The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an extremely active offseason. They went out and signed guard Carl Nicks, cornerback Eric Wright, and wide receiver Vincent Jackson to big free agent deals.
Jackson, obviously, is the big ticket signing. He is quickly approaching 30 years of age, and while that’s not old by any means, I think Jackson is going to have to really step it up a notch for the Bucs, who paid him the contract he has desired for a few years now.
I think Eric Wright was a pretty over-hyped player and the Bucs over-paid for him, but they obviously wanted him really bad. Carl Nicks is a very good pickup that will instantly upgrade the Tampa Bay offensive line. Here is a recap of the moves they made in the 2012 NFL Draft and undrafted free agency:
- Mark Barron, S, Alabama
- Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
- Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
- Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia
- Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia
- Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
- Drake Dunsmore, TE/FB, Northwestern
Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros, Louisiana-Monroe receiver Luther Ambrose, USF center Chaz Hine, Texas fullback Cody Johnson, Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson, Tennessee State defensive tackle Donte’e Nicholls, Boise State receiver Tyler Shoemaker, Mississippi tackle Bradley Sowell, Arkansas safety Tramain Thomas, West Virginia tight end Tyler Urban, Toledo guard Michael VanDerMeulen and Rutgers tackle Desmond Wynn.
Best UDFA Pickup: Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson
Does a good job of jamming the wide receiver at the line to re-route him,…Really solid technique, especially coming from a smaller school…good body control and makes a lot of plays on the football, though his hands could be better…fluid hips..and a plus open field tackler…really uses the sideline to his advantage well to force smaller windows for the QB…willing tackler in the open field…competitive…durable hasn’t missed any games due to injuries , even though he was carted off the field one game he returned the next game…thick built..has some kick return ability
Shorter than ideal height…does not have elite straight line speed…Needs a lot of improvement in the run game in both terms of getting off blocks from wide receivers and tackling…
Sayre’s initial scouting report:
Johnson is a Thorpe Award watch list cornerback prospect who has been an All Big 12 performer and even a first team All American as a freshman as a return specialist. Johnson is sort of stuck somewhere in the middle in terms of the best cornerbacks in the class of 2012, but he’s certainly not your typical prospect in that regard as this is a very deep year for cornerbacks and he is certainly one of the best in the nation. He has good size, and his school biography calls him the best cover man Iowa State has had in recent memory, which may or may not be saying a lot–I put some real stock into that statement. He has been a starter since he was a freshman, and has totaled 175 tackles, five interceptions, and 18 pass breakups. There are not a lot of people who talk about this guy, but he could certainly be a gem in next year’s draft, as he can contribute in a variety of ways as well as develop into a starting cornerback in the NFL.
Overall Draft Grade: A
The Buccaneers were able to address a number of needs, and they got a few players that I really like a lot. I think they scored big time on their first three picks, specifically, and they have revamped a linebacker group that was in desperate need of revamping. I also love what the Bucs did at the running back position, snagging Doug Martin and a very underrated player in Michael Smith (Utah State) in this class.
Offseason Moves (via Walterfootball.com)
DT Gary Gibson
DT Amobi Okoye
OT Jamon Meredith
CB Ronde Barber (re-signed)
DE Michael Bennett (re-signed)
QB Dan Orlovsky
CB Eric Wright
OG Carl Nicks
WR Vincent Jackson
K Connor Barth (Franchise)
OT Jeremy Zuttah (re-signed)
DT John McCargo (cut)
DT Albert Haynesworth (cut)
OLB Geno Hayes (Bears)
S Tanard Jackson (Redskins)
OT James Lee (Redskins)
WR/RS Michael Spurlock (Chargers)
RB Kregg Lumpkin (Seahawks)
QB Josh Johnson (49ers)
DE Tim Crowder (cut)
DE Nick Reed (waived)
Projected Depth Chart (Offense)
Quarterback: J.Freeman, D.Orlovsky, B.Ratliff
Running back: L.Blount, D.Martin (R), M.Smith (R), M.Madu
Fullback: D.Dunsmore (R)
Wide Receiver 1: V.Jackson, A.Benn, P.Parker
Wide Receiver 2: M.Williams, D.Briscoe, S.Stroughter
Tight End: K.Winslow Jr., L.Stocker, Z.Pianalto
Left Tackle: D.Penn, J.Meredith
Left Guard: C. Nicks, T.Larsen
Right Guard: D. Joseph, D.Hardman
Right Tackle: J.Trueblood, D.Dotson
Projected Depth Chart (Defense)
Defensive End: D.Bowers, M.Bennett
Defensive Tackle: G.McCoy, A.Okoye, F.Okam
Defensive Tackle: B.Price, G.Gibson
Defensive End: A.Clayborn, G.Johnson
Outside Linebacker: Q.Black, D.Watson
Middle Linebacker: M.Foster, N.Goode (R)
Outside Linebacker: L.David (R), A.Hayward
Cornerback 1: R.Barber, A.Talib (suspension?), M.Lewis
Cornerback 2: E.Wright, E.Biggers, K.Tandy (R)
Strong Safety: M.Barron (R), L.Asante, A.Black
Free Safety: C.Grimm, R.Girault
Draft Pick Analysis/Scouting Reports
Excellent size and length for a safety…can lay the wood…instinctual…physical…good hands for a strong safety…reportedly a film room junkie (seems that way usually in the right place at the right time…well coached…has above average ball skills…terrific in run support…makes big plays….and has pretty good range
Doesn’t possess the fluidity in his hips to play effective man to man coverage…questionable speed…will bite on play actions at times…better suited as a strong safety…minor character concerns…tackling fundamentals could use some improvement, did improve a lot from 2010
Barron is the top strong safety in the class of 2012, but he comes with a HUGE “Buyer Beware” tag attached to him. Barron was arrested just before Spring practice with a misdemeanor of hindering prosecution, and also has torn a pectoral (November 2010). Barron is treading thin ice and will likely start the 2011 season with a short suspension, but will be one of the top safeties in next year’s draft. Led the talented Alabama defense with 75 tackles in 2010, and will have started three years in one of the best defensive units in the entire country, as well as under one of the best coaches in all of college football.
Really good compact build…patience with good field vision are probably his best attributes….pretty good receiver…durable…shifty…some kick return ability..productivity, work ethic, drive, finisher, big play ability, always gives 100% effort, shifty…
Doesn’t have great top end speed…plays in a kind of goofy offense…On his build you think he’d break even more tackles, loses his balance quickly when hit, though he can make defenders miss, and he does break arm tackles (not a big knock more of an observation)…competition level
Player Comparison: Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Jesse’s player comparison: His build instantly reminds you of Maurice Jones Drew has will his versatility and field vision. Jones is more powerful than Martin though, and a touch faster. A Poor mans’ Maurice Jones Drew, I guess.
There’s a lot to like about Martin. He can catch the ball a bit, he’ll be a pretty good weapon in the screen game. He really has good field vision and he’s shifty. He’ll break arm tackles, and is a guy who can carry the ball 15-20 times a game and keep the chains moving. A really solid all around prospect. He’ll pick up the blitz as well.
Extremely productive running back and will be in his third year starting for the Broncos. Martin is the type of guy who will be an excellent value pick in the draft. He is not the biggest running back, but he is capable of breaking the game wide open with a big run. Powerful running back who is not afraid to stick his shoulder down and challenge anyone willing to take him on. Probably one of the most underrated running backs in the country because Boise State is not a running offense. As pass oriented as the BSU offense is, this guy has been extremely productive from the RB position, and is a solid receiver to boot. Shifty and speedy with a thick lower body, he will be the kind of guy who NFL teams hate to play against because he gives so much effort and can do so many things for your team. Has incredible potential as a zone runner, and could be a major steal on draft weekend. Over the last two years, he has carried the ball 330 times for 2,025 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging over six yards per carry in the process. Also had 28 receptions for 338 yards and two more touchdowns last year as a junior. Will not go down without a fight, and seems to pride himself on getting yards after contact.
When you’re talking about Lavonte David you’re talking about three major factors that makes him successful: his speed, his awareness (instincts), and his leadership…excels in coverage because of his his speed and awareness…makes a ton of plays on the football in pass coverage….relentless pursuit…added 15 pounds of weight form his listed size in 2010 to 2011…very productive…not afraid to take on blockers, but better getting around them
undersized…doesn’t do a great job of disengaging from blocks because he’s not functionally strong (NFL strength) and doesn’t have really long arms (because he’s shorter than ideal)…is not an elite pass rusher….kind of schematically limited, he fits best for a team that runs a lot of nickel (think the Giants) or a team that is going to run a lot of Tampa 2 coverage…
Player Comparison: Michael Boley New York Giants/Pat Angerer Colts
I think he develop into the kind of player Michael Boley is today because has that kind of speed and intelligence, and he can develop into the kind of blitzer Boley, but he is but is best suited for a 43. But coming out of college he’s a lot like Angerer, he’s undersized, instinctive, willing to take on blockers, isn’t much of a blitzer, pretty good but not elite speed. Remember Angerer was drafted in the second round and has played pretty well for the Colts. David is a taller (less bulky), but also a little better athlete.
There is a lot to like about Lavonte David. He’s always around the football, he’s a leader on the Cornhuskers defense, he’s very productive and he has good speed. Even if he can never figure out how to take on and shed blocks at the N.F.L. level he’s going to be really good in pass coverage because of his speed, instincts, and fluid hips. A lot of people thought that Angerer might go in the fourth or fifth round and I think most think David will go in the second round, but I see his value somewhere near where Angerer was drafted. Late 2nd and early third, but to the right system, I don’t think he fits all systems. Good player, though.
4. Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia
Pick analysis: The Buccaneers had a huge weakness at the linebacker position, and they addressed it early on in the 2012 NFL Draft. Goode is just a very solid all-around linebacker who had 87 tackles last season, 14 for loss, and five sacks along with an interception. I thought Goode would be picked quite a bit later than he was, but credit the Bucs for recognizing an area of weakness and attacking it early on. Their defensive line isn’t stacked by any means, but they certainly didn’t have much behind those guys last year. With Mason Foster developing and Lavonte David in the fold, this could quickly become a position of depth if the Bucs add some more bodies in camp. I like this addition, but don’t love it.
Pre-season scouting report:
Good-sized cornerback who has nine interceptions over the last two years (six as a junior) and enjoyed one of the best seasons in the country last year as a junior. He was an All-American by most media outlets and started all 13 games finishing with 57 tackles, six interceptions, 11 passes broken up, and a couple of tackles for loss. He’s also got the ability to deliver the big hit, as Cincinnati wide receiver D.J. Woods knows full well. I think he could be an underrated corner coming out this year, so we will have to see how he runs before the draft.
Very gritty player who is very physical at the line of scrimmage
Very smart player who knows his craft
Very solid press cornerback
Possess good speed and quickness
Has a nose for the football
Can lay walloping hits
Could excel as a zone coverage guy because he can close quickly no the football
Plus instincts, always seems to be the benfeciary of tipped passes
Does not possess good height
Could be victim of many pass interferences in the Pros
Overaggressive,will bit on double moves
Does not have the pure physical ability to start reliably on the outside, unless he really refines his technique
Keith Tandy is a pest. I mean that in a good way. He is that guy on the basketball court during a pick up game that would be in full court press mode. Tandy is a scrapper who will duke it out with anyone. He presses at the line of scrimmage with the best of them. Has fluid hips and can rebound if beaten. He is a very sound tackler for his size and nearly ever misses a tackle. I think Tandy will become a steal over time. One thing he must do is mask some of his physical play because in the NFL pass interferences get thrown around with great frequency these days. Teams that embrace physical play from their defensive backs would be wise to target Tandy.
6. Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
Smith ran a 4.35 in the 40 yard dash, had a 10’6″ broad jump and a 40.5″ vertical jump. In case you’re keeping score at home, those numbers are off the charts. He also measured out at 5’8″ 207 pounds at an all-star game earlier this offseason, a game in which he was named MVP.
Smith’s biggest performance of last year came in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where he ran for 157 yards on just 12 carries with two touchdowns.
When he posted those numbers, Twitter blew up with everyone saying their favorite sleeper is no longer a sleeper. There’s no doubt in my mind that he has the physical tools to be able to contribute early on, and he could be a great change of pace for the Bucs. At least early in his career, he’s going to have to stay in a somewhat limited role because he was so inexperienced in college, but the tools are there.
Interesting offensive weapon with a unique skill-set. Considered a “superback” at Northwestern where he was a productive receiver over the last couple of years. I really think his versatility to play tight end, fullback, and h-back will get him drafted and help him be a solid contributor wherever he goes. He seems to me to be quite a bit like a Chris Cooley or Jacob Tamme type of player. He obviously has pretty good athletic ability and is a decent blocker. Good hands, reliable target, but slightly undersized which could potentially work against him. Doesn’t have the size type to play in-line, and is more of a tweener who is going to make his biggest contribution as a receiver.