Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2011 NFL Draft Grades


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the hottest young teams in the NFL. They have a young, fiery head coach and have been doing an excellent job over the last couple of years in the draft, building a team that won 10 games last season. Still, they have a lot of work to do, and it starts with building a pass rush and continuing the infusion of young, talented players. The Buccaneers had one of the best drafts in the league if you ask me, and really hit on all of their picks with both potential and productivity.

1. First Round, 20th overall: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Adrian Clayborn was a top five player prior to the season, and he fell in the draft because of serious depth at the DE position, as well as a minor physical condition that he has played with all throughout his career. Not only that, but Clayborn statistically had a really down season in 2010, nothing like the way he performed in 2009 as a junior. Still, this is a very talented guy who can hold the edge, and he is one of the most physically gifted big men I have seen in a long time. He is a four down player with both pass rush ability and great hands. He didn’t always put up huge sack numbers, but he is tough as nails and always finishes plays. He should be a fantastic addition to the Tampa Bay defensive line as a weak-side defensive end.

Pick Grade: A

2. Second Round, 51st overall: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

Bowers is a guy who some thought could be the top overall pick in the draft if he had a good workout at his pro day. He didn’t have a great workout, and all of these concerns arose about his knee, and he wound up dropping to the second round. That’s making a long, long story short. In essence, Bowers could turn out to be the biggest steal of the entire draft. He was extremely productive last year, and if his knee checks out he could combine with Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy to form one of the most potent young defensive lines in the league. If not, then this pick was worth the risk. The success rate of second round picks isn’t exactly staggering, so why not pick a guy who has top 10 talent? This was a great move by the Bucs, but some might not see it that way.

Pick Grade: A

3. Third Round, 84th overall: Mason Foster, LB, Washington

One of the most productive linebackers in the country, Foster really emerged this year in NFL Draft circles. Foster is a great athlete with excellent instincts and toughness, and he was a guy I really liked heading into the draft. I thought he could easily go in the second round, and I think he can start for the Bucs right away. He has every physical skill needed, and he showed that he is more than capable of making plays in his UW career. I think this was a solid pickup by the Bucs at a position of need.

Pick Grade: A

4. Fourth Round, 104th overall: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee

6’5″ 258 pound tight end prospect who can block and provide the Bucs with another receiving threat at the tight end position to complement Kellen Winslow Jr. Not an athlete that is going to make heads turn, but he can be productive and he has great size for the position. The Bucs can use him right away in two-tight sets as a blocker, and possibly out of the backfield as a blocking fullback. He gives this offense a lot of flexibility, and getting one of the best tight ends in the draft at this stage is a shrewd move, one that I really like.

Pick Grade: B+

5. Fifth Round, 151st overall: Ahmad Black, CB/S, Florida

This pick was a slam dunk. Ahmad Black isn’t the biggest or fastest safeties in the draft, but he was a guy at Florida who was constantly making plays, leading the defense, and always around the ball. He can come in for the Bucs as a nickel or dime defensive back and really help them on special teams. He might not ever be a full time starter, but he will be able to occasionally start for them and will be a key reserve and special teams player for as long as he is in the NFL. Black is a competitor and a winner, and is a nice pick at this point of the draft.

Pick Grade: A

6. Sixth Round, 187th overall: Allen Bradford, RB, USC

Pairing this guy with LeGarrette Blount and whoever else the Bucs decide to bring in is going to be deadly. Bradford was one of the most underrated RB’s in the draft because of his injury history at USC, but he is absolutely huge at 5’11” 245 with 4.53 speed in the 40 yard dash, and is a guy who can do so many things to help your offense. Not only will this guy make the roster, but he could wind up being the starter if the Bucs ever need him to be. He is another gem at the RB position who was extremely productive at USC when healthy, and averaged over five yards per carry. Powerful back with good straight line speed and receiving ability.

Pick Grade: A

7. Seventh Round, 222nd overall: Anthony Gaitor, DB, Florida International

Slightly undersized player at the cornerback position, but definitely has a ton of speed and could really help the Bucs on special teams initially. First team All-Sun Belt conference selection and one of only three FIU players to be drafted to the NFL, and had 11 career interceptions (three for touchdowns) to go along with four career sacks and 195 tackles over his four years.

Pick Grade: B

8. Seventh Round, 238th overall: Daniel Hardy, TE, Idaho

Basically, Hardy is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body, and I think that’s what he will be at the NFL level. Had an extremely productive last couple of seasons at Idaho, where he finished his career with 80 catches for 1,364 yards and six  touchdowns. Big body with a wide catching radius, the Bucs will likely use Hardy in the h-back role, similar to what Dallas Clark and Chris Cooley do for the Colts and Redskins respectively. He has some athletic ability and is very raw, but he could make the team and contribute as a receiver down the line.

Pick Grade: C+

Overall Draft Grade: A

I really like what the Bucs did on draft day, fortifying their young defensive line and getting a ton of talented, young players who can contribute for them right away. This was a very solid draft, and this team is definitely in it to win it in the NFC South.