Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman Pick Leaves Coach Morris Smiling, Buccaneer Fans in Disbelief

NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers #17 draft pick Josh Freeman poses for photographers at Radio City Music Hall for the 2009 NFL Draft on April 25, 2009 in New York City  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Bryan HoltCorrespondent IApril 26, 2009

The collective moan and sigh of disapproval could seemingly be heard across the attentive stretches of the Tampa Bay area. The move that was already an unpopular concept before the signing of Byron Leftwich two weeks ago had been made, Josh Freeman was chosen seventeenth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fans were left searching for answers. 

The reasons for concern are rather obvious.  On a team that has recently discarded defensive names such as Derrick Brooks and Cato June and carries an arsenal of defensive tackles with names such as Chris Bradwell, Greg Peterson, and Dre Moore, the offensive side of the ball seemed like something that should be held off until later rounds. 

Freeman apparently impressed the googly-eyed Bucs with his Daunte Culpepper physique and his terribly inflated numbers which one can argue are the result of the Big 12's arena football quality of defensive play. 

However, where Freeman truly won over the new regime's hearts is in the simple title of his Alma Mater.

Nothing was going to stop Morris from going after "his guy" as he proudly stated later in the day with the grin that used to seem innocent and exuberant but over the last few months has quickly begun to seem devilish and nerve racking. 

Having coached there in 2006, Morris considers himself a Kansas State guy, often talking about his experiences there with the nostalgia  of a 90 year-old man. With this in mind, Morris' pursuit of Freeman, Kansas State's former wonder boy, was not going to be slowed by anything. 

By anything I mean the fact that the Bucs, who are supposedly trying to be fiscally conservative, have spent $14.5 million over the last two months on resigning Luke McCown and bringing in Byron Leftwich or that Morris and GM Mark Dominik are continuing the Gruden/Allen tradition of shunning the hard-working McCown who deserves a shot as much as anyone. 

This all seems to go unnoticed by Morris who gleefully exclaimed "[Freeman] is the long-term decision.  He's the direction we're going." 

The best years of McCown's career are being wasted by coaches who always seem to have an agenda in which he is never included.  Sorry Luke but you have lost yet another competition without ever getting your chance to compete.

The positive about today is that the draft is not a complete lost cause, yet.  As I write this the Bucs have drafted defensive tackle Roy Miller out of Texas who seems to be exactly what new defensive coordinator Jim Bates is looking for. 

A big man up the middle is what Bates had asked for and now he will get a new toy to play with.

Freeman might go out and somehow prove the city of Tampa and myself wrong.  He could become the franchise quarterback that the Buccaneers have never had and thrill fans every Sunday for years to come. 

However, if he does not, the backlash upon Morris and Dominik could become unbearable for both of them. 

The logical choice for a first round pick seemed to be going after a quick linebacker such as a member of the USC trio to fill the void that has been left. 

Instead they went with the unpopular choice which could be fatal for a franchise currently struggling with fan support and a lack of true leadership.

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