Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs hope to put NFL draft busts behind them

TAMPA

Bucs coach Lovie Smith knows the NFL is a boom-or-bust business and nothing is more combustible than the draft. Choose wisely and you are well-stocked for the future. Pick poorly and you're the laughingstock of the league. In fact, Smith's mere presence at One Buc Place — the third coach to sit in his chair since 2011 — is testament to the franchise's draft day failures over the past five seasons. The Bucs are among eight teams — including Smith's former club, the Chicago Bears — that do not have a single player remaining from the 2009 draft.

Perhaps just as damning is that only one player remains from the 2010 class: All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. All told, the Bucs selected 36 players in drafts since 2009 and only 17 remain with the team (47 percent). Seven are projected to be starters this season.

That's why Smith and general manager Jason Licht felt compelled to be among the most active teams in free agency, signing 14 players.

"Is it hard to make up and is it a hindrance? You know, it's probably one of the reasons why Jason and I are both here right now," Smith said. "That's just a part of it. If you had to have one guy remaining, you'd like for it to be Gerald, of course. So that is a part of it. Of course, our plan is for us to do better in the draft and make that our foundation. I feel like we'll do that."

That was the same hope Mark Dominik had when he took over as Bucs GM in 2009. To be sure, despite the flops, he cultivated some talent — McCoy, linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster, running back Doug Martin and safety Mark Barron.

But those picks were countered by busts such as Brian Price, Arrelious Benn, Myron Lewis, Da'Quan Bowers and Luke Stocker.

Missing from either list is quarterback Josh Freeman. The 17th overall pick in 2009 showed incredible promise in two of his first four seasons in Tampa Bay. He went 10-6 in 2010, throwing 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions; and 7-9 in 2012, passing for a club record 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns.

But by Week 3 last year, Freeman was gone, released amid accusations that the Bucs leaked sensitive drug testing information. At 26, following a disastrous one-game start with the Vikings, Freeman has signed a one-year contract with the Giants to potentially back up Eli Manning.

"Quarterbacks make or break every franchise," Dominik said. "You have to hope yours is going to continue to improve, and if you take one in the first round, you've accelerated the process for everybody in the organization."

More and more, NFL owners want microwave results. That has led to shorter head-coaching tenures. Only nine of the 32 coaches who were on the sideline in 2009 still have their same job.

It's a chicken-and-the-egg debate. Do bad drafts lead to coaches being fired or vice versa? A coaching change generally means a scheme switch and new personnel.

"That's what you're seeing in some regard. You're seeing new coaches come in," former Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "For instance, in Tampa, I'm not sure if they even like (Mike) Glennon at quarterback. Last year during the season, people were saying he might be the future of the Buccaneers. It's in the eyes of the beholder, but you'd better get good players out of this draft to make your team because they're affordable and they're the lifeblood of the organization."

New coaches evaluate personnel differently, which can also nullify draft classes.

"I know that's a lot of it," Dominik said. "You want to go in and establish yourself and what you want to be offensively and defensively and that can be a part of your turnover."

Todd McShay, a draft analyst for ESPN, said Wednesday he believes the Bucs got value for some players in the draft, particularly the past three years.

"When you take some chances, you're taking some risks," McShay said. "I thought that Mason Foster pick was a really good pick. Da'Quan Bowers was a risk. … Adrian Clayborn, they got him a lot later than expected and he's started 35 games. Mark Barron started 30 games. Doug Martin, obviously dinged up, but I think both those guys are going to be really good football players for a long time in Tampa. Lavonte David is an absolute stud and that was a great value, one of the best values of that entire 2012 class.

"I wasn't as big on Glennon, but I thought he outplayed what the expectation was. It'll be interesting to see what his role is in Tampa, if he winds up hanging around with the new regime."

The Bucs own the No. 7 overall choice in next Thursday's draft. Though nothing is decided, the quarterback position will be considered.

"There's a high bust rate up there, especially where we're picking," Licht said. "So you want someone that can handle the expectations that are placed on him from us, from (the media), from our fans. So he's got to be a mentally strong player in addition to being a great player."

Just another boom-or-bust player in a boom-or-bust league.

Bucs hope to put NFL draft busts behind them 04/30/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …