Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2011 NFL Draft - Analysis of Tampa Bay's Draft

Heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, one of the burning questions on Buccaneer fans’ minds was whether or not the team would gamble on Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers should he slide to #20. They got their answer, or so they thought, when the Bucs passed on him for Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn. Then, in shades of last year’s double down on defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, the Bucs scooped up Bowers when he was still available to them in R2 at pick #51. In the first two rounds, the Bucs added two of the preseason’s top three defensive ends (other was Robert Quinn) without having to make a single move up the draft board.

The success of this Buccaneer draft class will likely hinge largely on the success of these two players, but each of the subsequent selections by Mark Dominik and company has a chance to come in and make a difference, some immediately. Washington’s Mason Foster and Tennessee’s Luke Stocker are two such immediate contributors. Both were drafted more than a round after I thought they would be selected and, due to the state of the roster, have a chance to make an early impact. The Bucs finished up with two defensive backs, a running back, and another tight end. I may not agree with each of their draft decisions, but I like the philosophical direction of the franchise.

Before moving on to the picks, let me explain my grading methodology. Grades are based on what the Bucs did with each pick given their options and outstanding needs at the time of each pick. Each draft pick is assigned a weighted total possible value which decreases with each subsequent selection due mostly to the fact that earlier selections are more valuable and scrutinized more heavily than later ones. The first pick can score a total of 10, the second 9, the third 8, and so on.

Round 1 #20 – Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)

As the draft played out, I stuck to my scenarios. I thought Ryan Kerrigan was their target, but when picks #13 and #15 passed without them dealing up, I started to wonder what their plan may be. In the end, scenario 3 played out, and the Buccaneers drafted the big man from Iowa at #20.

Once thought to be a top 10 pick, Clayborn’s stock slipped a bit this year as concerns rose over his less than stellar senior season and Erb’s Palsy. He even fell down my positional rankings based on my unfamiliarity with the injury, but as I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, when we were talking about the draft a year ago, LSU’s Patrick Peterson was the only player I wanted to eventually be a Buccaneer more than Clayborn. That’s because, when it comes to play on the field, there aren’t many questions surrounding Clayborn.

My take on Clayborn:
ideal size; plus first step, feet, and balance off the edge; love his quickness in the three step area around the tackle; excellent size; high motor, feet always moving; impressive power rush to get into backfield; sheds blockers very well with plus hands and does a nice job keeping linemen at a distance when pass rushing, won't let them get in on him; understands leverage; hands, lateral movement, discipline, and strength make him a solid run defender; not a guy that can be run at repeatedly; could be a 4-3 or 3-4 end, moves inside to DT on some passing downs; hips are a little stiff; change of direction is lacking; not a speed rush guy; huge numbers in '09, slow out of the gates in '10; not many negatives, just needs polishing

One thing that doesn’t get talked about is that Clayborn played through a good stretch of the season with an undisclosed leg/knee injury suffered during the Wisconsin game. It doesn’t excuse his lack of production prior to the injury or even after it, but it does show the guy’s toughness to play through something that was more than a minor ailment.

Draft Pick Grade – 9.5 out of 10
The Bucs are going to slide Clayborn into the RE position; a spot occupied in 2010 by Michael Bennett and free agent (and former Buccaneer) to be Stylez G. White. I believe he’s a major upgrade to the position and is a player with a low floor (low risk). Clayborn may never lead the league in sacks but will show up every week and make plays that matter.

(Mark Dominik on what impressed him with Clayborn, via Pewter Report)
“His motor. He’s a relentless football player. He will go full [bore] on every play as long as he can and as hard as he can. You’ll see that. I’m looking forward to our fans seeing this guy play in pewter and red. He’s going to be a guy that attacks the football field and attacks the run. He has some very physical hits. He’s a good finisher. He has good change of direction. We’re very excited about him. He’s going to be a productive football player for us and I know he’s going to make us a better team up front. It all does start up front in terms of attacking the quarterback.”

Why isn’t this pick a 10? For one, it’s no slight against Clayborn, but I think we’d need to land Robert Quinn or a dynamic pass rusher of his caliber to earn a 10 with this pick. In hindsight, there is no one else on the board I had to take in that spot, not even Amukamara if he wasn’t drafted by the Giants. It’s not the sexiest pick, but I think it was the right one given their options; good value at a position of need.

Justin Houston was the guy I zeroed in on for the Bucs, but once that positive drug test came out, I knew the Bucs wouldn’t and couldn’t take that chance, if they even had him high on their board to begin with. If he can stay out of the league’s drug program, I think Houston will still have a successful career.

Round 2 #51 – Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)

Who would have thought the Bucs would land the FBS season sack leader at #51? One of the biggest questions entering day two of the draft was how far would Da’Quan Bowers fall? After passing on him at #20, I posed a question in the BucsChat.com chat room of when does Bowers become worth the risk? I don’t believe it is, was or should be all or nothing with a situation like his.

Yes, Bowers has the most talked about knee since Willie McGahee in 2003, but the guy has undeniable talent. What pick is worth the possibility of him missing a season or more and never living up to his potential? The Bucs answered that question by taking Bowers at #51 overall, and in their first two picks, Dominik and company emphatically addressed the team’s primary weakness.

My take on Bowers:
impact player; excellent football body; ideal size/speed combo for the position; has a physical, aggressive style of play; really like his first step burst; displays impressive get off speed and strength combination in getting to passer; uses hands, leverage, and upper body strength well in shedding blocks in the run game and overpowering pass protectors; at his best when using quick lateral movement along with strength and leverage to win matchups and break down plays; nice trunk; stout run defender; pass rushing technique needs work, diversity; knee bears watching; only one big year of production

Draft Pick Grade – 8.75 of 9
Gotta take a little bit off by chance he can’t play this year, and the knee lingers as an issue. Other than that, one hell of an upside with this pick. Bowers slides in at LE where Tim Crowder has played and Kyle Moore has significantly underwhelmed. Through two picks, the Bucs have added two instant starting bookends to line up around last year’s haul of Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. We’ll just have to keep monitoring that knee.

(Dominik on Bower’s knee, via Pewter Report)
“There’s nothing degenerative about his knee as we sit here today. Obviously, his knee has taken some pounding, which is part of the problem, but at the same point, rest and rehab are the best things he can do right now. We’re going to continue to monitor that until we get to training camp…We go back and we sit down with our doctors and trainers and talk about what the process would be. [We talk about] where’s he’s at, what’s the rehab schedule, and how long it would take to get this man healthy and 100 percent so he can get back out on the field and be the best player that he can possibly be. We took that all into count. Certainly that’s one of the benefits of having a Thursday night and Friday night draft. We have a little more time to do the reconnaissance and do the research into our selections. Last night before I left the facility, which was late, I said to a few people in the organization that if Da’Quan is there at 51, we’re going to take him and we stuck to that.”

I’m very pleased up to this point in the draft. The only other players I would have considered in this spot were Mikel Leshoure and Randall Cobb, and as much as I like those two, there’s no way to justify taking either of them when you have a chance to address a big need by drafting a guy who months ago was being considered for the #1 overall pick in the draft.

Round 3 #84 – Mason Foster (LB, Washington)

After addressing defensive line weaknesses with their first two picks, the Bucs stayed on the defensive side of the ball with their next selection, drafting Washington’s versatile Mason Foster. Here’s a guy who I had going off the board before we picked in R2, so to get him more than a round later was quite a bargain in my opinion.

My take on Foster:
plus tackler; wraps up, consistent and powerful; position versatility, has lined up in all three 4-3 LB spots; excels in the open field; impressed by how he breaks down and finishes in the open field, doesn’t miss; extremely productive and reliable leader; like his size and how he uses it in tandem with a plus motor to make big plays; like him a lot better outside where he can use his quickness and strength on the edge; identifies the action quickly but either doesn’t trust self and/or allows himself to get caught up by blockers too often; needs to fight through consistently; would like to see him scrape and fight through to make more difficult tackles; not a terribly fluid or athletic guy; overruns, misreads run at times; doesn’t show ideal stop and change of direction; plays too high, gets popped in the mouth and neutralized; saw him neutralized often and easily when rushing from the middle of the defense; like how stout he can be against the run when he stays low

Draft Pick Grade – 8 of 8
When I discussed the linebacker position in my predraft writeups, I said that we need to get more consistency and impact play from the WLB position. Foster is that guy. I’m hoping that WLB is where the Bucs plan on playing him because I still believe that he’s much better off there than at MLB in this defense. Outside he can use that combination of quickness, strength, and textbook tackling more to his advantage than he could in the middle in my opinion. I also believe that his tendency to play high, and have trouble shedding and adjusting would be more of a liability inside.

(Dominik on Foster, via Pewter Report)
“I think the great thing about Mason Foster is the fact that he is versatile. We see he can play the outside, he can play Will, he can play the Sam, he can play any one of them,” said Dominik. “We have confidence because of his mental aptitude to be able to handle any one of those positions. Right now I would classify him just as a linebacker until we get things more clarified in terms of rules and what the regulations are, but right now we are just happy to add this linebacker to this football team… The Bucs said they would wait until after free agency before deciding which linebacker position they will play Foster at first.”

When the pick was on the board, I had it down to three guys – Mason Foster, Kendall Hunter, and Davon House. The Bucs went with the linebacker and continued a trend of snatching up players a good round after their talent/value could/should have had them drafted.

Round 4 #104 – Luke Stocker (TE, Tennessee)

I need to do a better job of editing/proofing in the future, because Stocker not being on my final list of Buccaneer targets was an oversight. I mentioned the former Volunteer as a R2 possibility in my Post-Combine mock, and he did not drop off my radar since then, just off my document. To be clear, I was not for drafting any tight end in the second round of the draft, but to acquire a player of Stocker’s caliber another two rounds later was quite the get.

My take on Stocker:
tough, sturdy in-line end; not fast but always finds a way to get open and catch the football, plus concentration and hands; very good receiving technique, catches with hands and tucks ball quickly, tightly; can handle hits, strong arms, holds onto football when hit in upper body; not fast but does good job of catching ball and turning upfield quickly; maximizes play potential; can’t be arm tackled; love him in red zone; reliable in-line blocker, love his effort; works hard as a downfield blocker; not elusive or explosive; won’t make people miss; would like to see a little more lower body strength

Draft Pick Grade – 7 of 7
As the draft played out, I had my eyes on a corner or running back in this spot, but the selection of Stocker was an excellent one. For a third round in a row the Bucs were able to draft a player who coulda/shoulda gone a full round earlier. In Stocker’s case, he would have been an acceptable (by not my preferred) second round choice, but to snag him two rounds later was a tremendous get.

(Luke Stocker on being an early contributor, via Pewter Report)
“Yeah, I think so,” Stocker said. “I think they drafted me to come in and fill a role for them, fill a need for them to come in and be an every down tight end for them. Whatever role they have for me when I get there I am looking forward to it. I’m ready to take that step… “I think the more things you can do as a player, the more valuable you can be,” Stocker said. “Especially at tight end because you don’t give the defense any indicators which way your offense is leaning towards – whether it is a run or a pass. I think you can definitely disguise some things and keep you from getting put in a box.”

Stocker fills the need for a tight end who can block (since that’s not Winslow’s main thing) and be a legitimate receiver. The more players we can line up out there with the ability to do more than one thing, the harder it is for defenses to scheme against us. Go figure. With us getting that ability from both Winslow and Stocker, it should open things up even more for the outside receivers. The comparisons to Jason Witten are easy but appropriate. He has a solid frame and build, isn’t fast but seems to always get open, catches everything thrown his way, makes positive plays, and isn’t overpowering but blocks well, especially downfield.

Dominik obviously saw tremendous value in Stocker, orchestrating his first draft deal, moving up 12 spots to get him. That deal cost them next year’s 4th round pick, but I’m guessing he recoups that pick in a future deal (Josh Johnson???). The pick makes perfect sense, as does the move up to get him. Jordan Cameron went 102 to the Browns as the 4th TE selected. The Bucs knew that they’d likely have to move up to get Stocker, the best remaining in-line TE. Thus the move 12 spots up the board. Great move and display of commitment to your board by the Bucs.

Through four rounds the Bucs are 4 for 4 in the adding hard workers department.

Round 5 #151 – Ahmad Black (S, Florida)

Here’s our first disagreement. The Bucs decided to go back to the defensive side of the ball in R5 and ended up taking Ahmad Black from Florida. There are a number of different directions I would have explored, but I’ll get to that later. My main concern with Black is that I don’t want to get too small at the back of the defense. Sean Jones (6-1, 220) is ok, but both Cody Grimm (6-1, 203) and Corey Lynch (6-0, 206) are on the small side. Black is 5-9, 183. I’m in no way saying he can’t play in this league, but I don’t love the fit here. Size is relevant. I don’t want us to be too exposed to big plays by big receivers.

My take on Black:
physical playmaker; tremendous nose for the football; strong read and react skills; always hustling, working to make a play; very football smart, understands situations and action/movement; corner experience; reliable in short/intermediate coverage; like the way he takes intelligent gambles; big hitter but more of a hitter than tackler; don’t like him deep or in coverage for long; worry about his size and speed limiting his big play potential at next level; do not like his ability to track the football (the longer the worse), get into position against a receiver, go up , and outplay the receiver for the ball

Draft Pick Grade – 4 of 6
Having Grimm, was Black necessary? I can't bitch too much because the safety I wanted (Deunta Williams) is still searching for a team, but if they're looking for someone to put in the box I would have taken Tyler Sash who ended up going 11 picks after we took Bradford in the 6th.

I will be more accepting of this pick if they use him up in the box or in the slot where he can make use of his physicality, aggressiveness, and recognition without being exposed to losing size, strength, and speed matchups on the back end. Why do I worry about him as a deep option? He doesn’t have the speed to turn and chase pros, will get outmuscled and outjumped, and needs to do less hitting and more tackling. My complaints aside, the likely worst case scenario has Black as a special teams stud.

(Ahmad Black, via Pewter Report)
“Practice, practice, practice, on tackling and everything. We tackle all the time. When people asked of me how I got so good at tackling and what I do different is we practice it a lot,” Black said. “I take what I learn in practice and bring it to the game. I’m everywhere the ball is. I just like to be out there where the action is. The first couple of times if I feel like they are going to run the ball I want to be up there. On third and long if we feel like they are going to pass the ball I want to be back there. I just want to be around the ball. Some plays I’d start in the box and end up back deep on a pass play. It really doesn’t matter.”

My biggest problem with the Black selection was that I believed there were many better options on the board at the time. Why not take Fresno State’s Chris Carter at that point? He looked like a real bargain as a situational rusher with more explosiveness than you usually find this late in the draft. I don’t care if we’ve already drafted Clayborn and Bowers. We can’t have enough pass rushers, and I definitely don’t see SS as a bigger need. Heck, I would have preferred Quan Sturdivant there, even with the Foster pick. I was also hoping for Jordan Todman as a backfield mate for Sucker Punch, but I’ll speak more on that in a moment. I'm still not thrilled with the pick, but I understand it. If they use him in the manner I mention, and he responds, I’ll be pleased. If not, I told you so.

Round 6 #187 – Allen Bradford (RB, USC)

Our second butting of heads. I don’t believe there is only one way to be successful in this sport, but I do believe that for the Bucs to be a bigger, more consistent threat they need to add speed on the offensive side of the ball. I’m not trying to created the second coming of the greatest show on turf; just get some diversity. The Bucs themselves have other designs. For the second time in the draft, the Bucs selected a skilled position player who won’t have speed, elusiveness, or home run threat listed as strengths in any of their scouting reports.

My take on Bradford:
great size/build; runs really high; not an elusive runner; nice speed for a big back but shows little burst to or through the line; runs with shoulders squared; able to take and deliver hits; strong upper body; productive in short yardage situations; like his vision, keeps head up and hits the right holes / gaps in the defense; not a lateral movement guy; doesn’t adjust well to traffic; has trouble stopping in his tracks; not a stop-go guy; want to see more of him as a receiver

Draft Pick Grade – 3.5 of 5
If the Bucs are looking for big backs, they’ve got their guy. Given his success in this area and Blount’s lack of it, I’m guessing Bradford is their new short yardage guy. With a strong line and threatening passing game, I can see the potential to dominate time of possession with two bigger, powerful backs like Bradford and Blount.

(Dominik on Bradford, via Pewter Report)
“We like big backs. I told you guys last year I went big back hunting. We went out and we got Kregg Lumpkin and LeGarrette Blount. We went big back hunting again today and we brought home another one that we are really fired up about. This guy has got great strength and great power, and for us in this National Football League it has become a big man’s game, and we are going to bring big backs at other opponents and we’re going to do that here.”

(Bradford, via Pewter Report)
“We both are very punishing and run aggressive and we run with a chip on our shoulder,” Allen said. “I’m not looking to juke anybody, make any moves, or make any stutter-steps. I’m a one cut and go and gain a couple yards [kind of running back]…“Coming out of high school I was the number one linebacker and came to USC to play safety,” Allen said. “They moved me to running back because their big backs got hurt and they saw that I played running back in high school. My offense in high school was a double wing [backfield], so I really had to make the transition and learn how to run in a pro-style offense. Years and years coming up I did a good job and I still have room for improvement. I still have a lot to learn about the position.”

This is another case of me understanding the logic but not liking the decision. Mikel Leshoure was my favorite back from this class, but I narrowed down my realistic options to Kendall Hunter, Shane Vereen, Jordan Todman, and Derrick Locke. Todman had just gone four picks earlier to the Chargers, but Locke was still available, as was Maryland’s Da’Rel Scott. Other players I would have selected include Mike Mohamed (LB, California, #189, Denver), Justin Rogers (CB, Richmond, #206, Buffalo), and Greg Romeus (DE, Pittsburgh, #226, New Orleans).

Round 7 #222 – Anthony Gaitor (CB, Florida International)

The Bucs finally drafted a corner with their seventh selection, taking Florida International’s Anthony Gaitor with the 222nd overall pick. With Aqib Talib’s situation up in the air, corner could end up being a huge area of need for the Bucs. I can’t fault them too much for not addressing the position earlier given the values they found in rounds two through four. Even the last two picks which I’m not thrilled about weren’t made at the expense of a corner that jumped out to me as great value. As I mentioned above, I would have preferred Justin Rogers to Bradford in the last round, but I’m not losing sleep over that one. Neither he, nor Gaitor, nor any other non-R1/2 corner is going to impact the Bucs’ decision on Talib.

My take on Gaitor:
small, compact build, very sound, consistent tackler; takes on much bigger players at line of scrimmage; does very good job of reading QB, play action; effective blitzer, stays low and takes great angles; reacts and closes well, more quick than fast due in part to his quick reactions; marginal long speed; like his aggressiveness and physicality for his size; shows little/no wasted motion or hesitation when breaking on ball; impressive ball skills, able to run receiver’s route and make a play on the ball; can be beat with good vertical or fade; would like to see more change of direction to get better evaluation of footwork

Draft Pick Grade – 3.75 of 4
As I mentioned in the BucsChat.com draft chat, Gaitor looks to have a little Ronde Barber in him. He’s a smaller guy who enjoys and is effective playing close to the line. He’s a sure tackler and takes those direct routes to the passer like Barber does. I don’t believe we’ll be near as lucky with Gaitor, but the guy is a real hustler.

(Morris on Gaitor, via Pewter Report)
“Well Gaitor man if you guys could’ve been on the phone call to call him right there, I thought we had another first round selection, and with him and his family. I thought it was the first pick in the draft. Like Von Miller, the second pick in the draft coming out with the emotion, the excitement, bringing that guy into our building he was electric. I asked him what round his agent was telling him he was going in. He said I don’t care I just want to come here coach. He showed me that when we called him on the phone today. It makes you more excited when you get off the phone and you go back to Mark and you tell him the reaction when you call these guys. That’s the kind of player I think you are going to get.”

During the draft my targets with this pick were Deunta Williams, Derrick Locke, and Greg Romeus. While I have a hard time passing up any of those three for Gaitor, he was the only remaining corner I would have drafted. The one thing I dinged this pick for is that I don’t believe Gaitor has the size or the speed to play outside regularly in the pros. He’s definitely a zone guy and likely limited to being a nickel corner and special teams player. Gaitor could certainly still provide great value in those roles as a 7th round pick. I believe his arrival signals Elbert Mack’s departure, upgrading our corner depth. I’m not drinking the kool-aid here, but I think Gaitor has potential to hang around for a while, even in a nickel or special teams role because of his hustle and consistent tackling.

Round 7 #238 – Daniel Hardy (TE, Idaho)

The Bucs wrapped things up making Idaho’s Daniel Hardy their second tight end selection of the draft. Hardy’s a productive pass catcher who finished second on the team in receptions despite missing the last five games of the season with a broken arm. I’d like to know if the Bucs drafted Hardy with eyes on him being their long snapper since Andrew Economos recently tore his Achilles, but I can’t find any information on that.

My take on Hardy:
Impressive hands; shows nice concentration waiting for the football; makes catches in traffic; plays strong; runs with nice balance and leg churn; not an elusive guy; like him over the middle and short zones; like his frame but doesn’t have a lot of bulk; need to see more of him as a blocker, see effort but not a lot of movement

Draft Pick Grade – 1.5 of 3
Unless Hardy can long snap, I’m not seeing a lot of value in the selection since we already took Stocker to be Winslow’s primary backup. Even if Hardy is an upgrade over Ryan Purvis and Nathan Overbay, is a third TE the best they could do with their last draft choice?

(Dominik on Hardy, via Pewter Report)
“He’s a productive player out of Idaho that really can run well. He ran in the 4.7’s. He’s got good hands, but he’s got a combination of good blocking skills and a thick lower body. For me, tight end is a spot where you need to play special teams. We also felt that he was a very productive special teams player and will be one at the next level. So there are a lot of traits that he has. He’s one of those guys that has over 80 catches and over 1,000 yards receiving at Idaho and we felt like he’s a guy that can come in here and fight for the number three spot [at tight end] and continue to work himself up to become a quality backup at the start and see where the ceiling is for him. The floor is his special teams ability and that he’s versatile in both the run and the passing game.”

Again, I would have gone in another direction, but I’m not going to complain much about the 238th overall selection. I just would have like to have seen them close it out with more of a need (RT) or speed (RB/WR) selection.

Adrian Clayborn – 9.5 / 10
Da’Quan Bowers – 8.75 / 9
Mason Foster – 8 / 8
Luke Stocker – 7 / 7
Ahmad Black – 4 / 6
Allen Bradford – 3.5 / 5
Anthony Gaitor – 3.75 / 4
Daniel Hardy – 1.5 / 3

46 / 52 = 88.5

Grade Adjustments
Considering the draft class as a whole I’ve got to make a minor deduction for not adding speed at receiver or running back, getting less than ideal value in my opinion in rounds 5 and 6, passing on Romeus late a couple of times, and taking a second tight end with the last pick.

Final Grade = 87 (B+)

Overall, I think they did a hell of a job. If Bowers’ knee isn’t an issue, the Bucs made away with four solid starters in their first four picks. If those guys live up to expectations, the rest of this draft is icing on the cake.

My Hindsight Selections
(How I would have drafted based on how the draft unfolded)
Round 1 #20 – Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
Round 2 #51 – Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)
Round 3 #84 – Mason Foster (LB, Washington)
Round 4 #104 – Luke Stocker (TE, Tennessee)
Round 5 #151 – Jordan Todman (RB, Connecticut)
Round 6 #187 – Justin Rogers (CB, Richmond)
Round 7 #222 – Greg Romeus (DE, Pittsburgh)
Round 7 #238 – Deunta Williams (S, North Carolina)

Here are the guys I’d like the Bucs to target as supplements to their bountiful draft class once free agent signings are allowed:

Josh Portis (California, Pa)
Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin)

Derrick Locke (Kentucky)
Mario Fannin (Auburn)
Brandon Saine (Ohio State)
Graig Cooper (Miami)
Jeremy Avery (Boise State)

Fred Rouse (Concordia College)
Terrence Toliver (LSU)

Andre Smith (Virginia Tech)
Weslye Saunders (South Carolina)

David Mims (Virginia Union)
Willie Smith (ECU)
Kyle Hix (Texas)

Zach Hurd (G, Connecticut)
Ray Dominguez (G, Arkansas)
Bryant Browning (G, Ohio State)
Ryan Bartholomew (C/G, Syracuse)
Zane Taylor (C, Utah)

Pierre Allen (Nebraska)
Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)

Ian Williams (Notre Dame)

Adrian Moten (Maryland)
Mark Herzlich (Boston College)

Josh Bynes (Auburn)
Alex Wujciak (Maryland)

Kevin Rutland (Missouri)
Ryan Hill (Miami)
Andrew McGee (Oklahoma State)

Deunta Williams (North Carolina)
DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson)
Jeron Johnson (Boise State)



  1. Odd thing: I do my draft evaluation scoring with the zeros of the Riemann zeta function,
    and you and I got the exact same value!

    Looks like we split the difference on the number of QBs taken in the first round. The one that I saw having no possibility of being picked in R1 was, of course, Christian Ponder. I would not have taken him that high, but I do understand
    how a team can fall in love with a kid like that during the process. I bet it was probably very much like what happened to Raheem and Dominick with Josh Freeman.

    I'm good with Clayborn, but I would have taken Amukamara if the Giants hadn't taken him. With the uncertainty surrounding Talib, and Barber's eventual very sudden decline, I think you cover two contingencies with one pick. Clayborn looked damn good on the draft review tapes, but, so does everyone.

    Here's the thing with Bowers: There are probably (minimally) thirty guys in the NFL every Sunday that line up with knees every bit as ugly inside as that of Mr. Bowers. You HAVE to take a guy like that at 51, and frankly, I cannot fathom why New England,with a plethora of extra picks, insisted on using them on players that will not help their pass rush.

    I heard an interesting factoid on some radio show. When UW played Nebraska without Foster, the Huskers rushed for 68494987597 yards. When they played and he was on the field, Nebraska rushed for 91. It's a fact.

    I believe it's a given that Foster is going to unseat Ruud (or replace him if Ruud is not resigned). So who will be making the defensive calls? The most obvious candidate
    (Ronde) I doubt is going to be on the field much this year. I suppose Sean Jones as a veteran could do it if he can earn the starting job.

    Gotta agree with you on Ahmad Black. He's one of those college players that is 'pesky', which loosely translates to he gets by on hustle and picking his spots. Mike Mayock singled him out though, as the one guy on the Bucs draft that was a huge lower round value. Mayock is my favorite, along with Greg Cosell, so that made an impression on me. And YOU now I guess!



  2. Thanks TPE!

    I just googled Riemann zeta function and now feel significantly dumber than I did five minutes ago, so thanks for that.

    Yeah, I’m surprised that no one got into the bottom of R1 for Dalton or Kaepernick. 4 go in the top 12 and none for the rest of the round. Weird. I thought Ponder had a shot of going as high as Miami, but I didn’t see Minnesota coming. Great for him!

    Raheem was Freeman’s coach at Kansas State for one year, and he had plenty of good things to say about him before drafting him.


    "When I was there when he was a freshman, we had (wide receivers) Jordy Nelson and Yamon Figurs — two pretty good players playing in this league," Morris said. "He started probably Week 5 and had a big-time game over Oklahoma State, where he won a game. Had a big-time game against Texas where he helped us win that game. He was starting to come into his own when I left. All I know is he put up big-time numbers, not big-time win production and that's a major factor for a quarterback. Whenever you're drafting a quarterback, you want to make sure he's a winner."

    I don’t think they would have taken Amukamara if he was still on the board, and I would have agreed with that move. I don’t think they needed a R1 corner, but I think they needed a R1 pass rusher. I really hoped they would address corner in rounds 2-5 and take advantage of the anticipated starting material on the board, but I wouldn’t have done so at the expense of the Bowers, Foster, and Stocker picks. Next year should be the cornerback draft with guys like Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska), Chase Minnifield (Virginia), Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama), Janoris Jenkins (*Florida), Desmond Trufant (Washington), Omar Bolden (Arizona State), and Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina).

    I’m for keeping Talib if the law allows, so maybe they won’t need to address corner until next year when/if/when Barber retires.

    Agree with you on Bowers and the knee. I don’t know why someone didn’t take the same chance we did a little earlier in R2. Like you mentioned, this can’t be the worst knee these NFL guys have seen. If it’s not going to fall off, let’s roll the dice.

    Yeah, New England never drafts the way you think they should. I don’t like Solder and think Ridley and Mallet were silly picks; Ridley because they just took Vereen with their prior selection and Mallett because the only future he has there is as the league’s tallest clipboard holder.

    Quite the numbers disparity in those Washington-Nebraska matchups. Foster isn’t the most athletic or fluid linebacker, but he’s a difference maker. Very rarely do you watch one of their games for long and not notice him.

    Not sure who would get that responsibility, but I think Foster’s best spot long term is on the weak side. I think we’d be wasting his “get after it” at SLB, and I still don’t think he’s the stout, block shedding, drive ‘em back smasher at MLB.

    Mayock is the man when it comes to evaluations in my opinion. His is the only opinion I put a lot of stock in. If our thoughts differ greatly on a player, that tells me I probably need to go back and watch/read some more about the guy.

    Regarding Rouse, I just want us to be able to sign someone. This lockout is killing me!

  3. For what it’s worth, proving that the zeros of the Riemann zeta function are where they are is just about the biggest unsolved problem in mathematics since Fermat’s last theorem was proved by Andrew Wiles. You should have a go at it!

    I’m not getting what anyone sees in Dalton that would warrant a 1st round grade, but need drives a lot of teams to make what I consider ill-advised reaches for quarterbacks. The Vikes sure did (in my opinion). As much as I like Ponder, and I was a guy that said he would zoom up the charts between Jan 1 and April 23, I think his ceiling is such that he will end up being a Kyle Orton type of player. However, it is worth noting that Kyle Orton has won a hell of a lot of games in the NFL. Kaepernick I would have sort of gotten given the way he can sling it and his level of athleticism.

    You are certainly right about our Bucs needing a pass rushing end before even a corner of the caliber of Amukumara. I just wonder if any of the rush guys are as sure of a bet to excel at the next level as him. Something the Bucs might be thinking is that after all this labor stuff is settled, Goodell is probably going to be a little reluctant to upset the applecart of good feelings by coming down with draconian sentences on only recently back-in-the-fold players. That’s my delusional hope re Talib, anyway.

    John Clayton reported an interesting tidbit on the satellite radio. He said Bucs management was pretty comfortable with Bowers in the 2nd round given their experience with Winslow Jr., who has started all of the 32 games for which he has been with the team. I normally have some difficulty with Clayton’s credibility not because he isn’t a seasoned and well-respected NFL journalist, but because he so dramatically resembles male human genetalia.

    Foster may never be fluid or smooth, but he looks like he’s solid as a rock. I have never been on the train of disdain for Ruud, since I think he’s doing what he can with what the Lord gave him, but it is time for what will hopefully be an upgrade. Are you at all worried that this kid isn’t going to be able to drop the way Ruud does? Say what you will, but I’ve seen him live and Barrett can backpedal like nobody’s business. Of course, on BucsChat they would say it would be to avoid contact at the line of scrimmage.

    Here’s how far Fred Rouse is off the radar: I spoke to Gil Brandt…yes, Gil Brandt…about which teams might be interested in signing as an UFA when things get going, and Mr. Brandt hadn’t heard of him. When he went to check on him, he came back thinking Rouse was still on the FSU roster!


  4. Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think any mathematical breakthroughs are coming from this mind.

    Probably the biggest thing Dalton has going for him are intangibles – winner and leader. No he doesn’t have the size, arm, and speed of other passers, but apparently more than a few teams are convinced he’s got what it takes to be a winner. Peter King compared him to Drew Brees.


    I’m not sure the NFL will be allowed to discipline players for things that happen during the lockout. No one’s given a clear answer on that yet. Talib might get lucky. I don’t think Amukamara is a shut down guy at the next level, and that’s what he would have needed to be for us to pass on a pass rusher.

    I read about the Winslow/injury thing too. Taking Bowers is a risk, but he was the 51st pick in the draft, not the 20th. I admire the Bucs for working outside the box.

    I don’t know that I trust Foster’s ability to shed and be as strong and stout as I’d like in the middle. I just think he’s better outside where he can run to the action instead of being bottled up in it.

    That’s pretty cool that you got to meet Gil Brandt. Yeah that doesn’t say much for Rouse. I definitely think he’s worth a look. Hell, they brought in Preston Parker, so nothing’s impossible.