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Buccaneers fill needs in draft

The Sports Xchange

The last time Greg Schiano was in the NFL as a defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears in 1998, he wasn't allowed entry into the war room.

That obviously wasn't the case as the first-year head coach of the Buccaneers and his handprint were all over the players the team selected in the NFL draft.

Schiano obviously looked for common traits: tough-minded team captains, highly productive players from mostly winning programs and guys who love football so much, you have to kick them out of the facility.

The Bucs went into the draft with many needs, especially on a defense that allowed a franchise-record 494 points last season, ranked last against the run and allowed 30 touchdown passes.

It was no surprise four of the Bucs' first five picks were defensive players, starting with Alabama safety Mark Barron.

The Bucs moved down two spots with the Jaguars to take Barron at No. 7 overall, picking up a fourth-round choice in the process. That extra pick became the currency that the Bucs used to trade back up into the first round to take Boise St. running back Doug Martin 31st overall.


Safety Mark Barron: May be one of the most solid players in the NFL draft. He's a two-time captain of the two-time national champion Crimson Tide. He is a physical, no-nonsense film junkie who will provide toughness to a defense that was 32nd against the run and allowed 30 touchdown passes.


Utah State running back Michael Smith: Gives them more speed on offense, which they sorely lack. And because he played behind a better running back in Robert Turbin, he didn't get the touches. But Smith had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to end his career.

A closer look at the Buccaneers' picks:

Round 1/7 - Mark Barron, S, 6-2, 213, Alabama

Bucs traded down two spots with the Jaguars and picked up a fourth-rounder to select Barron, a football junkie who hits like an anvil and has decent coverage ability.

Round 1/31 - Doug Martin, RB, 5-9, 223, Boise State

Martin is an every-down back that reminds Schiano of Ravens and former Rutgers running back Ray Rice. He should win the starting job over LeGarrette Blount.

Round 2/58 - Lavonte David, LB, 6-1, 233, Nebraska

David was a junior college transfer who hit it big immediately for the Cornhuskers and became an all-conference player. He will likely play weak-side linebacker for the Bucs.

Round 5/140 - Najee Goode, LB, 6-0, 244, West Virginia

Goode made a good impression on Schiano playing for West Virginia, who never lost to the Scarlet Knights during his time there. Will most likely work at strong-side linebacker.

Round 6/174 - Keith Tandy, CB, 5-10, 200, West Virginia.

A roommate of Goode's at West Virginia, Tandy had a knack for making big plays and is good in zone coverage reading the eyes of quarterbacks.

Round 7/212 - Michael Smith, RB, 5-9, 205, Utah State

With blazing speed from the running back position, Smith gives the Bucs exactly what they have lacked. He could become a third-down contributor and kick returner.

Round 7/233 - Drake Dunsmore, TE/FB, 6-3, 235, Northwestern.

Dunsmore was the tight end of the year in the Big 10. Finished his career with 14 touchdown catches and was the team's second-leading receiver last year.

--The Bucs had a yo-yo approach to the NFL draft Thursday, trading down and then up in the first round.

With LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne still on the board, the Bucs traded down two spots from No. 5 overall with the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7 to select Mark Barron, the first safety and only the third defensive back to be taken by the club in the first round.

But the Bucs weren't done. Tampa Bay moved back into the first round with the 31st overall pick from Denver to select Boise State running back Doug Martin. Tampa Bay traded its second-round pick and swapped fourth-round selections with the Broncos.

The 5-9, 219-pound Martin reminds coach Greg Schiano of Ray Rice, the Ravens running back who played for him at Rutgers. Martin started 25 games at Boise State and rushed for 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns in his career.

"Someone would bring that up, I knew it," Schiano said. "I do see some of it. To tell you the truth, yes. I do. I see a guy who is an incredible competitor and runs hard and plays hard. So there's probably some of that.:

Martin will provide immediate help for the Bucs on third down and complement tailback LeGarrette Blount. He also will have a chance to compete with him for the starting job, general manager Mark Dominik said.

Schiano was asked how he felt to emerge from the first day of the draft with a pair of first-round talents.

"Blessed, no doubt about it," Schiano said. "I feel like we're in a position where we got two great football players and great men, young men that are going to come in here and have an impact and add energy to this organization. I'm really looking forward to it."

Barron will provide help for a Bucs defense that was last against the run in 2011, allowing 156.1 yards per game. If scouts had a knock against Barron, it's that he might be as effective in pass coverage. But he finished his career with 12 interceptions.

"If you go back and count how many times I've been scored on in my college career, there probably won't be more than three," Barron said. "I don't feel like that's the case at all."

By moving back into the first round, Dominik said the Bucs will have the advantage of adding a fifth year to Martin's contract.

Schiano has said he prefers a bell-cow back that can play on every down. Blount has been a one-dimensional inside runner the past two seasons and has fumbled nine times, losing six.

Stopping the run and running the football is clearly the way Schiano believes he can win in the NFL.

"We have a guy like LeGarrette and to have Doug and LeGarrette, we can play a little bit of keep away," Schiano said. "I think our offensive line is going to be really, really good. It's not maybe what's in vogue in the National Football League right now, but I think it can be very successful. And we've got to go grind it out and get tougher and do all those things, but I think we have some pieces that are capable of that."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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