Yardbarker Horiz

2012 NFL Draft Countdown

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tampa Bay Drafts Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

With their first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft (#20 overall), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Adrian Clayborn.

Clayborn, a defensive end from the University of Iowa (6'3", 281lbs), was an All-Big Ten player his senior year.  He suffers from a medical condition called Erb's Palsy, a syndrome caused by nerve damage in the upper arm, and was told by doctors at a young age to avoid playing contact sports.  Nonetheless, Clayborn was the 2005 Missouri Player of the Year coming out of high school in St. Louis, where he played linebacker and tight end.

At Iowa, Clayborn redshirted as a freshman, emerging as a defensive end in his second year, getting some playing time in 12 games.  As a redshirt sophomore, he started 11 games and recorded 50 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.  As a junior, Clayborn recorded an amazing 20 tackles for loss on his way to 70 tackles for the season (36 solo) and four forced fumbles.  His top-flight play brought him national attention and he was an early entry candidate for the 2010 NFL Draft.  Clayborn elected to stay in school, and while his statistics were not a jaw dropping as his junior year, he was selected team captain for a second straight year (a recurring theme in GM Mark Dominik's draft picks).

(Background information condensed from NFLDraftScout.com information at CBSSports.com)

Notable Other Possibilities Were:
Cameron Jordan, DE, California (to Saints with Pick #24)
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson (not drafted in the first round)
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama (to Saints at Pick #28, who traded up; first running back selected in 2011)
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College (to Indianapolis with Pick #22)
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin (to Chicago with Pick #29)

2011 Second Pick (#51 Overall) >>

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Buccaneers Final Roundup

Less than 24 hours until the draft begins! I've had my say so here's one last look around the web regarding the possible fortunes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Mike Mayock
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Pat Kirwin
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Steve Wyche
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bucky Brooks
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Rob Rang 
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Chad Reuter 
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

Peter Schrager
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
John Crist/Scout.com
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Brian Billick
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Adam Caplan
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Mike O'Hara
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona

WalterFootball.com's Full 7-Round Draft
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Tampa Bay, Round 2, Pick 51:  Allen Bailey, DE, Miami
Tampa Bay, Round 3, Pick 84:  Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
Tampa Bay, Round 4, Pick 116: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
Tampa Bay, Round 5, Pick 151: Cortez Allen, CB, The Citadel
Tampa Bay, Round 6, Pick 187: TJ Yates, QB, North Carolina
Tampa Bay, Round 7, Pick 222: Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
Tampa Bay, Round 7, Pick 238: Doug Hogue, OLB, Syracuse

Pro Football Weekly (Yahoo Sports)
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20:  Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

Great Blue North Draft Report
Tampa Bay, Round 1, Pick 20: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Tampa Bay, Round 2, Pick 51: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Tampa Bay, Round 3, Pick 84: Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is Linebacker On the Want List?

In the flurry of the 2010 regular season while Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans were starting to believe in the playoff run (around Week 9, remember?), there was a move attempted by the Buccaneers which failed.  It's  time to take a closer look at that transaction because it may determine what Tampa Bay is looking for in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Back in early November, the Buccaneers attempted a waiver claim of Shawn Merriman but lost out to the Buffalo Bills.  This is a big reveal of the thinking in the Buccaneer's front office.  Merriman would be an outside linebacker in the Buccaneers Tampa-2 system, where Quincy Black plays currently.

Clearly, the Buccaneers were looking for an upgrade at the outside linebacker position -- a player who can not only drop back in coverage, but also rush the quarterback when necessary.  The top prospect at the outside linebacker position is Von Miller (6'3", 246lbs, Texas A&M University) and he is a consensus Top 5 pick this Thursday.  However, the next two could be on the board when Tampa Bay picks at #20.

Akeem Ayers (6'3", 254lbs, UCLA) is a physical player with good gap discipline.  However, he may be more suited to a 4-linebacker defense. Ayers currently has an overall rating of #30 by NFLDraftScout.com.

The more intriguing pick could be Justin Houston (6'3", 270lbs, University of Georgia).  Houston played outside linebacker in the Bulldog's 3-linebacker defense, making him a good fit for the Buccaneers.  With big size and a big motor he resembles what Tampa Bay may have gotten had they landed Merriman (6'4", 265lbs).  Houston currently has an overall rating of #40 by NFLDraftScout.com.  Walterfootball.com currently has Houston being one of the players the Buccaneers may be targeting at #20 in the first round.

Targeting Houston may also provide the Buccaneers the opportunity to trade down 3-6 spots as he may not be coveted by the Chiefs, Colts, or Eagles who have other pressing needs, but the Saints have the 24th pick and Houston may fill a defensive end need for them because of his size.

If this is the position the Buccaneers are looking to fill there should be good opportunities in the first round.    If the draft goes a different direction, by the time the Buccaneers pick in the second round (#51 overall), as few as four outside linebackers could be off the board, allowing an opportunity for a value pick.

Again, the Buccaneers can stay put in round one this year and still get good value with their pick.  It's another indicator the rebuilding process is over in Tampa Bay.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Big Choices For Offensive Line

With less than a week to go until the 2011 NFL Draft, we've looked at the possibility of the Buccaneers picking a running back, cornerback, and even considered if Tampa Bay would look favorably on an out-of-favor top flight talent at defensive end.

There is another position which may play heavily into Tampa Bay's first round pick of 2011.  There should be a good group of offensive linemen still on the board when the commissioner puts the Buccaneers on the clock.  And, given recent trends on the offensive line, there are two prospects which might be a perfect fit.

Gabe Carimi (6'7", 314lbs, University of Wisconsin) is considered by some to be the best natural left tackle in the draft, with 49 starts over his college career at the position.  Carimi has also played at guard, but some scouts consider him an NFL right tackle prospect.  In short, the man can play where he is needed.  If you consider he has played against three of the 2011 first round defensive ends (Kerrigan/Purdue, Clayborn/Iowa, Jordan/California) and the Badger's team total of 3,402 yards rushing in 2010, Carimi has solid pedigree and appears to be well prepared for the next level.

Nate Solder (6'8", 319lbs, University of Colorado) was a finalist for the Outland Trophy after playing every down in 2010 and giving up just one sack.  Most likely a right tackle, the man has an 81-inch reach which means it takes a long (, long) time for a defensive player to get around him.  He showed tremendous athleticism at the combine but did not wow with his strength.  He comes from a pro-style, balance offense.

Another offensive lineman who may be there when the Buccaneers make the 20th pick of 2011 is Mike Pouncy, an offensive guard (6'5", 303lbs, University of Forida).  Pouncy is the top rated interior offensive lineman in the 2011 draft, which made him my first round pick in my first Buccaneer Mock Draft.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to pick one of an excellent set of pro prospects if they lay back and let the draft board play out next Thursday night.  They may even get a chance to add another giant up front.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Will Top Defensive End Fall To Buccaneers?

What does it feel like to be Da'Quan Bowers these days?  It has to be long, restless days and fitful, sleepless nights.

Bowers (6'3", 280lbs) was the de facto top rated defensive end coming out of his junior year at Clemson University where he recorded 15.5 sacks last season.  He declared early and headed for the 2011 NFL Draft as both the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendrick award winner.

The former ESPN.com #1 rated high school player has strong pedigree, following Ricky Sapp (Philadelphia, 5th round, 2010) and Gaines Adams (Tampa Bay, 1st round, 2007) through Clemson.  Bowers considered Adams a mentor, and has cited losing both Adams and his father (seizure) within 12 months of each other as inspiration for his stand out season last year.

As recently as January, Bowers was considered a potential #1 pick in the upcoming draft.  However, things have not gone smoothly for the underclassman as he has prepared for the NFL.  Shortly after the college football season, Bowers had meniscus (knee) surgury.  He was insufficiently healed by the NFL combine to participate in any running tests (he did participate in strength tests).  At his Pro day (on-campus workout), he still did not appear to be fully recovered from the surgury, recording a 40-yard dash time in the low 4.9s as well as other results not up to his standards.  After all this, he is starting to fall down draft boards.

Can he fall all the way to Tampa Bay?  Rob Rang, who scouts for CBSSports.com currently (4/18/2011) has the Buccaneers selecting Bowers with the #20 pick.  The latest mock draft from WalterFootball.com actually has Bowers falling past the Buccaneers to the New Orleans Saints.  So it is possible that Bowers is in play for Tampa Bay.

Would the Buccaneers take him?  This is where General Manager Mark Dominik shines.  Dominik took Josh Freeman in 2009 and Mike Williams in 2010, both generally considered "risky" picks due to various reasons.  Both picks have paid off handsomely, showing Head Scout Dennis Hickey and his staff dig deep enough to give Dominik the right information on which to make his decisions.

If Bowers is the pick, then the Buccaneers will have to be patient as he recovers -- and they can be after the strong showing by the young squad last season.  If Bowers is there, and the Buccaneers make him their pick, they could be getting a Top 5 talent late in the first round.

Maybe this pick can turn out golden as well.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

First Mock 7 Round Buccaneer Draft

Using the CBSSports.com prospects rankings (by NFLDraftScout.com), I took a shot at what a seven round draft may look like.  The assumption made is prior picks will result in all players ranked above the Tampa Bay overall pick number are no longer on the board.  That is, for Pick #20, assume all players rated 1 to 19 are already picked.  This draft is based on the player rankings as of April 17th, 2011.

Round 1 (Overall #20)
Based on the assumptions, the Buccaneers would arrive here with six defensive ends already off the board. Adrian Clayborn, the Buccaneers darling across most mock drafts, is still on the board.  But there are others worth looking at -- Mike Pouncey (6'5", 303lbs, University of Florida), the #1 offensive guard in the draft, is still available.  As is Gabe Carimi (6'7", 214lbs, University of Wisconsin), the #1 left (not overall) offensive tackle the the 2011 NFL draft.  As previously discussed, Jimmy Smith (cornerback) and Mike LeShoure (running back) are on the board with compelling reasons to select them.  Right tackle Nate Solder (6'8", 319lbs, University of Colorado) is also on the board.  And although quarterbacks Jack Locker (Washington) and Christian Ponder (Florida State) are available, it's probably the only position the Buccaneers would strictly avoid this early in the draft.
The Pick:  Mike Pouncy, OG, University of Florida
The Reason:  Best Player Available.  Also, if last year didn't show you how important offensive line depth is, you were just not paying attention.

Round 2 (Overall #51)
Only three more defensive ends have come off the board since the last pick so value there is improving, but still we're one and a half rounds in and nine defensive ends are gone.  Christian Ballard (6'4", 283lbs, University of Iowa) is the highest rated defensive end available.  There are several offensive linemen at the top of the board as far as value, but having taken one in the first round the Buccaneers would probably look elsewhere.  One compelling possibility is Davon House (6'1", 200lbs, New Mexico State University), a cornerback who matches the tall, lanky frame the Buccaneers have looked for recently.  Also, speedster DeMarco Murray (6'0", 213lbs, University of Oklahoma), who ran a sub-4.4 forty yard dash at the combine, is still on the board.  Interestingly enough, not one defensive safety would have been taken by this point -- and none of them rate high enough to make them of value with this pick, making safety by far the weakest position in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Pick:  Christian Ballard, DE, University of Iowa
The Reason:  The value is there, plus Ballard brings good speed to the position and can play both inside and out on the defensive line.

Round 3 (Overall #84)
The value pick here swings to linebacker, with the top two being Chris Carter (6'1", 248lbs, Fresno State) at outside linebacker and Greg Jones (6'0", 242, Michigan State).  There is value at wide receiver, but, like quarterback, the Buccaneers added plenty of youth and talent there in the Class of 2009 and Class of 2010, so here it would be a pass.
The Pick:  Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State
The Reason:  Great value, and Carter is bigger and faster than Jones based on combine results.

Round 4 (Overall #116)
Safety Robert Sands (6'4", 217lbs, West Virginia) is the #4 rated safety and an interesting consideration considering the flux Tampa Bay has experienced at the position the past two years.  Curtis Marsh (6'1", 197lbs, Utah State) fits the mold at corner.  But I think the Buccaneers will duplicate positional picks again in this draft.
The Pick:  Pierre Allen, DE, University of Nebraska
The Reason:  Allen, at 6'4" and 273lbs, plays on the left (opposite side from Ballard), giving the Buccaneers two young bookends.

Round 5 (Overall #151)
Looking back at the projected needs for the 2011 draft, it would be great to find a tight end or a defensive back as a value pick at this point in the draft.  GM Mark Dominik and crew have proven again and again they can get good value from later round picks.  Hopefully, this year brings more of the same. There is value at this position in the offensive backfield and wide receiver positions (both which the Buccaneers can calmly pass on).  One interesting possibility is Zach Hurd (6'7", 316lbs, University of Connecticut), who fits the mold but would overload the youth on the offensive line.
The Pick:  Deunta Williams, FS, University of North Carolina 
The Reason:  Williams (6'2", 205lbs) is as fast as players ranked higher, but physically smaller.  Also, Sean Jones can only be awesome for so much longer.

Round 6 (Overall #187)
At this point, we're looking for players who can make a difference on fourth down and find the field a year or so down the line.
The Pick:  Mike Mohamed, ILB, California
The Reason:  At 6'3" and 239lbs, Mohamed has good size and showed good speed (sub 4.6 at the combine), and linebackers can contribute on special teams.

Round 7 (Overall #222)
The Pick:  Markus White, DE, Florida State
The Reason:  White is 6'4" and 266lbs, both of which are reasonable for an NFL defensive end.

Round 7 (Overall #238)
The Pick:  Lee Smith, TE, Marshall
The Reason: Tampa Bay is very, very old at tight end and Smith (6'6", 266lbs) would get a couple years to develop.

I picked heavy on defense, particularly up front.  Nothing wrong with a draft like that! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Value at #20: Cornerback

There are reasons why the Buccaneers do not have to take a defensive end in the first round of the 2011 draft, and there are reasons for the Buccaneers to consider selecting a running back.

And there is another interesting position to consider for the first round:  Cornerback.  Not just because they can, but because there is a player there which matches the profile of recent Tampa Bay defensive back signees.

In the 2011 draft, there are two cornerbacks who are generally considered to be Top 10 talents:  Patrick Peterson (6'0", 219lbs) from LSU and Prince Amukamara (6'0", 206lbs) from Nebraska.  The Buccaneers would have to trade up to get a shot at either of these players.  While recently there has been some rumblings about trade rumors with the 49ers, most likely the Buccaneers will not trade up and let the draft come to them.

The first two drafts by GM Mark Dominik have each included a defensive back prospect.  In the Class of 2009, cornerback EJ Biggers (6'0", 180lbs) was selected in the 7th round.  The Class of 2010 includes Myron Lewis (6'2", 203 lbs) , a 3rd round pick.  In addition, Tampa Bay added free agent safety Sean Jones (6'1", 220 lbs) formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Finally, one of the practice squad players gathered up after the training camp last year who is now on the roster is Vince Anderson (6'2", 205lbs) who was plucked from the New York Giants.  In fact, there are two more 6-foot-plus defensive backs on the current 2011 offseason roster in Dominique Harris (6'2", 213lbs) and DJ Johnson (6'1", 191lbs).  Clearly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for long and lean defensive backs since the 2009 front office and coaching staff changes.

Which brings us back to the 2011 draft.  The player regarded by some ranking services as the 3rd best cornerback in this years draft is Jimmy Smith (6'2", 211lbs) from the University of Colorado.  Smith appears to fit the mold of the tall, lean defensive back the Buccaneers have been hoarding for the past couple seasons.  He is also a fifth year senior which could mean he is well seasoned for the NFL game. This would also put a high-caliber talent on the field across from Aqib Talib, giving the Buccaneers the physical edge presence making the Tampa-2 even more devastating for opposing quarterbacks.

The Buccaneers have done well the past two seasons getting a good balance of talent spread across the roster.  On draft day, they may find they have a chance to get another solid defensive back, and you can never have enough top-flight corners in the NFL.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Curveball at #20: Running Back

The upcoming draft is well known to be deep at defensive end.  Those who only give Tampa Bay's Draft "needs" an occasional glance may rubber stamp a defensive end pick at #20 in the first round of this year's 2011 NFL draft.  We already know the difference between a fantasy evaluation and a reality evaluation of the Buccaneer's need at defensive end.

What those "glancers" are overlooking is, by some accounts, possibly seven defensive ends could already be gone by the time the Buccaneers make their first selection.

This means the Buccaneers have a chance to be a "surprise" pick this year.  And there is good reason for that surprise to be a running back.

It's not much of a stretch, either.  Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham have more gas in the tank but are getting up there in terms of mileage.  Legarrette Blount ran for more yards than any other rookie in 2010, but he was signed to a practice squad contract, meaning Blount will probably be on the free agent market this offseason once the players and owners kiss and make up.  Other youth at the position includes the intriguing Kareem Huggins (sidelined by a knee injury last season) and Kregg Lumpkin, another one of General Manager Mark Dominik's practice squad steals committed in 2010.  The last of the six running backs listed on the Buccaneers current roster is Rendrick Taylor, who is possibly a fullback.

Most draft boards have either one or zero running backs getting drafted in the first round in 2011.  The top of the list of available running backs is Mark Ingram from the University of Alabama.  Ingram was the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner.  An early-entry college junior, Ingram has nonetheless scored more rushing touchdowns than anyone in the history of Alabama football.  He is listed at 5'9", 215 pounds.   If Ingram falls to the twentieth pick, which I think is very unlikely, the Buccaneers would have a very serious value pick staring them in the face.

The other interesting possibility for Tampa Bay should Ingram be gone is Mikel Leshoure out of the University of Illinois and also an early-entry Junior.  Leshoure is bigger than Ingram at 6'0" and 227 pounds.  His 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine was also better than Ingrams.  Generally, he is considered a second round pick, projected to go anywhere from around 35 to 55.  If the Buccaneers are interested in one of the two best running backs this year, they will probably not be able to wait until the second round, which makes Leshoure an interesting consideration if Ingram is off the board.

The strong work by the Buccaneers' front office and scouts have put them in a strong position to get a high quality player in the first round without having to position hunt.  Running back might be just the right spot.