Draft Day 1: Fins surprise, Jags solid and the Bucs still don’t get it

April 26, 2009

After the first day of the NFL draft I think the verdict is this:

* Bill Parcells and the crew at Miami made a couple of expected picks, such as strengthening the defense with Illinois CB Vontae Davis and Utah CB Sean Smith. There was a little bit of concern expressed by the draftniks that Davis could have an attitude problem. But there is agreement that Davis could be a great addition to the defense.

More surprising was the selection of West Virginia QB Pat White in the second round. White is tremendously gifted, but after watching him it’s clear that he is a longshot to be an everyday quarterback. But he could obviously run the Wildcat offense effectively and could give defenses fits since he can throw the ball a bit better than Ronnie Brown. My only other thought, however, is I wonder whether he would have slipped down the board another round. They may have taken White too high.

Grade for the Dolphins: B-

* Jacksonville had really done very little to help itself during the off-season coming into the draft. They signed a deal with Maurice Jones-Drew that I still think they will come to regret and they brought in Torry Holt, who has been a great receiver but is now 32 years old and you wonder how much he’s got left in him.

But on the first day of the draft the Jaguars did exactly what they needed to do: Get help on the offensive line. There was no way that Jones-Drew can even hope to succeed if the Jags did not address that critical need. They got two big bodies in OT Eugene Monroe from Virginia and OT Eben Britton from Arizona. Solid picks, good decisions.

Grade for the Jaguars: A

* Do the people running the Bucs now even understand how the NFL works? After acting as if their quarterback situation was acceptable (which it’s not) – they signed Byron Leftwich as a backup and on draft day they TRADE UP to get QB Josh Freeman from Kansas State.

This is yet another sign that this franchise has no interest in trying to win this upcoming season. Freeman could be a great talent – and new coach Raheem Morris knows him well – but everyone admits he’s not ready to start. What the heck is the point of that? Tampa Bay now has a parcel of quarterbacks and yet none of them is capable of making the Bucs a winner.

The Bucs refuse to ante up to go after Jay Cutler yet they tacitly admit through their acquisitions of Leftwich and now Freeman that they need a QB.

Bucs fans it’s going be a long, long 2009 season. This team just keeps headed in the wrong direction.

Grade for the Bucs: D

Jags and Bucs offseason moves bewildering

April 3, 2009

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris was quoted this week as saying he is pleased with the strides that some of his young players are making, including possible starting quarterback Luke McCown.

Hmm. Ok. Whatever.

The plain fact is that both the Bucs and the Jacksonville Jaguars have drifted aimlessly through this offseason. Unless these two Florida teams make some major teams come draft time both will be hopelessly mediocre in the coming year.

The most significant change for either team has been the Bucs addition of former Giants running back Derrick Ward. With the release of Warrick Dunn and the constant injuries of Cadillac Williams, it was a smart play to get another decent running back in the mix.

But you can’t win the NFL without a complete offensive team. Even a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers had to rely on Ben Roethlisberger to step up from time to time. And McCown will not be the answer. Please ask the Minnesota Vikings what it means to have one of the best running backs in the league without a decent quarterback. Why do you think the Chicago Bears just traded for Jay Cutler?

Some sports columnists have tried to sugarcoat the situation for Bucs fans and say they shouldn’t cry over losing Cutler. I would agree that maybe the Bears gave up a lot to get Cutler. But the message is clear. You cannot win in the NFL without a quarterback who other teams fear. And that’s not the case right now.

And don’t get me started about Kellen Winslow. He was a terror when he played at the University of Miami but his track record so far has been spotty. He will not suddenly transform McCown into a world-class quarterback.

The situation with the Jaguars is just as bewildering. Right now we have David Garrard at quarterback and who else?

The Jags still haven’t signed running back Maurice Jones-Drew to a long term deal, the team has virtually no wide receivers right now after jettisoning Jerry Porter and Matt Jones, and right now the plan appears to be have Jones-Drew split some time with fullback Greg Jones.

Draft day is right around the corner so there is a chance to make some changes that could help both these franchises. But right now the only Florida team that appears to have a shot of making it to the playoffs in 2009 is the Miami Dolphins.