The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an impressive crop of rookies coming in from a well-coordinated 2011 NFL draft. It is possible that they will all have some kind of impact on the team, but when and where will be up for debate. Let's get into the projected depth chart of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see when we can expect production out of these incoming talents.
First-round selection Adrian Clayborn and second-round pick Da'Quan Bowers both have the potential to be starters from Week 1. Clayborn will likely line up at right end, and best case scenario, Bowers will line up with him at left end. They can provide a solid pass rush, which was missing last season when Tim Crowder and Stylez White were playing those positions.
There maybe be some mixing with the DEs from last season, and they may both see time at right defensive end. My projection, however, is that from day one they will both be starting on opposite sides, making the quarterbacks life a mess.
Third-round selection Mason Foster is in an interesting situation, as the future of Barrett Ruud is an uncertainty. Tampa Bay has also brought in Tyrone McKenzie from the Patriots, who can fill the middle linebacker slot. I predict that Ruud will be out of the picture and McKenzie will take his place. It is improbable to see Mason Foster move to an outside linebacker role, as he is versatile enough to fill that position as well. With these upgrades at linebacker and the strong, young defensive front, running on the Buccaneers could be a handful.
Tight end Luke Stocker will likely not see a starting role at all this season as long as Kellen Winslow stays healthy. Stocker will remain at No. 2 on the depth chart and line up primarily in two tight end sets and sub in when his blocking abilities are necessary. Adding him to the roster should improve the strength of the Buccaneers' bigger packages and he will open up the opportunity for Winslow to become more of a receiver than a tight end. His playing time could be significant considering he is a backup.
Ahmad Black is entering a pretty crowded defensive backfield. As a safety, he will be competing with at least seven other guys for the starting spot. I expect him to land in the top-four safety prospects for the Bucs by the end of the preseason, mainly coming in for special packages. If he plays as hard and strong as he did in college, it is not a wild prediction to say that he could end the season with a starting role at free safety. His contributions to special teams will be immediate.
Running back Allen Bradford is another interesting case. He has the potential to have a good season if he is used, so how much he plays will likely be determined in the preseason and throughout the year. To begin the season he should be number three on the depth chart behind Blount and Williams. He could see time though in strong offensive sets as a lead blocker, or included on short yardage and goal line situations.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' seventh-round selections are also up in the air. Cornerback Anthony Gaitor was probably talented enough to be taken between round four and six, but fell all the way to pick 222. I imagine the Buccaneers will keep him around to hone his skills. He might see a little time, but likely won't be a big impact on their defense.
Tight End Daniel Hardy could help in two tight end sets if he makes the team, at 6'4", 250 lbs, he is a big tight end who can make difficult catches over the middle or even act as an H-Back. I think the Bucs are too full on tight ends as it is and he could go to the practice squad.