft. Tyler Eifert fell 8 more spots, though, when the Cincinnati Bengals snapped him up at number 21.
This says a couple of things about the Bucs' views of tight ends, which seems to be rather dim given the fact that the Bucs' top two tight ends are Tom Crabtree and Luke Stocker -- one deemed not good enough for a cheap tender by the Green Bay Packers, while the other has been little more than a decent blocker with the Bucs since being drafted in the fourth round three years ago.
The tight end may not be a focal point of the Bucs' offense, but that doesn't mean the team can't use quality players at the position. Eifert was the best tight end in the draft, especially as a pass-catcher, and would have certainly provided a boost to an offense that lacks a good inside receiving option.
The Bucs' interest in Travis Kelce backs that up: Pewter Report writes that he's the only other tight end the Bucs coveted. Not enough to select him in the second round, where they took Johnthan Banks, and they didn't get a chance to take him in the third round. Kelce was probably the most explosive receiving tight end in the draft, but fell because of character concerns, having been suspended for the entire 2010 season.
Some other interesting draft notes from Pewter Report's outstanding column.
Offensive tackle woes
The Bucs thought Lane Johnson was the best offensive tackle in the draft, ahead of Eric Fisher (drafted first overall by the Chiefs) and Luke Joeckel (second overall to the Jaguars). The Philadelphia Eagles took Lane Johnson with the fourth overall pick, so the Buccaneers never had a shot at him. But it does say a few things about the Bucs' views of offensive tackles.
Mark Dominik is no fan of drafting offensive tackles, as he has said before that he prefers to watch them perform in the NFL. The Bucs have drafted just one offensive tackle since Mark Dominik became general manager in 2009, and their two starting tackles both entered the league as undrafted free agents.
The Bucs' preference for Johnson implies that they prefer raw talent over polished but slightly more limited athletes. Because that's what Johnson is: a very, very talented player (a former tight end) who lacks polish but can become the best offensive tackle in the NFL. Fisher and Joeckel are very good athletes, too, but they're more limited and probably won't turn into a Walter Jones -- but they're much safer picks, and much more consistent performers.
The Buccaneers apparently were very high on not only Johnthan Banks, but also Blidi Wreh-WIlson, whom they would have targeted as someone to trade up for in the second round, had they had a need for another cornerback at that point. Xavier Rhodes, my personal favorite, and Desmond Trufant, the Falcons' first-round pick, apparently weren't on the Bucs' radar for their first-round pick.
Finally, the Bucs liked Margus Hunt enough to see him as a second-round pick. Another raw athlete with tremendous potential. Not dissimilar to William Gholston and Steven Means, really. That trend is interesting, and I may have to go into that in a future article.
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