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Bucs Draft 2008,When: Today (Rounds 1-2) and Sunday (Rounds 3-7)
Bucs picks (round-overall): 1-20, 2-52, 3-83, 4-120, 5-154, 6-none (Michael Bennett trade), 7-none (Jake Plummer trade)
Top 10 linebackers
1,Keith Rivers, 6-3, 235, Southern Cal
Great speed and character; should be the first off the board.
He is the latest in what is becoming a tradition of Tennessee linebackers in the NFL. After recording 140 tackles for the Vols last season as a junior, including 8½ for loss, he decided to declare for the draft.
He is expected to become the 11th Tennessee linebacker drafted since 1999 and likely will join Al Wilson as the second to go in the first round during that span.
"It pulled a lot of weight," Mayo
said of the school's history of
developing pro players. "Coming
out of high school, it's everyone's dream to play in the NFL. I was like, 'Well, shoot! I can go to this school, get a good education, play in a great atmosphere and have a great coach and hopefully at the end of the day, I'll have a chance in the NFL."
He could go as early as No. 15 to the Lions.
3,Dan Connor, 6-3, 233, Penn State
Another cookie-cutter player from Linebacker U.
4,Curtis Lofton, 6-0, 238, Oklahoma
Moving up the board; likely a second-round pick.
5,Tavares Gooden, 6-1, 233, Miami
One of the few Hurricane players who played every down last season.
6,Bruce Davis, 6-3, 252, UCLA
Natural off-the-edge pass-rusher who also played some end.
7,Jonathan Goff, 6-2, 245, Vanderbilt
Lacks the wow factor but a steady pro.
8,Geno Hayes, 6-1, 226, Florida State
Another athletic Seminoles linebacker, but undersized.
9,Wesley Woodyard, 6-1, 227, Kentucky
Under the radar on Wildcats defense.
10,Jordon Dizon, 6-0, 229, Colorado
Brings everything on every play.
Led the Yellow Jackets with 89 tackles, including 8½ for loss; very athletic player who lacks ideal speed to
be a first-day pick
but should be
good enough to
a starting job in the NFL.
6-0, 226, LSU
One of the leading tacklers in the SEC improved his game as a senior, but he has been in a free-fall because of his lack of speed; ran a 4.82 40-yard dash at the NFL combine; does a decent job in pass protection, and his production will convince a team to take a chance on him.
Under the radar
6-5, 241, Michigan
Led the Big Ten with 28½ tackles for loss to go with 6½ sacks; was one of the most productive linebackers in the nation, but his size makes him a tweener. Some see him as a defensive end in a 4-3 set; others believe he could play inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. He's an interesting prospect at either position.
GM Bruce Allen's scorecard
Allen's best pick is an easy one: Barrett Ruud, a second-rounder from Nebraska in 2005. Ruud needed two years to take over at middle linebacker for Shelton Quarles. He had a Pro Bowl-type season in 2007 but wore down late. Certainly, he was better than the first linebacker Allen drafted, Marquise Cooper, a 2004 third-rounder from Washington who is no longer with the team. Last year, the Bucs selected New Mexico linebacker Quincy Black in the fifth round and Portland State linebacker Adam Hayward in the sixth. Both are special teams players, but Black has a chance to be a starter.
IMPACT ON THE BUCS
The Bucs suddenly have a bit of a logjam at linebacker. They signed Teddy Lehman and Matt McCoy as free agents and brought back Leon Joe. Factor in the two linebackers the Bucs drafted last year and Ryan Nece, who was relegated to special teams duty, and there isn't much room for another at that position. The starters appear set with Cato June, Barrett Ruud and Derrick Brooks. But special teams always benefits from linebackers and defensive backs.