During free agency, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where almost nowhere to be found. They made a minor trade acquiring wide receiver Reggie Brown from the Eagles. They also signed safety Sean Jones and linebacker Jon Alston. But other than that, the Bucs were on the sidelines watching teams make big trades and free agent signings. Fans didn't take the inactivity from One Buc Place well. Many have questioned the true motives of the Bucs, fans have blamed the Glazer ownership's fiancial instability for the reason spending has been reduced. Others believed in Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris' plan for building through the draft. Now, after the 2010 NFL Draft has been completed. How did Dominik do?
With the third overall selection in the draft Thursday night the Buccaneers picked Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. McCoy, along with Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh were considered the top two defensive tackle prospects, and maybe even overall players, in this draft. McCoy provides the Bucs with a passrushing defensive tackle with a wide array of moves and quickness to wreak havock on quarterbacks and is an ideal three technique tackle for the Bucs' Tampa two defense. The Bucs didn't stop there, with their first second round pick on Friday night they selected UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price. Finishing dead last in rush defense last season, the Buccaneers decided to spend their first two picks on defensive tackles to beef up their interior defense. McCoy and Price will join Roy Miller and potentially Dre Moore in a rotation this season. Veterans Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims are likely looking at their final days on the team.
Another urgent need for the Buccaneers heading into the draft was wide receiver. Fans felt last year's first round pick, quarterback Josh Freeman, didn't have the weapons to help in development. So the Bucs added two young talented receivers to the mix. They traded their 5th round pick to move up three spots in the second round to select Illinois' Arrelious Benn at #39 overall. They also used their fourth round pick, number 101 overall, on talented but troubled Syracuse receiver Mike Williams. Many felt Williams had first round talent, but character concerns like cheating on exams and multiple suspensions in college dropped his stock. The Bucs opted to take a chance on Williams in order to add talent to a weak group of receivers.
At number 67 overall, the Buccaneers picked Vanderbilt cornerback Myron Lewis. A corner with big size (6'2) and ballhawking ability with nine picks in his last two seasons was intriguing to head coach and former defensive backs coach Raheem Morris. The size and ability to get the football has drawn comparisons to current Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib. Morris has stated that Lewis has a legit shot to start alongside with Talib while veteran Ronde Barber handles nickel back duties.
The Buccaneers opted to use their remainiing picks to bulk up their special teams. They drafted Virginia Tech punter Brent Bowden in the sixth round. With poor play from punters Dirk Johnson and Sam Paulescu last season, the Bucs obiviously needed to look for an upgrade. Another Virginia Teach product was selected by the Bucs to bolster their special teams, in the seventh round they picked Cody Grimm, son of former Redskins great Russ Grimm, to add some depth and provide a special teams gunner. Tampa also picked Florida State linebacker Dekoda Watson in the seventh, Watson had 6.5 sacks last season with the Seminoles and was a special teams ace. Their final pick of the draft was the 253rd overall pick, and the Bucs selected Stanford defensive end Erik Lorig. Lorig changed positions from tight end to defensive end and showed some flashes of pass rush potential for Stanford. ESPN insider Adam Schefter tweeted his praise for Lorig in which he said "Mark my words: Tampa Bay will be happy with its 7th round pick, Stanford DE Erik Lorig."
The Buccaneers didn't stop after the draft. They got involved in the undrafted free agent market with several interesting signings. The one that stands out the most is Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead. Many experts had Snead pegged as a top ten draft pick before a disappointing junior season. Many experts felt entering a year early was a poor move for Snead, and it was. His stock fell drastically from high first round pick to undrafted. Other notable undrafted free agent signings include Tennessee linebacker Rico McCoy and former Florida State wide receiver Preston Parker. Parker was a playmaker on the field for the Seminoles, but after multiple arrests he was dismissed by the school and played in Division II ball for North Alabama last season.
Looking at the draft, the Bucs added two talented prospects for their two biggest areas of need and several interesting players throughout the draft. They also added an interesting prospect for their secondary and added several special teams aces with the potential to be even more. After months of crickets chirping at One Buc Place, Buccaneers fans were finally treated to some excitement this week in the draft and it was worth the wait. Mark Dominik has pulled off one of the most exciting draft classes in recent Buccaneers history. These young men will need to prove their worth on the field, but for now there is reason for excitement and hope for a bright future in Tampa Bay.
by Russell Brown
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