The Buccaneers' first pick in the upcoming 2009 NFL Draft is going to have to be use on someone who can immediately fill one of the several holes on either offense or defense. Tampa Bay has just one pick in the first day of the draft after essentially taking Kellen Winslow Jr. with their second pick, so they need to choose wisely.
After the defense was unable to perform on the field after defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin announced he was taking $1.2 million to be a Volunteer (does that make any sense?), signs would be pointing to the Buccaneers going defense with their first pick.
That being said, some "experts" see the Bucs taking a quarterback with their pick, likely Josh Freeman, a mobile, 6'6", 250-pound signalcaller that head coach Raheem Morris has ties to, having been the defensive coordinator for Kansas State in 2006.
It would be a mistake for the Bucs to go quarterback with their first selection, anyway, They can still draft quality quarterback later in the draft, as Big 12 gun slingers Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) and Chase Daniels (Missouri) will probably be available.
Morris should remember Daniels, who on October 21, 2006, picked apart the KSU defense to the tune of 41 points, 262 yards and four TD with no turnovers. Either Harrell or Daniels should still be around in the seventh round, when the Bucs have three picks and can take a low-cost gamble.
The Bucs have said that they want a fourth quarterback to encourage competition in training camp, but the team has reportedly spoken with Steelers backup Byron Leftwich. Picking him up would give them four with Luke McCown, Brian Griese, and 2008 fifth-round draft pick Josh Johnson.
For stopping the run and getting to the quarterback, something the Bucs must do more often, defensive tackle Peria Jerry could be the game-breaker that has been missing in Tampa since Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice left the organization.
Jerry applying pressure in the middle should free up Gaines Adams to become a bigger threat from his side and will allow Chris Hovan to focus on stopping the run.
The 6'1", 299-pound Ole Miss product is quick off the ball and excellent at pass rushing. Last season, he was voted SEC Defensive Player of the Week four times and a first-team All-American.
Now, if the Bucs decide that there are many top defensive tackles in the draft and feel they can grab one suitable for their 4-3 later, you might see a surprise here. What am I talking about?
"With the 19th pick in the 2009 Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from Florida, wide receiver Percy Harvin."
While the biggest hole to fill on this squad is not at wide receiver, the Bucs do need someone to run downfield with Antonio Bryant. Harvin can most certainly do that (and fast), makes defenders miss, and is a potential score each time he touches the ball.
He'd also give the Bucs a kick and punt returner next to Dexter Jackson, who's obviously scared to get hit and has subsequently turned into a disappointment at running the ball back.
Harvin would also give offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski an extra pair of legs out of the backfield. He has compared to Reggie Bush, but in many people's minds is better in that Bush is a running back that can catch while Harvin is a receiver that can play running back.
Early Day Two drafting will fill holes in the aforementioned defense.
"With the 17th pick in the third round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from LSU, defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois."
Jean-Francois is 6'3", 289, and a great athlete who uses his agility to be a force against both the run and the pass. He makes plays happen in the back field.
He spent a lot of time in college getting double-teamed, so he should fit perfectly in the new Bucs defense.
"With the 20th pick in the fourth, round the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from California, linebacker Zack Follett."
The 6'2", 236-pound Follett plays with a great motor, drops well into coverage, but can still come up and hit the hole. That should help new linebackers coach Joe Barry complete a linebacker corps that has been overhauled around Barrett Ruud. Follet also fits in nicely opposite the recently signed Angelo Crowell.
"With the 19th pick in the 5th round The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from Tennessee, cornerback DeAngelo Willingham."
Ronde Barber's days in Tampa are numbered, and this has been apparent for some time now as Barber continues to lose steps on his assignments.
Willingham has a 36-inch vertical jump and 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash. With this choice, the Bucs would get a replacement for Barber as soon as Morris is ready to say "goodbye" to his friend.
"With the 18th pick in the sixth round,the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from Houston, tackle Sebastian Vollmer."
Vollmer is massive at 6'8" and 318 pounds, and has improved every year he's played. Last season, Houston's offense averaged 500 yards and 34 points per game, and you can't do that without a quality front line anchored by someone like Sebastian.
With the Bucs signing Donald Penn for one year at $2.8 million, Vollmer would have one full season to develop into an every-day tackle that can protect whoever is chosen to quarterback the squad.
"With the eighth pick of the seventh round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from Missouri, quarterback Chase Daniels."
"With the 20th pick of the seventh round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from Southern Cal, defensive end Kyle Moore."
"With the 24th pick of the seventh round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select, from Colorado State, running back Gartrell Johnson."
Daniels gives the Bucs a quality quarterback who is tough enough to know he is going to take a shot and still throw the ball.
Moore provides an all-around upgrade as a replacement for the 35-year-old Kevin Carter.
Johnson had a poor 40-yard dash time of 4.67, but a great year with the Rams, averaging more than five yards per carry while splitting time at fullback. He also caught 32 passes for just under 300 yards out of the backfield.
With the woes the Bucs have had with their running game and with Warrick Dunn being let go, this would be a good place to add depth.
These selections can begin the purge of the abomination that was the John Gruden regime and a return to greatness for Tampa Bay, or at least where they were when they were making the Playoffs.