Josh Freeman

The First Round Is In The Books

April 27, 2012 at 10:13am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

I'm just going to pretend I don't see the watch.
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.

9 Comments to “The First Round Is In The Books”

Mark S

Mark S (April 27, 2012 at 10:35am:

I look at these picks one of two ways, we exchanged a 1st round and a second round for two first round and one fourth round. That’s pretty good. Second, Dominik got Schiano the two players he wanted most and an additional pick. What is wrong with that? Those two will be starters and I think Barron will be all-pro. I don’t know about Martin, but Schiano loves him and he has a pretty good record on evaluating RBs. We may still use a one-back set and rotate Blount and Martin. Nothing wrong with that. Martin has 4.48 speed, so he is not slow. He is known as a pass catcher. His style is different from Blount, so it is still a change and something defenses have to adjust to. I am stoked.

Matt Price

Matt Price (April 27, 2012 at 10:51am:

Well said Scott! I love the picks. What I like about these picks is that they not only fit needs, they define the team. They tell us the Bucs want solid, hard hitting, hard running players — not flashy guys. This is a team being built to beat you at the line. I think Barron will be the guy we need to stop runners from just blasting us up the middle. And I think Martin will be in the backfield with Blount one following the other through massive holes created by Nicks. It’s gonna be “old school time.”

Darren47

Darren47 (April 27, 2012 at 10:56am:

It’s comforting to read a thoughtful blog post following a night of irrational vitriol spread across the internet by borderline retarded “experts;” thanks for summarizing and I agree on all counts. I think, as dedicated fans, we have a tendency to overestimate our knowledge and the fact that so few of us anticipated the Barron pick (despite zero depth at safety and a heinous run defense) illustrates how susceptible we are to group think. The front office had a plan and it appears it’s been executed with near perfect efficiency.

Congrats to Dom and LET’S GO BUCS!!!

cubsandbucsfan

cubsandbucsfan (April 27, 2012 at 12:33pm:

In my mind I had us trading down and grabbing the LB from BC (I am not going to search how to spell his name, especially since he now plays for Carolina) so the Barron picked was disappointing only in that it was not what I expected. Now with proper perspective and Scott’s factoid of Claiborne’s coach being our DB coach…I love the pick.

Scott, any interest in juxtaposing Eric Barry with Mark Barron. I am out of market for the SEC and I know you have seen both of them much more than I have.

As for Martin, I love the pick and I love Blount as well. The game has changed to the point where you really need to have 2 work horses and now we have that. I think if Blount can still get 140-160 carries for the year then we are winning games and that is all that counts.

FireThemCannons

FireThemCannons (April 27, 2012 at 01:00pm:

I am so pumped for Mark Barron on the Bucs….its exactly what we need a Safety with an attitude

BaldBuc4055

BaldBuc4055 (April 27, 2012 at 02:56pm:

At first I was stunned by the Barron pick, especially since I was drinking heavily during the draft. I was one of those that originally thought that Dallas sniped us to get Claiborne, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that the Barron pick is outstanding, and the Martin pick is equally impressive. It’s the start of a new era in Tampa Bay.

Scott

Scott (April 27, 2012 at 04:32pm:

cubs: Berry is far and away superior to Barron, and I’m not just saying that because he’s from Tennessee. Earl Thomas was better than Barron, too. Any scout would agree with me. I said last night that if the Bucs knew they were going to be taking this early, they should have taken Berry two years ago and Fletcher Cox this year. That would be a better combo than McCoy/Barron but would have taken the foresight and planning of a Chinese emperor and probably isn’t realistic. I’m good with what they have now.

tfisher

tfisher (April 27, 2012 at 05:59pm:

Nice summary, Scott.

I doubt they’ll move Blount to FB, though. They’ll probably just use them both and run with the hot hand, or use whichever one fits the game situation best. Blount is a fantastic game closer. Martin is a fantastic player to have in the game when you’re catching up. They’ll work together.

Also, don’t be so quick to say Berry and Thomas are so much better. Barron has a different skill set, but could easily be just as dynamic and he will definitely provide leadership and top-notch intangibles.

One fun note from last night: I was watching the highlights of Dont’a Hightower after the Patriots selected him. I noticed that in one of the main highlights, Hightower looks around, confused, before turning around to check the coverage with Barron. Barron proceeds to give Hightower a quick hand signal before Hightower turns back around and focuses on a guy before making the aforementioned highlight in coverage. That, my friends, is something he’s going to bring to our D that most people don’t realize… yet. Love the pick.

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