A Darrelle Revis trade might be a real transaction soon, since the Bucs may or may not already be working on a contract with the soon-to-be(?) former Jets cornerback. No, that’s not tampering at all.
Eric Wright wasn’t released and he instead restructured his contract to stay for one more year. That was at least a minor surprise, but one which shouldn’t impact a Revis trade at all, even a little bit. If anything, Wright functions as mere insurance in the event a trade falls through.
But as the clock continues to tick towards draft day, a fallback plan to reinforce the league’s worst secondary in 2012 (297.4 passing yards allowed per game, and 7.9 per pass) is needed. The addition of Dashon Goldson is swell, but it’s still just a first step.
1. If a Darrelle Revis deal doesn’t get done before the draft, can we assume cornerback is the first-round priority? If it is, Dee Milliner will be long gone by the 13th overall pick, and it could be a little too early for Xavier Rhodes. What about trading up to get Milliner?
There have been reports that the Buccaneers don’t view any corner other than Milliner as a first-round prospect . That said, almost every other draft analyst and NFL writer view Rhodes as well worth the 13th pick, and grade Desmond Trufant as being worth a mid-to-late first rounder. Personally I prefer Trufant over Rhodes, but I think the Buccaneers could certainly stand to move down if he is the target.
Mark Dominik has a focus on selecting players who were team leaders and hard workers in college, and he also tends to lean towards players with multiple years of experience in college. Milliner was a one-year starter who was not elected as a team captain, and those factors likely combine to lower his stock to a point where a trade up to as high as fourth or fifth overall isn’t worth it. If he lasts to the 10th or 11th pick, however, that might start the phones working in the Tampa Bay war room.
2. The value at the No. 13 spot could be right for D.J. Fluker too, and he would add to the power running game driven by Doug Martin. Is he a fit?
I believe the Buccaneers are absolutely content with their current offensive line. Donald Penn, Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph, and Demar Dotson from left to right figures to be the starting five the Bucs would like to see play 16 games in the trenches together.
Fluker would replace the weakest link of that bunch (Dotson), but he doesn’t seem to project as a franchise left tackle, which the Buccaneers will need eventually. There’s not a compelling reason for the Bucs to spend such a valuable pick on a right tackle, especially when they are content running behind the left side of the offensive line significantly more often.
3. Rounding out the possible first-round directions, what about a defensive tackle? That’s been another widely mocked first-round pick for Tampa, with the Bucs in Sheldon Richardson territory, or possibly even in a position to get Star Lotulelei, with his projections widespread.
I don’t think that Richardson is the right pick, as there are motivation concerns and a lack of starting experience in college. The idea of Star Lotulelei lining up next to Gerald McCoy is certainly interesting, as he would represent the “best player available” should he stay on the board until the 13th selection.
But when the Buccaneers lost Roy Miller, they didn’t truly lose that much. He played fewer than half of the team’s defensive snaps over the last month of the 2012 season, as he failed to make an impact as a pass rusher. The Bucs would be fine with a rotation of players at nose tackle, but might be tempted to solidify the position by bringing in Lotulelei.
4. Will we see Dominik select a developmental quarterback if the opportunity presents itself in the later rounds? The Bucs have eight picks to work with, and Josh Freeman will likely be allowed to enter the final year of his contract without an extension.
I think this draft has plenty of opportunities for a quarterback to slide down the board and become a value pick. With uncertainty as to who the second quarterback taken will be (and even some questions as to whether or not Geno Smith should be the first), there is the potential that Tyler Wilson, Tyler Bray, or Mike Glennon could fall into the middle rounds.
The Buccaneers (and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan) will want a quarterback with a big arm who can “make all the throws” as the scouts like to say. That means Bray is probably the best fit for the Buccaneers’ scheme. But with his current projected draft position in the second or third round, I would expect the Buccaneers to wait, and take a chance on Sean Renfree, QB from Duke, with a late-round pick.
5. What other needs should be addressed?
The Buccaneers will likely draft two cornerbacks, possibly three if Revis isn’t acquired. So on picks that are not defensive backs, look for the Buccaneers to target a running back to spell Doug Martin (the Bucs like Christine Michael from Texas A&M and Le’Veon Bell from Michigan State).
They’ll also want to pick up some depth on the defensive line, which means ends as well as tackles. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Buccaneers take a defensive end with pass rushing skills at 13th overall if Revis is already in the fold (and they still hold the 13th pick). A pass catching tight end also figures to be a target in the middle rounds for Tampa Bay. A strongside linebacker may be a middle round target too, as this is the least used “starting” position in the Tampa Bay defense.