Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Report Card Grades for Rookies Through Preseason Week 2
Whether it was the last-minute deal to trade down and accumulate picks for safety Mark Barron (seventh overall), pull the trigger on a move later in the first round that landed running back Doug Martin (31st overall) or the decision to jump back into the second round to select Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David (58th overall), the Tampa Bay front office displayed a savviness that is seldom seen in these parts.
Not to mention the eventual selections of linebacker Najee Goode (140th overall), cornerback Keith Tandy (174th overall), running back Michael Smith (212th overall) and tight end Drake Dunsmore (233rd overall).
All told, the Bucs addressed several positions of need and added much-needed depth as well.
With that in mind, how has this year's draft class fared through their first two preseason games? Good, bad or indifferent, who makes the grade, and who doesn't?
Barron is a little behind schedule, having missed the first preseason game against Miami due to a toe injury. In his NFL debut against Tennessee this past Friday, Barron managed one tackle and one pass deflection.
In fairness to Barron, next week's game vs. New England should serve as a better barometer of his progression, as the starters traditionally play most (if not all) of the first half in the third preseason game. Grade: C-
Martin, on the other hand, has hit the ground running, showing an ability to both make defenders miss and gain valuable yards after contact. For now, Coach Schiano has implied that both Martin and LeGarrette Blount will split the load until someone distinguishes themselves from the other.
The "Muscle Hamster" has hardly "torn it up," having rushed for just 44 yards and one touchdown through two games. But like Barron, Martin will have ample opportunities next weekend to fully showcase his skills. Grade: B-
David has arguably made the biggest impact of the group thus far, having tallied four tackles, a pass deflection and an interception vs. Miami in his pro debut. And while the statistics speak for themselves, it has been the little things that often go unappreciated that have stood out the most. Which, in this case, would be his play on special teams.
David has demonstrated his sideline-to-sideline ability, and in just two brief appearances this preseason, is quickly cementing his status as Tampa Bay's outside linebacker for the foreseeable future. Grade: B
Goode has made the most of his playing time, racking up six combined tackles through two games. A versatile linebacker, Goode has shown himself to be flexible and willing to take on multiple roles with the team. That said, Goode has yet to provide a "splash" play on defense, which is something this team has sorely lacked over the past few seasons. Grade: C+
Tandy, like Goode, has been given plenty of opportunity to show what he can do. With five tackles and a pass deflection, Tandy has (so far) made a strong case for making the final cut, although, also like Goode, Tandy has yet to fully separate himself by creating a turnover. Grade: C+
Smith, along with the aforementioned David, has been this year's standout amongst the Bucs rookies. Not only has Smith tallied 239 yards on seven kick returns, but he has also added 41 yards rushing through two games, as well.
While the Bucs are stacked at the running back position, Smith has done a phenomenal job handling the return duties, which has historically been a weak link for the Buccaneers. Grade: B+
Dunsmore finds himself fighting for a roster spot as a tight end, a position that the Bucs are bursting at the seams with. He has just two catches for nine yards this preseason and has done very little to make a case for hanging around come final cuts (if he even lasts that long). Chances are, Dunsmore is most likely headed for the practice squad. Grade: D
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