We laughed, we cried, we had some chills and thrills but very few spills in the 2012 NFL Draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s interesting because the draft is used to rebuild and replenish your assets but that very same thing happened to the Buccaneers morale. Coming into this draft there was a sense of depression almost, despite the new coach and the free agent spending. It wasn’t full on depression like it was right after Raheem Morris got fired and there was a lot of uncertainty about moving forward.
But any iota of uncertainty or depression there was about the Bucs 2011 season was washed away by Mark Dominik and his ace draft he put together. Never before has the draft been this interesting to watch develop from a Buccaneers standpoint and Tampa walked away a better team then they began.
That’s a new thing for the Bucs, the draft usually consists of a good first round pick and then some bit players who will fight to make the team.
But this year the Bucs walked away with three bonafide starters and went heavy in the first and second rounds grabbing two key defensive players and another offensive weapon.
The Bucs took Mark Barron seventh overall after trading down with the Jaguars who selected Justin Blackmon in the fifth spot. Morris Claiborne went sixth and although the Bucs said hey never wanted him, they did take a long time to draft Mark Barron. My opinion is that at seven, the Buccaneers knew Ryan Tannehill would go eighth and were trying to trade down even further with a team who wanted a top 10 prospect so they could pile up more picks and take Barron 10th or 11th.
My theory of wanting more late round picks is possibly backed up by the fact the Bucs traded back into the first round to draft Doug Martin from Boise St. to be their running back of the future. Tampa may have wanted more picks from a potential trade down fom the seventh spot to recoup the picks given up to Denver but the price wasn’t that stiff.
Mark Dominik continued his trading antics by trading up ten spots in the second round to draft Lavonte David from Nebraska. What Davis brings is some depth at linebacker and he should be a starter this year given how awful the Bucs linebackers were last year.
However Dominik paid he most to trade up to get David giving up a third and a fourth round pick.
Tampa took Najee Goode, an outside linebacker in the fifth round to pad the linebacker depth and went with another West Virginia player in round six to add depth at cornerback by selecting Keith Tandy.
With two seventh round picks, the Buccaneers went back to offense and added a running back and a fullback with their last selections. Micheal Smith from Utah State was Tampa’s selection at 212th overall and they went fullback with Drake Dunsmore at 233rd overall to round out their draft.
Overall it was an outstanding draft and outside of the three bonafide starters they have in Barron, Martin and David they can potentially have two more in Tandy at corner and Dunsmore at fullback. Mark Dominik did what he needed to do, he moved on from the Raheem Morris era with force, making moves we would not have seen if the old regime was in place.
I can honestly say, for the first time, that the Buccaneers are all around a better team after this draft and never before has the excitement in Buccaneers football rebounded this quickly after such a black hole of a season that 2011 was.
Tampa improved but now we need to see these pieces on the field and how they will pan out. Dominik’s not done either, he’s made his name snagging undrafted free agents and there are plenty of draft able prospects looking for work. Don’t expect the news to slow down any time soon, especially with Mark Dominik in image repair mode.