The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a consensus top ten rated team in terms of their 2012 NFL Draft selections. Walking away with two first round selections and players graded much higher than their draft spots will catch people’s attention. Where the Bucs excelled was in the later rounds, selecting high ceiling players which fit the system Greg Schiano plans to implement. Fitting the system is perhaps the most important aspect of these players which has yet to be talked about.
There were plenty of holes to fill this draft, especially on defense. However, Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano did not fall into the trap of selecting the best available. They selected the best available players who also specialize in the scheme the Bucs intend to run. Look no further than top pick Mark Barron as an example. With the 5th pick, there were plenty of options on the table. They could have selected Mo Claiborne, a position of need with talent. They could have selected Luke Kuechly after they moved to the seven spot. It’s nearly impossible to ruin such a high draft selection, but they chose to narrow their choice to a guy who was talented, fit the system and would specialize in the system. It’s that specialization which sets players up to thrive at the next level. John Lynch wasn’t the greatest cover guy, but Monte Kiffin found a role he could thrive in and created a legend. Those roles are what Schiano and Dominik focused on in their draft selections.
There’s a reason nearly every Buccaneers mock draft wound up with more holes than Swiss cheese. Myself included, the prognosticators looked at need, system, and best available but stopped there. We forgot to go deeper and delve into the details of a player’s ability to specialize within scheme. Part of that was due to not knowing too much about Schiano’s plans. Part of that was we had all been conditioned not to think in terms of details by previous drafts. Schiano not only has the team focused on details, he has every analyst and fan now doing the same.
As I’ve explained in previous posts, Mark Barron fits the system perhaps better than any of the other players taken in the first round not named Doug Martin. Their move back into the first round to select Martin provided them not only with the second rated back in the draft, but with a back who fits the “gap scheme” type of play Bob Bostad excels at producing up front. The list goes on and on, from run stopping Najee Goode to UFA signing Cody Johnson. Johnson was considered the best fullback in all of college, but fell by the wayside due to his lack of exposure. Yet here is a guy who fits the power run game and excels in lead blocking. Not only that, he is quite capable of toting the rock on his own.
It’s a new way of thinking for Bucs faithful. Schiano didn’t necessarily start by focusing on athletic attributes. As he’s stated many a time, he wants character guys who are leaders. He want’s guys who pay attention to the details and work from there. When the Bucs first selected Schiano to lead the team there were plenty of those people who were not sold. Now, even the most pessimistic have converted. The Bucs have been rebuilding for years with no direction. This draft was still about rebuilding, but it was one of rebuilding with purpose and a plan. One that will last long term because they paid attention to the little things; the details.
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