A mid-season newcomers review
Halfway through the season and time to look at how the rookies and new Buccaneers have done so far in terms of mid-term grades.
Top of the class
Aqib Talib, Jeremy Zuttah, Antonio Bryant, Jeff Faine. Talib could well break into the starting rotation ahead of Ronde Barber by the end of the season and has shown a nose for the ball from his nickel back position. Zuttah has filled in at both guard positions next to the outstanding Faine who has shown why the Bucs signed him a minute into the free agency period. And all Antonio Bryant has done is saved the Buccaneer receiving corps.
Doing OK and looking good for the future
Geno Hayes, John Gilmore, Elbert Mack, Jimmy Wilkerson. Hayes is a special teams' demon and Wilkerson has added this to his repetoire as well as backing up the defensive line starters. Gilmore is the blocking tight end that the Bucs needed to replace Anthony Becht, and Mack made the team as an undrafted free agent and has been a pleasant surprise.
Could do better
Dre Moore, Josh Johnson, Cory Boyd, Matt McCoy, Ben Troupe. Moore was always seen as a reach and only made the practice squad and the Bucs thought enough of the rookie QB Johnson to not even expose him to waivers at the end of pre-season. Boyd was a 7th round pick who was injured before even reaching training camp, and McCoy and Troupe were cheap free agent signings who were never expected to amounto much.
Delta Tau Chi
Bluto, Otter, Pinto and the rest of the Delta fraternity have a new member - Dexter Jackson. OK, so John Belushi would not ever hand the second-round pick a beer in case he dropped it, but the first eight games of the season have not been good for the Appalachian State speedster. He needs to get his confidence back and that of the coaches and then the fans, if the word "bust" is not going to start being used a lot.
You can never really truly judge a draft class until around three years after they have been selected. I mean, Barrett Ruud hardly played a defensive snap in 2005 but would you want him off the field now? Perhaps Dexter Jackson will be a superstar receiver on the 2010 Buccaneers ..... OK perhaps not.
Paul Stewart, November 2008