Now that the Buccaneers’ 2012 draft has concluded, Pewter Report’s Mark
Cook analyzes five aspects about Tampa Bay’s draft that stood out. Click
this article to get Cook’s expert opinion
With the Buccaneers’ 2012 draft now completed, there are several things that stand out – most of which are good – but a few things that are a little concerning. Pewter Report’s Mark Cook and Scott Reynolds look at five aspects of Tampa Bay’s drafting last week. First up is Cook’s analysis, followed by Reynolds’ observations on PewterReport.com on Wednesday.1. Character counts –
First and foremost, the entire attitude and philosophy appears to be changing regarding the character of the players brought in under Greg Schiano’s watch. This isn’t a knock on Raheem Morris or Jon Gruden, but more of compliment to the organization finally realizing that the fans of the Buccaneers do care about the character of their football team. Wins are nice and can make fans forget about off-the-field issues to a degree, but if you combine bad football with questionable attitudes and behavior the fans won’t show up, as witnessed by the half-full stadium over the past few seasons.
Fans can’t expect the Buccaneers to draft team captains every season, but the fact that the first five picks were captains was a great public relations move by the organization. And of course it doesn’t hurt that all five appear to be pretty good football players on college film and on paper.
There is no way to say in April how it will affect the locker room in August, but it appears it was a calculated move by general manager Mark Dominik and Schiano to first make the team more likeable to its fans, and secondly, to provide a foundation of leadership for the future.2. Speedy seventh-round steal? –
The second thing that was a positive from this draft was Tampa Bay’s ability to get Utah State running back Michael Smith in the seventh round. While he is certainly not a household name, Smith toiled in anonymity for the most part at Utah State behind leading rusher Robert Turbin until the final two games of his collegiate career, in which he rushed for 121 yards in the regular-season finale against New Mexico State and 157 yards in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Ohio.
Sharing the backfield with Turbin, Smith still managed to rush for 870 yards during his senior season, averaging an incredible 7.6 yards per carry. Already some comparisons are being made to the Saints’ Darren Sproles, but Smith’s 5-foot-9 frame is slightly taller than the 5-foot-7 Saints speedster. However, his burst and moves in the open field are unique, and something the Tampa Bay area hasn’t seen since Warrick Dunn.
Let’s be honest though, Smith has a lot to prove before any legitimate comparisons can be made to Sproles or Dunn. However, running a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day created a buzz among NFL general managers, who must have all figured they could steal Smith towards the end of the draft.
Yet it was Dominik who made the call first, and told the media Saturday night he was immediately called by an unnamed team that offered its sixth-round pick in next year’s draft to acquire Smith.
3. Draft day maneuvering –
The third most impressive thing to come from this season’s draft was Dominik’s ability to wheel and deal, and getting the players he and Schiano coveted. First, the move to down trade from the fifth overall pick to No. 7 in the first round allowed the Buccaneers to reclaim a fourth-round pick they had surrendered last season in order to move up to select tight end Luke Stocker in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. With a 4-12 record there was obviously a number of holes to fill and Dominik was adamant that he wanted the pick back – or at least seven players added to the roster. And he was able to do just that.
While he ended up giving the fourth-round draft pick back later to move up in the second round to select Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, Dominik was able to at least secure another seventh-round selection, giving the Buccaneers a total of seven picks total. It is too early to say if the decisions were correct, but credit must be given to Dominik for playing poker with the league’s other general managers and doing it well.4. Moving up to get Martin –
The fourth big positive to come from the 2012 NFL Draft was Tampa Bay’s ability to acquire Boise State running back Doug Martin, who was generally thought to be the second-best back in this year’s class. Martin has been compared to Baltimore’s Ray Rice, and like the Sproles-Smith comparisons, it is way too soon to say if they are fair or not. But Martin brings versatility to the Buccaneers that LeGarrette Blount has been unable to prove to the organization over the past two seasons.
Besides incredible numbers, which include 3,431 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns in his career, in addition to 67 receptions for 715 yards and four scores, Martin is a high-character, hard-working, blue-collar type of football player that seems to fit the Schiano mentality of what he desires in an athlete.
Schiano was on the nationally syndicated radio program, The Jim Rome Show, on Monday and was clear that he sees Martin as a complement to Blount as opposed to a replacement. Schiano told Rome that the NFL is more of a two-back league these days and thinks Tampa Bay has a great one-two punch with Blount and Martin.
5. The Bucs failed to properly address cornerback –
The one negative that may strike Bucs fans was the team’s inability to add more depth at the cornerback position. Tampa Bay has high hopes for West Virginia’s Keith Tandy, but let’s face it, sixth-round corners rarely make the Pro Bowl. Of course, Tandy should be no worse than E.J. Biggers, or the disappointing Myron Lewis, and will have a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster.
Cornerback Aqib Talib, who is in a contract year, will face a grand jury in Texas on aggravated assault charges involving a firearm on June 25, and 37-year old Ronde Barber may not return in 2013. The addition of Lions’ free agent Eric Wright is more of a Band-Aid fix as opposed to reconstructive surgery at the cornerback position that the team needs. The Buccaneers are well aware they couldn’t fix everything in one season, and you would have to believe that cornerback would be the major point of emphasis in free agency and the draft in 2013.
Even with Tandy aboard, most fans would have liked to have seen another cornerback added via the draft. But maybe Iowa State’s Leonard Johnson, who was signed on Monday, can do enough to impress the Bucs coaching staff and develop into a quality NFL starter for Tampa Bay.
All in all – on paper at least – it appeared the Buccaneers upgraded the talent level on their football team with the seven picks made over this past weekend.
Visit PewterReport.com on Wednesday for Reynolds’ analysis on Tampa Bay’s 2012 draft.
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