Bucs’ Prime Draft-Day Targets

April 23rd, 2009

NFL Draft guru Justin Pawlowski does his best here to expose the Bucs’ war room.

What exactly did The Dream put in that early letter to the North Pole?

Pawlowski, who on Friday at 3 p.m. will fill in for Steve Duemig on 620 WDAE-AM, The Sports Animal, analyzes the Bucs’ top-10 first round targets and handicaps the odds of the Bucs picking them. (Tomorrow, he breaks down the Bucs’ priorities in the 2009 draft).


By Justin Pawlowski

Everette Brown – DE – FSU

Brown is considered one of the premier pass rushers in this draft.  With the Bucs in dire need of help for one of the NFL-worst pass rushing units, expect Brown to be high on the Bucs board.  Brown made his living behind the offenses line of scrimmage while at Florida State.  He ended 2008 with 21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.  Those 13.5 sacks would have been almost half of the 29 sacks the Bucs had in all of 2008.  Taking that into account and the fact that Jim Bates loves defensive ends that can get up the field and after the quarterback, one would assume that Brown would be a welcomed addition to the Bucs.  If you are concerned about Brown’s lack of size, let us remember how Jim Bates turned Elvis Dumervill (5’11’’ 260 lbs) into a sack master in 2007 when he had 12.5 sacks.

Odds of becoming a Buccaneer:  The main question with Brown is whether or not he’ll be available to the Bucs at No. 19.  Some teams that run a 3-4 defense don’t consider him athletic enough to back into coverage on a consistent basis, while some 4-3 teams don’t consider him big enough to play end.  Since Jim Bates has had success with undersized defensive ends, I’d say that the odds that Brown becomes a Buccaneer remain solely on if he’s available, and I give the Bucs a 15% of drafting him.

 Larry English – DE – Northern Illinois

English’s stock has been in constant flux over the past month and a half.  I’ve seen English falling as low as midway thru the 2nd round, and just today, I saw that Mike Mayock of the NFL Network called English the top pass rusher in the draft.  In addition, Don Banks of SI.com has said that there is the distinct possibility that English could go within the top 10 picks.  English has a full slate of moves when getting to the quarterback, and he is the type of player that can step in right away and contribute.  Although slightly undersized, English {+++}is best suited as a pass rusher and won’t bring much in coverage.  This might affect him to going to a 3-4 defensive team which uses their outside linebackers as rushers and in coverage.

Odds of becoming a Buccaneer:  I’ve asked English myself who the top teams have been in terms of interest in him, and his first response was the Bucs.  Sure, the Bucs did not bring him to One Buc Place for a visit, but they met with him at both the senior bowl and the combine, and the Bucs have been in constant contact with him throughout the entire process.  I think there’s a 30% chance English becomes a Buccaneer. 

Vontae Davis – CB – Illinois

The more I look into Davis the more I see a comparison to the Bucs 1st round pick last year, Aqib Talib.  Davis is considered by many to be the top cover corner in this draft.  His physical attributes can be compared to very few in this draft.  While his physical attributes compares to Talib, it’s their attitudes that might be even more similar.  Davis, like Talib, can be very arrogant on the field, and tends to read his own press clippings.  By the way, Davis excels in man coverage which is essential in Jim Bates defense.

Odds of becoming a Buccaneer:  The first thing we should remember is that Raheem “The Dream’s” first love is in the defensive backfield.  Although the Bucs just drafted Talib last year, they still need someone opposite of him since Ronde Barber is getting old and doesn’t fit well in man coverage.  I give the Bucs a 15% chance of drafting Davis. 

Clay Matthews – OLB – USC

You gotta love the bloodlines in the Matthews family.  Anytime your father is Clay Matthews Sr. and your uncle is Bruce Matthews, you know you’ve got good genes running through you.  Although Brian Cushing might be more NFL ready and a better all-around prospect, I believe Matthews has more potential, room to grow, and is a much more durable player.  The Bucs have had a tough time with their linebackers blitzing and getting to the quarterback.  Matthews is very tough, does an excellent job at shedding blocker, has an incomparable work ethic, and can be a big contributor on special teams.

Odds of becoming a Buccaneer:  If Raheem “The Dream” was true about wanting to make the Buccaneers a tougher and more durable team, then there has to be a good chance that Matthews Jr. is under strong consideration.  Sure, the Bucs have young linebackers that haven’t gotten a chance like Quincy Black, Adam Heyward, and Geno Hayes, but Matthews would be an upgrade over all of them including a transitioning Jermaine Phillips.  It’s because of this that I think there is a 20% chance the Bucs select Matthews. 

Michael Johnson – DE – Georgia Tech

If you like inconsistency and underachieving then you’ll like Johnson.  In person, Johnson looks the part of the next big thing at defensive end.  He is a physical freak who stands 6’7’’ and weighs 266 lbs without a bit of fat on him.  He tests extremely well and ran his 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds.  The problem with Johnson is that he does not dominate the way you’d expect him to with his combination of size and speed.  Could he get better with proper coaching?  Absolutely.  We all can.  However, it would be a risk, much like drafting Gaines Adams with the 4th overall pick.  Would you do that again?

Odds of becoming a Buccaneer:  Two years ago the Bucs selected Gaines Adams with the 4th pick in the draft.  It was at that time that many people said it would take a few years for him to develop into the he was going to be because he needed better coaching to get the most out of his skill set.  Many fans have not been willing to give him that time.  If that was the case with him, why would the fans want to go through that again with Johnson?  However, Johnson’s presence of size and speed can make coaches drool, and if Jim Bates and Raheem “The Dream” feel they can get him to become dominant, they might be willing to take that risk.  I’m giving Johnson a 10% chance of becoming a Buccaneer. 

Other Possibilities:

I made sure to leave 10% for other players in this draft because of how hard it is to predict.  That means that I believe there is a 10% chance that the Bucs choose a player that isn’t listed above.  Could that player be one of these guys?

Percy Harvin – WR – Florida:  Recent character issues will drop him, but don’t underestimate his playmaking ability.

Ron Brace – DT – Boston College:  He might be a reach, but Brace fits Jim Bates scheme and played for Jeff Jagodzinski the last few seasons at Boston College.

Darrius Heyward-Bey – WR – Maryland:  Heyward-Bey is a big play threat with inconsistent hands, but Jeff Jagodzinski got a first hand view of him in the ACC.

Josh Freeman – QB – Kansas St.:  This strong armed quarterback is the definition of boom or bust.

Peria Jerry – DT – Ole Miss:  Jerry is considered an undersized defensive tackle, but has the frame to put on more weight.

Comments are closed.