The Bucs traded up two spots a year ago to draft Kansas State's Josh Freeman with the 17th overall pick. Freeman started nine games, going 3-6 with 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. But the Bucs believe they have their franchise quarterback. What's not as clear is what happens if — heaven forbid — Freeman gets hurt? The Bucs seem happy with Josh Johnson, who went 0-4 as a starter last season. In fact, general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris wouldn't mind having two young guys behind Freeman. That's good news for Rudy Carpenter, who was signed off the Cowboys' practice squad. It's still unknown how Byron Leftwich fits into the picture. But as of now, he is on the roster, and the Bucs would like to bring four quarterbacks to camp.
What they're looking for
Best-case scenario would be for the Bucs to trade Leftwich before the draft. But that's not likely to happen, even with the trouble his former Steelers team is having with Ben Roethlisberger. If the Bucs took a flier on a quarterback, it would be in the later rounds, to say the least. Interestingly, the Bucs have drafted a quarterback three of the past four years.
Top 10 prospects
|Player, vital STATS||Comment|
|1. Sam Bradford Oklahoma, 6-4, 236||Bradford will almost certainly go No. 1, whether it's to the Rams or another team. The Heisman Trophy winner has proved he is healthy after missing most of the season with a shoulder injury and excelled during his pro day.|
|2. Jimmy Clausen Notre Dame, 6-2, 223||Clausen throws a nice ball and was productive in college, but he might lack some leadership skills. Given the value of the position, he won't last long in the draft.|
|3. Colt McCoy Texas, 6-1, 212||Winningest quarterback in NCAA history who led the Longhorns into the national title game last season.|
|4. Tim Tebow Florida, 6-3, 236||Tebow has worked to improve his throwing motion since the Senior Bowl. He rates high for intangibles, having led the Gators to two national championship games. Might go in the first round because of fan appeal.|
|5. Tony Pike Cincinnati, 6-6, 212||Productive player who led the Bearcats to bowl games, but injury is a concern.|
|6. Jarrett Brown West Virginia, 6-3, 219||If Brown had started for more than one season, he might be a first-rounder. Had one of the strongest arms at the Senior Bowl.|
|7. John Skelton Fordham, 6-5, 244||School's career leading passer with nearly 10,000 yards.|
|8. Zac Robinson Oklahoma State, 6-3, 210||Not the strongest arm in the draft but set a school record for passing yards and touchdowns.|
|9. Jevan Snead Mississippi, 6-3, 215||Bailed from Texas when Colt McCoy arrived. Good move. Led the Rebels to the Cotton Bowl.|
|10. Dan LeFevour Central Michigan, 6-3, 225||Dominated the competition in the Mid-American Conference.|
Fitting the bill
It's unlikely this would happen, but Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour is an interesting prospect. He has good size at 6 feet 3, 225 pounds and rushed for 1,500 yards in his career. He might be available in the middle to late rounds because of having played in the Mid-American Conference.
The Bucs have 11 draft picks. That said, they won't use one on a quarterback. Dominik would like to develop the young guys behind Freeman the way the Packers did with Mark Brunell and Matt Hasselbeck behind Brett Favre.
Rick Stroud, Times staff writer