Tampa Bay's 2012 draft is over, Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis and five aspects about Tampa Bay’s draft that stood out. Click
this article to get Reynolds' expert opinion.
With Tampa Bay's 2012 draft having concluded, the Bucs scored points for addressing some needs, but did make a few questionable moves, too. Pewter Report’s Mark Cook and Scott Reynolds
look at five aspects of Tampa Bay’s drafting last week. First up was
Cook’s analysis, followed by Reynolds’ observations on PewterReport.com.
1. The drafting of two sure tacklers –
Tackling was a real big issue for the Buccaneers on defense in 2011. Simply put, it was poor and contributed to Tampa Bay’s defense giving up 494 points over the season and over 150 yards per game. The selection of Alabama strong safety Mark Barron and Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David gives the Bucs not only two immediate starters, but also two textbook defenders that have textbook technique when it comes to tackling.
Barron racked up 235 tackles in his four years at Alabama. David amassed 285 stops in just two seasons at Nebraska. In addition to making the routine tackles, both Barron and David can also make the splash plays. Barron forced 13 turnovers (12 interceptions, one forced fumble) and five sacks, while David forced five turnovers (three forced fumbles, two interceptions) and 11.5 sacks.
Barron figures to be an opening day starter at either strong safety or free safety, and David’s playmaking ability should give him the inside track to start at weakside linebacker.2. The failure to address the cornerback spot –
In PewterReport.com’s opinion, cornerback was Tampa Bay’s top need heading into the 2012 NFL Draft and the Bucs didn’t address it until the sixth round with the selection of West Virginia’s Keith Tandy. The Bucs had the chance to draft LSU cover cornerback Morris Claiborne with the fifth overall pick, but traded down two spots with Jacksonville and missed out on the opportunity to select him.
With Aqib Talib, Ronde Barber and are in a contract year and the Bucs only have three cornerbacks on the 2013 roster – Eric Wright, Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor. Tampa Bay needed to get a starting-caliber cornerback out of the draft, and probably didn’t do so in Tandy, who is probably destined to be a nickel cornerback.
It’s hard to knock the drafting of the team’s first three draft picks – Barron, running back Doug Martin and David – but selecting a cornerback somewhere in the first three rounds would have been preferential.
3. Tampa Bay sticks to its guns on character –
Even though the Bucs had a pressing need at cornerback, they resisted the temptation to draft a couple of talented cover men in North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins and Nebraksa’s Alfonzo Dennard. Jenkins has four kids with three different women and has been arrested several times on drug possession charges and was kicked out of Florida. Jenkins has top 15 talent, but fell to the Rams in the second round. The Bucs were wise to resist the urge to take him and choose Martin instead.
Dennard was arrested for hitting a police officer just prior to the 2012 NFL Draft and that caused him to fall on many draft boards. The Patriots stopped his draft day slide in the seventh round and the Bucs didn’t appear tempted with their sixth or seventh-round picks.
Tampa Bay also passed on Arizona State middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who has been called uncoachable by some and had a bad penchant for picking up personal fouls for cheap shots in games. The Bucs were wise to pass on him and let the Bengals take him in the sixth round.
All in all, Tampa Bay drafted five team captains and a total of seven players that are said to be good character guys. 4. Yet another linebacker? –
Granted, Tampa Bay’s linebacker corps wasn’t a strong suit in 2011. In fact, it was probably one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. In PewterReport.com’s opinion, part of the problem was the suspect coaching of former position coach Joe Baker. Another part was the fact that rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster was thrown into the fire without the benefit of an NFL offseason. Yet another aspect was the sub-par play of weakside linebacker Geno Hayes in a contract year.
But Foster has talent, and the drafting of David gives the Bucs two solid young prospects at the linebacker position. Is it too early to give up on Quincy Black, Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward, let alone Jacob Cutrera, Mike Balogun and Rennie Curran, though?
Yet the Bucs drafted another linebacker in West Virginia’s Najee Goode in the fifth round to throw in the mix. Tampa Bay bypassed the chance to get Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders and SMU tight end Taylor Thompson. All of whom were rated higher on the boards of some draft gurus. The Bucs could have used a cornerback, offensive tackle or tight end before the drafting of another linebacker. Goode better be real good to justify this selection.5. Ready at running back –
The Bucs did the wise thing and doubled up at the running back position in the 2012 NFL Draft. With new head coach Greg Schiano wanting to run the ball at will on offense, the cupboard was nearly bare at the running back spot outside of starter LeGarrette Blount.
Earnest Graham, who was coming off a torn Achilles tendon, wasn’t re-signed this offseason due to age and injury. Unproductive running back Kregg Lumpkin was wisely not brought back, either. Unproven Mossis Madu, an undrafted free agent from a year ago, along with newly signed try-out back Robert Hughes were the only other backs on the roster with Blount.
Trading up in the first round to draft Martin gives the Bucs a runner capable of becoming a feature back at best and a very good complementary back at worst. Drafting Utah State speedster Michael Smith in the seventh round gives Tampa Bay a change-of-pace back with the ability to hit the home run on any given play. Martin figures to be number two on the depth chart and Smith should beat out Madu and Hughes for the third spot.
Knowing that Tampa Bay couldn’t address all of its needs, the Buccaneers still managed to accomplish a lot in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.