The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were as aggressive as ever in the 2012 NFL Draft, making a statement this team has begun a new era. As if the additions of Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright and Carl Nicks were not enough, the Bucs made sure they made the moves needed to draft their guys. If one word could sum up this year’s draft, it would be “physical”. From pick one on down, the Bucs looked for physical leaders whom could bring that mentality to the NFL level. On a team with youth and lacking leadership, the Bucs not only added 3 players who were team captains in college. Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David were each known for their combination of leadership, intellect and physical play.
Just as impressive was how this draft reflected on the organization. Coach Greg Schiano made it clear from day one of his mini-camp that details would be the focus. That mentality seems to have carried over to the front office. By gaining a pick while selecting Mark Barron and then trading up for both Martin and David, the Bucs clearly had a plan. Even then, it is one thing to have a plan, but another to execute them. Mark Dominik and the organization listened to coach Schiano, made their plan, then executed by ensuring they did what was necessary to follow through. For the first time in years, it seems like everyone is on the same page. Regardless of how the 2012 season ends, most will agree it is better to see a team fail with a plan, than fail without one. The foundation has been built, now it’s time to build on the field.
Overall, the Buccaneers scored high marks in their draft. Many of the players had higher value than where they were selected. Though the fan favorites were Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne, the team slapped us all upside the head by selecting Alabama safety Mark Barron. To understand why Barron was a better pick than anyone realized, it’s important to understand just how valuable the safety position will be in Schiano’s defense. Knowing where and how he developed his philosophy also helps. The following PDF link describes both. http://fastandfuriousfootball.com/wp-content/uploads/coachingmaterial2/43%20AFCAMiamiHurricanesDefensebyChuckPagano.pdf
Schiano tried to institute this type of defense at Rutgers, but never had the horses. Now, he has ensured that won’t be the case in year one of his NFL career. Mark Barron was a pick few expected. Part of the reason is because writers like myself bought into the Ronde Barber showing at mini-camp. In hindsight, it was a masterful bluff by the staff. If we believe Mark Dominik and Barron really was at the top of the draft board, it validates their ability to play the game. It also goes back to focusing on the “details” and “executing” a plan.
The move up for Doug Martin ensured that at minimum, the Bucs have security long term should Legarrette Blount not make the jump many expect of him this year. At best, the Bucs could have one of the best two headed monsters in the league. Martin’s ability out of the backfield and in the red zone will play to Blount’s weaknesses. Though Martin is a bulldozer himself, Blount can provide the ability to turn short yardage situations into long gains. Ground…meet….Pound.
Lavonte David was a player most analysts had as a Bucs target since day one of the off-season began. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports even chimed in after watching extensive tape, comparing him to Derrick Brooks. Despite many considering him undersized for the position, David plays the game much bigger than his 6’1″ frame. He racked up 285 tackles at Nebraska and his 4.65 speed allows him to play excellent coverage. David was considered the 3rd best OLB in the draft and now returns to his home state. Perhaps a more important comparison to Brooks is his football I.Q. As stated, David was a team captain and leader of the defense. He will step in day one, giving the Bucs a physical presence lacked in recent years.
The Bucs then added West Virginia stand out Najee Goode. Though the knock on Goode is his pass coverage abilities, that is one of the few things the linebackers did decently even before bringing in Lavonte David. With Goode, they bring in a player who will help the 32nd ranked rush defense. Goode is a physical downhill runner who loves contact. Though he may be a specialist at first, there is no reason to believe his pass coverage won’t improve with the right coaching.
Though it was much later than expected, corner back was finally addressed in the 6th round. Staying in West Virginia, the selection of Keith Tandy brings a physical corner who is not afraid to throw his body around. He is a better zone type of player than man, but like Goode, should see improvement under Ron Cooper. Many analysts also see Tandy as a potential safety in the NFL based on his natural skill set. Coach Schiano did express a willingness to wait and see where all the draft picks wind up playing, so if Cody Grimm is nagged by injury once again, Tandy could make sense as a replacement. Regardless if this becomes the case or not, having Tandy provides depth at the corner position while serving as a safety valve should free safety play become a concern.
The team finally wrapped things up in round 7 with Utah State running back Michael Smith and Northwestern tight end Drake Dunsmore. As stated in his press conference, Schiano thought highly of Smith’s 4.3 speed, leading him to take the speedy team captain. Dunsmore is viewed as more a versatile possession receiver and was a pick most likely selected thinking in terms of future depth. With Kellen Winslow’s days numbered, there really isn’t much to work with after Luke Stocker. The same can be said of Smith, who does have blazing speed but should see only token carries behind Blount and Martin. Again, with Blount’s long term status with the team hinging on how he fares this season, Smith provides a security blanket.
Though the final two picks can be heavily debated, the organization came away with a smart but aggressive draft. The only point of need they did not address was offensive line, but the early signing of USF’s Chaz Hine shows there is still some talent to be secured in undrafted players.
WTB? brought you information on Hine weeks ago. http://www.WhatTheBuc.net/2012/04/12/tampa-bay-buccaneers-work-out-four-hometown-players/
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