TAMPA — It normally takes three years to accurately judge a draft class.
It took only three days to know the Bucs have at least four starters from the Class of 2010.
If the rookie minicamp proved anything — and typically, it doesn't — it's that this is the best collection of talent the Bucs have assembled in many years.
Of course, it starts with DT Gerald McCoy, the No. 3 overall pick who played at a different speed than most first-year counterparts.
McCoy has a ton to learn about the three-technique in the Tampa 2 defense. But it will help him tremendously to be paired with NT Brian Price, the No. 35 overall pick.
What will help this class is how the Bucs doubled up at some positions, especially WRs Arrelious Benn of Illinois (second round) and Syracuse's Mike Williams (fourth).
Both are big, physical players who can handle the punishment of an NFL season. Benn is 6 feet 2, 220 pounds; Williams is 6-2, 212. Put them together with TE Kellen Winslow (6-4, 240) and QB Josh Freeman shouldn't have much trouble locating his receivers.
Benn and Williams are also great after the catch, which is critical in the offense under coordinator Greg Olson. The Bucs run a lot of slants, digs and crossing routes that require yards after the catch for big plays.
One observation: Williams might win a starting job before Benn. But before 2010 is over, both will be running out of the tunnel for pregame introductions. Regardless of the order, the position went from one with no depth to one of the most competitive on the team with Sammie Stroughter, Maurice Stovall, Reggie Brown and Michael Clayton.
"That's what you hope for. You hope those two will come in here and take the pressure off each other," coach Raheem Morris said of Benn and Williams. "You hope they really go out there and compete against each other, and they have.
"When you see Arrelious Benn catch the ball and then run after the catch like he was able to do in camp, you say, 'Okay, that's what we saw on tape.' Hopefully it translates over to our league. The same thing with Mike Williams."
The fourth starter will be CB Myron Lewis, a third-round pick from Vanderbilt. At 6-2, 205, Lewis has a physical resemblance to Aqib Talib. He's another long, athletic defender with good hands who changes direction with relative ease.
With Lewis beginning the year at nickel corner, playing maybe two of every three snaps, he might as well be considered a starter. Certainly, he is the heir apparent to 35-year-old Ronde Barber.
It's impossible to evaluate P Brent Bowden, a sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech, but the Bucs are so confident they have no competition for him in training camp. If he performs as expected, that would be five major contributors and/or starters from April's draft.
Just the eyeball test tells you Morris, general manager Mark Dominik and college scouting director Dennis Hickey got more right than wrong this time. They had to. It has certainly helped that McCoy fell in their laps. The first pick of any class kind of sets the rhythm for things to fall into place.
WAIT AND SEE: One draft pick who won't be able to do much until training camp is Stanford DE Erik Lorig.
A converted tight end, Lorig could not participate in rookie minicamp because of a torn pectoral muscle. That obviously hurt his draft status. But the Bucs really love his motor and effort.
"It's fair to say he might be a luxury," Morris said. "I like to look at him like that. You're talking about a guy who played tight end for years. You're talking about a guy who played D-end and showed maximum hustle, showed effort and showed all those things on tape.
"You never know. You only get 45 guys on game day. Who knows if Lorig won't show up playing tight end a little bit and possibly playing defensive end. Rather than project — those 'P' words are dangerous, projection, project, all those words — I like to use luxury. That sounds better."
ANOTHER SETBACK: The Bucs had hoped OG Arron Sears would return this season. But now football isn't his biggest concern. In fact, some at One Buc Place believe Sears might never play again.
Sears' problems never have been fully disclosed. But if you guessed an anxiety disorder or depression, you probably wouldn't be far off. Apparently, he had another setback in April.
The Bucs did not address the offensive line, and there is a serious lack of depth, particularly at guard. But overall, the group should have a pretty good year. Players won't be learning a new offense, and OTs Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood will become unrestricted free agents. Penn has lost at least 25 pounds and looks to have his best year.