Early returns on the Bucs' 2010 Draft look impressive.

3.) The 2010 Buccaneer Draft

The second entry for the day is also the handy-work of Mark Dominik, giving him the 3rd and 4th most impressive accomplishments for the Bucs’ 2010 season. Now, it would be a bit naive to give credit solely to Dominik, as Raheem Morris and the Buccaneer scouting department also played a huge role in both Dominik’s success with the waiver wire as well as our 3rd place entry, the Buccaneers 2010 draft.

It’s still probably too early to really assess how well the Buccaneers did in the draft, even after a season it will still take a couple more years to really determine what the true impact will be. But the early indications are extremely good. I don’t think many teams can claim to have gotten as much production out of their rookie class as the Bucs did and after watching this team all year, few teams in the NFL can say they are as young, loaded or full of potential as them either.

For that Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris deserve a ton of credit. They landed a decent draft class their first season, grabbing Josh Freeman in round one and brought in Roy Miller, EJ Biggers and Sammie Stroughter in addition to trading a couple of picks for Kellen Winslow. In 2010, with a full compliment of picks the Bucs had one of the best drafts in the NFL.

Pick Player
Rd 1, Pick 3 (3) McCoy, Gerald DT
Rd 2, Pick 3 (35) Price, Brian DT
Rd 2, Pick 7 (39) Benn, Arrelious WR
Rd 3, Pick 3 (67) Lewis, Myron CB
Rd 4, Pick 3 (101) Williams, Mike WR
Rd 6, Pick 3 (172) Bowden, Brent P
Rd 7, Pick 3 (210) Grimm, Cody LB
Rd 7, Pick 10 (217) Watson, Dekoda LB
Rd 7, Pick 46 (253) Lorig, Erik DE

The Buccaneers took the obvious choice with their first pick, Gerald McCoy. He struggled out the gate but it really started to click in the second half of the season when McCoy seemed to settle into the speed and pace of the NFL game and returned to the instinctive style of play that was so productive for him at Oklahoma. Unfortunately he was lost for the season to an injury in week 14, but he’ll be in camp and ready to go and should hopefully man the center of the defensive line for years to come.

Brian Price is still largely an unknown quantity having missed most of the year on IR. He projects well into the NFL but the jury is still out, still, he’s a nice piece to have in tandem with McCoy and ideally they will form a nasty duo for the foreseeable future.

Arrelious Benn had a very good rookie season, hauling in 25 catches for 395 yards and a couple touchdowns. He went off in front of his hometown when the Bucs visited the Redskins, catching four balls for 122 yards. He’s got the ability to turn into a very good deep threat receiver, he was really beginning to develop into that role when he was lost for the season against the Seahawks. It typically takes a receiver three seasons to blossom in the NFL, but Benn will miss part of next season after tearing up his knee. So while he looks to have a good NFL future, it may not be at the pace everyone would like (but who knows, Wes Welker was in camp and he tore up his knee in the playoffs).

The draft was really good from top to bottom. The gem was Mike Williams in the fourth round though. Williams had an incredible rookie campaign, shattering the Bucs franchise touchdowns record and every rookie receiving mark in Buccaneer history. In the end he missed 1,000 yards on the season by just 36 but hauled in 11 touchdowns, tied for third most in the NFL. The kid is a stud, and formed a natural rapport with Josh Freeman. Between him, Benn, LeGarrette Blount and Josh Freeman the Bucs have an incredibly young, promising set of skill players, all 24 or younger.

The Bucs weren’t done there either, they also added Myron Lewis in the third. A talented corner they hope will one day compete with EJ Biggers to replace future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber opposite Aqib Talib. Dekoda Watson was a talented special teams contributor all year and has the measurables and potential to turn into a very good, possibly even elite outside linebacker. Erik Lorig was converted to fullback and tight end and contributed in several games when Earnest Graham went out with injuries. He’s a developing blocker with a real nasty streak.

Then there’s Cody Grimm, the 7th rounder that converted from outside linebacker to safety and ended up starting most of the season (and playing well by the end) for the suspended Tanard Jackson. Grimm is one of the most exciting young Buccaneer defenders just for the level of drive and tenacity he displayed this season. He came into the league playing a new position and was asked to start in just his third game. He had the unenviable task of facing the Steelers (the guys playing for it all this Sunday) in his first start and they went after him right away, connecting on a huge touchdown right over his head in the first half.

It would have been so easy to lose confidence there, but Grimm fought back from it, a lot like the Bucs fought back from that blowout loss. He got better and better each week, picked up something new every practice and Bucs fans had the pleasure of watching him grow right in front of our eyes. He demonstrated a ton of resilience and character in his first season. In a way it reminds me of another player who gave up three touchdowns in his first start, but went on to have an incredible career. That guy was Ronde Barber.

The only miss was Brent Bowden, a sixth round pick spent on a punter. Forgiveable. All things considered the Bucs immediately gained four starters and three quality reserves out of their 2010 draft, Brian Price could still develop into either. A lot of times with the youngest team in the league, it’s not rare to see a lot of draft picks get playing time. What differentiates the Bucs from a lot of other young teams is the Bucs went 10-6. Toss in Ted Larsen and LeGarrette Blount, and Mark Dominik found six rookie starters this year. Six quality starters.

You can see why the theme for today is that Mark Dominik is a hell of a GM.

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