In 2010, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a season that brought every fan hope that the Bucs had turned the corner and were on greener pastures. They went 10-6 and just barely missed the playoffs by one game. The offense was running on all cylinders behind 2nd year quarterback Josh Freeman and undrafted rookie sensation LeGarrette Blount. Mike Williams provided the team with a #1 WR and Kellen Winslow was a great contributor too. In the end, it was the defense that broke the camel’s back.
The Bucs defense was the definition of Yin and Yang. The passing defense was 7th in the league in yards allowed but the pass rush couldn’t get to the QB and was ranked 31st in the league. Also, the defensive front was in the bottom 5 in the league in rushing yards allowed. It didn’t help that Barrett Ruud was his usual self. Without Brian Price at DT due to his horrific hip injury and FS Tanard Jackson due to his year-long suspension, the Buccaneers defense wasn't able to get running in the right direction.
In the offseason, the Buccaneers front office approached free agency like it was kryptonite. However, this is what the front office did:
The Buccaneers took care of their homegrown talent. G Davin Joseph got a seven(!) year contract, CB Ronde Barber was resigned, and all of the restricted free agents were resigned. There were only two questionable signings: OLB Quincy Black and P Michael Koenen. I don’t have a clue why Quincy Black, a back-up, got a $30 Million deal for five years. Also, Michael Koenen, the only free agent signing, somehow conned his way into being the highest paid punter in the league. Lastly, the Buccaneers didn’t re-sign former 1st round pick Carnell Williams after Blount’s break out season, former 2nd round pick Barrett Ruud due to his play, and former 3rd round pick Maurice Stovall due to his inability to play WR well. By the beginning of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers had needs at DE, MLB, SS, TE, LG, and RB depth.
With the 20th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa.
The DE position was a major issue over the last two seasons and supposedly the 2011 NFL Draft was filled with quality pass rushers. What was good about Clayborn was he was fast getting out of his stance and used his agility to get to the QB. The issue was if his Erb’s Palsy would make a difference on his play.
Adrian Clayborn’s scores were fairly good for a DE. He had strength issues due to the disease and rather short arms. With his arms being an average of 1.5 inches shorter than the average offensive tackle, he needed to use his explosiveness off the snap to get to the quarterback. But with his strength issues, he didn't have a secondary way to attack the line of scrimmage.
On a per game basis, he compared 9th out of 19 drafted players listed as a defensive end. So while he put up 37.5 tackles for loss and 19 sacks at Iowa, it was due to playing in 50 games in his career.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: C Stefen Wisniewski, CB Marcus Gilchrist, DE Cameron Heyward, DE Cameron Jordan, DE Jabaal Sheard, DT Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Phil Taylor, OLB Akeem Ayers, OLB Brooks Reed, OT Anthony Castonzo, OT Orlando Franklin, QB Andy Dalton, QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Mark Ingram, and TE Kyle Rudolph.
With the 51st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson.
Like in 2010, the Bucs decided to double up the defensive line. If Bowers didn’t have issues with his knees, many "experts" thought he was the best DE in the draft. But his NFL Combine and Pro Day scores showed that his knees were an issue. He had the worst 10 yard split for DEs and his explosiveness and some agility moves were hindered by his knees.
In college, he was known for being able to push around the offensive line to get to the QB. His 44.5 tackles for loss were only beaten by one player and on a per game basis, he was better than half of the DEs drafted before him. But again, how well could his knees hold up to the pressure of the NFL?
Other Notable Choices before next pick: DT Jurrell Casey, OLB Justin Houston, OT Marcus Gilbert, RB DeMarco Murray, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Randall Cobb, and WR Torrey Smith.
With the 84th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Mason Foster, MLB, Washington.
Coming out of Washington, Foster was the prototypical size for a 4-3 MLB. He was fairly slow though which brought up questions on how he could roam the middle of the field. Also, he showed very little explosiveness and his agility was questionable. Basically, he could be a run defender but don’t ask him to do much else.
At Washington, he was an all-around good player. He was a quality run stopper with 38.5 tackles for loss and was good against the pass with 15 broken up passes and 4 interceptions. For all linebackers coming out of school, he was the best on a per game basis.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: FS Chris Conte, OG Clint Boling, OLB K.J. Wright, OLB Sam Acho, SS Da'Norris Searcy, and TE Jordan Cameron.
Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade their 2012 4th round pick and 116th Overall selection for the 104th Overall selection.
With the 104th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee.
Worried that they might miss their player, Dominik traded forward to draft Stocker. From his NFL Combine and Tennessee Pro Day scores, they got a decently athletic tight end. He was bigger than his peers so it’s not too farfetched to believe the Bucs were looking at him as a blocking TE. Other than that, he was an average player with decent strength and some agility.
While with the Vols, Stocker played in 52 games at tight end. As a blocker he performed well in college but he had issue in the passing game. He put up fairly pedestrian numbers over four years. Out of the 12 TEs drafted, he ranked 8th on a per game basis. That’s fairly bad for a player the Buccaneers traded up for.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: CB Buster Skrine, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TE Julius Thomas, WR Cecil Shorts, and WR Denarius Moore.
With the 151st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Ahmad Black, SS, Florida.
For a strong safety, Ahmad Black was extremely undersized for the position. At 5’9 184 lbs, he was the size of a kick returner or a small cornerback. He had great agility and explosion to get out of breaks but didn’t have the speed to cover vast distances. To me, that describes a good pass coverage safety as long as he was playing zone coverage. Any man to man situations would put him at a disadvantage.
While at Florida, Black didn’t allow his size to affect him. He was regularly attacked and over four seasons he defended 28 balls and intercepted 13 passes. On a per game basis, he was an average player but would he be able to raise his game to the NFL level?
Other Notable Choices before next pick: C Brandon Fusco, CB Byron Maxwell, CB Richard Sherman, FB Charles Clay, QB Tyrod Taylor, and WR Jeremy Kerley.
With the 187th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Allen Bradford, RB, USC.
In the later rounds, many teams look for depth at positions that might already be filled by star players. The Buccaneers were no different. Bradford was the largest RB in the draft and had decent speed, strength, and agility for his size. What he didn’t have was any explosiveness to get moving since his vertical jump and broad jump were in or under the 30 percentile of all running backs since 1999. That was due to a hip injury while playing at USC.
While at USC, Allen was a back-up but regularly put up high rushing averages after defenses were tired out. It shows when you look at his per game ranking as he ranked 19th out of 24 drafted running backs.
Other Notable Choices before next pick: C Jason Kelce and OT Derek Newton
With the 222nd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Anthony Gaitor, CB, FIU.
In the last round of the draft, the Buccaneers were still filling holes in the roster. He was undersized as a cornerback and fairly slow but had the agility and jumping capabilities to play cornerback in a zone defense. In the end, he probably would be best on special teams.
With the 238th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Daniel Hardy, TE, Idaho.
At Idaho, Hardy was a hybrid player playing both TE and in the slot. And while his per game ranking placed him as the #1 TE in production, he didn’t have the size to block in the NFL. His explosiveness was terrible due to a hamstring injury that plagued him through the whole scouting process.
Notable 7th Round Picks: OLB Malcolm Smith and CB Jimmy Wilson
Notable UDFAs: WR Doug Baldwin, OT Byron Bell, OT Michael Ola, MLB Craig Robertson, K Dan Bailey, DT Cedric Thornton, FS M.D. Jennings, and many more…
I know many, myself included, were excited for the 2011 season after the draft. However, that would not be the case. Adrian Clayborn never turned into a quality defensive end and his pre-draft issues followed him through his career as a Buccaneer. Da’Quan Bower’s knees kept him from playing meaningful snaps and eventually he was turned into a back-up defensive tackle. Mason Foster was almost an inverse clone of Barrett Ruud and lacked the ability to play in pass coverage but played well against the run. Luke Stocker, the only player still on the roster from this draft, was at best a blocking TE and plays back-up FB when needed. Ahmad Black, Anthony Gaitor, and Allen Bradford all played for the Buccaneers as back-ups and contributed on special teams. Lastly, Daniel Hardy didn’t make it out of training camp with the Buccaneers and has been out of the league since.
This draft was one of the worst drafts to look for talent due to the CBA issues. The Buccaneers tried to look for talent like last draft but luck didn’t hit twice and the 2011 Buccaneers' Draft turned into one of the worst drafts in recent history.
Special thanks to CBSSports.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, and Sports-Reference.com for their help.