Sometimes it's fun to play "what if?"
That's been running through my Buc-infested mind all week as the team prepares to take on the New York Giants Sunday and that magnificent front line.
I saw Jason Pierre-Paul up close at a bunch of USF practices. I had never seen a guy like this. This big lanky kid rolls out with arms that went forever. He was every bit of 6'6'' tall, closer to 6'7''. He moved like a big cat, quick, fast-twitch muscles. Incredible athletic ability.
And this was the capper. One afternoon, he strolled out to practice, wearing full pads, and from a dead stand-still, did a full back flip and landed on his feet. We're talking full pads, helmet, everything.
All I could think was "I wish the Bucs could see this guy. They seriously should take him in the first round."
When the 2010 draft rolled around, Pierre-Paul came out early, I knew he would. Then USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey was and is still a good friend and he gave me the inside. The Bucs had the third overall pick and you know they went with Gerald McCoy.
You wonder how things might have been had they traded down a bit and taken JPP. The Giants got him with the 15th pick and 21 sacks later the guy is a super star.
In 2011, my East Carolina Pirates had a really big, talented defensive tackle named Linval Joseph. If he had played at a higher-profile program, he would have been a first rounder. The Giants got themselves a steal, nabbing Joseph with the 14th pick in the second round. The Bucs took some guy third in that round named Brian Price.
Joseph will be a major threat for the Giants at defensive tackle on Sunday. Price is out of a job.
Can't stop there while we're in this "what if" mode.
Totally loved this USF linebacker named Jacquian Williams. Tampa kid from down in Riverview. He was a big, fast guy. He's 6'3", and 235 lbs. The Giants nabbed him in the sixth round in 2011. The Bucs took some stiff from USC named Allen Bradford, a big, slow running back.
Williams has had a number of starts for the Giants, plays great on special teams. Have no idea where Bradford is these days.
Love those guys, hate the fact that they'll be on the opposite side come Sunday.
The New York fans love JPP. Great story, great kid, great player.
Joseph is a total beast in the middle, 6'4'', 335 lbs before lunch.
Will have mixed emotions on Sunday.
The worst part is, they all could have easily been Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Arrelious Benn will play on Sunday, Jeremy Trueblood questionable: OneBucSite.com