Q: I look at Gosder Cherlius being 6-foot-7 and 318 pounds, and I think he's another Jeremy Trueblood (6-8, 320), also a BC product. What makes Cherlius a first-round pick, and can he be the type of player that makes a rookie impact?
A: Cherilus' versatility makes him a good fit for the Bucs. Tampa has Trueblood at RT, along with Davin Joseph and Aaron Sears inside. The addition of Cherilus gives them a solid LT that can also play RT if needed. Drafting another offensive lineman isn't what the Bucs fans want to see, but they have to realize that they have the makings of one of the top young O-Lines in the NFL.
Q: That being said, the Bucs have the youngest offensive line in the NFL. Trueblood, Davin Joseph, Arron Sears and Donald Penn all have less than two years of NFL experience. They can't get much younger. So, where does Cherlius fit in? Who do you think he's most likely to supplant? Trueblood or Penn/Luke Petitgout on the left?
A: Like I said, his versatility gives the Bucs options. Injuries occur during the course of a year, and the Bucs lost Petitgout and Chris Denman this season. The selection of Cherilus will eventually supplant Petitgout on the left side. It isn't the selection fans want to see, but if the Bucs are selecting in the twenties, Cherilus may be their best option.
Q: Four picks later you have Pittsburgh selecting OT Jeff Otah, a hulking 6-foot-6, 340 pounds. Compare Otah to Cherlius and tell me why Cherlius is the better selection, because Otah sounds like a mountain of a man to me.
A: Cherilus is versatile and has better lateral movement than Otah. Otah is a massive tackle, but a bit slow. He has great power and delivers a strong punch, but Cherilus moves well with speedy defensive ends and knocks them off their rush. Cherilus is more polished. He's a four-year starter that has started 50 consecutive games. Otah is a former JUCO transfer, who has a lot of upside and demonstrates incredible potential at times, but Cherilus is a proven commodity.
Q: Along with DeSean Jackson (who you now have going No. 19 to Tennessee), you have Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly (No. 20), LSU's Early Doucet (No. 28) and Indiana's James Hardy (No. 29) as receivers going in the first round. Since you had Jackson going to the Bucs in the first round in your first two mock drafts, why not slide up Doucet or Hardy into that slot for the Bucs?
A: I think the value of a potential 10-12 year starter at offensive tackle outweighs any potential those receivers may have late in the first round. If you look at the demand for good offensive lineman in the NFL today, identifying quality lineman in the draft is vital to a team's success. I don't profess teams to draft O-Linemen high in the draft, but if you're drafting in the twenties and need a good lineman with potential, you have to select him.
Q: Any chance Jackson will drop to the Bucs?
A: Like I said, the draft order isn't set at this point, so it's hard to say where the Bucs will ultimately select. But if they stay at No. 22, I don't see Jackson falling to them.
Q: One area in which I believe the Bucs are in need of young depth is at cornerback. Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly aren't getting any younger. While Tanard Jackson could eventually slide into one of these spots, he's played so well at safety his rookie season I don't believe the Bucs will move him. The pick before the Bucs, at No. 21, you have Buffalo selecting Antoine Cason from Arizona. If he were to slide past Buffalo, would he make a good fit in Tampa's Cover 2 defense?
A: Yes, Cason would be a nice fit; actually a lot of these corners would fit nicely. I agree, the Bucs could look to add a young corner, but it all depends to what is sitting there when they make their selection. The only CB that I have being drafted after the Bucs pick in my latest mock is Oklahoma's Reggie Smith. Smith is a junior and can play safety or corner. I think if the Bucs look to draft a defensive back, they have to select a corner. And personally, I think Cason is the best fit for their defense.
Q: What about Oklahoma CB Reggie Smith at that spot? You have him falling to Dallas at No. 31. Would he be a reach for the Bucs at that No. 22 position?
A: He's a little bit of a reach, but like I previously stated, he's only a junior and I'm not sure if he will even declare. He's a very good player that has good size, but I'm not sure if he's a corner or a safety at the next level. He can play either position. He'd be an interesting selection for the Bucs, but like I said, if they draft a corner, Cason fits nicely.
Q: Any irony in the fact that you still have the Falcons taking Louisville QB Brian Brohm at No. 5 despite the departure of head coach Bobby Petrino? The rationale was always that Petrino coached Brohm at Louisville and could get the most out of him. But you still think Brohm's the pick. Why, especially with the situation there so uncertain?
A: The only thing that's certain in Atlanta is their need for a quarterback. I broke down Brohm and Matt Ryan in a recent Head 2 Head piece for Scout.com subscribers. Here's a link to the piece: http://profootballexperts.scout.com/2/711530.html. A lot of analysts say that Ryan is the better prospect, but I disagree. Brohm is just as poised and effective as Ryan. Actually, if you break both players down as I did, Brohm is more accurate and makes better decisions. Even though Petrino left Atlanta, the smart money for the Falcons lies with Brohm.
Q: Three quarterbacks in the Top 11? Are Brohm, BC's Matt Ryan and Kentucky's Andre Woodson really that good, or do those teams (Ryan to Baltimore at No. 8 and Woodson to Chicago at No. 11) just have enormous needs there?
A: Brohm, in my opinion, is the only QB worthy of a top-ten selection. The problem with the NFL is that there are many teams without consistent quarterback play. Baltimore has had a three-ring circus at QB this year and the same can be said about Chicago. Those teams may address their need for a QB during free agency or in a trade, but if they don't, drafting a QB is a realistic occurrence. I think Ryan and Woodson are over-hyped and will be over-drafted, but that's the reality of the league – teams need QB's. The second best QB in the draft behind Brohm is Colt Brennan. But he won't be a first round pick, because he comes from a run-and-gun system that scouts believe won't translate to the NFL.
Q: Finally, which player in your current Top 10 is most likely to drop into the latter half of the first round, Brady Quinn-style?
A: That's a tough one, because I think the players that I have listed in the top-ten of my current mock draft will be drafted in that area. But if we go outside of my top-ten by one selection, and look at the 11th pick - where I have the Bears taking Woodson – I think he may drop into the twenties. But at this time, it's too early to tell for sure.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.