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2010 NFL Draft Debate: Eric Berry or Gerald McCoy for Tampa Bay

Chris MaierCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  Safety Eric Berry #14 of the Tennessee Volunteers takes a breather during the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Hokies beat the Volunteers 37-14.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay  Buccaneers are still feeling the pains of rebuilding. After years of Jon Gruden building this football team with bargain basement free agents in their mid-30s, the Bucs decided to go with a youth movement in 2009.

The result: a 3-13 record.

Tampa, however, has a promising young quarterback in Josh Freeman and a talented offensive line. The defense needs some work, though. If Ndamakong Suh is still on the board, its a no-brainer that Tampa should draft Suh. But with Detroit eyeing Suh, that scenario is unlikely.

The staff at nfldraft101.com debates which direction the Bucs should go with the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft:

Why the Bucs should take Eric Berry at No. 3.  (By Chief Scout Dan Wernery)

The debate should be simple. Right? Tampa Bay had the worst run defense in the NFL in 2009. Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan are the starters at defensive tackle. Shouldn't Tampa Bay select Gerald McCoy with the third overall pick? The answer is no!

Eric Berry is a special talent at safety. There are lots of Ed Reed comparisons and its justified. Berry has a similar build to Reed and has wide receiver-like instincts when the ball is in the air. 

Berry didn't have a big play junior campaign, but in 2007 and 2008 had 487 combined return yards off interceptions. Berry can also deliver a big hit. In a division where you face Drew Brees and Matt Ryan four times a year, controlling the passing game is a major key to success. Pairing Berry with hard-hitting strong safety Sabby Piscistelli would impact the game plan of the opposition.

The question you have to ask yourself is: Will Gerald McCoy impact the defensive line as much as Eric Berry will impact the secondary? The answer is no. Even though Gerald McCoy is a slam dunk top five pick, it amazes me he had only 83 career tackles at Oklahoma.

Tampa's weakness is in run defense, so how can a one gap penetrating tackle fix that problem? Ndamakong Suh is a once in a lifetime prospect that could elevate the play of an entire defensive line. Contrary to popular belief, McCoy is not.

Why the Bucs should take Gerald McCoy at No. 3 (By Senior Editor Chris Maier)

The fact that perpetual underachiever Ryan Sims and undersized Chris Hovan were the starting defensive tackles on the Bucs 32nd ranked run defense should be all you need to know as to why Suh or McCoy should be Bucs pick at No. 3 overall.  

As much as a playmaker as Eric Berry has the potential to be, the Tampa defense is going nowhere if it does not upgrade in the trenches.   After all, good defenses are built up front, and the top two needs for the Buc defense are defensive end and defensive tackle.

In McCoy, Tampa would add a disruptive force in the middle of the D-line who will command double teams and upgrade the players around him.  While McCoy is not a prototypical run-stuffing defensive tackle, he is a dynamic one gap penetrator who will provide a pass rush up the middle and disrupt running plays in the backfield.   On top of that, he plays with a tremendous motor and has the personality to become a leader and building block for the defense.  

Dan Wernery is Chief Scout for nfldraft101.com and can be reached at dwernery@nfldraft101.com .  Chris Maier is Senior Editor for nfldraft101.com .  He can be reached at cmaier@nfldraft101.com.  Follow Chris on twitter: nfldraft101

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