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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

For current Bucs, winners and losers after NFL Draft

The draft is now in the books, and whatever anyone says about the success of the Bucs' selections, we won't know for quite some time whether any of these players will pan out.

What we can, however, determine is what their selections mean for some Buccaneers previously on the roster. Many current Tampa Bay players will be impacted by the choices the Bucs made in the draft last week.

Let's take a look at some winners and losers, and why.

WINNERS

Gerald McCoy: In his rookie season last year, McCoy was under tremendous pressure to spice up the Bucs' pass rush, and he often didn't meet the lofty expectations. But those who watched the Bucs closely know the sort of impact the defensive tackle had, and the Bucs' inability to stop the run after McCoy's season-ending biceps tear gives you a sense of how vital he was.

Now, the selections of edge rushers Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers will only help McCoy. If either player lives up to the Bucs' hopes, that will take attention away from McCoy in the middle and cause offenses to shift their protection schemes. With more one-on-one matchups, McCoy can only build on what he began to show late last season.

E.J. Biggers/Myron Lewis: These guys benefited not because of what the Bucs did, but rather because of what the team did not.

With the Bucs leaning toward releasing cornerback Aqib Talib at some point after his latest arrest, and with a likely significant NFL suspension looming, cornerback appeared to be a position of concern. But the Bucs did not address it until the seventh round, when they selected FIU prospect Anthony Gaitor.

A big reason the Bucs showed no urgency at the position: Because they believe Biggers and Lewis (along with veteran Ronde Barber) have what it takes to hold things down in the secondary, even in the absence of what is clearly the Bucs' best defensive back (Talib).

Cadillac Williams: It's far from a certainty that Williams -- a free agent -- will wear pewter and red this fall, but the odds do not appear any worse after the draft. Yes, the Bucs drafted Allen Bradford of USC in the sixth round, but he doesn't appear to be the change-of-pace back that Williams became late last season behind starter LeGarrette Blount. Williams' pass-protection ability and savvy catching balls in open space for big gains were huge for the Bucs in 2010. The trust that offensive coordinator Greg Olson has in Williams won't hurt his bargaining position, either.

Again, Williams could walk if an offer he prefers presents itself. But the Bucs still have reason to make a legitimate effort to keep him.

Davin Joseph: With Joseph being the Bucs' highest priority in free agency, no effort was made to address the offensive line in the draft. It's still unclear whether Joseph will be a true unrestricted free agent because of the labor mess and lack of collective bargaining agreement. But, if Joseph makes it to the market, the Bucs will make every effort to retain him.

LOSERS

Barrett Ruud: The Bucs plan to have third-round pick Mason Foster begin his career at middle linebacker, which is of great significance to Ruud. The four-year starter at middle linebacker is a free agent and is looking for a long-awaited payday after having his free agency postponed last year because of the uncapped season.

There have been some ill feelings on Ruud's part because he wasn't offered a contract extension as Donald Penn -- also a restricted free agent at the time -- was.

The addition of Foster doesn't automatically mean the Bucs are moving on. But it does mean Tampa Bay, at a minimum, has a Plan B in place and will certainly use that to their advantage in contract negotiations.

Stylez White/Kyle Moore: This one is pretty self-explanatory. With the Bucs drafting two defensive ends, this pair has become more vulnerable.

The Bucs, in their opinion, drafted White's replacement in right end Clayborn. And the team says Bowers is going to play left end, a position that was basically handed to Moore entering last season. Moore, for the second straight season, was unproductive and injured, and it's not out of the question to suggest he'll have his work cut out for him to make the final roster.

The competition at defensive end will be intense with players such as Michael Bennett and Tim Crowder also expected to be on the roster come training camp.

John Gilmore: This veteran tight end saw the Bucs draft his likely replacement in Luke Stocker from Tennessee. Stocker is a big tight end like Gilmore but might be considered by the team to be more versatile. The Bucs on Saturday were already talking about pairing Stocker in two-tight end sets with Kellen Winslow, and all signs point to Gilmore -- a free agent -- moving on.

Tanard Jackson: When the Bucs drafted Florida's Ahmad Black in the fifth round, it didn't necessarily mean suspended safety Tanard Jackson was no longer in the plans.

But it does indicate the Bucs are being realistic about Jackson's situation. When his yearlong league suspension for substance abuse ends in September, there are no guarantees that 1) Commissioner Roger Goodell will automatically reinstate him or, that 2) the Bucs are sure to take him back. And here's another consideration: What kind of football shape will he be in at that point, anyway?

These are all things the Bucs are surely thinking about and each was a justification to add depth at safety.

So, did I miss any winners or losers? Tell us what you think.

[Last modified: Monday, May 2, 2011 11:58am]

    

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