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News » Something To Build On


Something To Build On


Something To Build On
The foundation is there, but the Bucs could use some help on defense.


By ROY CUMMINGS

rcummings@tampatrib.com

TAMPA - First-year Bucs general manager Mark Dominik threw the concept out for all to contemplate on the day he let Derrick Brooks go. In retrospect, it seems Dominik might have overstated the situation.

Though change is definitely in the offing at One Buc Place, the Bucs don't really seem to be in the rebuilding mode Dominik suggested. Rather, it seems they're simply remodeling.

The next phase begins today with the NFL draft.

quot;The thing about the draft is the players you take there are the players that form your identity,quot; Dominik said. quot;They're Buccaneers from Day One, and they're hopefully going to be Buccaneers until the end of their careers.

quot;In terms of having holes or filling needs, I've always been a believer that you can build through the draft. In Free Agency you're looking to get some help, but in the draft, that's where you do the long-term thinking.quot;

The Bucs return all but one offensive starter, quarterback Jeff Garcia, and spent the better part of Free Agency dressing up the offense, adding tight end Kellen Winslow in a trade and running back Derrick Ward and quarterback Byron Leftwich through Free Agency.

The Bucs also signed free-agent linebacker Angelo Crowell, but Crowell is coming off a season-ending knee injury and is the only notable addition the Bucs have made on the defense. It stands to reason, then, that the Bucs will spend today and Sunday adding to that side of the ball.

If that is indeed the plan, the Bucs have good timing. The offensive talent in this draft is considered ordinary, whereas the talent on defense is said, in some cases, to be exceptional.

That is certainly the case along the defensive line, at linebacker and at cornerback, which happen to be the areas where the Bucs , who own the 19th overall pick, have the most fixing up to do.

Their line, for example, appears to be an area of great need, in part because of a change in philosophy.

Whereas Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 required smaller, faster defensive tackles that could shoot gaps and get to the quarterback, Jim Bates' scheme calls for tackles to be big, strong and sturdy against the run. They don't have to be star-caliber players.

The Bucs have Chris Hovan returning to play one tackle spot and re-signed Ryan Sims, a former first-round pick of the Chiefs, at the other. They also are working prospects Greg Peterson and Dre Moore at tackle.

So, the Bucs could pass on the likes of Peria Jerry of Ole Miss, Missouri's Evander Hood and Boston College's Ron Brace today in an effort to shore up the defensive end position, which is clearly lacking.

Gaines Adams returns to work the right end, but he has not showed the promise the Bucs saw when they made him the fourth overall pick in 2007. Meanwhile, there is a gaping hole at left end.

The Bucs have not ruled out the possibility of re-signing 35-year-old Kevin Carter, but Bates' scheme calls for the ends to be athletic playmakers, so the Bucs likely will fill that need through the draft.

They might even look to do so with their first pick, with top-level prospects such as Florida State's Everette Brown, LSU's Tyson Jackson and Northern Illinois' Larry English likely available.

Bates' scheme also calls for playmaking linebackers, and despite a healthy contingent of bodies there, the Bucs appear to be lacking starting-caliber players on the outside. They are working safety Jermaine Phillips at Brooks' old weakside spot, but they could correct the problem by spending their first-round pick on someone such as USC's Brian Cushing or Virginia's Clint Sintim.

Or, it could be a corner the Bucs go after with their first pick. They certainly have a need there, with Bates' scheme calling for the corners to play mostly press coverage and Ronde Barber now 34 years old.

The Bucs would probably have to move up to get the best corner in the draft, Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins, but Illinois' Vontae Davis should be within their range at No. 19.

Davis has been rated a top-10 talent, but his attitude has some scouts worried, so he could fall into the second round. Of course, that may be the round in which the Bucs ultimately make their first pick.

With the talent deep at areas they need to fill, the Bucs likely will contemplate trading down in an effort to add more picks. Davis is one player the Bucs could opt to move down to acquire.

Brace, the defensive tackle from Boston College, Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson and Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman all could be available later if the Bucs trade down.

With four quarterbacks on the roster already - Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, Brian Griese and Josh Johnson - drafting Freeman seems unlikely. The Bucs would probably take a chance on Freeman if they were truly rebuilding.

But it seems they're only remodeling.

(CHART) BUCS PICKS

Round Pick (Overall)

First 19

Third 17 (81)

Fourth 20 (120)

Fifth 19 (155)

Sixth 18 (191)

Seventh 8 (217), 20 (229), 24 (233)

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ON TV

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discussion with Bucs writer

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* Breaking news from Bucs writer Roy Cummings

* Pick-by-pick, first-round analysis by NFL writer Ira Kaufman

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Martin Fennelly

* Up-to-the-minute

information on the Bucs' picks

Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979.

Photo: Southern California's Brian Cushing (10) could fill the need for an outside linebacker.

Photo: Boston College's Ron Brace, left, would fit into the Bucs' scheme as a bulky tackle.

Photo: FSU defensive end Everette Brown (99) could be enticing to the Bucs in the first round.

Photo: Illinois defensive back Vontae Davis could be available when the Bucs pick at No. 19.

Copyright ? 2009, The Tampa Tribune and may not be republished without permission. E-mail library@tampatrib.com



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

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