The Buccaneers are nearly a week away from being on the clock. Who will they select? Bucsblitz.com may not know that, but it does know which players the Bucs have met with and worked out privately. Get that information, plus find out how, according to Scout.com's Adam Caplan, you can detect a team's intentions on draft day by looking at the volume of visits and workouts at a particular position. Click here to access this exclusive feature.
Fifth round — No. 147 overall
Why?: I suppose this selection does require explanation. As you'll see as my mock draft unfolds this week, I'm choosing to address certain positions and will likely bypass the defensive end position. Is this smart? You can debate the merits of such a strategy, but the Bucs did manage 32 sacks last year and return most of that unit. I expect both Gaines Adams and Greg White to be better in their second full years in the NFL. They still need help at the position, but I don't believe the Bucs will address that need early.
That leads me to Blake. No player dropped further off the map in 2007 than he did. He was expected to be an all-America selection in 2007 after a seven-sack season in 2006. Some saw him as a potential first-round pick. But he skipped offseason workouts and actually disappeared for personal reasons at one point and his draft stock plummeted. He also gained way too much weight to be an effective pass rusher and it showed at the East-West Shrine game. The Bucs have not hosted Blake for a visit, nor shown any public interest. But players like this intrigue Bucs GM Bruce Allen and I'm certain they've done their research on Blake and his off-the-field issues.
Since then Blake has trimmed himself back down to 272 pounds and had a productive pro day, running a 4.78 40, on par with some of the best ends in the draft. He won't be a high pick, but he does appear to have rehabbed his on-field stock. He's spent the past two months repairing his off-the-field stock, too, as he admitted that he was treated for depression and social anxiety. Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Narwocki recently wrote that NFL teams look at a player's medical concerns first, and that in some cases it can tie into character. Narwocki made that allusion to Blake and most NFL teams will be concerned. He said that most NFL teams start looking at drafting talent with serious flaws in the fourth round.
Now, when Blake is on, he's on. Look no further than a video on Youtube.com of Blake running down a UNLV running back 30 yards down the field. Blake started his rush, was sealed off outside by his blocker and saw the ball carrier fly through his gap. He then changed direction, gave chase and flat ran him down, outrunning his own defensive backs. Even with his issues, he still had the burst and quickness to defeat blocks, scouts say.
The Bucs could put Blake on the left side opposite Adams and, if Blake has it together, they could become a pretty devastating tandem. Now, understand — there are HUGE risks attached to taking Blake in the fifth round, or any round for that matter. But the Bucs have done a solid job with reclamation projects recently and do a good job of choosing the right fits for their locker room. At this stage of the draft, few ends have Blake's upside and, to me, he's worth the gamble.
Alternate theory: This would be Tampa Bay's last pick, so watch for them to take a player that could be selected in the sixth or seventh round, if it's a player they feel has no chance of emerging from the draft as a potential free agent. One name that comes to mind is USC G Drew Radovich, who has also played tackle and could be excellent depth for the offensive line.
And don't forget to stop by on Tuesday for my fourth-round selection
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.