COMMENTARY| Though the prior week's trade of a first round pick for 4-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis remained the team's boldest move, the Tampa Bay Bucs added six diverse players to a rebuilding roster during the 2013 NFL draft. While the lack of a top selection deprived fans of some drama, Bucs' general manager Mark Dominik did complete multiple deals during the three day event, which helped excite a hungry fan-base. In adding the rookies, Tampa Bay appears to have successfully plugged several holes, though critics note a brittle offensive line went unaddressed, while backups were questionably procured at quarterback and running back. Nevertheless, the prudent selection of four defensive players has already mounted optimism that a return to the playoffs could soon be possible. Here's a look at the 2013 draft choices of the Buccaneers.
Round 2, 43rd overall selection: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississppi State -- Despite adding Revis, it was widely believed that the Bucs should continue bolstering a shaky defensive backfield through the draft. Combined with the signing of free agent safety Dashon Goldson, the pick of Banks assures fans that the team's woeful pass defense will mercifully look very different in 2013. This year's draft was loaded at cornerback, so the second round selection appears wise, even though Banks was the sixth player chosen at position. The former safety was a four year starter in the SEC, grabbed 16 career interceptions, and earned the prestigious Jim Thorpe Award in 2012 as the nation's top defensive back. Banks possesses good size at 6'2," but may lack a bit of speed to become an elite NFL corner. Yet, the 23 year-old can play physical and can be expected to contribute immediately in nickel coverage. Furthermore, Bucs' supporters likely hope the rookie earns a starting spot in place of the underachieving Eric Wright before long.
Round 3, 73rd overall selection: Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State -- With Josh Freeman entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract, the Bucs' quarterback suddenly has a legitimate rival within the team's stable of signal callers. Previously, Tampa Bay surrounded their franchise quarterback with non-threatening veterans (Dan Orlovsky) or versatile change-of-pace backups (Josh Johnson). By surprisingly using a third round pick on Glennon, however, the Bucs instead purchased a valuable insurance policy on Freeman. If the incumbent regresses, encounters injury, or seeks an unreasonable new contract, this intimidating 6'7" rookie could enter the picture. The Virginia native started two seasons at North Carolina State, in which he impressively tossed a combined 7,000 yards and 62 touchdowns. Though Glennon brings a strong arm, he must nurture his mobility and accuracy in order to compete as an NFL quarterback. The big guy offers a high upside, but Dominik surprised many by using his second selection on a backup quarterback.
Round 4, 100th overall selection: Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois -- By trading a sixth round pick to the Oakland Raiders in order to move up 12 spots in the fourth round, the Bucs obviously had their eyes on this bruising defensive tackle. Though Gerald McCoy has emerged as a standout in the middle of Tampa Bay's defensive line, the other spot in the 4-3 scheme is wide open. Roy Miller departed via free agency and the Bucs signed the well-traveled Derek Landri to provide depth. Spence started three seasons at Illinois, where he racked up an eye-opening 186 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 26 quarterback pressures. The 22 year-old was a weightlifting champion in high school and brings substantial athleticism to a position often dominated by bulk. Spence should enjoy a real opportunity to contribute immediately.
Round 4, 126th overall selection: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State -- Using a pick acquired in last year's trade of Aqib Talib, the Bucs selected the first of two consecutive defensive ends with hopes of improving the league's third worst pass rush. Gholston competed for three years at Michigan State, where he accumulated 10 career sacks and demonstrated flashes of brilliance in the ability to reach quarterbacks. Yet, the Michigan native was also inconsistent and struggled with technique, as well as earning scorn for a 1 game suspension in 2012 for dirty play. Gholston has great size at 6'7" and 278 pounds and is a classic mid-round high risk/high reward type selection.
Round 5, 147th overall selection: Steven Means, DE, Buffalo -- By adding a third straight defensive lineman, the Bucs vividly declared intentions to boost an under-performing unit. With both Adrian Clayborn and DaQuan Bowers already dealing with injuries, added depth will undoubtedly help, as will this 5th rounder's likely ability to play special teams. Playing before his hometown fans, the 23 year-old Means thrived at a small school, where he accumulated a career 185 tackles and 18.5 sacks. The 6'3", 260 pound player additionally blocked 3 kicks during in his senior season, which indicates he may additionally be able to contribute inside the trenches at defensive tackle.
Round 6, 189th overall selection: Mike James, RB, Miami -- Similar to the Glennon pick, this selection is a bit of a head scratcher and helps one appreciate the Bucs' four defensive additions even more. Inheriting a proud lineage at a once great school, James never distinguished himself playing tailback during four years at Miami and clearly lacks speed. Nevertheless, busy executive Mark Dominik pulled off a series of trades to acquire the Haines City, Florida native. First, the Bucs shipped running back LeGarrette Blount to the Pats in exchange for RB Jeff Demps and a 7th round selection. Then Tampa Bay packaged that newly-acquired 7th round pick with its own 6th rounder in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, which enabled the Bucs to move up to draft James. The versatile back joins Demps and last year's 7th round selection, Michael Smith, as candidates to back up Doug Martin. Pass catching in the backfield may prove an asset for James, but the ability to play special teams will determine if the former Hurricane can earn the spot.
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Jeff Briscoe is a writer who covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. A loyal Tampa Bay Bucs fan, he co-hosts the Florida-based radio show, The Sports Train.
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- Tampa Bay Bucs
- Mark Dominik
- Darrelle Revis