After the seeing their once-storied defense fall to the bottom of the league rankings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got defensive in a big way, spending two of their first three draft picks in the 2010 NFL selection meeting on the side of the ball designed to keep points off the board.
After finishing dead last in run defense, the Bucs drafted two highly rated defensive tackles, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. After a brief excursion to the offense to get quarterback Josh Freeman a weapon, Tampa Bay addressed their thin secondary with the selection of CB Myron Lewis.
After quarterback Sam Bradford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh went to St. Louis and Detroit respectively, it was a slam-dunk choice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select McCoy.
The 6'4" 295-lb. beast from Oklahoma's biggest negative was the fact that his name wasn't Suh. Many draft pundits regarded McCoy as the top rated player in the NFL draft.
Ironically, McCoy grew up a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and idolized future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp. The Bucs have been trying to replace Sapp since his departure after the 2003 season.
"Well there was a guy who played here who wore number 99. I don't know if you guys know, but I was a big fan of his and my love for the team just grew," McCoy told Pewter Report.com , "It grew for the defense, but then the whole team as a whole. I was looking at who you guys were going to pick to, and really when you guys got Brad Johnson that's when I was like ‘okay now its time.' Then you won the Super Bowl. That was a big day for me."
McCoy certainly fits the bill with a career 14.5 sacks, 83 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, two forced fumbles, and one interception in his career.
Let me just say this last thing about Suh. I've made no bones about my appreciation for the Nebraska dominator, yet there are some questions. Suh excelled with strength and quickness but lacked technique skills. He would simply overpower his outmatched guard or tackle he faced.
Suh is playing on knees that have been under the knife and until he exploded in the Big 12 championship game, his numbers were right in line with McCoy's.
A cautionary tale for Suh fans could be former Colt Steve Emtman. Like Suh, Emtman was a man among boys at the University of Washington and was regarded by draft experts as one of the greatest defensive tackles to come out of the draft in a decade. Indianapolis made Emtman the number one over all selection of the 1992 draft.
Emtman quickly discovered that his strength wasn't nearly as effective in the NFL and injuries derailed his career. He would finish his brief career in the league with just nine sacks.
If McCoy had been taken before the Buccaneers picked, the team would have strongly considered trading down in the draft and drafting UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price. Most draft pundits saw Price as a mid-to-late first round pick.
Inexplicably, the standout Bruin continued to fall in the draft and became to irresistible for the Bucs to resist. When the Bucs first second round pick (35th overall) rolled around, Price joined McCoy on the interior of the Buccaneers defense.
Together with 2009 draftee Roy Miller, McCoy and Price give the Bucs a trio of high quality, young defensive tackles that can enter a rotation to keep them fresh.
The great thing about the 6'1", 304-lb. Price is that he's versatile enough to play either the three technique or the nose tackle in the Tampa Two.
As most Buc fans know, Sapp's three technique is without question what makes the Bucs' Tampa Two defense go. The three must be a disruptive penatrator that can wreak havoc in the backfield, driving quarterbacks and runners to the ends for cleanup.
The Bucs have gone from having no one who can provide the inside push needed to having two, young top level penatrators.
“When you are talking about the guys we’ve had in the past and the things that we’ve been able to do, you are talking about guys with dynamic pass rush, create disruption and are going to constantly be in people’s backfields,” Bucs head coach Raheem Morris told Pewter Report.com . “We were very creative last year with some of our tackles and some of our schemes and some of the things we were able to do. With these guys coming in, all kinds of thoughts and ideas start go running around your head, especially as a defensive coordinator.”
After addressing the interior defensive line, the Buccaneers found quarterback Josh Freeman a new toy, drafting wide receiver Arrelious "Regus" Benn with their second selection in the second round. Benn is a dynamic football player after the catch, often compared to departed franchise player Antonio Bryant and Baltimore Ravens standout wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
With excellent size and speed to threaten secondaries deep, Benn could provide enough threat to give Sammie Stroughter and Kellen Winslow enough room to do their work.
The Bucs wrapped up the second day of the draft by going back to the defense, selecting Vandy conerback Myron Lewis. At 6'2", 203 lbs, Lewis is a bigger, physical defensive back. In three years as a starter he had 106 tackles with 18 passes defended and 11 interceptions.
While a bigger player, Lewis has a little Ronde Barber in him, registering 10.5 tackles for loss, and five QB sacks.
All in all, it was a solid first two days for the Bucs as they address all of their big needs with high character and quality players that could very well provide an instant impact to the team in 2010.