Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL:
1. I wince every time I hear a prognosticator or Buccaneers fan mention Calvin Johnson or Ted Ginn, Jr. as possible first-round picks for Tampa Bay in the April draft. And, that’s no knock on either player. They both could end up in Canton for all I know. What I can tell you is that the odds are against it. In fact, by my reckoning, if the Bucs take a receiver with their first pick, there is a 50 percent chance the pick will be a bust, and I mean a bust.
Why? Let’s look at all of the receivers taken within the first 10 picks of the NFL Draft from 1991-2003 (we’ll give the 2004 class and beyond more time to prove themselves). Below is the overall pick number, the player’s name, the year, and my admittedly subjective characterization of their careers:
1991 No. 10 Herman Moore – Detroit 1992 No. 4 Desmond Howard – Washington (BUST)1993 No. 7 Curtis Conway – Chicago1995 No. 4 Michael Westbrook – Washington (BUST)1995 No. 8 Joey Galloway 1995 No. 10 JJ Stokes (BUST)1996 No. 1 Keyshawn Johnson 1996 No. 7 Terry Glenn Â 1997 No. 7 Ike Hilliard 1999 No. 6 Torry Holt 1999 No. 8 David Boston (BUST)2000 No. 4 Peter Warrick (BUST)2000 No. 8 Plaxico Burress 2000 No. 10 Travis Taylor (BUST)2001 No. 8 David Terrell (BUST)2001 No. 9 Koren Robinson (BUST)2002 No. 3 Charles Rogers (BUST)2003 No. 3 Andre Johnson
By my count, that is a total of nine busts out of 18 receivers taken in the top 10 since 1991. It is by far the most overvalued position drafted at the top of the first round. I’ll be comparing these WR ratings to other positions over the course of the offseason, but trust me Bucs fans, the odds are, you do not want to hear Calvin Johnson or Ted Ginn, Jr. get their names called by the Bucs this April.
2. Don’t you just love the fact that even though the NFL is so hard to predict, many things stay the same? The Redskins are terrible again, are already at the $109 million salary cap for next season and have essentially no draft picks except their first-rounder. The Falcons are up close against the cap, are wallowing in mediocrity and have more holes than a slice of Finlandia Swiss to fill (good luck, Bobby Petrino). And, the New England Patriots are playing for the Super Bowl, have $30 million in cap room for 2007, and somehow have a whopping two first-round draft picks. Don’t tell me there aren’t people who know how to work the rules in this league.
3. Dumbest Preseason Prediction: Sports Illustrated picking the Miami Dolphins to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
4. From the “Why do we read preseason magazines?” department: Pro Football Weekly had the Carolina Panthers rated as the number No. 1 team in the NFL during their annual issue. In fact, only five teams in their top 10 made the playoffs.
5. The Sporting News preseason annual? Steelers over Panthers in the Super Bowl.6. How well did the pundits do in predicting the Bucs' 2006 season? I reviewed 10 different periodicals, including Pewter Report, and got a range of 6-10 through 10-6. Unfortunately, we were one of those who predicted 10-6. So, why do we read preseason magazines and annuals? Ah, heck, because it’s fun!
7. Just retire now, Bill Parcells. With the game in control, the Tuna had to watch a preposterous safety, a touchdown drive off the resultant punt, and then Tony Romo doing his best Bill Buckner impersonation on a snap for a field goal that was shorter than an extra point. Oh, and if that noted physical specimen Martin Gramatica could have just gotten in Jordan Babineaux’s way, even just to be human roadkill, it’s likely Romo gets a first down at the 1-yard line or even a touchdown. The football gods are saying something, Tuna. Â
8. T.O. certainly turned up big for the Cowboys, didn’t he? Two catches (and two drops) for 26 yards.9. I think I understand now why Jon Gruden wanted to take Brian Westbrook with the Bucs’ first pick in the 2002 draft. If you caught his 154 total yard performance Sunday, you might agree with me. Good thing Rich McKay did all of that homework and made sure the Buccaneers got Marquise Walker instead.10. If fans wanted to see a coaching clinic, I hope everyone got to watch the Patriots-Jets game.Â There were more mind games and scheme changes going on than in an episode of The Apprentice.
11. Bill Belichick seems to have taken it upon himself to prove that University of Florida receivers can play in the NFL with Reche Caldwell, Chad Jackson, Kelvin Kight. And Sunday, he dusted off Jabar Gaffney to showcase him as a weapon. That’s four Gator receivers on a team that had five on the roster for most of the season.12. It will be interesting to see where the Bucs find their next linebackers coach now that Joe Barry is in Detroit. History tells us it will be a college coach, but given the challenges defensive line coach Jethro Franklin and defensive backs coach Greg Burns had transitioning to the NFL, I think the linebackers coach might be already working in Tampa Bay. If Shelton Quarles retires, he has the kind of knowledge and passion that would make him a fine choice. I’m also not sure how long defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin intends to coach, but Quarles could also be groomed as a defensive coordinator of the future. By all accounts he is smart and aggressive.Â Might be fun to see Derrick Brooks have to call Quarles “Coach” next season.
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