Reviewing the draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reviewing the draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For the first time during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach John Gruden will field a team built largely by himself. Gone are Tampa's defensive mainstays and clubhouse distractions. In their place are a group of veterans in the style Gruden covets. With Bruce Allen joining his former head coach in Tampa, this years draft promised to be pivotal for a rebuilding franchise.

A bit of a surprise choice, number one pick Michael Clayton is a big physical wide receiver who does not bring the speed many thought Tampa Bay needed.  Clayton will provide a physical receiving presence that the team lost after trading Keyshawn Johnson and he should get plenty of opportunities to play as the teams third receiver this season.  In time he could quickly grow into the number pass catcher for the offense. Marquise Cooper is an athletic linebacker that has a nose for the ball and is quick to diagnose the action.  His biggest knock is a lack size which is made more problematic by his less than stellar pass coverage skills.  Cooper is unlikely to earn much playing time behind Derrick Brooks but could grow into a solid special teams player early in his career while he physically develops. Will Allen may be the teams best value pick of the draft.  Allen is still developing his game after not starting until late in his college career.  Equally good versus the pass or the run, Allen could eventually find a spot as a starter late in the season with the departure of John Lynch.  Jeb Terry is an athletic offensive guard that is great in the weight room yet does not always transfer those skills onto the football field.  While versatility is an asset (he can long snap) it may take time before Terry develops into a starter in the NFL. Nate Lawrie is a nice sized tight end that excels in the passing game.  Lawrie, who is built similar to a tackle, could quickly become a starter should he improve his blocking.  He is still an unpolished player who must make the jump from an Ivy League school to the NFL though.  Lawrie will likely find a home on the Bucs practice squad for this season. Mark Jones, Casey Cramer and Lenny Williams are all long shots to make the roster.  All could find a home on the practice squad but must stand out on special teams during the preseason.

This off season has made it clear that the Bucs desire to build their team around modestly priced free agents instead of rookies.  While the franchise got good value with a few selections, they may only see two starters emerge from this class relatively quickly.  With Gruden as the head coach Tampa Bay will likely never have an inspired draft class, instead relying on veterans to fill the team's needs.

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