Well Tampa Bay Buccaneers did what everyone and their Grandmother’s pet rat expected them to: they drafted a pass rushing defensive end in Adrian Clayborn.
Who they took is up for much debate.
The man who posed with the jersey was Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, a 285 pound former Orange Bowl MVP. Clayborn was a finalist and was on a lot of award watch lists but didn’t come away with any significant trophies his last year in college.
He’s not a bad choice per say, but he was chosen for very specific reasons not all having to do with just his play.
It’s no secret that Tampa has been under the microscope of the character police as of late. With Mike Williams, LaGarrette Blount, and more recently Aqib Talib, the Bucs may have been scared off of potentially better players with character issues.
Justin Houston is who I’m looking at specifically here. He was on a lot of mock drafts going to the Bucs at 20 and he was there, but with his name surfacing in drug test reports, Tampa may have stayed away from him for this reason.
Another guy who was on a lot of mocks and a lot of boards was Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers but issues with his knees staying healthy have caused him to drop from potential top 15 pick to out of the first round.
This leaves Clayborn as the guy Tampa wanted. He isn’t the popcorn pick of the draft but he definitely isn’t bubblegum either. And although he was arrested in 2009, his coaches at Iowa touted Clayborn as a natural leader that can energize a team.
Whether or not that will happen in Tampa is yet to be seen.
But the safe pick approach is not without a ton of criticism. While the Bucs were playing it safe, Hotlanta swung huge by trading up from 27 to take Julio Jones in the top 10 and the Saints grabbed a guy some could argue Tampa should have taken, Cam Jordan.
They then went for extra bases when they traded back into the first round to take a guy some could also argue Tampa should have taken: Alabama running back Mark Ingram.
Both of these teams look instantly upgraded with the Falcons adding another weapon for Matt Ryan and the Saints beefing up an already brutal defense while also giving Drew Brees another toy to burn you with (as if he really needed another, he’s like the rich kid who gets everything).
Both teams also paid big prices to get these guys with Atlanta trading a total of five picks, two of which were first rounders and New Orleans giving picks (including a 2012 first) to New England (again a team that always seems to get draft picks).
So all-in-all the Bucs first round will have critics split down the center with some being okay with Clayborn and others vehemently against the selection. No one is in love with the Iowa defensive end who is really built better to prevent the run (he has had just 15 sacks in the last two seasons combined) but he is still an upgrade over what is currently on the roster at his spot.
“When you look at sacks, you can’t just determine a man by his production that way,” Bucs GM Mark Dominik said.
“You’ve got to look at the disruption he causes,”HeadCoach Raheem Morris said, adding that Gerald McCoy, who had three sacks as a rookie, “got a lot better” with the selection of Clayborn.
I hate to liken the Bucs selection to the horrible mess the a vikings made with the 12th pick and reaching for a guy they could have gotten later, but the comparisons are there. The only thing left is to speculate as to where Tampa will go with the 51st and 84th picks. With the plethora of defensive ends it wouldn’t be crazy to predict Tampa double dipping especially if they get the (highly unlikely but possible) shot at Bowers or Houston at 51.
And if nothing else, you could pin your hopes on Casey Matthews.
But seriously, look for Tampa to possibly double dip at 51 even if Houston and Bowers are off the board. This would be not to erase the Clayborn pick at 20, but to build a solid and young defensive line that if worked with properly could develop into a force that will have people looking back at these last three drafts for the Bucs as the start of another elite Tampa squad.
Note: Former Bucs legend John Lynch will be announcing the Bucs second round pick at the podium. So if nothing else we will have that memory of this draft.
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