Honing In On The Bucs’ Draft Priorities

February 22nd, 2011

Draft guru Justin Pawlowski says the Bucs must find the LeGarrette Blount of the defense.

WDAE-AM 620 draft guru and lifelong Bucs fan Justin Pawlowski, aka The Commish, checks in with a look at five of the Bucs’ needs as they approach the 2011 draft. All of Pawlowski’s exclusive draft stuff for JoeBucsFan.com is archived here. And don’t forget his draft rumors/buzz page at 620wdae.com.


Attack the Opposing Quarterback: There is no secret here. It isn’t about a defensive end or a linebacker. The Bucs’ biggest need is anyone that can come close to an opposing quarterback. The Bucs ended 2010 with just 26 sacks, which tied them next to last in the entire NFL with Jacksonville. This isn’t about just having a guy to get numbers, either. The Bucs need a closer on defense. With the lead in the fourth quarter, the Bucs need a defensive lineman or a linebacker to get the sack that ends the game. In my opinion, each one of the Bucs linebackers can be upgraded and the same can be said for each defensive end. This is why so many people point to those two positions as the biggest positions of need for the Bucs. It’s much deeper than just a position. The Bucs don’t need a defensive end that holds his own and plays the run well. The Bucs need a guy who will get to and attack the opposing quarterback. This was my main reason for giving the Bucs a player like Aldon Smith in my first mock draft. As we near the draft, I will comprise a list of players that fit this need.

Speed on Offense: In 2010, the Bucs found who they can rely on at a regular basis. They’ve got a franchise quarterback, a feature running back, and a go-to receiver. The Bucs might be at the point where they have the luxury of taking a receiver or running back with speed just because they can. I think the one ingredient missing in the Bucs offense is a player who is a threat to score at any yard on the field. At WR, the Bucs have Mike Williams, an injured Arrelious Benn, and Dezmon Briscoe; All are similar receivers with size and good receiving ability. A speed threat would open up things underneath for these guys. At RB, the Bucs had Cadillac Williams (free agent) and Kareem Huggins (injured with slow rehab). The Bucs might want to look into a younger, healthier version of Cadillac Williams in the middle rounds.

Intimidation at Linebacker: Other than defensive end, I don’t think there’s a position on the Bucs where each player could be upgraded as easy as the Bucs linebacker corps could be. Since I pointed out Barrett Ruud’s flaws three years ago, many people have jumped on an anti-Ruud bandwagon and his play has deteriorated the past couple seasons. The two outside linebackers, Geno Hayes and Quincy Black, are about as average as you can get at that position. Linebacker is probably the most intimidating position on any football team, and the Bucs weren’t intimidating, and haven’t been intimidating for a while. Raheem Morris said last offseason that he wanted his team have a physical presence. Well, I can’t imagine that he envisioned his linebackers looking the way the Bucs linebackers have looked the past two seasons. As much as LeGarrette Blount brought attitude to the Bucs offense last year, the Bucs need that attitude on the defensive side of the ball. Who will be the Bucs’ “Blount” on defense?

Depth at Tight End: Jerramy Stevens was released during last season and John Gilmore is a free agent in a couple of weeks. This will leave the Bucs with Kellen Winslow and Ryan Purvis at tight end. As much as I like Purvis, Winslow’s health will always be a concern and a reason the Bucs should add depth to this position. I’m not sure the Bucs need to invest a 1st or 2nd round pick in a tight end, especially with the money already invested in the position, but a mid-round pick wouldn’t be a bad idea.

A Lead Blocker for Blount: Throughout last season, I expressed my desire for the Bucs to go out this off-season and get LeGarrette Blount a lead blocker. I can’t imagine how good Blount could be with a fullback that could pave the way for him. I know that Eric Lorig is a possibility, and if the Bucs decide to go all-in with Lorig, I’d understand. However, if not, there are a couple of fullbacks in this draft that might look very good in pewter and red. A couple names to keep an eye on are Pitt’s Henry Hynoski and Stanford’s Owen Marecic in the 4th or 5th round.

8 Responses to “Honing In On The Bucs’ Draft Priorities”

  1. Capt.Tim Says:

    Thank you Justin- another spot on article- I’m really impressed, you are restoring my faith in local sports media! Lol
    The only point I’d say I mildly disagree on is Ruud. But I do agree his play fell off a bit last year. From what I’ve seen, he often looks bad, because he’s covering for Hayes or Black- who are the softest combo I’ve ever seen play LB! Thanks for bringing to light their inadequate play. Everytime I bring up how bad they played, you’d think I slapped the Pope!
    I share your opinion about this draft. It is a success if we get a premiere DE and 2 (3?) upgrades at LB. Rumor has it that Robert Quinn may fall out of the top ten. If so, I expect we try and trade up. Unlike the last two years, I’m fine with giving up picks to get our guy. A pass rushing DE, in my opinion, is the last missing key piece
    Like most people, I think you have to have talent at the following positions – QB,WR,LT,DE, and CB. Luckily, we have all but that DE that strikes fear in a QB’s heart.
    Still think some of our DEs may “bloom” this year. Don’t know why, but something about Alex McGee just looked like he might develop into a pass rusher- meybe at LE

  2. BamBamBuc Says:


    DID you slap the pope?

    Actually, I’m of a different mind set here. I can agree on Black, I haven’t seen enough positive from him to think there’s anything worth keeping him out there. Ruud, I can go either way. If he stays, I’m fine, if he goes, I’m fine. However, instead of having a “feeling” that a DE will “bloom” this year, I really think Geno Hayes will “bloom” this year. I know he’s a small LB, but he’s flashed a LOT. I think he’s just beginning to “get it”. Two DE’s to rush the passer, and a solid SLB and I think we’d see huge progress next year.

  3. DeViLFisH Says:

    Im all for Marecic. Guy is a beast who played both sides of the ball. Very inteligent and a leader of men.

  4. MOBucs Says:

    I’m all for drafting Aldon Smith if he falls to us. If not I say we take Justin Houston. I heard the knock on him is his lack of brainpower. If his job is to sack the QB, that seems simple enough to understand. He also has the size to play DE or LB for us.

  5. BigMacAttack Says:

    Great Pic Joe. That is just awesome every time I see it. Blount needs a Cape.

  6. Rob Says:

    No doubt the line backing corps has to be the biggest priority after the DE position. How about the safety position. We dont know if Cody will be healthy and who else do we really have? Depth at OL could be a big concern if both Joseph and Trueblood are playing elsewhere next season.

  7. BurGi Says:

    I’ve them taking Marecic in rnd. 5. I just hope he’s still available by then!

    I love it that you pointed him out! Keep up the excellent coverage!

  8. Pete Dutcher Says:

    wow, Justin!

    You just covered the same points I have the last few days (mostly)! Great minds think alike!