2010 NFL Mock Draft: Eric Berry Selected Third Overall by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

James WilliamsonSenior Writer IFebruary 22, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  Tailback Ryan Williams #34 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is tackled by defensive back Eric Berry #14 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Virginia Tech beat Tennessee 37-14.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

This past year, the Buccaneers wore their old uniforms in a game for the first time in years.

Those old uniforms had little but bitter losses and lots of bad jokes attached to them.

The Buccaneers have the sad honor of having the worst team of all time in the '76-77 expansion Buccaneers team that lost the first 26 games in its existence.

The Buccaneers looked like their former "Yuccaneers" self this past season, going from a respectable 9-7 record in 2008 to a 3-13 disappointment.

In order to avoid the past of being a welcome mat that says, "We suck, take what you want," they will have to draft smart like Rich McKay, former manager of the Buccaneers, did in 1995.

In 1995, the Bucs already had John Lynch, but the rest of the legendary Buccaneers defense was nowhere to be found with the Bucs coming off a 6-10 season, which had been their average record over the past 13 years.

Rich McKay is the son of John McKay, the Buccaneers' first head coach, and he wanted to turn the team around because it was his team through his father.

The Buccaneers traded from No. 7 to 12 and waited for Warren Sapp to fall due to a lot of unsubstantiated rumors that he had done drugs two days before the draft or other character flaws, most of which were not true.

After drafting Sapp, the Bucs traded back up into the first round to grab an undersized linebacker named Derrick Brooks.

With those two picks going one after another, and the addition of defensive players like Ronde Barber, Anthony McFarland, Simeon Rice, Dexter Jackson, and more, the defense became great, and in 2002, the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.

The Buccaneers have had success when it comes to defense, and Raheem Morris is a defensive-minded coach, so they should look at a real defensive playmaker.

Despite recording only two interceptions this year, Eric Berry was a first-team All-American defensive back.

He actually wasn't thrown to that often because teams were scared of him. He needed only 15 yards to break the career interception return yards record held by Terrell Buckley of Florida State from '89-91.

But the two years prior to that he recorded five and seven interceptions and had 222 and 265 yards in return yards for a combined total of 12 picks for 487 yards in return yards and three touchdowns.

They definitely don't want to throw to him because he could score!

So, sadly, he didn't get a real chance to break the record with only two interceptions for seven return yards, only eight yards short.

However, it just has added ammo to his draft stock, and I like him. The team that drafts him will add a great player.

I want that team to be Tampa Bay because of their history with ballhawks. This guy can learn from Ronde Barber how to be a great secondary player.

I looked at the film, and he's the best secondary guy I've seen this year. His awards back him up.

Two-time Jack Tatum award winner, Jim Thorpe award winner, Sports Illustrated 2000s All-Decades team, two-time unanimous All-American—do I have to go on?

Incredible speed. I don't care if he runs a 4.9 at a combine. He's got competitive speed, especially after picking off a pass. His estimated 40 time is 4.3 seconds.

His hands are incredible. He knows how to catch that football, so I think that while he could play both cornerback and safety, it would be better for him to be a safety in the NFL.

Safeties have more leeway in the defense. They play major zone coverage or help double a wide receiver, they also are used as blitzers, and with a 4.3 time, he can get to a quarterback before he's fully dropped back to pass.

If he just plays cornerback, offenses will just look to other targets, while safeties are a threat from one sideline to the other.

He reminds me of Ed Reed. He's got those instincts of where the ball is going to go, and he'll jump a route and take off.

Not only is he comparable to Reed in playmaking abilities, but in size as well. Reed is 5'11", around 200 pounds, and who does that remind you of?

Berry knows how to follow blockers setting up for a return, as well as having great footwork that allows him to reverse field, juke a couple of guys, and look for a hole.

I think he has the potential to be a kick/punt returner for an NFL team just like he was for Tennessee.

While his size is questionable, I think anybody who has watched him play knows he's a great tackler and hitter. Look at his play on Knowshon Moreno the year before last. He's not afraid to put his body into the hit.

I have nothing but high marks for him. He's definitely a great pick for Tampa Bay. I just wish my Dallas Cowboys had a shot to get him.

There is a rumor that Tampa Bay wants to trade with St. Louis for the No. 1 pick for the third overall selection, a third round pick, and quarterback Josh Johnson.

That means that Tampa Bay wants Ndamukong Suh, but I think what's great about this possible trade is that both Suh and Berry are great players with potential higher than Mount Everest.

Whatever happens there, Eric Berry deserves to be the third guy off the board.


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