table of contents
- Pewter Report's 2012 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft
- SR's Fab 5 3-8
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: QB
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: RB
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: TE
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: OL
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: WR
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: DL
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: LB
- Schiano Should Only Guarantee Two Starting Spots In Tampa Bay
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: S
- 2012 Free Agency Preview + Bucs' Best Bets: CB
- Point-Counterpoint: Which Free Agents Should The Bucs Target?
- Glazers Have One Last Chance To Win Back The Fans
- Pewter Prospect: LB Mychal Kendricks
- Pewter Prospect: OT Bobby Massie
When Mark Dominik made quarterback Josh Freeman his initial first-round draft pick in his first year as Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2009, he did so because he had plenty of insight and inside information. Former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris had spent a year as Kansas State’s defensive coordinator in 2006 and got to know Freeman, then a freshman, and observe him on a daily basis.
That intel served the Bucs well as they knew exactly the type of player and person Freeman was when they traded up to the 17th spot in the first round to make him the team’s franchise quarterback.
With new head coach Greg Schiano and a new coaching staff that is filled with former college coaches, you can bet that Dominik will be leaning on their personal experience coaching, recruiting and playing against some of the 2012 draft prospects when choosing which players will become Buccaneers in April. Expect familiarity to be the draft theme in Tampa Bay this year, and that is reflected in Pewter Report’s first seven-round mock draft.
ROUND 1 - LSU CB Morris Claiborne
With Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck going first to Indianapolis, followed by Washington trading up to No. 2 for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Minnesota selecting USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, and the Rams trading down to No. 4 to grab Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the Bucs are thrilled to grab Claiborne, the draft’s top-rated cornerback, at No. 5. Claiborne is the best available player on the board and fits the Buccaneers’ biggest need in the draft.
In his three-year career at LSU, the junior cornerback picked off 11 passes, returning them for 274 yards and one touchdown, in addition to breaking up 12 passes. After notching five picks as a sophomore in 2010, Claiborne topped that number as a junior with six INTs, including one for a 45-yard touchdown against Georgia. Claiborne also starred on special teams where he returned 22 kickoffs for 552 yards and a touchdown.
Claiborne was coached by Tampa Bay’s new defensive backs coach Ron Cooper at LSU and that gives the Bucs some peace of mind as they spend a premium pick on the Tigers cornerback. Claiborne might not start in the season opener, but he has the talent to at least be the nickel cornerback as a rookie. Having his college coach tutor him in the pros will only accelerate his development because of the relationship Cooper and Claiborne fostered at LSU.
ROUND 2 – North Carolina OLB Zach Brown
After getting some inside information on Claiborne from Cooper, the Bucs follow that trend and receive a hearty thumbs up from new defensive assistant Butch Davis, who recruited and coached Brown at North Carolina. Tampa Bay desperately needs more speed and playmaking ability at the linebacker spot and that’s what Brown, who ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, can provide.
As a senior stepping out of the shadow of former linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter, Brown had a big season in 2011 with 105 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three interceptions. For his North Carolina career, the playmaking Brown has notched 250 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, seven interceptions for 137 yards, 5.5 sacks, four pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
Brown, whose speed and athleticism remind some of the legendary Derrick Brooks, could be a starter at weakside linebacker as a rookie, replacing Geno Hayes, who will likely leave during free agency. The only knocks on the 6-foot-1, 236-pound Brown are his instincts and his penchant for being a drag down tackler rather than a forceful hitter.
ROUND 3 – Oregon RB LaMichael James
There is no doubt that the Buccaneers need more speed and playmaking ability on offense. James certainly has that, running a 4.37 at the combine. His lack of size (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) is what will likely keep him out of the first two rounds, but James’ smallish stature can help him because he can hide away from defenders behind his offensive linemen and then break out for a long run.
James led the nation in rushing yards last year with 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns, in addition to catching 17 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown. In his three-year Ducks career, James rushed for 5,082 yards and 53 touchdowns on 771 carries (6.6 avg.), and also caught 51 passes for 586 yards and four touchdowns. James, who had 28 100-yard games at Oregon, can also help on special teams as a rookie, evidenced by the fact that he scored a touchdown on a 58-yard punt return against Nevada in 2011.
The Bucs could use a change-of-pace back like James to pair with LeGarrette Blount, his former teammate at Oregon, and the team has had success with a similar-sized runner like Warrick Dunn back in the 1990s. You can bet that Dominik got a lot of intel on the Ducks’ 2012 draft prospects like James when he was interviewing Oregon head coach Chip Kelly for Tampa Bay’s head coaching position in January.
ROUND 4 – Traded to Philadelphia for 2011 fourth-round pick used to move up for tight end Luke Stocker.
ROUND 5 – Fresno State WR Devon Wylie
Tampa Bay needs to add some speed to its wide receiving corps and Wylie fits the bill as he blazed a 4.39 time at the combine. This versatile weapon can catch the ball, run the ball on reverses (114 yards on 17 carries), return kicks (333 yards on 16 returns), and return punt (553 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries). Wylie has been compared to a poor man’s Wes Welker because of his smallish frame, extreme quickness, instant acceleration and ability to work out of the slot.
Wylie only had 96 career receptions at Fresno State for 1,288 yards and seven touchdowns, with 56 of those catches for 716 yards and one of those scores coming during his senior year after he missed the 2010 season with foot surgery. Wylie’s lack of production compared to other receivers, and lack of ideal size (5-foot-9, 187 pounds), will keep him out of the first two days of the draft, but he could be a third-day steal for Tampa Bay.
The familiarity with draft prospects continues as Wylie had a 31-yard catch against new head coach Greg Schiano’s Rutgers team in 2010, and totaled seven catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in 2008-09 against Wisconsin and new Bucs offensive line coach Bob Bostad when he was with the Badgers.
ROUND 6 – Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher
By facing Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton twice a year in the NFC South, stocking up on cornerbacks and bolstering the talent at the position is a priority for Tampa Bay. Even though the Bucs drafted Claiborne in the first round, the team could use more competition and better depth to challenge the likes of E.J. Biggers, Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor. The physical, hard-hitting Fletcher fits the mold of what new head coach Greg Schiano wants in a cornerback.
In his four-year career for the Eagles, Fletcher nabbed 11 interceptions, including a career-high five during his junior campaign. His draft stock fell a little bit as a senior when he recorded just two picks and broke up five passes. Despite being a Senior Bowl participant, Fletcher was snubbed by the NFL when he wasn’t invited to the combine last month. He’s a real sleeper.
The 6-foot, 201-pound Fletcher has good size to match up with bigger receivers and reminds some of former Bucs great cornerback Brian Kelly. He played in the ACC where he was studied by Davis when he was at North Carolina.
ROUND 7 – Rutgers G Desmond Wynn
By re-signing the versatile Jeremy Zuttah, Tampa Bay’s offensive line is pretty set for the 2012 season, but adding the 6-foot-6, 303-pound Wynn, who has the experience at guard and the frame and wingspan to play tackle would be of great benefit to the Buccaneers, especially in the seventh round. Like Zuttah, Wynn was recruited and played for Schiano at Rutgers, so there is a great deal of familiarity with the Bucs’ final pick of the 2012 draft.
Wynn’s stock has been hurt somewhat because he is coming off shoulder surgery. Yet he posted good combine numbers and is on the mend. He ran a very good 5.05 in the 40-yard dash to show off his athleticism, and his shoulder was healthy enough to bench 28 reps of 225 pounds in Indianapolis. Wynn will have a chance to better those numbers at his pro day on March 21.
A two-year starter at Rutgers, Wynn excels as a run blocker and needs some work in pass protection, but he would be a quality reserve as a rookie with the potential to develop into a starting-caliber performer in time.