Yardbarker Horiz

2012 NFL Draft Countdown

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tampa Bay Continues Tight Grip On Draft Choices

Back on Halloween we did a mid-season assessment on how many Tampa Bay draft choices were still on the roster.  These counts consider both the active roster and players on injured reserve.  The breakdown was as follows:

(as of 10/31/2010):
  1. 8 - 2010 Draft Class
  2. 5 - 2009 Draft Class
  3. 4 - 2007 Draft Class
  4. 4 - 2008 Draft Class
  5. 3 - 2006 Draft Class
  6. 2 - 2005 Draft Class
  7. 1 - 1997 Draft Class
Now, with the completion of the 2010 season, we can check the direction of the various draft classes by checking the closing day roster:
  1. 8 - 2010 Draft Class
  2. 5 - 2009 Draft Class
  3. 4 - 2008 Draft Class
  4. 3 - 2007 Draft Class
  5. 3 - 2006 Draft Class
  6. 2 - 2005 Draft Class
  7. 1 - 1997 Draft Class
The only difference is a player lost from the Class of 2007.  That player is Sabby Piscitelli.

Piscitelli started most of 2009 then was shuffled out of the starting lineup when the Buccaneers signed Sean Jones during the 2010 offseason.  Jones ended up on the opening day starting lineup with Tanard Jackson as the starting safeties.  When Jackson was suspended by the NFL, 2010 Draft Class member Cody Grimm stepped in and became a solid performer.  It was reported that Piscitelli did not like losing his starting job nor did he like not getting the spot when it became available.

This shows a character flaw which Coach Morris (and GM Dominik as well) have been railing against for two years -- there is no entitlement on this team.  All playing time is earned, and the players which put the team in the best possible position to win will play on Sundays.

Later in 2010 against the Baltimore Ravens (11/28 to be exact), starting Safety Cody Grimm went down with a season ending injury.  Piscitelli was inserted and the next play TE Todd Heap streaked down the left hashmarks (Piscitelli's side) for a long catch-and-run touchdown.  Clearly a blown coverage.

Tampa Bay released Piscitelli on 11/30/2010.  If his play against Baltimore was any indication, he was probably on track to, again, not start the following weekend.  Either he became a locker room problem or the Buccaneers decided his skills had plateaued in their system and he was released.  Piscitelli was picked up by the Cleveland Browns on 12/2/2010 and played in 4 of their final five games, recording three tackles and an assist.

With 26 of their own picks (half that number coming from the Class of 2009 and the Class of 2010) on the roster, the Buccaneers have formed a solid core around which to build.  Look for this number to steadily climb into the 40s over the next several seasons.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Final 2010 Roster: 63% Drafted

Here are (in alphabetical order) the players Tampa Bay has drafted and retained on their roster through the 2010 season:


Ronde Barber (1997)
Arrelious Benn (2010)
E.J. Biggers (2009)
Quincy Black (2007)
Josh Freema (2009)
Cody Grimm (2010)
Geno Hayes (2008)
Adam Hayward (2007)
Tanard Jackson (2007)
Josh Johnson (2008)
Davin Joseph (2006)
Myron Lewis (2010)
Erik Lorig (2010)
Gerald McCoy (2010)
Roy Miller (2009)
Kyle Moore (2009)
Brian Price (2010)
Barrett Ruud (2005)
Maurice Stovall (2006)
Sammie Stroughter (2009)
Aqib Talib (2008)
Jeremy Trueblood (2006)
Dekoda Watson (2010)
Cadillac Williams (2005)
Mike Williams (2010)
Jeremy Zuttah (2008)


These 26 men represent 63% of the 67 players on the Buccaneers final roster of 2010.


The ageless Ronde Barber continues to be the old man of the group from the Class of 1997, but every class since 2005 still has two or more players on the team.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011 Projected Draft Needs

With the end of the season drawing near it's time to slowly start ramping up the offseason.  While all eyes are focused on the labor issue, as well it should be, Tampa Bay will still be working on molding the youngest team in the NFL into a perennial playoff team.


Just after the 2010 draft last spring I posted projections on what the Buccaneers might be looking for heading into the 2011 draft.  It's as good a place to start with the 2011 offseason as any, so let's get it started.


To project the needs for the 2011 draft we'll take a look at the young core offensive and young core defensive positional rosters.


Offense


A lot of young talent has found it's way onto the offensive line during the season this year due to injuries to long term starters like G Davin Joseph, T Jeremy Trueblood, and C Jeff Faine.  This influx of youth offsets the transition out of the young core by T Donald Penn (along with Joseph and Trueblood).  This may remove the impending need for offensive linemen as noted last Spring.  The question, however, is if these young players are of the caliber needed to compete year in and year out in the NFL, or were they players who filled in admirably but do not have the raw skills and talents the coaching staff is looking for.  The offensive line will be a long-running theme throughout the offseason.


Another possible need could be Tight End.  With 2010 draftee Eric Lorig moving to fullback (or will he?), there are two young Tight Ends on the roster:  Ryan Purvis and Nathan Overbay, both promoted from the practice squad during the 2010 season in that order.  Are either or both of these young men the long term replacments for Kellen Winslow and John Gilmore?  We'll find out this offseason.


The offensive backfield and wide receiver groups appear to be in great shape with youth, talent, and production.  It was clear over a year ago the quarterback position was solid for the next couple years (and isn't it nice not wondering what free agent QB may show up next season?).  These are all positions which just need to stay together and grow with experience.


Defense


The 2010 draft was defense-heavy, and many of those players saw the field and were contributing in 2010.  Last season, a lot of talent was brought in on the waiver wire at the defensive end and defensive back positions.  And while two of the defensive ends cracked the starting lineup at various times this season (Michael Bennett and Tim Crowder both were 2009 waiver wire pickups), most of the defensive backs did not.  However, the 2010 draft supplemented the defensive backfield very nicely.  Both end and safety seem to be stable.


A superior cornerback is hard to find in the NFL. There are only a handful of elite corners in any given draft. Equally valuable is elite speed at defensive end.  
Top-flight talent at these positions are rare, and so are worth the first round pick (even a Top 5 pick) if the right player is available regardless of team needs.  Corner and Defensive End are always on the mind in round one.


And what to do with Tanard Jackson, a young man with some personal issues and less and less time on the field?


That leaves linebacker, and while there are plenty of bodies there, the current organization has not brought in many players to compete at the linebacker positions.  Are they happy with what they have?  Were they just more concerned with "up front" to this point?  The defense did have six second-half shutouts this past season and there is youth and production in this group, so it may not be a necessity this year.  But can you wait until Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, and Geno Hayes complete their careers together?  The biggest hint for linebacker being a possibility for the 2011 draft may be the fact the Buccaneers made a waiver wire play for Shawn Merriman during the 2010 season.


There are plenty of spots in Tampa Bay for fresh, young talent to mesh with the current roster.  The key will be trying to figure out what pieces will be available (and when) for the Buccaneers in the 2011 NFL Draft.

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