Yardbarker Horiz

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Projecting Future Drafts: 2011, 2012, and 2013

Oh yes, I am fearless enough to project draft needs three years out.  Do I expect to be right?  Yes, actually, I do.  Will I be?  No, not 100%., but the reasons for missing will simply be the unpredictable future, not the certain facts I will lay out in this article.  Call this an exercise in reading the obvious and ignoring the future.  It's a pretty basic exercise -- just going through the logic which nailed the correct position of 7 of 9 draft picks in 2010 then moving forward for each of the next three years.

Remember that the draft is not a factory for immediate starters.  It is a method of harvesting the best possible talent to fight it out during the offseason for a position on the roster.  The plan laid out by General Manager Mark Dominik and Head Coach Raheem Morris is to have competition at every position.  The draft helps land as much talent as we can get our hands on to fuel the competition.  These picks are not required to be immediate starters -- they are just "the next in line" as needed.  Some may become starters quickly, but some may stay on the depth chart competing against future draft picks and free agents, increasing competition and creating a higher talent level.  That is The Plan.


2011
To project the needs for the 2011 draft, I took the young core offensive and young core defensive positional rosters and sorted out the 5th year players:

Offense:  WR Stovall, T Penn, G Joseph, T Trueblood, LS Economos
Defense:  LB Jon Alston

This does not mean that I expect these players to be released, cut, injured, or change careers before next offseason.  This means these players are now well above the 2-4 year average NFL career and so, statistically, may start to decline in production.  A good team has ready replacements waiting or even sharing the load so a smooth change can be made when needed.  The players listed are at positions which, by this logic, need a young player to fold into the mix.

For 2011, obvious trends are immediately apparent:  lots of losses on offense, only one loss on defense, many of the offensive losses are on the line.  So, with confidence, it appears the top need, first and foremost, will be offensive linemen.  The team may need two tackles, one guard, and perhaps a long snapper.  After a defense-heavy draft in 2010 there is only one need defensively for 2011 -- a linebacker, preferably outside.  Some of the media in the Bay Area appear to think that defensive end is a big need for this team but I disagree.  The one place were the talent base could be a bit off from the rest of the team is running back -- there are only two young ball carriers in the stable -- otherwise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be in a good position to take the player they want with their seven regular and one extra fifth round pick next year.



2012

Now, we remove the 4th year players from the young core and assume the 2011 draft filled the voids created by the 5th year players.

Offense:  Nothing, nada, zilch, zero.
Defense:  DE White, DE Crowder, LB Hayward, S Piscatelli, and S Jackson leave the chart

2012 will clearly have a strong swing back to the defensive side of the ball.  Now defensive end is a significant need -- so defensive end and safety look to be the primary focus as two players at each position could be needed.  The defensive end need, however, could vanish.  The Buccaneers have eight men competing for the two defensive end positions during the 2010 offseason.  If the team decides that six men competing for two positions is enough then the need vanishes (this could happen if the team decides the talent level is sufficient for good competition).  Finally, what is shaping up as an annual need at linebacker continues to appear.


2013

Remove the 3rd year players from the young core, assume the 2012 draft filled the voids created by the 4th year players, and assume the 2011 draft filled the voids created by the 5th year players.

Offense:  T Lee, G Zuttah, QB Johnson, RB Smith, PK Barth exit the chart
Defense:  LB Hayes, CB Talib, CB Mack, S Lynch move off the chart

Really stocking up on the assumptions at this point but, considered carefully, there is still useful information here.  For 2013, the pendulum swings to the middle with equal numbers of needs on offense and defense.  And, for the first time in four years, a look at quarterback will be in order.  Topping that, for the first time in 6 years a running back selection will also be in order.  On the defensive side of the ball, besides the annual linebacker selection, three defensive backs will be needed, two at corner and one at safety.  There are nine players listed here, so, in addition, the Buccaneers could use a couple extra picks (or need to use extra picks in 2011/2012 to avoid these shortfalls).



There you have it.  I confidently walked out farther on the draft branch than any sane person would ever do.  The only way to know if the branch broke is to see if this information stands up about 10 months from now, so look for a revisit during the run up to the 2011 draft.  And, if necessary, I'll eat a nice helping of crow.

But I don't think so!

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