Random thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL
1. Everyone has an opinion, but our friends at Football Outsiders tend to bring the facts as well. Guess which team drafted the highest number of offensive players in the NFL (28) during the past five years? How about the team that drafted the highest percentage of offensive players (64 percent)? Or, the team that drafted the fewest number of “front seven” players on defense? If you said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you’d be right on all counts. Is it any wonder the Buccaneers have an aging defense in need of overhaul?
2. Know how many teams have had fewer day-one picks than the Bucs (12) over the past five years? Two. The Falcons (thanks Rich McKay) and the Redskins with 11 each.
3. This is not a draft prediction, just one man’s hope: 1) Amobi Okoye, DT Louisville 2a) Anthony Spencer, DE Purdue 2B) Brandon Meriweather, S Miami 3) Josh Beekman, G Boston College 4) Paul Williams, WR Fresno State 5) Yamon Figurs, WR Kansas State 7A) Antonio Johnson, DT Mississippi State 7B) Daren Stone, S Maine 7C) Matt Herian, TE Nebraska
4. The thing I like about the day-one picks above is that they address the most glaring weaknesses on the team. Anybody who’s read this space or Pewter Report magazine knows I love Amobi Okoye, who fills the most important position on Monte Kiffin’s defense. The team also needs a young pass rushing DE to groom, and Spencer more than fits the bill if he is still there at the top of the second round. Brandon Meriweather is a banger from the safety spot, and could replace Will Allen right away. Josh Beekman is another kid I enjoyed watching during Senior Bowl week, and the fact that he started three games at center last season for BC will make him a versatile interior blocker.
5. You do realize that this “best player available” stuff is complete fantasy, right? Why do you suppose most pundits have the consensus highest rated player in the draft, Calvin Johnson, slipping to the Buccaneers at the fourth pick?
6. You know what? I find the Bucs’ day-two picks of the past several years incredibly annoying. I’m sure the team is trying hard, but they honestly seem to mail in many of these picks. Julian Jenkins over Mark Anderson? Justin Phinisee? Donte Nicholson? Lenny Williams? Larry Brackins? Sure, second day picks have lower odds of success, but many of these guys had absolutely no shot of making the team when the pick was made.
7. So, why might the day-two picks in my mock be different? Well, they might not be, but at least I can describe a reason why they all could be on the roster. Paul Williams consistently beat most of the corners trying to cover him during Senior Bowl week practices and caught everything thrown his way. He is Michael Clayton insurance. Williams has been inconsistent at Fresno State, but this kid could be Reggie Wayne if he puts it together. Yamon Figurs at last solves the kick return problem. Aren’t we all sick and tired of watching our Bucs continuously rank in the bottom quartile of the NFL in starting field position?
8. The seventh round is always a complete crapshoot, but I loved the athleticism and power I saw from Antonio Johnson in Mobile. The Bucs can always use an extra TE, and Matt Herian has the size, speed and hands Jon Gruden craves. People were actually comparing this kid to Tony Gonzalez before he broke his leg in 2004. Daren Stone is a sleeper from Maine. He isn’t fast, but he hits like a freight train and will provide good intensity and competition at the safety position. I like these guys because while every one of them could fail to make a roster, every one of them has enough ability to also be a starting player in the NFL. None of them are members of the “John Stamper club.”
9. I think Bruce Allen will need to be ready with plans A, B, C and D during the first hour of the draft on April 28th. I can’t remember when there has been less consensus on any of the top picks in the draft. Trades are usually more hype than reality, but the one team I think is desperately trying to move down is Detroit. They want a defensive lineman. I have to believe all of the rumors about the Bucs moving up to snag Calvin Johnson are emanating from the Motor City. Now the kitties are trying to freak out the Browns by pretending they want Brady Quinn. Good luck to Matt Millen, but the Bucs are not moving up. They know they will get a very good player at the fourth spot, regardless of what happens ahead of them.
10. Anybody else sick of Pacman Jones? Go away, already.
11. Anyone who still thinks the local fish wraps don’t have an agenda just needs to read the ludicrous season prediction article printed last week. Obviously, most season predictions aren’t worth much, but why do the wraps feel like predicting a five-win season is a good thing to do now? Because the schedule came out? We knew the Bucs’ 2007 opponents months ago. The order now makes a difference?
12. Just for fun, go to ESPN.com and you can pick all of the Bucs’ games and view how many folks agree with you. By percentages, that vote has the Bucs projected to 11 – 5 in 2007. Obviously there are lots of homers doing the voting, but an agenda is an agenda, right?
13. Baker’s Bonus: I’m off to Aruba for Spring Break. Enjoy the build-up to the draft and I’ll look forward to dissecting Tampa Bay’s picks with you when I return. I hope to be toasting selections at the beach bar with a cold Balashi beer, and not spitting all over the place in shock if a name like “Lance Nimmo” comes up. Cheers to all!
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