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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Trading up for Johnson will be difficult

18

April

   There's a lot of chatter about the Bucs' attempt to move up in the draft for Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson.

   First and foremost, unless the Bucs acquire the No. 1 overall pick from the Raiders, no deal involving Tampa Bay is likely to happen until they know Johnson is on the board.

   Most speculation centers around the Bucs' packaging picks and/or players to swap first-rounders with the Detroit Lions and move from No. 4 to No. 2 overall with Johnson in their crosshairs.

   It sounds good except for this: Who said the Lions don't want Johnson?

   Sure, Detriot general manager Matt Millen has an ugly  history of taking receivers with the first-round pick and watching them become busts like Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, to name two.

   But neither of those players were ever in the same league as Johnson.

   At 6-foot-5, 238-pounds, Johnson runs a 4.35 40-yard dash, has flypaper hands and is said to be a better person than he is a player. He reportedly blew away the Lions during a recent visit to Detroit.

   Sure, Lions coach Rod Marinelli would like to build his team through defense. But he realizes that Johnson is the best player in the draft. If Johnson helps the Lions convert enough third downs, he helps the defense by keeping it off the field.

   And no current member of the Lions coaching staff was part of the Rogers or Williams debacle, so they feel no attachment there.   

   In other words, it would take a heck of an offer for Tampa Bay to move up. The rumor de jour, courtesy of 620-WDAE, has the Bucs trading defensive end Simeon Rice to Detroit and their No. 4 overall pick for the Lions No. 2 overall pick.

   Rice, 33, will no doubt be shopped by the Bucs because he has just one year left on his contract and is coming off shoulder surgery that limited to eight games and two sacks last season.

   The Lions spent big money to sign Bucs free agent defensive end Dewayne White and they're in position to draft another to-flight defensive lineman if necessary. In addition, they would likely have to sign Rice to a lucrative long-term deal before he would accept a trade.

   Earlier this week, there was a report on AOL.com saying the Bucs talked to Raiders owner Al Davis about trading nearly every first day draft pick to Oakland in exchange for the No. 1 overall selection. That sounds even more farfetched, given the Bucs' glaring holes on both sides of the ball. And coach Jon Gruden has spent five years bemoaning loss of draft picks the Bucs sent to Oakland when he was acquired in a trade from the Raiders.

   The NFL draft is liar's poker. Every scenario is discussed, especially near the top of the draft. But trades are very rare.

   One more thing. Say the Bucs did swap picks with the Lions before the draft and the Raiders took Johnson No. 1 overall. What did Tampa Bay move up for? They could get Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas or Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams at No. 4.

   But what keeps getting overlooked is that with so many teams interested in Johnson, why would anyone assume the Lions are not one of them?   

      

    

   

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:44pm]

    

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