Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft Class Has Great Expectations
Forty days to training camp and counting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The players are gone, scattered about the country, hopefully getting that last vacation before July 28 when the real work begins.
Now that OTAs are finished, mini-camps complete, the roster is beginning to take shape and it’s looking like the first Mark Dominik-Greg Schiano draft will produce rookies who can impact the lineup come September.
Here’s a quick look at the 2012 Buccaneer draft class and what role its members may play this coming season.
Mark Barron: The seventh overall pick out of Alabama was inserted as the starting free safety the moment he walked into the building at One Buc Place. Throughout the off-season workouts, he has looked every bit the part of a player who will make an impact for the defense.
“I’m a serious guy,” is how Barron describes himself. That’s a good thing in the eyes of Coach Greg Schiano, who is also a serious, no-nonsense head coach. Barron’s scouting report coming out of Alabama spoke of his physical toughness and his advanced football mentality. Those traits are another reason he’ll be a day one starter when the Bucs face the Carolina Panthers.
Doug Martin: When the Bucs jumped back into the first round to take the Boise State star with the 31st pick, it reinforced the notion that Schiano wants to establish a solid running attack this season. One of the great training camp battles will be between Martin and LeGarrette Blount, who looked great at times last season but doesn’t have the overall skill set of Martin.
This is a competition that will really improve the offense, Blount has already stepped up his game in the off-season, showing more versatility and better pass catching skills than he did under Raheem Morris.
Martin will get major playing time from the start. But look for both Martin and Blount to earn their share of carries.
Lavonte David: David has been a standout in OTAs and in the mini-camps. He’s shown the leadership and on-field skills that made the Bucs jump up and take him in the second round. He’s looking like the day one starter at the weak side or WILL linebacker and has shown that he can move sideline to sideline. His skills as a pass defender earned him notice and the staff believes that his presence is a huge upgrade for the defense.
Najee Goode: The former West Virginia star will bring depth to the linebacking corps. He has the ability to play the middle and the strong side which makes him a valuable commodity for this football team. He won’t be a starter but expect that he’ll be a force on special teams and will earn more playing time as his experience dictates.
Keith Tandy: The sixth round pick and West Viriginia roommate of Goode’s also has that “V” word in his skill set and that’s versatility. He has shown during the workouts that he can play the corner and safety positions. He should also be a valuable contributor on special teams in the regular season.
Michael Smith: The first of the two seventh round picks makes you take notice immediately when you see his speed. The former Utah State running back could develop into the third down threat that the offense is looking for. He has the ability to gather in a screen pass and take it to the house. He’s that fast and has made a great impression on the coaching staff thus far.
Drake Dunsmore: He already has the TE/FB designation and will be competing for the 53-man roster. Dunsmore is the one member of the draft class who could get caught up in the numbers at the tight end position. With Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker running one-two and Lorig bringing his skills and experience into camp, Dunsmore could end up on the practice squad.