Tampa Bay 2011 Draft Needs

Now that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are out of the playoff picture, the only things to worry about now are 1) the CBA talks, 2) Free Agency, and 3) The 2011 Rookie Draft.  I have no input on 1), and no information on 2).  So let's talk about 3)... and focus first on the Bucs' draft needs:

Top priority needs:

1) Defensive end: getting DTs in last year's round went more towards locking down a porous running defense, as well as finding a Sapp-like replacement in Gerald McCoy in creating QB pressure.  But now the defensive line - key to an effective Tampa-2/Cover-2 scheme - needs to generate even more pressure on QBs.  A speedy DE, strong enough to shed blockers and fast enough to scare the crap out of QBs, is a must... and those types of DEs are rare to get through the Free Agency market.  Hence the need to draft at least one DE.  This is as much a lock for a First Round pick as can be... unless the quality of DEs left at the 20th pick drops off like a cliff, in which case looking at top-value MLB or OLB is the next best deal... speaking of...

2) Middle linebacker: Barrett Ruud is borderline decent at the MLB role, but half the time he's driving the fans nuts with blown pass coverage and poor tackling.  That Ruud might leave via FA is another consideration.  He leaves and there is a serious gap to fill.  Currently ought to be the Bucs' option for Second Round, unless A) there's no quality DE worth a First Rounder pick and B) Ruud leaves and there's a high-quality MLB pick instead.

3) Offensive Tackle: This is a personal issue - most of the other commentators on the Bucs' forum are pretty content with the OT depth we have.  But considering the injury problems the O-line has had, and that our current ROT lineup includes Jeremy "Anger Management" Trueblood, one of the more penalty-prone guys we've got, I would feel a whole lot better if a quality ROT could be found in the high rounds (Second or Third).  LOT is not an issue - Donald Penn is good - but ROT is.

Depth Needs:

4) Safety: Sean Jones has been a stable rock of sanity in the backfield, where we've had massive chaos thanks to Tanard "Stash" Jackson's habit of getting suspended for drug violations.  Cody Grimm was showing signs of learning the pro system his rookie year and hopefully will return from his injury and continue to grow into his role.  But if the injuries and suspensions showed anything, it's that both our FS and SS positions are in dire need of backup upgrades (if not improvement with better starters).  This all depends as well on the Bucs risking another chance with Jackson, if and when he comes back...

5) Offensive Guard: The starters we have - Davin Joseph especially - are good.  The injuries they get aren't good.  The Bucs need to bring in more talent for OG (as well as keeping the starters we have healthy).

6) Outside Linebacker: Geno Hayes is a pretty good OLB presence with effective blitzing and pass coverage skills.  Quincy Black has been steady but needs to step up.  Depth evaluation and possible upgrading of starter talent is needed... but not as much as DE, MLB or Safety.

Positions The Bucs Don't Need To Draft:

Quarterback: Josh Freeman is the first time since Doug Williams that a drafted "Franchise QB" actually lived up to the hope.  His backup Josh Johnson is roughly the same age, and both are young enough that drafting another young QB into the mix would be a wasted pick.

Wide Receiver: Lessee.  Mike Williams.  Reillius Benn.  Sammie Stroughter.  And UFA Dezmon Briscoe waiting in the wings.  I think the Bucs are set at WR for the next 4-5 years.

Tight End: Kellen Winslow.  Nuff said.

Running Back: LeGarette Blount may be an even bigger UFA steal than Earnest Graham.  With Caddy in the lineup, the running game has a seemingly effective balance.  If Cadillac Williams does depart for FA, the Bucs ought to find a solid veteran RB to balance with Blount.  Drafting here is not a need.

Defensive Tackle: Gerald McCoy is a lock.  Price had injuries keeping him off-field this rookie year but he should be ready to roll for 2011.  Unless there's a dire lack of depth with DTs, and there's no veterans to snag through FA for depth needs... but I doubt it will get that bad.

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