The First Round Is In The Books
April 27, 2012 at 10:13am by Scott • 9 Comments »
Well, that went a little different than I thought. With the new rookie salary cap, teams aren’t afraid to do some trading high in the draft for non-quarterbacks. And trade they did. The first round is over now and the Bucs are the proud owners of the best safety in the draft and arguably the second-best running back draft, both from slots they didn’t originally own. And yet I’m hearing a whole lot of bitching about the picks.
The Bucs traded down from #5 to #7 after Trent Richardson got snagged at #3 by the Browns, who traded up one slot with Minnesota. The Bucs were said to also want this slot, so evidently the Browns offered more for it. Once the Bucs realized they couldn’t get the guy they coveted (Richardson), they apparently weren’t in love with Morris Claiborne enough to hang around at #5 to get him, so they made the move down with Jacksonville and got a fourth-round pick in the process. Keep in mind that everybody knew there were six total elite players in this draft, so the Bucs knew they would very likely not be getting one of them if they made this move. Dallas made a move to #6 to grab Claiborne before the Bucs made their pick and the Bucs seemed okay with that. The Bucs hung at #7 and took Mark Barron, the safety out of Alabama and far and away the best safety in the draft.
From what I’m reading on message boards (where everyone knows everything), people think Mark Dominik got played by Jerry Jones who they’re portraying as expertly navigating his way in front of the Bucs to steal Claiborne. But if the Bucs had really wanted Claiborne, they could have just stood pat and taken him at #5. They obviously didn’t want him enough to spend that kind of pick on him. The Bucs have Ron Cooper, Claiborne’s DB coach at LSU, on their staff. It’s safe to say no team has more information about how good Claiborne is at his job than the Bucs. And if they didn’t think he was worth the #5 pick, I’m inclined to believe them. And this shit about Barron not being worth #7 is silly, too. Barron was rated as the seventh-best player in this year’s draft by Mike Mayock, and that’s exactly where he was taken. According to the league’s draft expert, the Bucs got the perfect value for their pick. I don’t see the controversy here.
The only thing you might be able to argue that Dominik screwed up is only getting a fourth-round pick for moving back two slots so high up in the draft, especially considering what Minnesota got for moving one slot back (a fourth, fifth and seventh). But as I said above, both the Bucs and the Browns wanted to move up, so Minnesota could start a bidding war. If no one else wanted to move up to #5, the Bucs had to take what Jacksonville was offering. The old trade value chart is history and you just get what people are willing to pay. It’s the free market, baby. Love it or leave it. Anyone who argues that Dominik didn’t get enough for his trade is a Communist.
The Bucs moved back into the ass end of the first round by trading with Denver. In exchange for moving up five slots from #36 to #31, the Bucs moved down in the fourth round from #101 to #126. And with that pick, they took RB Doug Martin out of Boise State. Martin isn’t someone I really considered the Bucs taking because there’s nothing truly exceptional about him. He’s not particularly fast or athletic and is not what I would call a “change of pace” back just because he’s short. What he is is a super-solid every down back, exceptional pass-blocker and strong leader with top intangibles. People keep comparing him to Ray Rice, which is fine. I also hear comparisons to Maurice Jones-Drew, which would be pretty damn sweet if he turns out like that. Martin is also an exceptional and aggressive special teams player. He’s actually a four down back.
What this likely means is the end of LeGarrette Blount as the primary tailback. This kind of pissed me off when the Bucs made the pick because I’m a Blount fan and just think he needs some solid coaching to reach his potential. But then it crossed my mind that Earnest Graham is gone and probably isn’t going to get re-signed. What if they are planning to transform Blount into a fullback? A fullback who can beat the shit out of linebackers and every now and then carry the ball with the potential for a breakaway run? Remind you of anyone? Blount has had issues with short yardage situations, but if the coaches can help him with that, he’s an ideal short-yardage back who may still be able to jump over a safety and take it 60 yards down the field dragging defenders behind him. The combination of Martin and Blount has some real potential.
So, I’m a lot more excited about the picks than I was last night. Safety was a serious need and the Bucs got the best one. This may mean the end of the Ronde Barber era at safety, but they also need help at corner, so there’s still plenty of work for him to do there. And we knew running back was a consideration and I like the idea of a Martin/Blount backfield. I’m pretty stoked. Back in the 90s, the Bucs had three straight years of double first-round picks. One of them turned out awesome (Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks), one of them blew (Regan Upshaw, Marcus Jones) and one of them was half and half (Warrick Dunn, Reidel Anthony). Although this pair may not both be getting into the Hall of Fame like Sapp/Brooks, I think this is much closer to being one of the good ones than one of the bad ones.