With the annual selection of Mr. Irrelevant, the 2012 NFL draft has concluded. 253 players were selected in total, and nearly 15 hours were spent selecting the best football prospects in the world. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made seven selections this year, starting with safety Mark Barron out of Alabama and ending with fullback Drake Dunsmore out of Northwestern.
Overall, I was impressed with the selections that the Bucs made. They really attacked their weakest areas first, and picked up three prospects that could start right away. So, here are my 2012 draft grades for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1. Mark Barron, S, Alabama (7th overall)
Of course, Mark Barron is a great player and he’s the best safety in the draft, but I feel that Tampa Bay could’ve gotten a top-five player in the draft. I don’t think Barron is a top-five player, and the Bucs didn’t either. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have moved back two spots to grab him. However, he seems more than ready to start in the NFL, and his time at Alabama prepared him well.
2. Doug Martin, RB, Boise State (31st overall)
Maybe I’m being a bit generous because usually I don’t hand out an A+ easily, but I really, really like this selection by Mark Dominik. Martin appears to be the exact running back that Greg Schiano was looking for. He’s got the pass blocking ability, the strength, and the motor to be a top running back in this league. He was the second best running back in the draft behind Trent Richardson.
3. Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska (58th overall)
Again, a solid selection by the Bucs. I don’t think Lavonte David went too high, but I would have liked to have seen the Bucs draft a cornerback here. Linebacker was definitely a position of need, but I feel that corner should have been a higher priority. I don’t want to knock Lavonte David because he’s an excellent player, who’s always around the ball and should start in game 1.
4. Najee Goode, LB, West Virginia (140th overall)
I think Najee Goode is a steal in this draft, and many have dismissed him because he’s undersized. I couldn’t disagree more. Mychal Kendricks went in the second round and he’s smaller than Goode. His vertical jump was solid at the combine, which makes up for his “lack” in size. He’s a solid player, and adds much needed depth.
5. Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia (174th overall)
Keith Tandy definitely has some potential. He’s physical and good at locating the football and running with receivers. But, his footwork is still raw and he frequently takes very poor angles. The reason I give this pick a C- is that Tampa Bay should have attempted to get back into the fourth round to take a cornerback. I would have liked to have seen them select someone like Josh Norman in the fourth round. Norman has great size for a corner, but they opted to go with Tandy.
6. Michael Smith, RB, Utah State (212th overall)
Well, Michael Smith was the best running back available at 212. He’s fairly similar to Darren Sproles and is effective in the open field. Last year, Smith averaged 7.6 yards per carry. He’s got incredible speed which is something the Bucs rarely have, and that is why I give this a solid B grade.
7. Drake Dunsmore, FB/TE, Northwestern (233rd overall)
Earnest Graham is getting old and coming off of a major injury. Tampa Bay was probably looking for an upgrade at fullback, which is why they chose Dunsmore in the seventh round. However, I would have liked to have seen the Bucs add some more defensive depth instead. Fullback isn’t a fairly significant position, but we’ll see how effective Dunsmore is. Dunsmore can also play tight end, where he was effective at Northwestern.
Overall Grade: A-
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