Ah, feeling a bit less burned out and excited about the coming season. Re-upping our stud Defensive Player of the Year LB James Harrison will do that for ya I guess. Moving on in our draft - the #19 pick comes compliments of one of my favorite folks here at BTSC - Romain El 82. A good kid with a good heart, and rumor has it, one mighty fine skill set playing beer pong. That's what college is for, no? Joking aside, I highly encourage all of you to read his very, very impressive and heart felt post about what the Steelers mean to him, his family, and his sense of place and home as a young man. For all the amazing things written by all of y'all on this site over the years, this stacks right up there with all of them. And for a 21 year old dude searching for his place in the world, it was a most impressive display of emotion, writing acumen and story telling. Thanks as well to him for the selection. Next up? The Detroit Lions, who are making their second pick in the first round of this year's draft. Steelerark is on the clock, but please note steelerark - since you are a busy man and have already selected, please let me know if you have too much going on to make this pick. I have been contacted by one reader in particular who said he can help out if necessary. I can as well. Anyway, either way, let's try to make sure we get through pick 32, the Steelers pick, by the time the NFL convenes on Radio City Music Hall in New York City two weekends from now - Blitz-
This pick was definitely an interesting one, as I argued back-and-forth with my best friend (who happens to be a Bucs fan) over the weekend before finally making this pick. The signing of Byron Leftwich also threw a wrench into the decision-making process, so let's get down to it!
Even though Jon Gruden is gone from Tampa, the Bucs apparently still love to have QBs. Currently, Brian Griese, Byron Leftwich, Luke McCown, and Josh Johnson are on the roster, but besides Johnson- who has never thrown and NFL pass -there isn't a long-term solution on the roster. The front office was thrilled (in our draft at least) to see Sanchez fall as fall as he did...unfortunately be was taken one slot before the Bucs were on the clock. Freeman is regarded as the 3rd best QB in the draft; however, many believe he is a 2nd round prospect. If the Bucs truly believe he is their long sought-after answer at QB and are worried he will be taken before their next pick, he'll be selected.
Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss; Andre Smith, OT, Alabama (editors note: Andre Smith is off the board in the BTSC Mock Draft. The analysis still stands as a potential pick for the Bucs, but for the purposes of him being a candidate here in this slot in this mock, not so viable)
Coming into the draft, Andre Smith was talked about as the possible #1 pick; his stock has slowly crashed with a combination of weight issues, poor showings, and the rise of the other Smith. Oher, known for having a book published about him, was the stud Left Tackle at Ole Miss. Oher was a huge part of Ole Miss's upset of Florida this past season. Both tackles faced quality competition, coming out of the SEC. Tampa would love to get one of these stud Tackles to line up with their plethora of young Guards.
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida; Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
Antonio Bryant was a pleasant surprise this past season, and a welcome one at that. Even with former 1st round pick Michael Clayton, the receiving core could use another playmaker to help whatever QB lines up under Center out. Clayton has slowly faded into mediocrity since his amazing rookie year, and some on-again, off-again receivers in Kelly Campbell and the inconsistent Maurice Stovall. Harvin is a WR/RB hybrid, and some have questioned his past history of injuries. Bey is a physical freak who peaked at the correct time after having a strong showing at the combine. As with the Tackle position, the Bucs would love to add one of these players to the roster.
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State; Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
As with the WR spot, the Bucs have a few players but no stud. Carnell Williams, the former 1st-round pick out of Auburn, has been impressive but severely slowed by knee injuries. He suffered another (but less severe) knee injury this year. Ernest Graham has been productive in his absence, but is not starter-quality. Wells is a bruiser with surprising speed. Like Harvin, Wells has a history of injuries in college, but when he's 100% healthy, watch out. Moreno doesn't have crazy top-end speed, but hits the hole quickly, has great vision, and is a very shifty runner who gets in and out of his cuts quickly. Moreno also has pretty good hands for a RB, which is crucial for a ‘Back in the West Coast system.
Other Positional Needs:
After Ronde Barber (who is aging rapidly) and the up-and-coming Talib, there is little quality or depth.
Journeymen Chris Hovan and Ryan Simms lock down the DT spots. The Bucs would love to add the next Warren Sapp.
Though the need is not as pressing as others, more quality players are needed, especially with the shocking release of All-World LB Derrick Brooks.
Brian Cushing, LB, USC
Fooled ya, didn't we? Cushing is a big LB, standing in at 6-3, 243. Even though he ran a lackluster 4.7 in the forty yard dash, Cushing plays well in space and has excellent ball skills, both essential to the Cover-2 scheme the Bucs have run for ten years. The new Head Coach, Raheem Morris, was a DBs coach for the Bucs before being promoted (albeit briefly) to the Defensive Coordinator after long-time DC Monte Kiffin joined his son on the Tennessee Vols coaching staff. Morris was promoted to Head Coach mere weeks later, after the firing of Jon Gruden.
The Bucs could go many, many ways with this pick, but with a relatively deep Tackle class this year, combined with the lack of Tackles taken thus far and untouched RB class, the Bucs begin to rebuild their aging defense, hoping this LB is as good as their last one.
#1) Detroit Lions - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
#2) St. Louis Rams - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
#3) Kansas City Chiefs - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
#4) Seattle Seahawks - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
#5) Cleveland Browns - Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Texas
#6) Cincinnati Bengals - Jeremy Maclin, WR/KR, Missouri
#7) Oakland Raiders - B.J. Rahi, DT, Boston College
#8) Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
#9) Everette Brown, DE, Florida State
#10) San Francisco 49ers - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
#11) Buffalo Bills- Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
#12) Denver Broncos- Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech
#13) Washington Redskins - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
#14) New Orleans Saints - Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
#15) Houston Texans - Rey Mualuaga, LB, USC
#16) San Diego Chargers - Evander 'Ziggy' Wolf, DE, Missouri
#17) New York Jets - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State
#18) Denver Broncos - Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern Cal