Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arrelious Benn

Bucs need to hit on draft picks

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
8:06
AM ET
It’s been well documented that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have only one player they selected in the 2009 and 2010 drafts on their roster.

That’s defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. But guys like Josh Freeman, Arrelious Benn and Brian Price are long gone from Tampa Bay. The failure of so many draft picks is one of the reasons former coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik are gone and why the Bucs have been so active in free agency this year.

“Is it hard to make up and is it a hindrance?’’ coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday. “That’s probably one of the reasons why [general manager] Jason [Licht] and I are both here right now, so that’s just a part of it.’’

Despite all of the movement in free agency, Smith said the team’s plan is to build through the draft.

“Our plan is for us to do better on the draft and make that our foundation,’’ Smith said.

Although they’ve brought in a lot of veterans, the Bucs expect their first-round draft pick (No. 7 overall) to play right away.

“As a general rule, the seventh pick, you want them to play fairly soon,’’ Smith said. “There’s no rebuilding around here. We’re trying to put together a roster to be able to win as quick as we possibly can. The seventh pick normally plays fairly soon.”
Colleague Kevin Seifert ran some numbers on how many of its original draft picks each team has on its current roster and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t fare very well.

The Bucs presently have 17 of their own draft picks on the roster. That ties them with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the second fewest. The Chicago Bears have the fewest with only 15 original draft picks. The Green Bay Packers lead the league with 33.

What’s most striking about Tampa Bay comes when you look back at the draft classes of 2009 and 2010. Players from those drafts should be entering their prime. But, outside of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, that’s not the case for the Bucs.

McCoy is the only player from those two drafts still on Tampa Bay’s roster. It would be easy to blame the lack of draft picks on the roster on the change of regimes from Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano to Jason Licht and Lovie Smith. But it wouldn’t be accurate.

Dominik and Schiano got rid of a good number of their own draft picks. Josh Freeman, Arrelious Benn and Brian Price jump quickly to mind. Licht and Smith recently unloaded receiver Mike Williams, a fourth-round pick in 2010, but you can put some of the blame for that on Schiano and Dominik. They drafted Williams, who came out of college with some red flags. Schiano and Dominik might have unloaded Williams if they had stayed.

Licht and Smith have talked about the importance of building through the draft. But they’ve also brought in a lot of free agents. I don’t think they’re blowing smoke about wanting to build through the draft. I think they’re simply doing what they have to do to make up for some of the mistakes made by Schiano, Dominik and former coach Raheem Morris. When the cupboard is empty, you have to go shopping.

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