Bucs Choose A Cadillac

After failing to nab Utah's Alex Smith in a deal, Bucs go for Auburn running back

By Jeff Berlinicke According to Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, everything went according to plan.

The Bucs addressed serious offensive needs, but didn't ignore the defense, taking one of the nation's top running backs with the No. 5 pick, a solid linebacker in the second round, and a tight end and offensive tackle in the third.

After trying to trade up for a chance at Utah quarterback Alex Smith, taken with the first overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins foiled the Bucs hopes to draft running back Ronnie Brown with the second pick. Cadillac Williams dropped into the Bucs laps at No. 5 after Gruden decided he needed a running back more than a wide receiver. Gruden was upset by Michael Pittman's inability to hold onto the football last season, and will likely go permanently to a two-back offense with Williams, Pittman and Mike Alstott sharing the lead roles.

With their second round pick, the Bucs reached for Nebraska linebacker Barrett Ruud who some thought might go in the first round. Ruud raises some eyebrows. Gruden wanted to upgrade his defense, and the Bucs are solid at linebacker. That could mean the potential for a salary cap move involving Derrick Brooks or Simeon Rice.

Next, the Bucs drafted another Alex Smith, this one a tight end from Stanford who isn't known for his blocking ability, but may give the Bucs their best receiving tight end since the Jimmy Giles days. Smith can also play fullback and will allow the Bucs to stretch the field, especially as a third receiver after the free agency loss of Joe Jurevicius.

With the final pick of the first day, the Bucs finally went after an offensive lineman with Chris Colmer out of North Carolina State. Colmer is a monster that plays left tackle and can guard quarterback Brian Griese's back. Gruden said the pick would allow them to move Anthony Davis inside to guard.

"We had four players in the first day that we are very excited about,'' Gruden said. "They are great guys that are very competitive people that will come in right away and compete. We need that.''

Williams was the main ball carrier for the undefeated Auburn team last season, but wasn't even the highest Auburn back taken in the draft. Ronnie Borwn, who some saw falling to the Bucs, went to the Miami Dolphins at No. 2. He's a physical back who can take the pounding and, while he doesn't have Brown's speed, he has breakaway ability and good hands.

Ruud lacks size, but can pressure the quarterback and stuff the run. At Nebraska, he had to learn four offensive schemes in four years and ended up as the school's all-time leading tackler.

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