Yesterday there were more than a few surprises. A lot of players went a lot higher than expected and a lot of players plummeted. Whether it was Christian Ponder at 12 (though he was 16th on the TPP Big Board) or whether it was Da’Quan Bowers falling out of the first round, nobody ever knows what’s going to happen in the first round of the draft. Fortunately with the new format teams have the night to reset their boards and reform their plans.
Right now there’s a ton of talent still out there. Enough to potentially warrant a trade up. There was a huge run on defensive linemen and yet Da’Quan Bowers, once thought to be the potential top pick, fell from the first round. I was also surprised to see James Carpenter, Jon Baldwin and Cam Heyward go in the first round. The Bucs decided to make the smart choice, and selected Adrian Clayborn. I have to credit Dr. Mark McKenna because he called the pick.
On Day two the Buccaneers will probably focus on finding a corner or a linebacker and probably getting another pass-rusher. The Bucs could be in the market for a guard as well. I personally think the Bucs will double down on ends and grab a corner, but I’d rather they grab the corner in the 2nd unless they plan on trying to move up for Bowers. I don’t think the 3rd round quite has the same talent at the corner position as it will at end.
A quick note, I didn’t include any quarterbacks because the Bucs won’t be looking there on day two. At any rate, here are the top 20 players still on the board:
Top Ten Left:
Marvin Austin, DT, UNC- Not a player that the Buccaneers will be going after but a very talented player that should find a home early on day two. Austin gets penalized for his contact with agents and was labeled a me-first player because that indiscretion caused him to miss 2010, but his teammate Robert Quinn apparently gets a pass despite being guilty of the exact same thing. Austin will come into the league with something to prove, some team will be very happy to have him.
Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson- Bowers was my 10th best available in the first round, he was even higher on a lot of teams’ lists at earlier points, but questions about his knee injury caused him to plummet through the first round and into the 2nd. Bowers is going to be a very good pro and now he will have even more incentive to be, I’ve said several times I think the Bucs should be bold and go up for Bowers, I’d love it if he fell to 51 but that’s highly optimistic. He did fall out of the first though, so stranger things have happened.
Akeem Ayers, OLB/DE, UCLA- Ayers is a very talented player who posts good numbers and makes plenty of impact plays but ran a 4.8 and scared off a lot of teams. This guy is not 4.8-fast in pads though, he’s much much quicker. Ayers is a very versatile player, he could play outside in a 4-3, he could move inside or he could go down and play as an end. He would require work at any position but he brings great potential, quickness and instincts to the table and could help the Bucs a number of ways.
Allen Bailey, DE, Miami- Bailey was once thought of as a first-round lock but a slow senior season and a great class of ends hurt his stock. Bailey is a very impressive physical specimen who has the type of character and work-ethic you look for in an NFL defensive lineman. Bailey was a linebacker in college and switched to end to help the team, he has above average quickness and could probably develop into a solid edge-rusher. He will probably be available at 51 and would form a solid tandem with Adrian Clayborn
DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma- I’ve always been very high on DeMarco Murray. He really only has one knock on him: his injuries. Admittedly (and especially for a tailback) that’s a pretty big concern, but Murray’s potential and ability are also frequently discredited too as a byproduct of his injury concerns. Murray has ideal NFL size and athleticism and comes with the pedigree of having replaced a major star (Adrian Peterson) at a major program. Murray can contribute on special teams in addition to taking solid carries. And even with his collegiate injuries his production was still more than impressive. 50 touchdowns and a 4.9 YPC average is not easy to come by at Oklahoma.
Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA- Rahim Moore is a talented prospect out of UCLA, he’s probably going to come off the board in the middle of the round and could make a good replacement for Tanard Jackson should the Bucs finally choose to pull the plug on the troubled safety. Moore is an impressive specimen, the first true freshman starter for the Bruins since 2001. Moore is a classic ball-hawking safety with the ability to play good zone coverage and above average man.
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)- Harris could be a candidate to come in and succeed one of the Bucs current corners (at least one won’t be here long-term). The best comparison I’ve heard with regard to Harris was former Hurricane (and Bucs) Phillip Buchanon. Harris is supremely athletic, a former track-star with a track-and-field pedigree, Harris has more than enough ability to be a successful NFL corner, he just needs coaching. Harris is an incomplete player, skating by in college largely on athleticism, he needs to improve his technique in order to reach his impressive potential.
Rodney Hudson, G/C, FSU- Rodney Hudson could be a possibility at 51 if the Bucs are looking to address the middle of their offensive line. Hudson is supremely athletic, but that may come as a detriment to him in the NFL. Whereas in college the FSU offensive system required blockers to be quick and athletic, the NFL likes bulk and strength, two things Hudson doesn’t have a ton of. Hudson’s footwork and athleticism are amongst the best in the class, he will need to improve his strength at the point of attack to be successful in the NFL though.
Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh- Another option at end, should the Bucs be interested is Jabaal Sheard. Sheard plays a lot stronger than he looks on paper, he’s a solid pass-rusher who is above-average against the run and at 6’4 260 has the frame for the position. He does have character concerns though, stemming from a July 2010 fight where he threw a man through a plate-glass window. But then again, that kind of aggression could be a lot of fun on Sundays. I’d still make absolutely sure though, plate-glass window, man, plate-glass window.
Martez Wilson, MLB, Illinois- Wilson is the best middle linebacker in the draft and has very impressive athleticism, at times in college that allowed him to skate by though. His measurables are amazing, 6’4-250 with a 4.42-40. He’s more than capable of playing the pass and is adequate against the run. A very good tackler due to his length and speed, he’s going to need to add bulk and strength at the NFL level to stack up to blocks better and corral some of the bigger ball-carriers in the league. He has all the tools but needs to develop more in many phases of his game before he reaches his potential.
Aaron Williams, CB, Texas – Williams is another big corner, he plays very smart, fundamental football but lacks the high-end athleticism of some of the other players at his position. Williams is never going to be overly fast or quick, but he’s adequate in the right situation.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (FL) – Miami is a school that has churned out Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Michael Irvin and Andre Johnson. Those guys caught passes from Heisman candidates and never had the type of year Hankerson did with Jacory Harris and a true freshman hurling it at him.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame – Rudolph is a high-character kid who runs like a receiver, has above average hands and will get nasty after the catch. Questions about his injury history may cause him to fall a little though.
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois – Leshoure exploded on to the national scene by decimating the Big Ten on the ground in 2010. Averaging six yards per attempt for just under 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns, Leshoure proved to be an incredibly versatile runner.
Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia – Initially a defensive end, Houston is a very talented pass-rusher with tremendous burst up-field, he’s not really going to be big enough to play defensive end at the next level so he will feature more as pass-rushing outside linebacker.
Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma – Has some of the best instincts in the draft, very quick to react and is typically right the first time. Carter plays the game with very good physicality, is a force when he needs to come up and play the run and has enough speed to keep himself in most pass coverage.
Colin McCarthy, MLB, Miami (FL) – Colin McCarthy is a very instinctual, high-motor player at middle linebacker. Definitely more adept at stopping the run than covering the pass, he is relentless at the point of attack and manages to fight off most blocks with quickness and deceptive strength. Not amongst the most athletically gifted of the linebackers in the 2011 class, McCarthy more than makes up for it with passion and tenacity.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland – Smith is an athletic marvel, he has tremendous speed, agility and all the potential you can imagine. What he doesn’t have is a polished game at receiver.
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State- Possibly the strongest player in the draft, squats 600, benches 500 and put up the 225 bar at the combine 49 times. Lacks lateral quickness though, is basically a bull-rusher every play.
Tidus Young, WR, Boise State – Young is fantastically quick, he has tremendous burst out of his routes, an impressive “extra gear” for out-running defenders and he absolutely destroys corners that give him too much of a cushion. Young should be able to come in and contribute in the return-game right off the bat, but he should also translate into a solid NFL receiver as well, most likely working out of the slot.