Draft Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With the 2009 NFL Draft now days away, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (with new head coach Raheem Morris and new General Manager Mark Dominik) have already made several positive moves through free agency and trades, but there is still much to be done with the 2009 Bucs.
The new leadership has talked of a "youth-movement" in purging the roster of some older stars, so finding quick-impact players through the draft is already a must.
Draft order: First Round (19), Third Round (83), 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 7th, 7th
*No second-round selection; 51st pick traded to Cleveland Browns for TE Kellen Winslow Jr.
As always, a question mark remains at quarterback. Luke McCown has resigned for money that suggests he is in position to play, whilst 2008 red-shirt Josh Johnson is back, along with former Gruden favourite Brian Griese. Griese may not make the final roster, as he does not seem to fit with offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzkinski's style of quarterback.
Raheem Morris has openly said he would like a fourth quarterback in camp, and the draft may be where he finds his man. With experience at Kansas State, Morris knows all about Josh Freeman, who is an absolute specimen at 6'6'' and 250lbs. Freeman's arm would be welcome in this new Buccaneer attack, though whether or not he will still be on the board at No. 19 remains to be seen with the 17th pick owned by the Brett Favre-less New York Jets.
With Jim Bates' new defensive scheme relying on larger, run-stuffing defensive tackles, Tampa must see this as a position of need. Career disappointment Ryan Sims is the incumbent starter along with veteran Chris Hovan, but neither truly fit the bill in this change of gap scheme, and the Bucs need some real quality at the position. Peria Jerry out of Ole Miss. would be a nice fit here.
Finally, the Bucs will almost certainly look to cornerback, where veteran Ronde Barber remains. Barber is a play-maker and threat from the slot, and is certainly aggressive enough to play Bates' style of bump-and-run coverage—whether Barber can perform in a man-to-man system is unknown. Remember, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Lloyd had superb outings when alone against Barber, so he may not handle the switch from Tampa-2 zone so well.
Phillip Buchanon has departed for the Detroit Lions, so 2008 first-round choice Aqib Talib takes over at starter. Talib had four interceptions in his rookie season and is incredibly physical at the snap. Behind him is Elbert Mack, an undersized corner the Bucs are high on for his vicious hitting, and Torrie Cox, who spent last season on injured reserve.
Another single-coverage specialist would be welcome in camp. Sean Smith from Utah or Vontae Davis of Illinois would be solid additions, though it is unlikely the Bucs select a corner in the first round for two consecutive years.
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