Written by: Barry Lewis on April 23, 2011
For all intensive purposes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an incredible 2010 season. After a 2009 season where they finished 3-13 under rookie head coach Raheem Morris, the Bucs showed a lot of improvement and development that led them to a 10-6 season and was the last team in the NFC who was disqualified from the playoffs.
They had a great 2010 draft as well. They selected defensive tackles Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma, and Brian Price, UCLA, and wideouts Arrelious Benn, Illinois and Mike Williams, Syracuse. Expect Williams to build on his NFC Rookie of the Year run that he made last year while everyone should expect Benn to be vastly improved this year.
Add insult to injury, their rookie class included 1,000 yard running back LeGarrette Blount, Oregon, and should be the starting running back next year as well.
From a historical perspective, the Bucs 2010 draft and rookie class was a A+.
Fast forward to today. CB Aqib Talib is in trouble and it looks like he is going to be released and possibly going to jail. Compound the fact that CB Rhonde Barber is turning 34 and the Bucs need two cornerbacks.
They could use two bookend defensive ends as well, a new inside linebacker because Barrett Ruud is a free agent and is asking for a ton of money. Also, inside linebacker Quincy Blakc is a free agent. They also need a bonafide right tackle and a healthy starting center.
For all intensive purposes, the Bucs achieved the ability to draft quality while filling needs. They now have what could be an incredible front 4 as they drafted DE Ryan Kerrigan and Allen Bailey in the 1st and 2nd round. A front 4 of Kerrigan-McCoy-Price-Bailey or Bailey-McCoy-Price-Stylez G. White with Kerrigan moving to outside linebacker immediately makes their front 7 very, very solid.
They also took two cornerbacks in Johnny Patrick, Louisville, and Cortez Allen, Citadel. Patrick and Allen were very good values in the 3rd and 7th round with Allen grading out in the 5th round. Next year – a defensive backfield of Barber, Patrick (granted that Talib is gone) and Allen as the nickle back is conceivable if Patrick and Allen hold off former 7th round pick and cornerback EJ Biggers who started in the last five games of the 2010 season. They also drafted FS Deunta Williams, North Carolina, in the 7th round and he also grades out as a late 4th/early 5th round pick and should also compete for a job in the secondary.
They added UConn running back Jordan Todman who should be a solid back-up to Blount and if given the opportunity to start would likely be a 1,000 yard runner if he can improve breaking tackles once he gets to the second line of resistance.
The Bucs did well in this draft. Their front 7 should be solidified for the next 10 years because through this strategy. It did not do anything to improve their offensive line and in particular their right tackle and center positons. Nor did they do anything to ensure a drafted solution at inside linebacker. And while Todman is a very good mid-round value at running back, it was not a need.
Nevertheless, talent was drafted and that is important for a team that went 3-13 in 2009. I am grading their draft a B+ because of the value and talent while considering the misses on the offensive line while drafting Todman.