Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Re-Grading Bucs' Past 5 Drafts
From late-blooming home runs, such as Gerald McCoy, to immediate impact players, such as Lavonte David and Doug Martin, the Bucs have definitely landed some outstanding young talent upon which their foundation is built. They've even grabbed some valuable late-round contributors, such as Mike James, Erik Lorig and Dekoda Watson (though the former two left via free agency this offseason).
However, their misses have been frustrating and all too plentiful, including second-round strugglers Brian Price, Arrelious Benn and Da'Quan Bowers.
Here's how I would grade the Bucs' past five draft classes.
HOW THEY'RE RANKED
- Each player is graded based on their expectations, considering how high they were drafted.
- The overall grade for each class is not an average, and it also takes trades into consideration.
- Players' grades are based only on their performances during their time playing for the Buccaneers.
"The guy coming in is the franchise guy, the long-term answer," first-year head coach Raheem Morris said of Josh Freeman after the Bucs traded up two spots to take him in the first round. Instead, Freeman suffered through a terribly inconsistent career in Tampa Bay, ending in his unceremonious release early last season.
Striking out on an attempt to land a franchise QB in the first round usually sets a franchise back a few years, and this time was no exception. Heading into the 2014 draft, the search for a young cornerstone at quarterback continues.
Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State (first round, 17th overall)
Struggled with consistency and never developed into the franchise quarterback Tampa Bay hoped he would.
Roy Miller, DT, Texas (third round, 81st overall)
Logged plenty of snaps as a starter, but he was never a terribly disruptive force.
Kyle Moore, DE, USC (fourth round, 117th overall)
Managed only three sacks over 31 games with the Bucs; now in the CFL.
Xavier Fulton, OT, Illinois (fifth round, 155th overall)
Torn ACL in his first preseason and was cut the following September; now in the CFL.
E.J. Biggers, CB, Western Michigan (seventh round, 217th overall)
Had his struggles, but he played better and longer than most seventh-rounders; now with Washington Redskins.
Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State (seventh round, 233rd overall)
Fairly effective as a returner, caught 55 passes over his first two seasons; not currently on an NFL roster.
Many Bucs fans were disappointed to end up with Gerald McCoy instead of Ndamukong Suh, but they might end up being better off in the long run.
But, though McCoy has made the last two Pro Bowls, the team whiffed on two high second-rounders in Brian Price and Arrelious Benn, and it didn't get what it expected out of third-rounder Myron Lewis. Mike Williams was a gem in the fourth round, but his off-field concerns led the team to trade him for peanuts this offseason.
The Bucs found a pair of solid contributors in the final round, grabbing Dekoda Watson and Erik Lorig, who were valuable role players until their departures via free agency this offseason. The loss of Watson especially could have the Bucs searching for a replacement in the 2014 draft.
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma (first round, third overall)
Slowed by injury in first two seasons, but he has 14 sacks over past two years; already a two-time Pro Bowler.
Brian Price, DT, UCLA (second round, 35th overall)
Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois (second round, 39th overall)
Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt (third round, 67th overall)
Never made a substantial impact and was released in 2013; now in the CFL.
Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse (fourth round, 101st overall)
Tallied nearly 3,000 yards receiving and 25 touchdowns in four seasons and was traded to the Buffalo Bills this offseason amid off-field concern. Still he far outplayed his draft position, but his departure leaves the Bucs thin at receiver heading into the 2014 draft.
Brent Bowden, P, Virginia Tech (sixth round, 172nd overall)
Was released without ever playing a game. Was last with the UFL's Virginia Destroyers.
Cody Grimm, S, Virginia Tech (seventh round, 210th overall)
Injuries and off-field issues kept him from ever making a lasting impact. Contract wasn't renewed this offseason.
Dekoda Watson, LB, Florida State (seventh round, 217th overall)
Was a reliable contributor on special teams and as a situational pass-rusher. Signed this offseason with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Erik Lorig, DE, Stanford (seventh round, 253rd overall)
Was converted to fullback, where he made 23 starts as an effective lead blocker and occasional receiver out of the backfield. Signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints this offseason.
Much like they still are now, the Bucs were desperate to improve their pass rush in 2011. They grabbed Adrian Clayborn in the first round and took a chance on DaQuan Bowers after he fell to them in the second round. Both players have yet to fully play up to expectations, and reports have surfaced that the team isn't likely to pick up Clayborn's option for a fifth season, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Mason Foster has been solid at linebacker, but Luke Stocker was the latest failed attempt at finding a stud at tight end—a situation that could be remedied in the 2014 draft.
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa (first round, 20th overall)
Has only managed 13.5 sacks in 35 career games and missed most of 2012 with a torn ACL.
DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson (second round, 51st overall)
Former projected top overall pick has yet to return to his pre-knee-injury form. Just 5.5 sacks in 39 games.
Mason Foster, LB, Washington (third round, 84th overall)
Has started 44 of 47 career games and remains a mainstay in the Bucs defense.
Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee (fourth round, 104th overall)
Multiple injuries have prevented him from developing into a consistent performer.
Ahmad Black, S, Florida (fifth round, 151st overall)
Played mostly special teams but made two starts in 2013 before being cut.
Allen Bradford, RB, USC (sixth round, 184th overall)
Finished his rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks after only five carries for 13 yards in Tampa Bay.
Anthony Gaitor, CB, FIU (seventh round, 222nd overall)
Has only seen limited action, appearing in 12 games in three seasons with two starts.
Daniel Hardy, TE, Idaho (seventh round, 238th overall)
Never played an active snap for the Bucs; now out of the league after spending time on the Saints' practice squad.
This draft was easily Mark Dominik's best work as general manager. After trading back two spots to the seventh overall selection and taking Mark Barron, Dominik used the fourth-rounder he got from the Jaguars to trade back into the first round to take Doug Martin.
Dominik would trade up again from the third round into the latter part of the second, grabbing one of the steals of the entire draft in Lavonte David.
This draft class remains the reason why running back, linebacker and safety are three areas the Bucs shouldn't have to address early in the 2014 draft.
Mark Barron, S, Alabama (first round, seventh overall)
Made strides last year, but he has yet to perform up to the expectations of a top-10 pick.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State (first round, 31st overall)
Amassed 1,926 total yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie; torn labrum ended his sophomore season.
Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska (second round, 58th overall)
Has already racked up 284 tackles, nine sacks and six interceptions in two seasons; first-team All-Pro in 2013.
Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia (fifth round, 140th overall)
Was a reliable contributor on special teams; cut before 2013 regular season; now with Eagles.
Keith Tandy, DB, West Virginia (sixth round, 174th overall)
Has appeared in 25 games in his first two seasons, with five starts and three interceptions in 2013.
Michael Smith, RB, Utah State (seventh round, 212th overall)
Has struggled with injury; spent all of 2013 on injured reserve.
Drake Dunsmore, TE, Northwestern (seventh round, 233rd overall)
Began rookie season on practice squad; retired before 2013 season.
Having traded their first-rounder to the New York Jets for Darrelle Revis, the Bucs didn't make a selection until the middle of the second round. It's still too early to give a true grade to this class, but Johnthan Banks looks like a promising starter at cornerback, while William Gholston improved as the season went on. Mike James looks like a stellar find in the sixth round.
Mike Glennon performed well considering how quickly he was thrown into the fire, but Josh McCown has already been brought in by the new regime to start over him, and the Bucs have shown strong interest in 2014's top quarterback prospects.
Again, the jury is still out on this class, but the overall grade is brought down by the fact that they traded a top-15 pick (and a fourth-rounder in this year's draft) for a player who is already off the roster a year later.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State (second round, 43rd overall)
Had his share of rookie struggles, but he also showed flashes of playmaking ability.
Mike Glennon QB, North Carolina State (third round, 73rd overall)
Thrust into the starting role after just three games and had some solid performances, but is he the future for the new regime?
Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois (fourth round, 100th overall)
Showed some promise starting next to Gerald McCoy, but an off-field incident could have him in Lovie Smith's dog house already.
William Gholston, DE, Michigan State (fourth round, 126th overall)
Came on strong during the second half of 2013 and should compete with Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers for snaps across from Michael Johnson.
Steven Means, DE, Buffalo (fifth round, 147th overall)
Saw very limited action as a rookie and will have to fight through a fairly packed depth chart moving forward.
Mike James, RB, Miami (FL) (sixth round, 189th overall)
Stepped in for the injured Doug Martin and impressed until a broken ankle ended his season.
*All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.