The Draft isn't until March and the Bucs don't pick until the 20th hole but yet here I am devoting my third straight post to the damn thing. The Draft is like Vegas, everyone goes in thinking they're going to win but you know the House is going to win. The odds are stacked against you, but everyone still get excited about it.
Scouts Inc and current ESPN Product Todd McShay (check your contract Todd, the WWL now owns your soul) has released his mock draft which has our Bucs drafting OT Sam Baker out of USC. While this isn't the only mock I've seen with the Bucs drafting Baker it does strike me as odd for the following reasons...
1) The Bucs already have two left tackles, Luke Petitgout and Donald Penn
2) The Bucs have bigger needs, notably receiver and undertackle
I'm not completely ruling out Gruden and Company drafting an offensive tackle with the first pick, based on the last two drafts it's obvious Gruden has a hard on for offensive lineman. But drafting an offensive tackle makes little sense after spending as much as the Bucs did on Petitgout unless Gruden has serious doubts about both Petitgout's ability to return next season and Penn's ability to start at left tackle. Even is the former is a likely possibility the latter is highly unlikely. While Penn is not about to make it to any Pro Bowls he was reliable at left tackle.
Which leads us right back to drafting a receiver. McShay has four receivers drafted around the Bucs pick, and most draft talk at this point has six possible receivers being drafted in the first round. The receiver crop this year appears to shake out much like it did in 2004. That was the year we saw 6 receivers drafted in the first round, including Michael Clayton. This year's potential 1st rounders include
DeSean Jackson - Cal
Malcolm Kelly - Okla
Limas Sweed - Texas
Mario Manningham - Mich
Early Doucet - LSU
James Hardy - Indiana
I've already stated my support for Manningham (the solid if somewhat overwhelming choice) but I'm starting to come around to Sweed. He was widely considered the top receiver before the season started and if not for a wrist injury could have gone in the top ten. He's one of those guys who you get the feeling that looking back in ten years could have been the steal of the draft.
Anyway, like I mentioned at the beginning, we're a long ways away from the Draft so I'm sure I will waste a few more words on the subject between now and April.