What do you get for the team that needs everything? Hopefully, at least two impact players in the second and third rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft.
That's the sort of draft the Bucs need to have in order to continue to improve as a team. With the No. 35 and No. 42 overall selections in the second round, they can't afford to miss – or reach. Or do you want to have a conversation with the Bucs about WR Dexter Jackson, their second round pick in 2008? They can't all work out as well as LB Barrett Ruud.
It is entirely possible the Bucs can procure two players with first round talent with these picks. So, where do they go?
The Bucs are in need of just about everything, but most notably they need wide receivers, potential depth at offensive line, pass rushers and safeties. You want to get the best player on the board, but you also want the best fit. If you look at Scout.com's overall rankings – and I have – the lineup at No. 35 is intriguing.
First, there's RB Javhid Best from Cal, considered one of the draft's fastest players. Sure, the Bucs have plenty of RBs. But they don't have anyone with his game-breaking speed. But they won't get their hands on Best. He was selected in the first round by the Lions.
Next, there's WR Arrelious Benn of Illinois, a player many scouts are divided about. There is also an outstanding linebacker in Sergio Kindle. Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas is also ranked in that area, but he was selected in the first round on Thursday.
Now, that doesn't mean much, because you have 32 teams that will draft and each has its own way of ranking players. That's where mock drafts can help. They're not completely reliable, but they can be a barometer of a player's value to other teams.
For instance, in my mind Kindle should have been a first-round pick. But no one took him. I thought he would be great value late in the first round. Apparently 32 teams didn't agree with me. Kindle wasn't on my second-round board for the Bucs when I started it earlier this week. Now, he is.
There are some things to keep in mind as the Bucs contemplate these second- and third-round selections. First, is the future of QB Josh Freeman. Right now his top two wide receiver targets are Maurice Stovall, who I'm not convinced is ever going to be more than a No. 3 wide receiver, and Sammie Stroughter, a solid rookie a year ago who overachieved, considering he was a seventh-round pick. Michael Clayton isn't even worth thinking about anymore.
Second is that, while the offensive line has been together for two years, the contracts of RT Jeremy Trueblood and LT Donald Penn will be coming up soon, whether there's a new CBA agreement, a lockout in 2011, or whatever. Do the Bucs have enough to guarantee continuity and protection for its new franchise QB?
Third, Ronde Barber isn't getting any younger. Yes, Aqib Talib has had two strong seasons, but there is no one to make the opposite side. Barber may be one final season from retirement, especially if there is a work stoppage of some kind next year. There is a pressing need for the Bucs to find his replacement.
Finally, the Bucs sacked the quarterback 28 times last year. That's just awful. And their sack leaders were a pair of veteran journeymen – Stylez G. White and Jimmy Wilkerson. There is no semblance of youth in the pass rush right now and the Bucs desperately need it.
There are only three picks on Friday. Where do you go?
To me, the Bucs need wide receivers and pass rushers above all else. Remember – they have the 35th and 42nd pick in the draft, so they can afford to roll the dice a bit on one of their targeted players falling a few picks, if it means addressing these two most pressing needs.
Some see the 5-foot-11 Golden Tate of Notre Dame as the top-ranked receiver at the moment. But the Bucs tried their hand with a short receiver two years ago in Dexter Jackson, and that didn't work out well. Tate's probably more talented, though.
The guy I wanted here was Thomas because of his size. But now that he's off the board, I'm rethinking take a receiver at No. 35. That was my intent earlier this week. But now I think the Bucs must wait until at least No. 42.
Instead, the Bucs should take Southern Cal DE Everson Griffen, who is 6-foot-3, 273 pounds. It's time for the Bucs to start filling out the pass rusn.
They won't ignore receiver at No. 42. They just can't. If he's still on the board, I'll take Tate. If not, I'll take Illinois' Arellious Benn. He has a solid blend of size and speed and good hands.
In the third round the Bucs have the No. 67 pick. I'm more inclined to take the best player available here. According to Scout.com, the No. 67 ranked player on the board is Florida S Major Wright, who could be a nice addition on special teams and push Sabby Piscitelli immediately.
However, I'm going to address the offensive line and take Hillsdale College's Jared Veldheer, a 6-foot-8, 315 pound behemoth who can replace Trueblood if he decides to bolt anytime soon. Rob Rang, a former NFL scout, considers him an unpolished diamond in this draft.
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