The leaked report of Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson's marijuana use is a perfect example of the head games league general managers play this time of year. Johnson's disclosure came during a private interview with the NFL team at the combine — an interview that can be viewed by all 32 teams but is supposed to be confidential. That means a league GM leaked the report to the press, and it was likely a team that is drafting below Tampa Bay at No. 4. The information is an attempt to damage Johnson's draft stock and possibly scare off teams thinking about taking him.
It probably won't help. As one Bucs beat writer told me today, "This isn't going to hurt him (Johnson) one bit." In fact, some NFL teams see such admissions as a sign of maturity.
Jon Scott of Scout.com reported Thursday that New Mexico linebacker Quincy Black had a good visit while in Tampa Bay recently. Black told Scott that he met linebacker Derrick Brooks, sat in on a meeting with Brooks and watched as the All-Pro took notes and asked questions.
Black is considered a late first-day, early second-day prospect. Scout.com has him ranked as the No. 14 outside linebacker in the draft. At 6-1 ½, 240 pounds, he's big enough to play any of the three positions for the Bucs. He also has surprising 40 speed for his size — 4.52.
Black has also drawn interest from San Francisco, Cincinnati, Carolina, St. Louis, Chicago, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Kansas City. He seems like a high-character kid who can be an immediate special teams contributor, if he makes the roster.
The rumors about a possible deal between the Lions and the Bucs to flip-flop picks is officially in overdrive. Earlier in the week profootballtalk.com reported a trade that would send Bucs DE Simeon Rice to Detroit for the right to flip-flop picks, putting the Bucs at No. 2 and allowing them — if he's available — to draft Johnson. As I said on the message board earlier this week, and I think that's a hollow rumor and a foolish trade for the Bucs. PFT took its posting down four hours later.
Another rumor has a bit more bite, and that would have the Bucs sending their original second (35th overall) and third-round (68th overall) picks to Detroit to move up to No. 2. That's based on the NFL's value formula for draft choices. That would leave the Bucs with Johnson and the Colts' second-round choice (64th overall) from the McFarland trade.
This would concern me for two reasons. First, that leaves the Bucs just one other first-day pick to address their plethora of defensive concerns (DE, DT, LB, S). Second, I still believe there's a chance Johnson will fall to the Bucs at No. 4 anyway, though it's obvious now that the Bucs aren't worried about the Lions at No. 2. They're worried about the Browns at No. 3 taking Johnson to pair with WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. I still believe the best thing the Bucs can do is wait to see if Johnson drops to No. 4, and if he's not there then select a defender.
I think this is a big season for RB Cadillac Williams. His production was sliced in half last year by an inefficient line and foot injuries. But Williams also ran without confidence, boiling down to his line and how head coach Jon Gruden used him. The electricity in his running in 2005 was gone.
One of the things elite running backs are able to do is take nothing and turn it into something. I've not seen that from Williams in some time. The Auburn product doesn't need to be a scat-back or put his hips on a swivel like Barry Sanders. But he needs to be better able to turn average, or even below-average blocking, into positive production. The great ones — even the one-cut runners — can do that, and Williams won't be a great one until he shows he can do that consistently.