Bucs Central

Inside the 2010 NFL Draft: An Interview with Shawn Zobel of Draft Headquarters.com

Ndamukong Suh

How interested are the Bucs in trading up to land Ndamukong Suh?

Now that the NFL post-season is over, it’s time to start turning our attention to the NFL draft. I took some time to catch up with Shawn Zobel of Draft Headquarters.com. According to Shawn’s bio, “…In the last two years Shawn’s mock drafts have out-scored nearly every draft analyst in the country, including both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN…”

That intrigued me – so I thought I’d ask Shawn some questions I’ve heard a lot of Buc fans wondering aloud lately. As we get closer to the draft we’ll follow-up with Shawn to get his latest updates.

Bucs Central: Shawn, I saw your mock and while Raheem Morris was a DB coach – Eric Berry doesn’t appear to be a high priority for our Tampa-2 scheme. Seeing as how no safety has been taken that high in 10 years – what leads you to think Tampa would take him over Russell Okung?

Shawn Zobel: “Eric Berry is the top safety prospect in past 5-10 years and has all of the makings of the next Ed Reed/Troy Polamalu-type of player; teams don’t want to pass on him. He’s a far better prospect than Okung is.”

BC: Also – in your opinion – why isn’t QB a legitimate consideration for the Rams? They’ve passed on Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman – even leaving the impression that they were envious of that Buccaneer pick last season – I could understand the opposition to Bradford, why not Clausen?

SZ: “I don’t think that there is a QB worth taking in the first round this year. I’m not a big fan of Bradford or Clausen. They could take one of them; however I think that it’d be a mistake especially with two locks coming out next year, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett.”

BC: If these are legitimate considerations – either Tampa could gain by taking either of the top 2 DT’s to slip to us. Or, we could also trade that pick to a 3-4 team who would value Berry’s full man-cover potential for a 3-4 fit.

SZ: “I think they should take Suh, McCoy, or Berry, whichever falls to them, and be very happy with it. The Bucs have the best pick in the draft because they can assure themselves that they can get one of the three elite players in this year’s draft.”

BC: By the way isn’t Schwartz background with the 3-4 in Tennessee? It seems the Lions could grab Okung or Berry higher than McCoy – and still get their NT in Terrence Cody as late as the 2nd round?

SZ: “They run a 4-3 in Tennessee. McCoy is a much better prospect than
Okung is and it’s going to be up to them to decide between McCoy and
Berry. The NT Terrence Cody, [doesn’t look to be] be a good fit
in the Lions defense.” [actually, Gunther Cunningham is the Detroit defensive coordinator and Schwartz intent was to run a “hybrid” 4-3 with some 3-4 concepts].

BC: Tampa could package one or both 2nd round picks for a trade-up to land Suh as well. Considering this, what is your take on the talents Tampa desperately needs: Suh vs McCoy. There is a current debate raging in the area as to which would be a better fit. My research shows that only a handful of defensive linemen have entered the draft after winning four major post season awards (Lombardi, Outland, Bednarik, and Nagurski) – and all were special – so Suh would seem to be worth moving up for…how do you see it?

SZ: “Either is worth moving up to grade. Suh is stronger and does a better job at holding up at the point of attack, while McCoy is more explosive and disruptive in the backfield. It’s personal preference. I like Suh better.”

BC: Are there any technical advantages that separate Suh from McCoy or even Brian Price for that matter?

SZ: “Suh plays with better technique (leverage, stout at the point); McCoy probably uses his hands a bit better. Brian Price reminds me a bit of Warren Sapp, however his motor is poor.”

BC: Tampa Bay is said to be continuing a self-described “hybrid” power blocking scheme augmented with ZBS concepts – with LT Donald Penn ballooning to over 350 lbs and not much depth the Bucs need a legitimate LT, love Bulaga but he’s climbing and I saw that you have him gone in the 1st round – so would Sam Young project as a RT or did his senior bowl play change any minds?

SZ: “Sam Young may go undrafted, he’s a major project at the next level. Bulaga should go in the Top 15, but he’s probably not worth the third pick in the draft.”

BC: With the Bucs in need of a power running back – what is the analysis of LaGarrette Blount: I have him as a target in the 5th round – will he make it?

SZ: “5th Round is an accurate assessment; however he’s done everything that has been asked of him this offseason and his stock could slowly rise as we get closer to the draft. He’d be another player who could rotate in and give the Bucs an immediate-impact player for their running game.”

Well, thanks Sean I appreciate your time and  insights.

This is the first volley of off-season drafts analysis. Not sure I agree completely with some of those takes –but it will be interesting to see what transpires between now and the end of April. Hope you guys check out Shawn’s website and mock drafts.

As Gene Deckerhoff says with our Buccaneers driving for a score: “fire those cannons”… let me hear what you think, or what you’d like to ask Shawn in the follow-up!

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5 comments… add one
  • Roland Johnson February 10, 2010, 11:51 pm

    I am a little surprised that Brian Price is viewed as a player that has a motor the runs hot and cold and that Zobel doesn’t feel either Bradford or Clausen are worth taking in the first round. It will be a very interesting few months with all the subject for debate and speculation leading up to the draft.

  • Roland Johnson February 11, 2010, 12:19 am

    I’d also like to know why Freddie Barnes a player that seemingly has soft hands and good route running ability, is not being talked about more as a mid-round prospect?

  • The White Tiger February 11, 2010, 12:21 am

    Roland – I think Clausen is climbing. I have read recently that Clausen is considered the most NFL ready – with an NFL arm capable of making all the throws and possessing excellent footwork.

    He’s not going to fit every offense, and if he goes to a team with a bad o-line, and a lack of weapons, he isn’t going to be a savior (you know, the kind of teams usually at the top of the draft). Luckily though – the theory, or strategy being followed by teams seeking to build winners is to protect the QB, first.

    Ideally, I think Clausen would fit in a drop-back type offense. If St Louis were to run a WCO, Bradford would seem to me to be a good fit.

    I know St Louis has a rock-solid LT in Jason Smith – so whomever they select LT will be strength.

    I think if Clausen shows off some of these traits at the combine, he will be the Rams pick.

    Leading up to this season I would have thought Bradford was their guy – and unless he does something that blows folks away at the combine – his injury history will probably land him in the 2nd round.

  • Roland Johnson February 11, 2010, 12:31 am

    I just wonder if the Rams who played Smith at RT last season are planning on switching Alex Barron back to the right side then? If the Bucs plan on landing one of the top two defensive tackles it looks as though either Detroit or St. Louis has to opt for another player or the Bucs must make a bold move and go up and get the player they covet.

  • The White Tiger February 15, 2010, 3:30 pm

    Roland – I agree – both scenarios (Detroit grabbing a QB, Lions grabbing a LT) most likely won’t happen. My thoughts are that one of these might happen.

    My gut tells me St Louis would be most prime – they want and need a QB, they’ve passed on some of the best young talent at the position and probably especially envious of the Bucs/Freeman (taken mid first, performed as well as the elite QB’s at the top of the draft).

    My belief (Did you see the theory I posted in four downs?) is that they want one, they just don’t want to pay 1st overall money for him because they’ve been selecting at the top of the draft for several years and it hasn’t made a difference. They need one, but maybe they don’t think Clausen or Bradford are worth the 1st overall. Would they rather trade down? Only if they could be assured of not missing the player they want…Washington drafts after the Bucs…

    I think the Bucs offer the Rams the best trade-down scenario – just don’t know if the Buccaneer front office would be willing to trade up. All depends on the type of defense Raheem will run as to the type of tackle they value.

    Will they be a 4-3 hybrid (augmenting with 3-4 concepts) or will they be a classic 4-3 utilizing a one-gap penetrator like Sapp?

    If it’s a hybrid, Suh has to be your man – if it’s a one-gap, 4-3 – McCoy would fit.

    That’s how I see this playing out…but then again I believe that teams are utilizing the formula/theory to build what they think are winners.

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