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2012 NFL Draft Countdown

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Buccaneer Draft Analysis: Core Offense

We continue our draft breakdown by looking next at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers young core on offense.  The "young core" is the group of players with five or fewer years of experience -- that is, the players who are close to their second contract.  These are the players who will be counted on to carry the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the playoffs for the next four to six years.

The offensive group below is composed of all players with 5 or fewer years of NFL experience from the Buccaneers current roster (as of 1/30/2012).  In addition, I have added the practice squad players who have already been offered contracts for next season.

2012 Young Core Offense

QB: Johnson, Josh (4th year); Freeman, Josh (3); Carpenter, Rudy (3); Ratliff, Jeff (3)
RB: Lumpkin, Kregg (3); Blount, LeGarrette (2); Madu, Mossis(0)
FB: Lorig, Erik (2)
WR: Spurlock, Micheal (4); Stroughter, Sammie (3); Williams, Mike (2); Parker, Preston (2); Benn, Arrelious (2); Briscoe, Dezmon (1); Gant, Ed (1); Webber, Raymond (0, IR)
TE: Stocker, Luke (0); Pianalto, Zack (0); Franklin, Colin (0)
T: Lee, James (4); Dotson, Demar (3); Hardman, Derek (2); Ingersoll, Mike (0)
G: Zuttah, Jeremy (4); Larsen, Ted (2); Riley, Chris (0)

There is no heir apparent at Center on this chart, and clearly that's going to become important in the next couple years. Current starting center Jeff Faine is about to start his 10th NFL season in the middle of the trenches: can he keep going? At this point you have to prepare for the day he finishes.  Recently, Jeremy Zuttah has been filling the role.  Ted Larson also played center in college.  So while there may not be a designated Center in the young core, there are players available.

There are currently no fifth year players on this chart, which implies there are no significant offensive needs going into the 2012 draft.  That does not imply that the Buccaneers should not draft offensive players, just that there is no impending hole in the roster which needs a body.

If there was an area to pick, the young offensive line group has only 2 of 7 players who were drafted coming out of college.  This could be the year to add some draft-caliber talent to begin the development of capable replacements.  All the other offensive positions have at least one player who entered the NFL by draft pick, including fullback.

Will the new coach mean a change in direction for the mix in this group?  While the Shiano hiring is just days old, the Rutgers offensive depth chart shows a player distribution similar to the player distribution above, including the existence of a dedicated fullback position.  These young players will get every chance next year to solidify their place on the team.  

The result of this analysis is simple: I do not expect any specific positional targeting on the offensive side of the ball by the Buccaneers on draft weekend.

Next: The Young Core Defense

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

100 Days Out: The Defense

To start the offseason and run up to the 2012 NFL Draft we take a look at the current Defensive unit roster.  After finishing in the Top 10 in points allowed per game in 2010, the 2011 edition dropped to dead last in the league giving up a ludicrous 30.9 points per game to the opposition.  The collapse of the team at the end of the season resulted in opponents scoring more than 40 points in three of the last four games of the year and the defensive squad finishing 30th in total yards surrendered (394.4 yards per game).  Tampa Bay was dead last in the NFL against the run giving up 156.1 rushing yards per game.

Bold Italics - Drafted by Current GM Mark Dominik
Italics Only - Drafted by Prior GM Bruce Allen

Players not in bold or italics are free agent/waiver wire pickups.

DE(9):  Haye, Jovan(7); Crowder, Tim(5, IR); Bennett, Michael(3); Wilson, E.J.(2, IR); Te'o-Nesheim, Daniel(2); Reed, Nick(2); Johnson, George(1, IR); Clayborn, Adrian(0); Bowers, Da'Quan(0)
DT(6): Haynesworth, Albert(10); McCargo, John(6, IR); Okam, Frank(4); Miller, Roy(3); Price, Brian(2); McCoy, Gerald(2, IR); 
OLB(4): Black, Quincy(5); Hayes, Geno(4); Watson, Dekoda(2); Cutrera, Jacob(2, IR)
MLB(2): Hayward, Adam(5); Foster, Mason(0)
SS(5): Jones, Sean(8); Lynch, Corey(4); Jackson, Tanard(4); Grimm, Cody(2, IR); Asante, Larry(1)
CB(8): Talib, Aqib(4, IR); Mack, Elbert(4); Biggers, E.J.(3); Lewis, Myron(2); Barber, Ronde(15); Holland, Devin(0, IR); Gaitor, Anthony(0); Black, Ahmad(0)
K(1): Barth, Connor(4)

S Sean Jones (76 tackles, 16 assists) and CB Ronde Barber (67 tackes, 12 assists) were he two leading tacklers in 2011.  LB Mason Foster led all NFL rookies with 58 tackles and 26 assists to finish third on the team, and EJ Biggers (55 tackles, 6 assists) and Quincy Black (48 tackles, 11 assists) round out the top five.  Note that three of the top five tacklers were defensive backs -- not a good sign.

During the 2011 season, the following players recorded sacks:
DE Clayborn (7.5 sacks)
DE Bennett (4.0)
DT Price (3.0)
LB Foster (2.0)
DE Bowers (1.5)
CB Barber (1)
S Jones (1)

Clayborn also led the team in fumble recoveries with three (out of 13 total for the team).

The defensive backfield was let by Ronde Barber with three interceptions (of 14 team wide).

100 Days Out: The Offense

To start the offseason and run up to the 2012 NFL Draft we take a look at the current Offensive unit roster.  After finishing in the Top 10 in rushing yards per game in 2010, the 2011 edition dropped to 30th in the league at less than 92 yards per game.  The passing game hit the midpoint of the league at 16th, however, the team scoring average was a dismal 27th at 17.9 points per game.

Bold Italics - Drafted by Current GM Mark Dominik
Italics Only - Drafted by Prior GM Bruce Allen

Players not in bold or italics are free agent/waiver wire pickups.

QB(3): Johnson, Josh(4); Freeman, Josh(3); Carpenter, Rudy(3)
RB(4): Graham, Earnest(8, IR); Lumpkin, Kregg(3); Blount, LeGarrette(2); Madu, Mossis(0)
FB(1): Lorig, Erik(2)
WR(7): Spurlock, Micheal(4); Stroughter, Sammie(3); Williams, Mike(2); Parker, Preston(2); Benn, Arrelious(2); Briscoe, Dezmon(1); Webber, Raymond(0, IR)
TE(3): Winslow, Kellen(8); Stocker, Luke(0); Pianalto, Zack(0)
T(5): Trueblood, Jeremy(6); Penn, Donald(6); Lee, James(4); Dotson, Demar(3); Hardman, Derek(2)
G(3): Joseph, Davin(6); Zuttah, Jeremy(4); Larsen, Ted(2)
C(1): Faine, Jeff(9)
LS(1): Economos, Andrew(6)
P(1): Koenen, Michael(7)

LeGarrette Blount led in rushing at 781 total yards, a solid 4.2 yards per attempt.  The second leading rusher was QB Josh Freeman with 238 total yards, just ahead of Earnest Graham at 206 rushing yards on the season (Graham was put on IR after only 7 games in 2011).  Kregg Lumpkin got off to a rough start in place of Graham and finished with 105 rushing yards, but improved his yards/attempt to a season average 3.4 per carry and was trending up as the season closed.  Finally, free agent Mossis Madu carried 15 times for 55 yards, and Wildcat Josh Johnson carried 11 times for 67 yards.

Kellen Winslow led the team with 75 receptions, but Mike Williams quietly led the team in total yards with 771.  Preston Parker emerged as a threat gathering 13.9 yards per catch, but Arrelious Benn led the team with 14.7 yards per catch.  Running backs Kregg Lumpkin and Earnest Graham each caught more than 25 passes, and 2010 Practice Squad member Dezmon Briscoe emerged this season to gather 35 catches for 387 yards as well as score six touchdowns (which led the entire team).

Josh Freeman threw 551 times in 2011, completing around 62% of his passes for almost 3600 yards.  He was also intercepted 22 times and sacked 29 times.  Josh Johnson threw a mere 36 times, completing about 53% for 246 yards.