Which current Bucs will be affected by the draft?

Published: April 30th, 2012
By Bucs Beat Feed

You can learn a lot about the Bucs self-evaluation by examining their draft.

Four of their first five selections were defensive players, no surprise considering Tampa Bay gave up a franchise-worst 494 points, was last in rushing defense and allowed 30 touchdown passes last season.

"We wanted to become a much more physical football team with this draft - that was the main concern, and I think we did that,'' general manager Mark Dominik said. "We also wanted to become a smarter football team with this draft, and I think we did that. And we wanted to create a lot of competition with this draft and I think we did that.''

Let's focus on the competition that was created by this draft. For each of the seven players selected by the Bucs, there is at least one existing player who potentially will be affected by that choice.

Round 1/7  Mark Barron, S, Alabama: Ronde Barber.

A player like Barron further justifies the release of Tanard Jackson. It may also end the experiment of playing Barber, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback, at safety, allowing him to return to his natural position. Cody Grimm has performed well at free safety, but season-ending injuries in each of his first two years creates questions about his durability. He will get a chance to pair with the Bucs' first-round pick. Larry Asante and Ahmad Black have an uphill climb. Competition for strong safety is over, fellas. All hail the Red Barron.

Round 1/31 Doug Martin, RB, Boise St.: LeGarrette Blount.

Martin reminds coach Greg Schiano of Ravens and former Rutgers running back Ray Rice for his ability to play all three downs. He is an effective route runner, has good hands and can pass protect. Unless the Bucs missed on Martin, he will be the starting tailback. But he only had at least 20 rushing attempts 13 times in 38 career games at Boise St. It takes two running backs to be effective running the football in the NFL and the powerful, inside running of Blount will be utilized, especially late in games. This should be a nice tandem.

Round2/58 David Lavonte, LB, Nebraska: Mason Foster. 

Lavonte is most effective as an outside linebacker, where he can run and hit. That might also be the best spot for Foster, but it's more likely he will either remain at middle linebacker or move to strong side linebacker. The Bucs consider Lavonte  the best linebacker in coverage in the draft, so he'll also remain on the field in nickel passing situations. That means either Foster or Quincy Black will leave the field on third down.

Round 5/140 Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia: Quincy Black. 

At 6-foot, 244-pounds, Goode is powerful enough to play inside but coverage is not his strong suit, meaning he's a two-down linebacker. In the Bucs defense, that means he either plays the middle or strong side. Since you would prefer the middle linebacker to remain on the field on passing downs, look for Goode to get a shot to compete with Black, who did not live up to his 5-year, $29-million contract last season.

Round 6/174 Keith Tandy, CB West Virginia: E.J. Biggers.

Tandy made a big impression on Schiano while playing against him at West Virginia. He has good skills in zone coverage and could eventually develop into a slot defender. Tandy projects as a possible safety, but the Bucs will give him a shot to compete at cornerback in his first training camp. Biggers has had mixed results as the Bucs' third defensive back and has given up a lot of completions.

Round 7/212 Michael Smith, RB, Utah State: Mosis Madu.

Smith is a burner, with legitimate 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash. But he's also a productive running back stuck behind a better player at Utah St. Smith averaged 7-yards per carry and eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark his last two games. He's a change-of-pace runner who also could help on special teams and will be a No. 3 tailback.

Round 7/233 Drake Dunsmore, TE, Northwestern: Erik Lorig.

Dunsmore is more of a receiving tight end than a blocker, but the Bucs want to work with him as an H-back and in-line blocker. He was the Wildcats second-leading receiver, so he isn't likely to be used in short yardage situations as the third tight end initially. But with some work, and the limited snaps the Bucs will be in a two-back, I-formation set, Dunsmore could develop into that fullback role in a pinch.