Pewter Report Editor-In-Chief Scott Reynolds
“The Buccaneers said they were going to draft the best player available in this draft, but they really drafted for need when the selected Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph. Aside from Dan Buenning, Tampa Bay didn’t have a lot of talent and depth at the guard position. The team views Sean Mahan, the Bucs’ 17-game starter at right guard last year, as a center in the NFL and will likely pit him against incumbent John Wade. Joseph can come in and start as a rookie due to his intellect and ability, and players like Jeb Terry, Mahan and possibly Toniu Fonoti could provide depth. With the Bucs returning 21 of 22 starters from last year’s NFC South championship team, there are very few starting assignments that are open. Right guard was one of them due to Mahan being deemed too light to play at the position.”

“Jeremy Trueblood, the Bucs’ second-round pick, struggled mightily at the Senior Bowl where he switched from left tackle to right tackle when I watched him. I’ll have to go back and watch the game again to make a better assessment. One source at One Buccaneer Place told me that he progressed and got better as the week went on. While Trueblood excelled in the run game, his footwork needs to be improved in the area of pass protection. Trueblood has some athleticism, but isn’t overly athletic. He also needs to bend his knees more and might struggle with NFL speed rushers. The fact that he is moving from left to right tackle due to his lack of quick feet is a necessity. Trueblood must avoid lunging in pass protection and relying on his frame and imposing wingspan. Trueblood has some ability and probably has more talent than Chris Colmer, who could be the odd man out due to his off-season shoulder surgery and lack of progress as a rookie. The first question I have is, ‘Can he successfully switch from left tackle to right tackle?’ Kenyatta Walker and Colmer both struggled with switching sides in the pros. The second question I have is, ‘Is Trueblood good enough to compete with Walker for playing time as a rookie?'”

“Tampa Bay went offensive line with its first two picks in the 2006 NFL Draft, but the Buccaneers were close to going defense with its first- and second-rounders. Had North Carolina State defensive end Manny Lawson been around at number 23 and had Fresno State cornerback Richard Marshall been there at number 59, Tampa Bay would have had some real interesting decisions to make. Lawson went to San Francisco at number 22, one spot ahead of Tampa Bay, while Marshall went to the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers at number 58, one pick ahead of the Bucs. In fact, the Bucs were poised to pick Marshall in the second round and were upset that he went to Carolina. Although Marshall was targeted for his cornerback ability as well as his return skills, the Bucs weren’t prepared to give up their third-round pick just to move up and get him. Ultimately, that would mean giving up Maurice Stovall. It’s hard to fault Tampa Bay for drafting two consecutive offensive linemen though, especially with the need to block for young offensive stars like quarterback Chris Simms and running back Cadillac Williams.”

“The one thing I noticed today is that the running games in the NFC South really improved. Of course, Tampa Bay stood pat with Cadillac Williams, last year’s fifth overall pick, who wound up being the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and a 1,000-yard rusher. But take a look at New Orleans, who drafted USC running back Reggie Bush with the second overall pick. Bush is added to a backfield that already has Deuce McAllister and Michael Bennett. Carolina’s backfield already had DeShaun Foster and Eric Shelton, last year’s second-round pick, but added Memphis rusher DeAngelo Williams late in the first round. Atlanta’s run game was powered by Pro Bowler Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett and now features Mississippi State’s Jerious Norwood, a third-round pick. Tampa Bay’s run defense will be tested even more this year and in the years to come due to the running backs selected on the first day of the 2006 NFL Draft.”

“If I had to assign a grade to the Buccaneers’ first day of the draft, I’d give Tampa Bay a really solid “B.” The first-round selection of Davin Joseph was very solid. He’ll be a starter at right guard and anytime a team’s first-round pick starts as a rookie it does help the value of the pick in the short term. Jeremy Trueblood is a decent pick, but he comes with some questions that I’ve outlined earlier in this column. The interesting thing is that the Bucs are bolstering the right side of their offensive line, which is the key side when it comes to protecting a left-handed quarterback like Chris Simms. If Marshall would have been the pick, I think the Bucs would have gotten a “B+” from me. Adding Maurice Stovall, who was a Pewter Report Bucs’ Best Bet (from the 2006 Bucs Draft Preview), in the third round was a great move. Stovall fits what Jon Gruden wants on offense and has the ability to become a starter in time. It was a great way to end the Bucs’ first day.”

Pewter Report Managing Editor Jim Flynn
“I can’t find fault in Tampa Bay’s decision to take Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph with its first-round draft pick on Saturday. Some might have been surprised by the player, but nobody should have been surprised by the position the Bucs addressed in the first round. The Bucs desperately needed to upgrade the guard position since Sean Mahan, who started all 16 games at right guard last season, is considered undersized and will eventually move to center. Joseph is a great athlete, has good character and can hold his own on both running and passing plays. The only reason Joseph wasn’t projected to be a first-round pick in more mock drafts was because of the fact that he spent his entire senior year playing at left tackle due to injuries along Oklahoma’s offensive line. This marks just the sixth-time in franchise history that the Bucs have used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Take a look at the previous five:

1980 G Ray Snell
1982 G Sean Farrell
1988 T Paul Gruber
1991 T Charles McRae
2001 T Kenyatta Walker

With the exception of Gruber, none of those players even sniffed a Pro Bowl, and some were simply busts. While not one of those players was drafted by the current Bucs front office, head coach Jon Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Muir haven’t exactly had great fortune in terms of drafting offensive linemen. The team has wasted mid-round picks on center Austin King and tackle Lance Nimmo, both of whom are no longer in the NFL. Guard Jeb Terry (fifth-round pick) had his roster spot put in jeopardy Saturday when the team drafted Joseph, and third-round pick Chris Colmer looks like he’s one step closer to officially being labeled a bust with the drafting T Jeremy Trueblood.

Joseph could be different, though. He’s got the ability and intelligence to start right away just as Dan Buenning did at left guard for the Bucs a year ago, and Joseph certainly has impressive attributes and credentials. Perhaps the Bucs have another thing going for them – the last Oklahoma player to be drafted in the first round by the Bucs was Lee Roy Selmon, who is the team’s only Hall of Famer. Tampa Bay would love to see Joseph have the type of career Selmon had on the defensive side of the ball, but given Tampa Bay’s track record along the offensive line, Bucs fans have every right to take a wait-and-see approach with Joseph.”

“One could understand why the Muir-led offensive lines haven’t played up to the team’s expectations. The Bucs signed two over-the-hill free agent linemen in Todd Steussie and Derrick Deese, and with the exception of Colmer, a third-rounder, he’s only had mid-rounders (King, Nimmo, Terry, Mahan, Buenning) to work with. However, Muir and senior assistant, Aaron Kromer, will not have any more excuses after Saturday. The Bucs spent their first two picks of the 2006 NFL Draft on offensive linemen, and they need to pan out. I believe Joseph will pan out, but I have some concerns about Trueblood. The Bucs likely will move Trueblood from left to right tackle, and that’s something they’ve struggled to do successfully in the past with offensive linemen. Look no further than Colmer, who is looking more and more like a bust, although I’m willing to give him another training camp and preseason before I slap that label on him. With a first- and second-round pick now invested in Joseph and Trueblood, respectively, the Bucs have no more excuses along their offensive line. While they’ll naturally have some growing pains, these two players must be developed and have to solidify the right guard and right tackle positions for a long time.”

“Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall was a steal for the Bucs, who selected the 6-foot-4, 219-pound receiver with their third-round pick (90th overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. This is a weak year for wide receivers entering the draft, and Stovall was projected to be an early second-round pick, but he somehow lasted until late in the third round, where the Bucs wisely snagged him. Some teams questioned Stovall’s true ability and potential since he was kind of a one-year wonder at Notre Dame. However, there’s a lot to like about his game. New Fighting Irish head coach Charlie Weis asked Stovall to lose 10-15 pounds last offseason in an effort to make him quicker and more agile, and he did it – no questions asked. Stovall also picked up Weis’ pro-style offense rather quickly. Not only did he pick it up, Stovall thrived in the offense and emerged as a big-time playmaker. He caught 69 passes for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. The addition of Stovall gives Jon Gruden the big, physical target he craves on offense, and it also hurts the chances of Edell Shepherd, Larry Brackins, Paris Warren and J.R. Russell making Tampa Bay’s active roster in 2006. Tampa Bay’s wide receiving corps were instantly upgraded with the addition of Stovall, who likely will join Michael Clayton, Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard on the Bucs’ active roster.”

“Overall, I like the Joseph and Stovall picks, but I have some concerns regarding Trueblood and how he’ll make the transition from left to right tackle in the pros. That said, the Bucs get a B on the first day of the 2006 NFL Draft.”

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