Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL

1) Well, I still see Joe Thomas and Calvin Johnson as the two names most associated with the Bucs picking at No. 3 or 4 in the 2007 NFL Draft.  However, there is always the possibility the Bucs will trade down a few spots to pick up a player they really like, especially if Thomas, Johnson or both are gone. A player like Amobi Okoye, the Louisville 19-year-old defensive tackle prodigy might be just such a player. We looked at defensive tackles last week, and found that those taken with the first 10 picks since 1991 have been some good, some bad, and some ugly. The safest bet still looks like an offensive tackle like Joe Thomas if he is available. And, after watching Levi Brown up close at the Senior Bowl, trust me, we’re talking Thomas or nobody at left tackle for the Bucs if they pick in the top 5.

In keeping with our theme of building a team from the lines out, it would seem the other position worth analyzing in the top 10 picks is defensive end.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a pass rush more than anything else on defense. Simeon Rice may or may not be on the 2007 roster.  Dewayne White is a free agent.  The Bucs will definitely address defensive end in free agency and perhaps the draft. If they go the draft route, how should we feel about a top 10 pick at that spot?  Here is the data from 1991 through 2004:

a. 1991, Eric Swann, 6th
b. 1993, John Copeland, 5th
c. 1993, Eric Curry, 6th (Ouch!)
d. 1994, Willie McGinest, 4th
e. 1995, Kevin Carter, 5th
f. 1995, Mike Mamula, 6th
g. 1996, Simeon Rice, 3rd
h. 1996, Cedric Jones,  5th
i. 1997, Peter Boulware, 7th
j. 1998, Andre Wadsworth, 3rd
k. 1998, Grant Wistrom, 6th
l. 1998, Greg Ellis, 8th
m. 2000, Courtney Brown, 1st
n. 2001, Justin Smith, 4th
o. 2001, Andre Carter, 7th
p. 2001, Jamal Reynolds, 10th
q. 2002, Julius Peppers, 2nd
r. 2003, Kevin Williams, 9th

2) I don’t know about you, but to me, the above list screams “Don’t” if you’re considering defensive end with the No. 3 or 4 pick.

3) To prove the point, look what defensive ends were available in the second round during 1991-2004:

a. Osi Umeniyora
b. Kalimba Edwards
c. Anthony Weaver
d. Darren Howard
e. Mike Rucker
f. Tony Brackens
g. Brentson Buckner
h. Chris Slade
i. Michael Strahan

Hmmm………does that prove a point? I don’t really like this list either, and I left off about two thirds of the defensive ends picked in the second round who aren’t even worth talking about.

4) Okay, how about defensive ends chosen from pick No. 11 through the end of the first round from 1991 through 2004? I hate to tell you this, but the odds of picking a good end don’t get any better. What’s the moral of this story? Perhaps it is that defensive end is a harder position to project in the NFL than you might think, so spending a top 10 draft pick on one is pretty high risk.

5) Given that all picks are high risk to a degree, of the four positions we have looked at, the historical odds of picking a good player are as follows in descending order of likelihood: Offensive tackle, Defensive tackle, Defensive end, Wide receiver. Receiver rates 4th because the total bust rate is about 50%, which is just way too high for a top 10 pick. 

6)
So where do I sit? Right now it’s Joe Thomas or trade down for me with the first pick.  I don’t care if Calvin Johnson runs a 4.45 at the Combine (and the betting here is he won’t). The risk is too high, and wide receivers are easy to come by in later rounds. 

7) Well, if you’re an Eli Manning fan I’m sure you feel much better this morning in the knowledge that the Giants have hired Chris Palmer to tutor him as quarterbacks coach.  I mean, look at what Palmer has done for Drew Bledsoe, err……..I mean Tim Couch, oh scratch that, I meant David Carr……

8) Good luck, Lane Kiffin, but how far has an NFL franchise fallen when an assistant college coach says no thanks? Do you realize Kiffin was the second choice USC assistant for the Raiders job?

9) Does anybody else worry that the Bucs defensive system is so precise that the team begins discounting players just by looking at their body sizes?  Is there some rule that our defensive tackles can’t be much over six feet tall or weigh more than 300lbs? Wouldn’t John Henderson look okay in pewter?

10)  Does anybody else worry that the Bucs offensive system is so precise that the team begins weeding out players just by looking at their body sizes?  Does every tight-end need to be 6 foot 5 or taller? Would the Bucs pass on guys like Ben Watson and Kris Wilson just because of height?  Watching the North squad at the Senior Bowl last week, Scott  Chandler, 6 foot 7, 258 pounds out of Iowa is exactly the kind of guy I get a bad feeling we’ll draft for what he looks like vs his potential NFL production.  What is his NFL comparable?

11) 
Weird thing is, I get these premonitions that we’re looking for a certain “type” vs college production and just finding guys that are players, and then we totally whiff on a big receiver like Marques Colston and mail in the seventh round last year with picks like Jason Phinisee, Charles Bennett, and Lenny Williams, and Tim Massaquoi. You could tell on draft day none of these guys would make the team. Bennett got off the practice squad and got a few reps because the Bucs were one injury away from inviting fan auditions along the defensive line.

12) 
I think maybe I worry too much.  When does free agency start again?

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