THE OPTIMIST: We All Need Some ShadesMay 13th, 2011
THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.
THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.
Ahh, the draft has been over a little while, but The Optimist is still a happy camper; the Bucs stocked up on great talent, and they did it the old fashioned way — without free agency.
So why is The Optimist beaming with sunshine? Why is The Optimist talking about himself in the third person like Joe does? That one I cannot answer, I don’t know. Call it the mood.
But the draft question I can answer, because I’m excited the Bucs are using that April New York NFL get-together once again like they used to; to build the foundation of a winning football team.
Oh the years gone by when we picked John Lynch (’93), Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks (’95), Mike Alstott (’96), Donnie Abraham (’96), Ronde Barber (’98), etc. For the last decade, the draft has been somewhat of a non-event around these parts.
The front office would make its seven picks, and you could line them up and describe them in order like this: Picks Nos. 1 and 2 should make the team, Nos. 3 & 4 have a 50/50 chance of being a starter in three years, and the rest were just names not really worth reading the bios on because you just knew you’d never see them after preseason.
Wow, how that has changed since Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik have taken over the job!
How much so? Well, lets take a look, and to be fair, lets take out this year’s 2011 draft because we have NO IDEA how these players are going to turn out.
We DO know what last years class did, and the year before, so we can compare it to the damper that was called the NFL draft put on by Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen.
You can start with the NO.1′s, which is really not even fair, because the picking of Josh Freeman makes the 2006, 2007, and 2008 top round picks worthless by comparison. Oh sure, Gruden got us Aqib Talib; and how typical. He may be gone in four years like the rest of Gru-Allen’s selections!
But while Davin Joseph (2006 No.1) will probably be re-signed and continue as a Pro Bowl-level guard for the team, the second & third round picks Jeremy Trueblood and Maurice Stovall are all but history; replaceable.
Jump to 2008, where the pride of Gru-Allen, Mr. Cab Slapper himself, is looking at a possible prison sentence as a worse case scenario, and getting kicked off the team as a sort of win-win situation. Third-rounder Jeremy Zuttah has more upside than all the G-A Picks of the last four years combined.
The fact that only four players are even on the roster left from a draft that occurred only three years ago is so telling. After three seasons is when you should be relying on these guys to make the nucleus of your team. Instead, 3rd, 4th and beyond selections like Cory Boyd, Dre Moore, Alan Zemitis, Julian Jenkins, TJ Williams, Justin Phinisee, and the unforgettable Tim Massaquoiare are nothing more than Internet trivia.
On the contrary, Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik have brought the lost art of late-round drafting back en vogue.
Players like Roy Miller, EJ Biggers, Sammie Stroughter show how the new Bucs front office gurus know how to pick talent that can contribute. More names like Arrelious Benn, Myron Lewis, Mike Williams, Cody Grimm and Dekoda Watson are only going into their second seasons, but they are already on the cusp of being NFL starters ready to make a mark in the league.
That’s a far cry from the disaster draft that was 2007, two years before the Bucs 3-13 season that everyone wanted to pin on Raheem Morris.
But that’s not as bad as others who are nowhere even near a Buccaneer nor NFL roster of any kind for that matter; Gaines Adams and Arron Sears. Both surrounded by tragedies to be sure, but still, those are No. 1 and No. 2 picks, and it’s only four years later, and they are not even in the NFL anymore.
No Mel Kiper or even Nostrodamus could have foretold their futures, but it just summarizes how terrible the former regime drafted around here, and further explains to those who couldn’t figure out why the Bucs havn’t won a playoff game in almost a decade.
Heck, with that lack of talent around here, maybe Jon Gruden deserves some
extra credit for posting NFC South division championships in 2005 and 2007. But all the accolades now go to Raheem and Mark Dominik. Who knows, maybe in a few years their first couple of drafts may look even better than Tony Dungy’s.
Wouldn’t that be something; Jon Gruden’s prognostication couldn’t be more accurate — “The futures so bright, you gotta wear shades.”(News conference-2006)
I’ve got my Ray Bans on, Jon.