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September 9, 2010 @ 9:11 am
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2010 Post-Draft Issue

Pewter Report's Bucs Draft Analysis & Grades

WRITTEN_BY Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Bucs GM Mark Dominik, DT Gerald McCoy and head coach Raheem Morris were all smiles during the draft (photo by Cliff Welch/Pewter Report)
Scott Reynolds


Pewter Report has thoroughly reviewed Tampa Bay's 2010 draft class and outlined its hits and misses. What overall grade do the Bucs get? Was it really wise to select two defensive tackles with the team's first two picks? What draft needs went unfilled? Get the analysis in this in-depth, 3,700-word story.

Copyright 2010 PewterReport.com    

This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider/Pewter Report subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers.

Originally published on PewterReport.com on April 26, 2010


After spending hundreds of hours watching and taping college football games starting each August and attending the East-West Shrine Game practices and Senior Bowl practices, Pewter Report’s draft study culminates in the 2010 Bucs Draft Preview. This draft study allowed us to accurately forecast the selection of three players we had listed as Pewter Report’s Bucs’ Best Bets, in addition to accurately nailing eight of the first-round picks in Pewter Report’s NFL first-round mock draft, which was the best of any Tampa Bay area media member’s mock draft and tied Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.

From the forthcoming Pewter Report 2010 Post-Draft Issue, here is a breakdown of Tampa Bay’s 2010 draft class with our observation and analysis.

McCoy, Pewter Report’s Bucs’ Best Bet at defensive tackle, was a slam-dunk choice at number three once Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was off the board. The Bucs instantly got more talented at the defensive tackle position and have what could be a star player at the three-technique spot for the first time since Warren Sapp left in free agency in 2004. McCoy brings a tremendous work ethic and passion for the game that will surely rub off on his teammates. He has a magnetic personality that will allow him to assume a leadership role in Tampa Bay and become a fan favorite – as long as he produces. The drafting of McCoy will not only help the Bucs’ woeful 32nd-ranked run defense, but will also generate a greater interior pass rush. Tampa Bay had a shameful 3.5 sacks from the defensive tackle positions last year with Roy Miller turning in a respectable two QB captures during his rookie season, but veterans Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims only combined for 1.5 sacks. McCoy’s talent and first-step quickness should allow him be a first-day starter. He has the ability to make his teammates more productive around him, evidenced by the fact that Oklahoma defensive end Jeremy Beal had 11 sacks last year.

The selection of another defensive tackle in Price raised some eyebrows in the media during the draft, but not Pewter Report’s. We’ve been extremely high on this Bruins playmaker all year and the Bucs got a steal in the second round. At 6-foot-1, 303 pounds, Price has the size to play the one technique (nose tackle), but played the three technique at UCLA where he racked up 23.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles last year. Price will team with Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller to give Tampa Bay a trio of talented, disruptive tackles that will pressure the passer and clog inside running lanes. The selection of Price merits an A grade because of the guts and vision it took to select back-to-back tackles, the fact that Tampa Bay stuck to their draft board and took the best available player, and because Pewter Report thinks that Price just may be as good as McCoy in the NFL. This is one heck of a pick by the Buccaneers.

The Bucs had Benn, who was a Pewter Report Bucs’ Best Bet in rounds 1-3 at wide receiver, rated as a first-rounder on their draft boards and were thrilled to land him in the second round after trading up a few spots. He is a big, physical receiver that is ideal for Greg Olson’s vertical West Coast offense. He will have plenty of run-after-catch opportunities under Olson and Benn has shown that he is a tough receiver to bring down because of his 6-foot-2, 221-pound size. Benn ran a 4.36 at his pro day after running a disappointing 4.52 at the combine and has the ability to make plays downfield. Benn has the talent and frame to emerge as a starting receiver in Tampa Bay as a rookie and his game reminds some of the likes of Antonio Bryant and Anquan Boldin. It was important to get a big-play weapon for Josh Freeman and the Bucs did that in round two with the selection of Benn, a 21-year old junior who made an instant impact as a freshman at Illinois. The Bucs are counting on an early impact in Tampa Bay during his rookie season.

The Bucs needed to come away with a player who could improve the performance at the nickel cornerback spot and have the talent to eventually become a starter. Tampa Bay feels like it has that player in Lewis. The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder has long arms, great size and an aggressive attitude. With 10 career interceptions for the Commodores, Lewis has proven ballhawking skills. He is a great fit for playing in Raheem Morris’ Tampa 2 scheme from playing in Vanderbilt’s defense. Lewis is a very intelligent player and that will help him transition smoothly to the NFL as a rookie. I have to admit that Pewter Report slept on this guy a little bit, but that’s not going to cause us to downgrade him. For a third-round, second-tier cornerback, Lewis is a fine choice and will challenge Elbert Mack right away for playing time while being groomed to replace Ronde Barber in the starting lineup.

The Buccaneers had a first-round grade on Williams, who was a Pewter Report Bucs’ Best Bet in rounds 4-7 at wide receiver, and viewed him as one of the top four receivers in the draft. Tampa Bay is thrilled to have him as a fourth-round pick and sees him as a big-time steal. The team feels that Williams is even more explosive than second-rounder Arrelious Benn is from a pure athleticism standpoint. The big, 6-foot-2, 204-pound Williams has an NFL-ready body and is a perfect fit for Tampa Bay’s offense. The Bucs would be thrilled if Williams, Benn and second-year receiver Sammie Stroughter form a dynamic trio of receivers that Josh Freeman can grow with over the years. Tampa Bay thoroughly scouted Williams’ in-school issues and believes that he is not as big of a character risk as some pre-draft reports have illustrated. For the Bucs to get a supremely talented receiver like Williams in the fourth round represents tremendous value – as long as Williams’ problems are behind him.

Bucs fans grimaced when Pewter Report put a punter in its 7-Round Bucs Mock Draft, but we told you they would draft a punter in the sixth round, which the team did. The player atop their board was Michigan’s Zoltan Mesko, who went to New England in the fifth round. Bowden was the second best punter, so it made sense to draft him. However, I’m torn on this selection. On one hand, Pewter Report advocated drafting a punter because you can essentially get a starter in the sixth round by doing so, which is great value. Yet the Bucs passed on Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer to draft a punter, and that doesn’t sit well with me. The Bucs didn’t like Dwyer that much (neither did the rest of the league considering he fell to the sixth round), but I do and think Pittsburgh got the steal of the draft. I think the Bucs could have drafted Bowden in the seventh round and as a result they passed up drafting a running back or a defensive end in the sixth round, which could come back to bite them.

The Bucs were sold on his athleticism when he turned in the top time for linebackers in the 3-cone drill (6.58) and had a top 10 finish in the 40-yard dash (4.64), which was faster than more highly regarded linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Daryl Washington. However, Grimm won’t be playing linebacker in the NFL, he’ll be playing safety, and I still have my doubts as to whether he can cover elite wide receivers at this level. Grimm was a very gritty, productive player that forced a lot of turnovers (nine forced fumbles and two interceptions) and displayed good instincts at Virginia Tech, but don’t the Bucs already have this player in Corey Lynch? Tampa Bay passed on the likes of Mississippi State middle linebacker Jamar Chaney, South Florida defensive end George Selvie and North Carolina State defensive end Willie Young to draft Grimm, who likely would have gone undrafted. It’s not that I don’t like Grimm, I just don’t like the fact that the Bucs passed on what I believe are some better players at need positions like defensive end and middle linebacker for a special teamer. In a draft this deep, the Bucs managed to stub their toe on this seventh-round pick.

Although I would have preferred to see the Bucs draft Mississippi State middle linebacker Jamar Chaney instead, I can’t fault them for picking Watson, who is a speedy (4.56), athletic playmaker. I have no idea why he fell this far in the draft, but the Buccaneers get to come away with a seventh-round steal two years in a row after snatching wide receiver Sammie Stroughter out of Oregon State. The best thing about Watson is that he will come in and star on special teams and really challenge Adam Hayward and Jon Alston for a roster spot. If he sticks, I think he has a better upside than Hayward or Alston and can possibly challenge for a starting linebacker job at Will (weakside) or Sam (strongside) in 2011. Because he has a big, 240-pound frame, I would also try him out at middle linebacker. Watson was a great pick in the seventh round and saved the Bucs from ending the 2010 draft with a big thud.

Is it just me, or was this just a throw-away pick by the Buccaneers? Haven’t we seen this movie before? It stars the likes of John McLaughlin, Joe Tafoya, Josh Savage and John Stamper and features drafting a try-hard, high-motor, semi-productive defensive end with limited athleticism near the end of the draft. This version stars Lorig from Stanford, who had a whopping six sacks in his Stanford career. The seventh-round should be a round where teams draft boom-or-bust-type players – not blah players. Why not take a chance on some athletic, productive players like Nevada junior defensive Kevin Basped (23.5, 9.5 in 2009) or UConn defensive end Lindsey Witten (22 career sacks, 11.5 in 2009) that might have inconsistent motors but have more talent? Perhaps the fact that they went undrafted will finally ignite a fire or start their engines. The feeling of having your back against the wall can be a strong motivator. Show me a player that has actually recorded three sacks in a game (Witten has done it twice) and I’ll show you someone who is actually capable of doing it. Lorig’s lack of production – and the Bucs’ track record of drafting these types of players – offers little confidence that he’ll make the team.

Tampa Bay’s 2010 draft started off with a bang with five tremendous picks in the first four rounds. The Bucs doubled up on defensive tackles and the wide receiver position, shoring up those areas for years to come – or at least that is what the team hopes. The Bucs got five very talented players to start off the draft and went with production over potential, which gives them high marks. The team gets a solid “A” for the first five picks – four of which are first-round-caliber players.

However, after the selection of wide receiver Mike Williams in the fourth round, the rest of the Bucs’ draft was uninspiring and lacked imagination with the possible exception being linebacker Dekoda Watson. The thing that bothers me is that the Bucs always resign themselves to draft special teamers and backup players in rounds 5-7. Last year was a bit of an exception with seventh-rounders Sammie Stroughter and E.J. Biggers.

A prime example of this thinking dates back to 2006 when the team wasted a fifth-round pick on Julian Jenkins, who was a huge bust, instead of drafting a pass rusher like Mark Anderson, who wound up having 12 sacks as a rookie in Chicago. When I spoke to director of player personnel Ruston Webster about why the team passed on Anderson to draft a stiff like Jenkins, who was a 3-4 defensive end at Stanford, he told me that the Bucs wanted a versatile player to replace Ellis Wyms.

Wait a minute. The Bucs wanted to draft a player to replace a perennial backup player? That is some serious short-sighted thinking that has led the team to draft players like Jenkins, cornerback Justin Phinisee, safety John Howell and other players who will be nothing more than backups in the NFL. When it comes to the seventh-round, that should be the round where the Bucs draft boom-or-bust players like LeGarrette Blount rather than another Howell-like player like Cody Grimm or a Jenkins-type player like Erik Lorig. 

If I’m general manager Mark Dominik I am looking for steals in the seventh round. I’m looking at Blount, South Florida defensive end George Selvie and Mississippi State middle linebacker Jamar Chaney and looking for players that could come in as backups but have the actual potential to become starters. I can tell you right now that Grimm and Lorig won’t be NFL starters just like I could tell you that former Bucs picks David Gibson and John Stamper wouldn’t be NFL starters. 

The prevailing mindset that this team has of drafting strictly special teamers and backup players with marginal athleticism lacks imagination and is a continual disappointment with last year’s seventh round acting as the lone exception.

Enough nitpicking. I’ll get off my soapbox now. Tampa Bay addressed pressing needs at defensive tackle and wide receiver, but it would have been nice to get an impact pass rusher at defensive end, a middle linebacker and a running back with some speed. The Bucs couldn’t fill all their holes in one year, and their hot start to the 2010 NFL Draft was only marginally cooled by some less than enthusiastic picks in rounds 6-7. 

You have to weight the success of the first four picks against the mediocrity of the later picks due to the fact that the likes of McCoy, Price, Benn, Lewis and Williams are locks to make the team in 2010 and are expected to contribute more given their draft status.

The Buccaneers wanted to get bigger and more physical on defense and accomplished that with defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price in addition to cornerback Myron Lewis. With McCoy, Price and Roy Miller, Tampa Bay’s defensive tackle position should be set for years to come, while Lewis is a developmental corner with the potential to replace Ronde Barber as a starter in 2011. The Bucs can shed some dead weight at defensive by replacing the likes of Chris Hovan, who will be released on Monday, and possibly Ryan Sims and/or Dre Moore.

The team also found a pair of big, dynamic, playmaking wide receivers for Josh Freeman in Arrelious “Rejus” Benn and Mike Williams. Don’t be surprised if one of these two receivers leads the Bucs in receiving yards this year. Tampa Bay got a pair of receivers to compete with Sammie Stroughter, Maurice Stovall, Reggie Brown and Mark Bradley for the right to start. The drafting of Benn and Williams means this is the end of the road for the overpaid and underperforming Michael Clayton.

Tampa Bay also found a starting punter in Brent Bowden, which represents getting good value in the sixth round. Linebacker Dekoda Watson is a special teamer that has the college production and the athletic ability to challenge for a starting role eventually.

General manager Mark Dominik also gets high marks for turning a pair of seventh-round picks into Denver’s fifth-rounder in 2011.

Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik can be guilty of overestimating the talent on their own football team. The team thinks that the defensive end and running back positions are adequately stocked for the 2010 season as neither position was addressed in the draft. I beg to differ.

The only explosive edge rusher Tampa Bay has is Stylez White, who will be 31 in July and is entering a contract year. Second-year defensive end Kyle Moore has some promise, but I wouldn’t put him in White’s class yet. Tim Crowder, Michael Bennett and Maurice Evans are not explosive pass rushers that will threaten quarterbacks – yet the Bucs think they are. I hope for their sake that I am wrong. 

I would have felt better if the Bucs had come away with a player like USF’s George Selvie or UConn’s Lindsey Witten in the seventh round rather than Stanford’s Erik Lorig. There just isn’t much to be excited about at the defensive end as the Bucs have a group of players that wouldn’t start for most NFL teams.

Morris said that the interior push from the likes of Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Roy Miller will help the defensive ends because quarterbacks will be flushed to the outside, but you still have to have the athletes outside that can regularly seal the deal and take the quarterback down. I’m not sure they have that.

The same could be said of Tampa Bay’s running back stable. I think Morris and Dominik are comfortable with the likes of Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Kareem Huggins. Williams is a starting-caliber player when healthy and I’m anxious to see what he can do this season two years removed from a serious knee injury. The problem is that he is much closer to being a top 20 halfback in the NFL – not a top 5 back.

Ward didn’t impress me last year on the field in his Tampa Bay debut, and his anti-media stance throughout the entire season grew tiresome and frankly showed a lack of class. Will that continue again in 2010? More importantly, will he find the burst and power that he apparently left in New York? It was definitely missing in the soon-to-be 30-year old’s game last year.

Earnest Graham seems to be the forgotten man in this offense, and it is a shame that he is buried on the depth chart under the weight of Ward’s contract. I don’t know enough about Huggins other than the players at One Buc Place are buzzing about him. We’ll find out in August if he is buzz-worthy or if he’s the latest in the long list of speedy backs like Ian Smart and Derek Watson that just couldn’t cut it.

The Bucs just didn’t have enough picks to address every need, and like Morris said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Perhaps the greater problem is that the Bucs think they are set at defensive and running back. I think they are misguided, but I could be wrong and would be happy be so for the team’s sake.

• Sources told Pewter Report that the Buccaneers were contemplating trading back into the first round for Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant. What was unclear was how hard they pursued a trade opportunity. Each year there are hundreds of trades that are initiated by teams only to fall apart due to compensation, which is why hundreds of trades aren’t made – only scores.

• As Pewter Report reported prior to the draft, the Bucs wanted to draft a lot of team captains to help with Tampa Bay’s leadership. Out of the team’s nine draft picks, McCoy, Price, Benn, Bowden, Grimm, Watson and Lorig all served as captains for at least the 2009 season. 

• The Bucs feel like they got a pair of steals at receiver with Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. Both wideouts were victim to mediocre quarterback play in college and their college production didn’t match their athleticism because of it. Benn only had one 1,000-yard season and only seven career touchdown catches at Illinois, while Williams never produced a 1,000-yard season yet had 20 career touchdowns. Tampa Bay believes that both players have the potential to become 1,000-yard receivers in the NFL with a strong-armed quarterback like Josh Freeman throwing them the ball.

• There were several folks at One Buc Place that were very high on Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount and wanted to see the Bucs draft him in the seventh round. However, the team’s ownership did not want to bring in a player that had such a high profile character issue like Blount that would cause a big stir in the local and national media as well as the fan base. The Bucs are already embarrassed over Aqib Talib’s temper, which has gotten him in trouble on more than one occasion. They did not want another player with some anger management issues on the team and decided the risk was not worth the reward. Blount was rated among the team’s five top running backs this year.

The Bucs got better – much better – over the last three days in terms of upgrading the team’s talent. Just remember that talent doesn’t equal experience. There were times when the likes of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber looked downright awful and outclassed during their rookie years. Keep that in mind in September, October, November and December this year. 

Also keep in mind that it is somewhat pointless to grade a draft before any of these players have stepped on an NFL field on Sunday. The best accounting of a team's draft usually occurs four or five years after the draft has taken place.

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Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

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