The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted who?
Undoubtedly, this was a phrase uttered quite a bit in the Bay Area in the minutes and hours during and after the 2013 NFL draft wrapped up this past weekend.
Sure, some of the players drafted by the Bucs may not immediately illicit thoughts of a burgeoning dynasty or a team on the cusp of ending its five-season playoff drought. But while fans are busy questioning the selections of general manager Mark Dominik and the work of his scouting department, it's important to remember that very few players, if any, are finished products when they enter the league.
In other words, it's okay that they're not household names right now, because, quite frankly, that's what the coaching staff gets paid to do: turn them into household names.
So, no, defensive end Steven Means, drafted in the fifth round, may not have been as highly sought after as Julius Peppers. But who's to say defensive line coach Randy Melvin and pass-rush specialist Bryan Cox can't eventually get him to that level? The same can be said for defensive end William Gholston, who was drafted in the fourth round.
QB Mike Glennon, a third-round selection, is said to have mechanical deficiencies and less-than-ideal pocket presence, often buckling under pressure. But his size (6'7") and arm strength give offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and quarterbacks coach John McNulty a great foundation to work with.
Not to be forgotten, the Bucs also drafted CB Johnthan Banks (second round), DT Akeem Spence (third round) and RB Mike James (Round 6).
How much more important is coaching compared to pedigree?
Look back at the Bucs' draft classes under former head coach Jon Gruden from 2003 to 2008. Only three of the 53 players drafted during his tenure are still Buccaneers. That speaks more to the shortcomings of Gruden and his staff than to the quality of players selected.
That's not to say that Means, Gholston, Glennon and the others are destined for greatness with the right coaching staff, either. They still have to put in the necessary work to achieve their full potential. But having a capable coaching staff certainly helps the process along.
Bucs fans should also take solace in the fact current Bucs head coach Greg Schiano spent 11 seasons coaching and developing overlooked high school prospects and turning many into NFL-ready players at Rutgers University.
That's something that shouldn't be lost on anyone.
Look at it this way: Who would you rather have scouting talent right now, Dominik or his predecessor, Bruce Allen?
That's what I thought
I guess what I'm really trying to say is, don't fret over the initial lack of star power in this year's draft class. Sure, there were bigger names with better resumes available when the Bucs looked elsewhere, but sometimes you have to trust the decisions of the people specifically in charge of these sorts of things.
Because while this year's draft choices may have had you scratching your heads a few days ago, if the coaching staff does its job, the rest of the league will be left shaking theirs and asking themselves, "How'd we miss that?"
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