The Buccaneers selected defensive end Gaines Adams with the fourth overall pick in 2007, but who would NFL.com's Elliot Harrison have the team select instead? Find out in his 2007 NFL Draft Do-Over and see how Scott Reynolds responds in this edition of PR Reacts.
They say you can’t accurately evaluate an NFL Draft class until four or five years later. That’s true, and NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison did a 2007 Draft Do-Over story to look back at the top 10 selections of that year.
Tampa Bay had the fourth overall pick that year and selected Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams after Oakland drafted quarterback Jamarcus Russell, Detroit chose wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Cleveland selected left tackle Joe Thomas. Adams had a disappointing 13.5 sacks and two interceptions in two and a half seasons in Tampa Bay before being traded to Chicago in 2009 prior to his untimely death.So who does Harrison believe the Bucs should have drafted? Here’s what he had to say on NFL.com:4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Actual pick: Gaines Adams
Do-over pick: Patrick Willis
Unfortunately, Adams tragically lost his life after falling to a previously undetected heart condition. Adams had struggled in Tampa and was trying to resurrect his career in Chicago. In this 2007 redo, the Bucs get the middle linebacker to run Monte Kiffin’s (their DC in ‘07) Tampa 2. Willis’ agility and instincts allow him to clean up against the run and get depth in pass coverage.PR REACTS – SR’s Take:
In Harrison’s re-draft, he had Oakland taking Johnson instead of Russell first overall, Detroit taking Peterson and Cleveland sticking with Thomas with the third overall selection. Instead of Tampa Bay drafting Adams fourth overall, he had the Bucs taking Ole Miss middle linebacker Patrick Willis.
Given the leftover talent available in the first round after Johnson, Peterson and Thomas, Willis, a multi-year Pro Bowler, has turned out to be the next best player. And given the Buccaneers’ struggles against the run in recent years, having a Hardy Nickerson-like tackling machine such as Willis makes sense in retrospect.
However, the Bucs avoided picking Willis for three reasons. The first of which was the glaring need at defensive end. Adams had his faults, but he was the top-rated defensive end in the draft at the time by probably every team in the league after he had a phenomenal combine, running a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. Sources tell Pewter Report that former Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin thought Adams was the second coming of ex-Bucs pass rusher Simeon Rice.
The second reason was that the Bucs already had a middle linebacker in Barrett Ruud, a player whom the team used a high second-round selection on during the 2005 draft. Ruud had his best seasons from 2007-10 in Tampa Bay and middle linebacker was definitely not a need and certainly not a position the Bucs would have spent a first-round pick on in 2007. In Harrison’s hindsight world, Willis makes perfect sense because he is a far superior player than Ruud is, but under no circumstances was Tampa Bay going to select Willis that year.
Which leads to the third reason why the Bucs wouldn’t have taken Willis with the fourth overall pick. Kiffin didn’t like Willis. Pewter Report isn’t sure exactly why, other than have multiple sources tell us that Kiffin didn’t think Willis warranted a top 20 pick. Willis actually went to San Francisco with the 11th overall pick in 2007.
It’s ironic that Kiffin, a former linebackers coach, could pick the heck out of defensive backs in the draft (see Donnie Abraham, Ronde Barber, Brian Kelly, Dwight Smith, Dexter Jackson, Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson), but struggled at choosing linebackers (Jamie Duncan, Nate Webster, Ruud, Quincy Black, Adam Hayward and Geno Hayes) during his tenure in Tampa Bay.
Another bit of irony is the fact that the Bucs also just signed defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who was the 10th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. That year the Bucs were in need of defensive ends and defensive tackles for Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme and debated whether the team should draft Adams or Okoye, who inked a one-year deal with Tampa Bay on Monday.
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