by Matt Bowen
April 30, 02010
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a solid draft last weekend, and it started with one of the projected “sure things” of the 2010 class in Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy. A player we expect to have an immediate impact and show up on film once the regular season starts.
Tampa then added another DT in UCLA’s Brian Price, who had first-round grades from some clubs and should be a part of the game day rotation for this Bucs defense. Another solid move along that defensive front.
But, one position that the Bucs addressed that should have a big effect on the development of QB Josh Freeman is the wide receiver position. Arrelious Benn came off of the board to Tampa in the second round before the team took a flyer on Syracuse’s Mike Williams in the fourth — a player who has his fair share of red flags and question marks, but we can’t deny his pure talent.
Too often we overlook the options that are needed on the field when a QB like Freeman, who had some success in his rookie season, is still learning and working on his craft when it comes to the pro game.
With Benn and Williams, the Bucs now have two receivers who can match up physically against NFL DBs and who can both provide something different in the passing game.
Williams can get vertical and can go up, high point the ball and make plays down the field. From a size/speed impact, he could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft. In Benn, the former Illinois product, Tampa might have a player who can emulate what Anquan Boldin did for the Cardinals and is expected to do with the Ravens this season once he gets the ball in his hands. He is the type of player who can break tackles and pile up yards after the catch.
Both are major upgrades from the WRs that Freeman had to work with in ’09.
However, it all goes back to the second-year QB. For this team to be successful as an offense, they need to allow him the time needed to develop. That starts with a running game of Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham, and now two young receivers who should be expected to contribute serious minutes and make plays — even as rookies.
We can’t call the Bucs challengers just yet for the NFC South, but when you look at their draft class and the talent they already have in Freeman, this has the feel of a young team that is starting to put together the right parts to eventually be a major player in the NFC.
I like teams that build through the draft. They get to develop their own talent and in time it pays off in the win column. This is exactly what we are seeing down in Tampa — and it will only get better.
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