Alright, I’m tired of messing with this thing. I’ve been battling with a few unsettled picks, but I’ll just go with them for now. Here’s a post-Combine look at how I see the draft playing out:
1) STL – Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma)
Ok, I’m biting. The Rams choose 2010 to not pass on a franchise QB.
2) DET – Russell Okung (T, Oklahoma St)
I’m biting again. This is what they should do, so it probably won’t happen.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Worst case scenario has Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy off the board when we pick. Fred Robbins doesn’t mean anything to me as far as STL’s draft plans go, but will they really pass on a franchise QB yet again? In Detroit, Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch were brought in to bolster the DL. Sammie Lee Hill is an impressive young NT. Do they spend a pick on Suh or McCoy, or do they finally address OT? Buc luck will probably have both Suh and McCoy off the board at #3, but I’m going to be optimistic.
With the 3rd pick, the Bucs select…Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska).
Not much drama there. He’s undoubtedly the pick if he’s on the board. For some reason fate smiles on the Bucs, and they get the best player in the draft.
4) WAS – Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)
They’re running a hybrid 4-3/3-4, and McCoy could play in either scheme.
5) KC – Bryan Bulaga (T, Iowa)
I’m playing the Pioli-Ferentz connection. I’d like to give them Eric Berry here, but Bulaga just beats him out for the pick in my version.
6) SEA – Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)
Pete Carroll couldn’t recruit Clausen to USC, so he drafts him to Seattle.
7) CLE – Eric Berry (S, Tennessee)
I think this pick is spent addressing the secondary, and I’m going with Berry over Joe Haden.
8 ) OAK – Bruce Campbell (T, Maryland)
Don’t let me down Al!
9) BUF – Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama)
The Bills are moving to a 3-4 defense and could use as many front seven pieces as possible. I’m just guessing that they’d find the draft’s top LB to have more value than the fourth rated tackle.
10) JAX – Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, USF)
Even with the Aaron Kampman signing they take a DE. Both Kampman and Harvey are better off on the left side, and Kampman isn’t 100% healthy.
11) DEN (via CHI) – Joe Haden (CB, Florida)
Corner isn’t a huge need, but I think they’d be happy if he were here. I don’t see Dez Bryant being the pick given McDaniels’ history with Brandon Marshall and Bryant’s questionable attitude/commitment.
12) MIA – Sergio Kindle (LB, Texas)
Parcells gets his next LT.
13) SF – CJ Spiller (RB, Clemson)
A great playmaker and compliment to Gore.
14) SEA – Derrick Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech)
This is about as far as I could see him falling.
15) NYG – Brian Price (DT, UCLA)
Restocking the DL.
16) TEN – Everson Griffen (DE, USC)
I still think DE trumps CB here.
17) SF (via CAR) – Trent Williams (T, Oklahoma)
I really like him as a RT on this team.
18) PIT – Kyle Wilson (CB, Boise State)
A secondary in need of help gets a big assist. Wilson’s stock seems to be skyrocketing.
19) ATL – Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma St)
If you asked me a month ago what the chances were of Dez Bryant falling to #19 I’d have said you’re crazy. This still might be crazy, but looking at the teams picking 1-18, it’s hard to find a great fit for him. True or not, he has some off-field (attitude/commitment) questions to answer.
20) HOU – Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno St)
Big need, big talent.
21) CIN – Earl Thomas (S, Tennessee)
I still like Golden Tate, but with it looking like Antonio Bryant or Terrell Owens is going to join Chad Ochocinco in the starting lineup, Tate probably won’t be the pick. I’ll go with probably the best player still on the board and someone who fills a need.
22) NE – Jared Odrick (DL, Penn State)
I really like him in this defense, and they also keep the Jets from getting him.
23) GB – Anthony Davis (T, Rutgers)
With Chad Clifton re-signing, LT isn’t an urgent need, but Davis is too talented to pass up.
24) PHI – Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida)
I still don’t like this pick, but I don’t like the Eagles either so there.
25) BAL – Golden Tate (WR, Notre Dame)
He stays in the AFC North and gives Flacco a second receiver to throw to along with Anquan Boldin. Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense get a huge boost with these two moves.
26) ARI – Jerry Hughes (DE/OLB, TCU)
Maybe they take Charles Brown to protect a fellow Trojan’s back, but I’m addressing their big need for a young pass rusher.
27) DAL – Mike Iupati (G, Idaho)
Jerry Jones is reportedly a big fan of this guy.
28) SD – Dan Williams (DT, Tennessee)
With Jamal Williams likely out of the picture, they happily draft Williams.
29) NYJ – Taylor Mays (S, USC)
Think Rex Ryan feels he can coach this guy up? I just like this combo of attitude/personality.
30) MIN – Devin McCourty (CB, Rutgers)
I really want to give them Jahvid Best here and line up an offense consisting of Peterson, Harvin, Rice, and Best. Instead, I’ll go with the safer pick and a player they’re reported to be very interested in.
31) IND – Charles Brown (T, USC)
The Colts apparently are going to place an emphasis on improving the OL.
32) NO – Sean Weatherspoon (LB, Missouri)
Again, sucks for us.
END ROUND 1
The odds appear to be in our favor of emerging from round one with either Suh or McCoy. That said, I’m going to look to address WR, CB, DE, and S with these next two picks.
33) STL – Jermaine Gresham (TE, Oklahoma)
They need a TE and are fortunate to have the draft’s best fall in their lap.
34) DET – Jahvid Best (RB, California)
I still like the idea of adding a playmaker like Best to their offense.
35) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Before I look at those specific positions I mentioned (WR, CB, DE, and S) there are four “prime” guys I’m targeting with this first pick just in case one of them happens to be there. By prime I mean guys that I expect to be R1 picks who also fill needs quite wonderfully. They’re guys we’d be fortunate to have fall to us in R2, but it’s not completely unrealistic to think there’s a chance they’d be available. For me these guys are Golden Tate, Sean Weatherspoon, Jerry Hughes, and Brandon Graham.
Given who’s available, here are the others I’m interest in:
WR – Arrelious Benn
CB – Patrick Robinson
DE – none
S – Chad Jones
With the 35th pick in the draft, the Buccaneers select……Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan).
As much as I’d love to take Chad Jones with this pick, I can’t argue with drafting Graham. He’s the “prime” guy who falls to us in my version. I didn’t do this draft with the intent of getting Graham. It just fell out that way with the selections I made ahead of him. I think he’s still looked at predominantly as a 4-3 DE, and if he gets past Atlanta at #19, I’m not sure who would be looking at him. Houston and Cincinnati probably wouldn’t. Philly needs an end, but they’re looking for a LE across from Trent Cole. I don’t think Graham’s that guy. The Vikings probably aren’t interested, the Colts wouldn’t pass on a tackle for him, and I don’t see the Saints passing on Weatherspoon for anyone. As for the 3-4 teams, maybe Arizona takes him, but that would put Hughes in play for us. I’m fine either way with Graham and Hughes. I’m not sure the Jets would be interested; might see too much of a resemblance to Vernon Gholston.
36) KC – Terrence Cody (DT, Alabama)
They need an upgrade in the middle, and Cody hasn’t hurt his stock this offseason.
37) WAS – Jonathan Dwyer (RB, Georgia Tech)
I don’t feel great about this pick, but I do think he can play for Shanahan.
38) CLE – Kareem Jackson (CB, Alabama)
If they go with Haden, I still like Chad Jones with this pick. I think they’ll try to get best S/CB combo with their first two picks.
39) OAK – Navorro Bowman (LB, Penn State)
Great fit, and the way they tendered their linebackers sets them up to get a playmaker at WLB.
40) SEA – Chad Jones (S, LSU)
The value at tackle isn’t here, and they could use an upgrade at SS.
41) BUF – Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech)
There’s not a LT on the board that I like with this pick, and they definitely need a #1 receiver. Thomas is reunited with Chan Gailey.
42) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via CHI)
Alright, we’ve gone DT and DE with the first two picks, acquiring two players who would come in and be big time early contributors. So far I think what the Bucs would do and what I would do would be the same thing given who has been available. Now I’m looking at a CB, WR, or S with this pick, and I’m guessing the Bucs are doing the same. Where it comes to making the actual selection is where I think we start to take a different path.
I hate to keep saying the guy’s name, but Chad Jones is the pick for me if he’s on the board. He’s going to be well worth this selection. Instead, given who’s available, I can narrow this to Arrelious Benn, Patrick Robinson, and Reshad Jones, the safety from Georgia. Each fills a need and would make an immediate impact. Benn was a better receiver than his numbers showed at Illinois, Robinson joins Kyle Wilson as the most complete corners in the draft, and Jones brings a versatility that I think would be a great fit in this defense. Decisions decisions.
With the 42nd pick in the draft, the Buccaneers select……Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois).
Benn falls into the “prime” category for me. He’s that Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson mix with real #1 potential. I think at worst he’s Anquan Boldin, and given what he’s been able to do in the NFL, someone like that is certainly worth the 42nd pick in the draft. Benn has plus NFL strength for the position and will make the tough catches, something a young QB like Freeman will need in a receiver.
43) MIA – Nate Allen (S, USF)
A certain upgrade over Gibril Wilson.
44) NE – Ricky Sapp (LB, Clemson)
They need a pass rusher, and Sapp excels in that area. I like his transition to the LB position as a pro.
45) DEN – Marukice Pouncey (OL, Florida)
Center is their biggest weakness up front. While we’re on Pouncey, if I was to pick a real dark horse for the Bucs in round two it would be Pouncey. He’s the “holy shit!” pick that wouldn’t surprise me.
46) NYG – Reshad Jones (S, Georgia)
Safety is in much better shape with the offseason additions of Jones and Antrel Rolle.
47) NE (via JAX) – Tim Tebow (QB, Florida)
Changed my mind. Instead of Jacksonville, he goes to the Patriots with the pick that originally belonged to Jacksonville.
48) CAR – Brandon LaFell (WR, LSU)
They desperately need to get help across from Steve Smith.
49) SF – Patrick Robinson (CB, FSU)
I think he’s great value this late.
50) KC (via ATL) – Koa Misi (LB, Utah)
They really need a pass rusher, and Misi is an athletic one.
51) HOU – Dominique Franks (CB, Oklahoma)
They needed a corner before losing Dunta Robinson.
52) PIT – Corey Wootton (DL, Connecticut)
For the second year in a row, the Steelers restock at DE. Wootton and Ziggy Hood could be a nice future front.
53) NE – Mardy Gilyard (WR, Cincinnati)
I want to give them an offensive playmaker in R2. Gilyard makes sense, and they’re reported to have interest in him.
54) CIN – Rob Gronkowski (TE, Arizona)
I feel good about this pick if they go defense in R1.
55) PHI – Vladimir Ducasse (OL, U Mass)
They need help along the line, and Ducasse gives them versatility.
56) GB – Perrish Cox (CB, Oklahoma State)
I think they’d take Kyle Wilson in R1 if he was there, but since he wasn’t they address a need with Cox.
57) BAL – Alex Carrington (DL, Arkansas State)
I like him as a DE in their defense. They don’t need him right away, and he can work into a rotation with Trevor Pryce and possibly Dwan Edwards.
58) ARI – Cam Thomas (DL, North Carolina)
They need a nose.
59) DAL – Brandon Spikes (LB, Florida)
I know this is low, but I think he’d be happy to end up with the Cowboys.
60) SD – Lamarr Houston (DL, Texas)
I know they need a RB, but I think they hold off a round and wait for Ben Tate, Montario Hardesty, or Toby Gerhart in the third. Dan Williams and Houston are needed DL upgrades.
61) NYJ – Eric Norwood (LB, South Carolina)
Vernon Gholston sucks.
62) MIN – JD Walton (C, Baylor)
So does John Sullivan.
63) IND – Austen Lane (DE, Murray State)
I really like him working in a rotation with Freeney and Mathis.
64) NO – Morgan Burnett (S, Georgia Tech)
He’s versatile and would fill a big need if Sharper doesn’t return.
END ROUND 2
Ok, so after three picks, we’ve addressed three of our most dire needs:
DT – Ndamukong Suh
DE – Brandon Graham
WR – Arrelious Benn
Suh is an instant starter next to Roy Miller and should be an integral part in turning this defense around. Joining him is Graham, a legitimate defensive playmaker who frequents offensive backfields and gives us another pass rusher from the right side. I think the Bucs will be itching to get Freeman a receiver with one of these second round picks, and if you’re going to go WR that early, get one who can be a real difference maker. I read whispers elsewhere that another receiver might be their target, but IMO Benn is the perfect receiver for a young Josh Freeman. Unlike someone such as, oh let’s say, Jordan Shipley, Benn has #1 receiver talent and the build and physicality to be a high level player.
I still want another receiver at some point in the draft, but I want to address the secondary before going there again. I also want a RB who can handle the ball on first down. I haven’t forgotten LB either and am looking for someone who can back Ruud up and possibly push him for reps at some point. Offensive line depth and a tight end are on my list for later on in the draft.
At this point I’m not going to get greedy on the defensive line and take Tyson Alualu or Geno Atkins if they’re there. Tempting, but we have other needs. Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale) might be tempting as a developmental tackle prospect, but that’s an unaffordable luxury. Aaron Hernandez, Dennis Pitta, Jimmy Graham, and Anthony McCoy aren’t great uses of our picks, so there goes TE.
Since I’ve pretty much ruled out WR, DL, OL, and TE, who could we target?
RB – Joe McKnight, Toby Gerhart, Montario Hardesty, Anthony Dixon
CB – Amari Spievey, Chris Cook, Brandon Ghee
S – Darrell Stuckey, Larry Asante
The pick: Amari Spievey (CB, Iowa)
There’s a good chance Spievey could be gone at this point, but if he isn’t, I like the thought of lining him up across from Talib. I know we need a replacement for Sabby, but Ronde’s successor isn’t on the roster either. I like the chances of finding a starter at safety a little later on better than I do at corner.
RB, S, and LB are the key positions I’m looking at in this round. A speedy WR like Jacoby Ford would be temping if he were available, and I still like Dezmon Briscoe. We definitely need multiple receivers, but would the Bucs spend 2 of their first 5 picks on the position? At RB maybe Gerhart or Tate is still there, and at safety maybe Stuckey or Asante hasn’t yet been picked. I like Brandon Lang (DE, Troy), but we already took Graham. Too early for another DE. Javier Arenas or the intriguing AJ Jefferson (Fresno State) would warrant consideration, but I think it’s too early to go back to cornerback just yet.
I don’t want to go RB here, and I’m still going to hold out at safety.
The pick: Pat Angerer (LB, Iowa)
Yes, I know it’s back-to-back Iowa selections, but those are two of the better players that defense has fielded in a while. I think Angerer’s style is a great fit for this defense. He’ll be an instant contributor on special teams and will hopefully push Ruud for time in the middle. I don’t want to kick Ruud out on the street, but there’s nothing wrong with some competition. Angerer could eventually be the best he’s faced so far.
No sense in pissing around here.
The pick: James Starks (RB, Buffalo)
I’ve liked this guy for a while and think he’d be a good back to pair with Ward or Williams; whoever is a Buc in and beyond 2010. I had him as a 7th round pick in my first version, but it appears as if we’ll have to spend an earlier selection if we want him. Fine by me.
Every year there are some players who are surprisingly available in the later rounds of the draft. Expect to see that exponentially this year given the depth of this class. I’m going to list some guys here as 6th round targets who could very well be there in the 7th depending on how things shake out.
Catching up, we’ve gone: DT, DE, WR, CB, LB, and RB. That’s four of six picks spent on the defense, but I’ve got to emerge from the 6th round with a safety. I’d like the other pick to go to another receiver (or TE), the offensive or defensive line, or a corner. My targets:
WR – Marcus Easley, Danario Alexander, Seyi Ajirotutu, Antonio Brown
TE – Tony Moeaki, Colin Peek
DL – Corey Peters
OL – Marshall Newhouse
QB – John Skelton
CB – Patrick Stoudamire, Walter Thurmond
S – Barry Church
Barry Church (S, Toledo)
Marcus Easley (WR, Connecticut)
Church was my 6th round pick in the last version, and I won’t change it in this one. He’s my second favorite S for the Bucs behind (last time I promise) Chad Jones. Easley is a great low risk high reward guy who could develop into a productive pro with some work.
From the 6th round group Peters, Newhouse, and Stoudamire would be my favorites if they were available in the 7th. I don’t include Corey Peters (DT, Kentucky), but if he was available this late, he’d be my #1 choice. Others:
WR – Freddie Barnes, Kyle Williams, Chris McGaha
CB – Crezdon Butler
OL – Drew Davis, Thomas Austin
DL – Antonio Coleman, James Ruffin, Malcolm Sheppard
Patrick Stoudamire (CB, Western Illinois)
Thomas Austin (OL, Clemson)
I could get greedy and make Barnes our third new receiver, but I’d like to wait until after the draft and pick up either him or Kyle Williams. Good chance they make it through undrafted. Stoudamire is a talented small school guy who is worth a look, and Austin has interior versatility. WR, OL, and DL are my key focuses when looking at undrafted free agents.
1) Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
The draft’s ultimate prize and instant starter next to Miller.
2a) Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan)
A much needed disruptive force from the end position.
2b) Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois)
A potential #1 receiver.
3) Amari Spievey (CB, Iowa)
A corner with a higher upside than anyone on the roster not named Talib.
4) Pat Angerer (LB, Iowa)
Solid depth and possible eventual replacement at MLB.
5) James Starks (RB, Buffalo)
All-round back with upside.
6a) Barry Church (S, Toledo)
Productive, disciplined safety who could upgrade SS.
6b) Marcus Easley (WR, Connecticut)
Project WR; possible big bang for buck.
7a) Patrick Stoudamire (CB, Western Illinois)
Special teams and possible eventual nickel corner.
7b) Thomas Austin (OL, Clemson)
Needed interior versatility.
I like this one better than my first version. We’re addressing our dire need areas (DT and WR) and bringing in a much-needed pass rusher with our first three picks. In total we add two huge improvements to the defensive line, three offensive playmakers, three possible fixtures in the secondary, and depth at linebacker and the offensive line.