It’s almost that time of year, when owners, coaches, general managers, and the rest of the front office lock themselves in a room and heavily debate which players to draft to improve the team. This room is called the “War Room” for a reason. Everyone in this room is heavily opinionated and has become attached to a prospect that they don’t believe the team can do without.
In this segment, we will put ourselves in the war room and go over the picks we believe teams need to make when they’re on the clock. We’ll cover all 32 teams, but today’s segment is dedicated to the: Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Raheem Morris and his young Bucs team surprised some people in 2010. They improved a team that had only won 3 games in 2009, to a 10 win team last season. They did this while starting 10 rookies. It’s impressive no matter who the opponents but when you dive deeper into the wins, you realize that the only win of any significance, was the last game of the year versus the Saints. The other 9 wins were all against teams with a losing record.
Even with so many young players stepping up into key roles, the Bucs still have a lot of holes remaining. Unfortunately, Morris may have a new position to fill that he didn’t expect to going into the offseason. Aqib Talib is facing some legal woes and is the most talented defensive player on the team. He’s facing some serious charges and if found guilty could be sentenced up to 20 years. Starting opposite of Aqib Talib at the other cornerback position, is an aging Ronde Barber. Morris has to not only find a corner to groom as Barber’s replacement but also have someone to step up in case the team releases Talib.
I don’t feel bad for the situation that either the Bucs or Raheem is in. As I wrote on December 8, 2010 in my “NFL Rage” piece, Tampa has started targeting rookies with a jagged past. Tampa has to abandon that strategy with this year’s draft class. The Bucs have to get high character guys that can contribute immediately and stay out of trouble.
Tampa drafted defensive tackles last year with Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. They need to add a defensive pass rush beside them now. LeGarrette Blount was one of those rookies that played a key role in 2009. He shared carries with Cadillac Williams and that’s the best way to use him. Williams is a free agent and I wouldn’t resign him. I would look for a speed back to use as a weapon on 3rd downs. They’ll need some offensive line help to pave the way for Blount and the rookie back. Tampa could use another offensive tackle, guard, and a center for insurance / upgrade.
Tampa needs to get a middle linebacker because they currently don’t have any under contract. They probably will resign Barrett Ruud but need depth here regardless. This team isn’t far off but they have to start building the right way. If they keep trying to build their foundation on faulty material, the whole organization will fall.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mock Draft
Round 1 Pick #20: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri – Tampa Bay needs a pass rusher to come off the edge as actually force pressure on the opposing quarterback. In their division they face Matt Ryan and Drew Brees a combined 4 times a year. They’ll need to make those guys uncomfortable, often. Smith shows that type of ability and should be ready to go early.
Round 2 Pick #51: Martez Wilson, MLB, Illinois - Wilson will need to develop behind a vet. Tampa would be wise to draft Wilson and either resign Ruud or bring in a player that can mentor and play at a high level until Martez is ready to take over. Martez plays with caution on tape, he’ll need to learn to fly around if he’s going to take over the middle of a NFL defense.
Round 3 Pick #84: Deunta Williams, FS, UNC – Williams is a ball hawk that can pick up some of the slack that this secondary will suffer if they lose, Talib’s range as a corner. He’ll also be able to protect the backside of an aging Ronde Barber and possible rookie cornerback on the other side.
Round 4 Pick #116: Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh – Dion has the shiftiness of a Barry Sanders type running back. He can change direction with the best of the them. Lewis style would compliment Blount’s perfectly. It would be a tremendous blend of power and elusiveness.
Round 5 Pick #151: Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida - The Bucs need to improve at the right tackle position. Reid is a developmental product, with a risk that could eventually turn out as a huge reward. He shows the ability to become a player in the NFL but is inconsistent and has moments of bad judgement in games.
Round 6 Pick #187: Steve Schilling, OG, Michigan – This wouldn’t be a WOW pick, but it would allow the Bucs to be on their way of building a solid, dependable line. They could bring in these young guys and let them develop together. They’ll have an offense to fear for years.
Round 7 Pick #222: Korey Lindsey, CB, Southern Illinois – Lindsey has some red flags around him due to the fact of some injuries. If Korey can stay healthy, the Bucs would have a plan of grooming him to play the nickel, unless Talib isn’t retained. Then he would have to step into the limelight quicker than desired.
Round 7 Pick #238: Chase Beeler, C, Stanford – We have now given the Bucs security across their whole offensive line. Jeff Faine is a good center but the injury bug seems to keep biting him. The NFL draft allows teams to get talented interior lineman late. Teams could risk passing on Beeler in the 7th and hope to gt him as an undrafted free agent but we have the Bucs shoring up the position without risk here.
That’s how it played out in our Mock of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers “War Room”.