Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL

1. Okay, so the Bucs lost the coin toss and pick fourth. Scott Reynolds explained very eloquently in his latest Fab 5 why the Bucs don’t (and shouldn’t care) about picking third or fourth.  Personally, I’m happy they lost. By all accounts Joe Thomas will be gone at number two to Detroit, and his Combine workouts have only increased that likelihood. If he’s gone, then I’ll take the top defensive player in the draft at number four or move down.

No, I won’t tear my hair out if the Bucs take Calvin Johnson, but given the historical data on the spotty track record of receivers taken at the top of the draft (hello Charles Rogers!), I won’t deny that I still prefer Amobi Okoye.

3. Why Okoye?  Well, if you’ve read the Dirty Dozen before, you know that defensive tackles have a higher success rate historically than receivers taken in the top 10 picks, but far more important than that fact is the fact that the Bucs need an under tackle desperately. Did you notice how ordinary the vaunted Chicago Bears defense became once Tommie Harris got injured? The bottom line is that under tackle is the single most important position in the Tampa 2 defense. Get a disruptor that collapses the pocket, and you have the makings of a vicious defense. Lose that push, and, well, you get the 2006 Bucs. Okoye is 19, has a college degree, and if his body holds up he could solve this crucial need for a dozen years.  

What? Mel Kiper thinks that number four is too high a pick to draft Okoye?  The heck with  Mel Kiper!  He thinks there’s kicker that shouldn’t slip past the second round!

And no, I wouldn’t want Gaines Adams at number four. Why?  I just don’t think he’s big enough. While I can see that an under tackle like Okoye needs quickness and burst to shoot the gap, I believe the Bucs’ defensive line is just too small. If you’re going to play Cover 2 in the secondary, then you need to stop the run and that begins up front. We already have one Simeon Rice and can’t afford another end that weighs less than 270 pounds. That’s why I much prefer Jamaal Anderson or Adam Carriker if Okoye isn’t the pick. Give me somebody who has height, can play at 290 pounds, and has a shot at being the next Michael Strahan.

If the Bucs do take a defensive end at number four, then what does the team do about under tackle? Well, the Bucs could do a lot worse than shifting Chris Hovan to the three technique, which he played in Minnesota, and getting a bigger body at nose in later rounds.

Don’t you think it would help Tampa Bay’s offensive line and quarterback to play against a bigger, more physical defensive line? Maybe have a few more guys tall enough to even bat balls down in practice? Maybe the offense will be more prepared to take on the Carolinas of the world if the Bucs’ defensive linemen are big as well as fast.

Scott Reynolds has been a font of knowledge lately in his Fab 5 columns. Though the column is for Insiders only, I think I can let one fact slip out that I found particularly fascinating. As it stands, the highest cap value for any Bucs offensive player is for Kenyatta Walker. Does anyone wonder why the Bucs have struggled recently on offense? What other team has its highest offensive cap value on a backup right tackle? And make no mistake, if Walker makes the roster, he’s a backup in 2007.

And,  I guess if you wanted to get one good reason out of me, other than he was a great college player, to draft Calvin Johnson, getting more balance on where cap dollars are spent would be it. However, with players like Rice, Quarles and Brooks nearing the end, and players like Ellis Wyms heading for restructure-land or getting the keys to the street , the cap balance will address itself rapidly anyway. The Bucs have plenty of youth on offense, so if I’m playing cap guru I’d like to see some offensive vets like Daniel Graham, Eric Steinbach and either David Carr or Jeff Garcia on the roster.

10. You do realize that the Bucs are going to wind up with Carr or Garcia, don’t you? The one thing head coach Jon Gruden promised at the end of last season was that a veteran signal caller would be signed to compete with Chris Simms. Presuming you aren’t delirious and like Jake Plummer, the only two guys that fit the bill are Carr and Garcia. You read it here first, one of them is playing in red and pewter next season.

Okay, so I’m writing this column and have the Combine on the NFL Network in the background. I just found out Calvin Johnson ran a 4.35 40-yard dash wearing somebody else’s shoes. And, despite everything I just wrote, I have to admit it, I’m wavering a little. Just a little.

You’ve got to love Arthur Blank, don’t you? It was just a water bottle? No big deal right? We all carry around water bottles with secret compartments that have mysterious brown residue in them. You go, Ron Mexico!

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