Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Stat Projections for Every Rookie in 2012
What a haul.
Just looking at this Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft class, you can clearly see that Mark Dominik did a fine job balancing the picks and filling team needs.
As we enter training camp, it is time to make our first predictions as to how the Bucs will perform in 2012, how well each rookie will play, and which rookies will even get to see the field on game day.
For these predictions, I only included rookies I believe have a strong chance of making the final 53-man roster.
SS Mark Barron
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Here is a list of a few of Mark Barron's more notable accomplishments:
-Seventh overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft
-Two-time BCS national champion
-Star on the elite Alabama defense
Pretty impressive, eh?
Yet for all of this success, Barron still is just a rookie in the NFL. He may be a top three safety in a few years, but as of today, he has yet to play a down as a pro.
Fortunately, rookie safeties will often perform at high levels. Take Eric Berry, who landed 92 total tackles and made four interceptions as a rookie. Or look at Donte Whitner, who made 100 tackles in his rookie year. Even LaRon Landry reached 95 tackles and defended six passes.
Because of the success of rookie safeties in the top ten, it won't be too much of a stretch to say that Mark Barron will put up some nice numbers in 2012.
Predictions: 70 solo tackles, 17 assisted tackles, one sack, two interceptions, seven defended passes
RB Doug Martin
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At this point, I'm just going to go right ahead and project that Doug Martin will start at running back for the Bucs.
Moving on, I project Doug Martin to have a very productive first season as a Buc. He has the speed, vision, lateral agility and burst to succeed as a running back in today's NFL; his skills in pass blocking and receiving will give him a leg up in training camp over incumbent starter LeGarrette Blount.
Tampa Bay has a horde of offensive linemen who excel at run blocking, from left tackle Donald Penn, to recent acquisition Carl Nicks. They will help Martin to gain 1000 (or more) total yards.
Predictions: 209 rushes, 941 rush yards, 4.5 yards/rush, 30 receptions, 234 receiving yards, 7.8 yards/reception, two fumbles, seven touchdowns
WLB Lavonte David
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Lavonte David should start at weak side linebacker for the Buccaneers.
This is good for a team that lacked a strong presence on the weak side in 2011, as the Bucs had Geno Hayes and Adam Hayward as starters.
With great instincts, lateral agility, ability to drop into coverage and physicality, David has a chance to really shine at weak side linebacker in Greg Schiano's 4-3 defense.
Predictions: 46 solo tackles, 6 assisted tackles, three sacks, one interception
LB Najee Goode
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Since Adan Hayward landed on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, Najee Goode's stock has drastically risen.
Hayward plays a variety of roles for the Bucs, from rotational linebacker to special teams captain. He took over for Geno Hayes last year at weak side backer after Hayes was benched for poor performances.
I predict Goode to make a splash on special teams and have a decent impact in limited playing time on defense.
Predictions: 20 solo tackles, two assisted tackles, one sack
DB Keith Tandy
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Keith Tandy will have to really make a showing for himself in training camp in order to land a spot on the 53-man roster, as the team is overstuffed with defensive backs. The Bucs might not be top-heavy in the secondary, but they have more than enough second-tier DBs, from EJ Biggers to Anthony Gaitor to Ahmad Black to Myron Lewis.
If Tandy makes it to the regular season, he still won't have the biggest impact. The starting jobs will go to guys like Aqib Talib, Eric Wright, Mark Barron and Ronde Barber.
I see a place for Tandy at safety, though, as he is physical and good in zone coverage. He will be a nice nickel safety.
Predictions: 13 tackles, one pass defended
RB Michael Smith
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No one ever accused Michael Smith of being slow.
The former Utah State running back is explosively fast, as he can run around a 4.35-40. This speed seems to show up whenever Smith sets foot on gameday turf.
He needs to translate his north-south speed to east-west quickness, though, if he wants to start over Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount.
I see Smith as more of a change-of-pace back, playing mostly on third downs. If the Bucs can get him into space on a consistent basis, he'll outplay his seventh round draft status.
Predictions: 30 carries, 114 yards, 3.8 yards/carry, one touchdown
FB/TE Drake Dunsmore
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Fullback or tight end?
That is the biggest question surrounding Drake Dunsmore.
At Northwestern, Dunsmore saw success as a receiving tight end. But this is the NFL, and in the NFL, there aren't too many 6'2'' tight ends who are effective on a down-to-down basis.
Dunsmore also can play fullback, which will serve him well, as that is where he is most likely to see playing time. As an H-back, Dunsmore can do very well, as he can run routes from the backfield or even stay back to block.
He reminds me a little bit of Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez, another versatile tight end who plays many roles in one offense.
Predictions: 10 receptions, 78 yards, 7.8 yards/reception, two rushes, six yards, three yards/rush
A Helpful Reminder...
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