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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs' draft class could have some sleepers

Once you get past the prospects drafted in the first few rounds of the draft, it's hard to know what to expect from these Buccaneer rookies.

But there are a couple late-round picks you should watch for, not because they are likely to be stars but because they could play small but important roles this fall.

The first is seventh-round pick Cody Grimm, a safety out of Virginia Tech. Grimm played a hybrid position at Tech, serving in a capacity that translates to safety in the NFL. But we're not talking about him in terms of what he'll do in the secondary in 2010. It's likely he'll be nothing more than a backup. But what the Bucs do see him doing is contributing on special teams.

Coming from Virginia Tech, Grimm understands the importance of special teams having played for a program that has a history of extraordinary play in that phase of the game. The Hokies are renowned for their emphasis on special teams, with entire practices often dedicated to their refinement. The Bucs, likewise, excelled in this area last season -- much more so than their abysmal offense or defense.

Grimm seems up to the task, having started on three different special teams units during his college playing days. He could end up doing the same here in Tampa Bay if he sticks around.

Another player worth keeping an eye is another seventh-rounder, former Florida State linebacker Dekoda Watson. He probably won't contend for a starting job this year, but that doesn't mean the coaching staff isn't excited about his role this fall. On the very day Watson was drafted, coach Raheem Morris was already talking about Watson's versatility and how the Bucs might utilize him in various pass-rush packages.

Though Watson must prove himself as a defender in the open field and in coverage, the Bucs believe Watson will create mismatches on the edge in passing situations. He can use his quickness to rush the quarterback and penetrate, evidenced by his team-high 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2009. One thing Watson has is speed. He ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which ranked second among linebackers. 

It's very early , and these players have to make the team before they can even contribute. But as the offseason progresses and you start to hear about the exploits of the high-profile draft picks like Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, don't forget the potential roles of these lesser-known prospects.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:01pm]

    

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