Not Just Gerald McCoy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Best Draft Class Ever?

Earl BedfordContributor IMay 5, 2010

Let’s go beyond the first-round pick of Gerald McCoy; a pick that may go overlooked because it was a no-brainer and everyone expected it. As I looked at some of the bigger names who were drafted on April 23-24, 2010, outside of the first round, many of those players may not start for their teams. 

Then, I turned my attention to the draft of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barring a total catastrophic training camp, Tampa Bay could start at least five rookies, including the punter, Brent Bowden.

The Buccaneers may start two rookie defensive tackles in Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. There is a good possibility that receiver Arrelious Benn, a second-round draft pick, and Mike Williams, a fourth-round pick, will start on offense. 

Cornerback Myron Lewis, a third round selection out of Vanderbilt, may not start but will see a considerable amount of time at the nickel back position, which will make it six players out of nine drafted who will suit up and have considerable playing time against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday September 12, 2010.

Two of the final three picks will probably play on special teams. Cody Grimm and Dekoda Watson are almost certain to dress out on game day. Only Eric Lorig, the Bucs final pick in the seventh round, may be put on the PUP with a torn pectoral muscle.

In the 30-plus years of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there have never been so many draft picks from one draft class that could possibly start or play in their first season.

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After a 3-13 finish in their first year on the job, there were plenty of assumptions about whether GM Mark Dominick and head coach Raheem Morris would be welcomed back by an ownership that is under pressure to deliver a better product in 2010.

McCoy and Price are expected to fortify the middle of the defense, which was a major weak spot last season as the Bucs ranked last in the league against the run, and they should also aid in the pass rush as well.

If Benn and Williams can even come close to grasping the playbook by the season opener, their overall physical talents make them better than Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall. Benn and Williams can quickly become popular targets for Josh Freeman.

Throw them out there with tight end Kellen Winslow and Sammie Stroughter as the slot receiver, and you have a group of receivers that’s not only incredibly young, but also a very talented group that could make a lot of noise in the NFC with the type of schedule they have this year.

The Bucs are still in a rebuilding mode and are slowly accumulating pieces that they hope will spark a resurrection. Reestablishing the Bucs as a defensive-minded team is a task that drives Dominik and Morris.

That's what they want the Buccaneers to be for many years. Dominik and Morris felt like the defense began moving in the right direction when Morris took over defensive coordinator duties in late November.

It is a risky strategy for Dominik (who did not spend big money on free agents) to rely on the development of Freeman, McCoy, Price, and several other young players to deliver the results necessary to allow him and Morris to continue in their jobs beyond 2010. Buccaneer fans hope that this path is the right one.

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