The 2009 season was filled with misfortune and misery. Before the first game, offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was fired and Greg Olson took over for him. With "bridge" quarterback Byron Leftwich at the helm, the Bucs lost three straight and traded him away to the Steelers.
In his second season, Josh Johnson took over and showed no promise. That resulted in 1st round pick Josh Freeman coming in and finishing off the season 3-9 and the Buccaneers finishing 3-13. On offense, the only highlight was that Josh Freeman got better over the season and the offensive line didn’t allow that many sacks. The running game was terrible but Carnell Williams had his first full season without being injured, four years after being drafted. TE Kellen Winslow Jr. produced well enough to be the top receiver but the WR corps was terrible. With a nice big contract, brought to you by GM Mark Dominik, WR Michael Clayton only caught 15 balls. It was a terrible showing for the offense.
On the defensive side, the passing defense was good but the running defense was porous. Not one player had more than 7 sacks and with only 28 total sacks, the team was near the bottom of the league. The linebackers played decent but Barrett Ruud never attacked the line of scrimmage. The only bad thing about the secondary was Sabby Piscitelli, who showed his true self by taking awkward angles to attempt tackling and then whiffing on them. Near the end of the season, defensive coordinator Jim Bates was fired. Things had to change and with the 3rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, they would.
Here’s what GM Mark Dominik did in Free Agency to attempt to turn around the Buccaneers:
Dominik decided to keep cutting older players in P Josh Bidwell, DT Chris Hovan, OLB Angelo Crowell, and released G Arron Sears due to his personal issues. He resigned OT Donald Penn, OT Jeremy Trueblood, RB Carnell Williams, and MLB Barrett Ruud. While many people were on the bandwagon for signing big free agents, the Buccaneers didn’t. The Bucs signed SS Sean Jones to take over for Jermaine Phillips, LB Jon Alston for depth, G Keydrick Vincent to replace Sears and traded for WR Reggie Brown from the Eagles. The Buccaneers got younger but lost their #1 WR in Antonio Bryant, their top pass rusher in Jimmy Wilkerson, and star special teams player in S Will Allen. In the end, the Buccaneers had holes at DE, DT, WR, P, FB, CB Depth, and S depth.
Although the Buccaneers had a lot of hole to fill, the draft was filled with talented players. The 2010 NFL season was to be an "uncapped" season due to the CBA being vetoed out and the rumors of a rookie scale in the next CBA.
With the 3rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma.
While I wanted Ndamukong Suh, it didn’t matter which player the front office chose because both of them were great players in college. Since Suh was taken before Tampa Bay could pick, Gerald McCoy was a great consolation prize. McCoy was an undersized DT, had a wicked first step, and great agility for a defensive tackle. He is exactly what you’d want for the Tampa 2 defense.
Both players were lights out at the 2010 NFL Combine and their NCAA Pro Days. Their final numbers are eerily similar with Suh having a light advantage with being heavier and stronger. But McCoy may have been slightly more explosive with his first step.
I compared all of the DTs in the this draft and McCoy and Suh ranked in the top 3 out of everyone in per game rankings. Both showed they could get to the QB and release off blocks to stop the run. I doubt there will be another draft with two defensive tackles as similar as these two.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: FS Earl Thomas, C Maurkice Pouncey, OG Mike Iupati, WR Demaryius Thomas, OT Trent Williams, WR Dez Bryant, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, FS Devin McCourty, FS Eric Berry, CB Joe Haden, RB Ryan Mathews, OT Anthony Davis, OT Russell Okung, RB C.J. Spiller, DT Tyson Alualu, CB Kareem Jackson, NT Dan Williams, and TE Jermaine Gresham.
With the 35th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Brian Price, DT, UCLA.
Coming into the NFL Draft, a big question mark was placed on Brian Price. He had the production you’d want from a defensive tackle to have coming out of school. The issue pertained to his NFL Combine tests. He had great size but due to a hamstring injury he put up terrible numbers except on the bench press. The injury stopped him from running agility drills and doing anything at UCLA’s Pro Day.
Remember I said that McCoy and Suh were in the top 3 of per game production for defensive tackles? Well, Brian Price was second, ahead of McCoy. In five less games than McCoy, he put up 11.5 more tackles for loss. That’s great production and with his size, he would make a great defensive tackle. The only issue would be his hamstring.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: FS Nate Allen, and SS T.J. Ward.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 42nd overall selection and the 153rd overall selection for the 39th overall selection.
With the 39th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois.
Since the 2009 season was such a disappointment due to the WR position, it’s no surprise the Bucs traded up three positions to pick Benn. From his NFL Combine and Pro Day tests, he showed promise being a #1 or #2 receiver. I question his ability to be a slot receiver due to his short shuttle and 20 yard dash. He just couldn’t seem to get up to speed.
Compared to the other wide receivers in the NFL Draft, his production is questionable. At Illinois, he was in the option/spread system under Ron Zook. That usually allows for big numbers for wide receivers. Even on a per game basis, he was just an average wide receiver in college.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: TE Rob Gronkowski, OG Zane Beadles, OLB Daryl Washington, DE Carlos Dunlap, OLB Koa Misi, DT Lamarr Houston, DT Linval Joseph, WR Golden Tate, SS Amari Spievey, OLB Jason Worilds, MLB Sean Lee, MLB Brandon Spikes, and MLB Pat Angerer.
With the 67th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt.
While many initially questioned the pick, the Buccaneers had a hole at CB due to Torrie Cox not being resigned and Ronde Barber getting older. Myron Lewis was a hybrid player at Vandy playing both FS and CB. But from his tests, he should’ve been drafted to play FS. His short shuttle was a little high compared to other cornerbacks and his Combine 40 yard dash screams that he should play FS.
What surprised me was how well Lewis played at Vandy. He regularly broke up and intercepted passes. On a per game basis, only Amari Spievey, Alterraun Verner, and Walter Thurmond played better than him. It’s no surprise that all three succeeded in the NFL. The question is what happened to Myron Lewis?
Other Notable Choices before next pick: OLB Navorro Bowman, TE Jimmy Graham, WR Eric Decker, OT Jared Veldheer, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Brandon LaFell, DT Corey Peters, ILB Donald Butler, DE Everson Griffen, and FS Morgan Burnett.
With the first four picks off the Board for the Buccaneers, their roster holes have dwindled down to a #1 WR, DE, P, FB, and S depth. Lucky for us, one of the most talented but highly questionable wide receiver was still available.
With the 101st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse.
Mike Williams was one of the most talked about wide receivers coming into the 2010 NFL Draft. He showed great talent on the field but quit Syracuse football due to unknown circumstances. That made many question his loyalty to football.
At 6’2" 221 pounds, he had great size for a wide receiver. While it took him a little bit to get up to speed, he had the ability to contest balls with his 39.5 inch vertical jump and run quality routes based on his agility.
While playing for Syracuse, Williams put up quality numbers. While the overall numbers are below average compared to other players, that is due to Williams playing in about half as many games. On a per game basis, he ranked 5th among drafted wide receivers. That’s fairly good for a 4th round pick.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: DT Geno Atkins, FS Kam Chancellor, MLB Perry Riley, CB Alterraun Verner, FS Kendrick Lewis, OT Marshall Newhouse, SS Reshad Jones, and TE Dennis Pitta.
With the draft winding down, the Buccaneers still had six more draft selections. For the 6th round, they only had one.
With the 172nd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Brent Bowden, P, Virginia Tech.
As it turns out, Bowden was the 2nd punter out of 3 to be taken in the draft. Due to the fact that punters and kickers usually don’t run NFL Combine drills, I can’t compare the three.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: DE Greg Hardy, RB James Starks, WR Antonio Brown, and C Ted Larsen
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 225th overall selection and the 232nd overall selection for a 2011 5th round draft pick.
With the 210th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Cody Grimm, SS, Virginia Tech.
Coming out of Virginia Tech, Grimm ran slowly at the NFL Combine but showed decent agility. At his Pro Day, he was able to increase his forty time dramatically but that brings up the question: which one is his regular playing speed?
With the 217th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Dekoda Watson, OLB, Florida State.
At 6’2" 226 pounds, Watson was undersized as an OLB but fit the mold of normal Tampa 2 LB would look like. He had blazing speed, explosiveness, and great agility. In all, he was the best athlete at linebacker except for Jason Worilds and Sean Weatherspoon. But due to his size, as he was 30 and 20 pounds lighter than them, his durability would be pushed to the limit under the punishment of the NFL.
With the 253rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Erik Lorig, DE/FB, Stanford.
He was coming off a groin injury that stopped him from participating in any test. But as a DE, he was a little shorter and his arm length was questionable. As a FB, I have no idea.
Notable 7th Round Picks: OT J’Marcus Webb, DE George Selvie, MLB Kavell Conner, SS Kurt Coleman, P Matt Dodge, and DE Willie Young.
Notable UDFAs: WR Victor Cruz, RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Sam Shields, RB Chris Ivory, RB Joique Bell, SS David Caldwell, OT Austin Howard, FS Darian Stewart, DE Junior Galette, G Jeff Linkenbach, OLB Vincent Rey, SS Barry Church, G Phil Costa, OT Alejandro Villanueva, WR Donald Jones, CB Cassius Vaughn, OLB Frank Zombo, and many more…
At the conclusion of this draft, many thought doubling down on defensive tackles and wide receivers was smart. That does increase the odds of finding a quality player at the position, but it does not mean the front office did enough scouting at said position. As we have all seen, Gerald McCoy has turned into a star. He’s been everything the Buccaneers wanted and was rewarded a massive contract as a result. On the flip side, Brian Price’s injury was aggravated early in the season and caused his hamstring to be ripped off the bone. Due to the injury, he was never the same player as in college.
Arrelious Benn was also hit with the injury bug and has never finished a season without missing a game. Myron Lewis was attempted to be molded into a CB in the Tampa 2 and whatever Greg Schiano tried to do, but was never the player he was at Vandy. Mike Williams turned out to be a star for Tampa but got injured and then was traded when Lovie Smith came to town. Brent Bowden never played a game in the NFL. Cody Grimm, Dekoda Watson, and Erik Lorig all produced well for 7th round draft picks and even started a few games. In the end, this was a quality draft but with multiple head coaching changes and injuries, the draft looks worse than it was.
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Special thanks to CBSSports.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Sports-Reference.com for their help.