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Draft Preview: Bucs pick 15th
Posted: Saturday April 03, 1999 02:39 PM
For the next 15 days, CNN/SI will offer a daily look at one pick from the 1999 draft, finishing with Cleveland. Check back for a new preview each day.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a busy team in last year's draft, pulling off just about every kind of trade at some point. By the time the second round was over, they had traded away a first-rounder, gained one and maneuvered up and down with, yes, savvy. Not all the deals were outright heists, but they weren't bad, either.
The Bucs sent the Raiders the 23rd pick in exchange for two second-rounders. They used one on receiver Jacquez Green, who finished second in the NFL (behind Deion Sanders) in punt return average, then traded the other to San Diego for a first-round pick in 2000. They also packaged their own second-rounder with a fourth-round pick to move up eight spots and take cornerback Brian Kelly, who many experts had predicted the Bucs to take with their first-round pick.
The Bucs had gained a third-round pick in this year's draft from the Ravens for disgruntled tailback Errict Rhett, but they traded that back to Baltimore for a fourth-round pick, which they used on center Todd Washington, who played in only four games as a rookie.
The only addition to this year's draft is the sixth-round pick acquired from Kansas City for safety Melvin Johnson, who played in only three games before the Chiefs cut him in October.
Best bet for No. 15
By the time the Buccaneers make their first pick, at least four quarterbacks will be off the board, but Tampa Bay still could use its top pick on a player they feel could compete with Trent Dilfer. The team has expressed an interest in Warren Moon, but regardless, look for them to take a quarterback high.
The quarterback that best fits the Bucs is UCLA's Cade McNown, who drew high praise from Tony Dungy at the Senior Bowl in February. Dungy said he liked McNown's production in college -- he threw for 23 touchdowns his senior year, and despite a mediocre defense, had the Bruins contending for a national championship into December.
Assuming that no team below the Bucs trades up to draft a quarterback, McNown should be available at 15. Tampa Bay could also wait until the second round and go after Tulane's Shaun King, who went to high school in St. Petersburg. King, who is roughly the same size and speed as McNown, went 12-0 last season in leading the Green Wave.
If they don't take McNown in the first round, the Bucs could certainly use an offensive tackle. Only two will likely be off the board when they pick, so they can choose from four or five other prospects who could be everyday starters in the NFL. Left tackle Paul Gruber is 34, and a tackle like Georgia's Matt Stinchcomb or West Virginia's Solomon Page could step in on the right side until Gruber calls it quits.
The Bucs' other needs aren't worth a first-round pick -- they could use a free safety, and with Lorenzo Neal gone to Tennessee, they could use another fullback, but they can address those needs in the middle rounds.
Look for the Buccaneers to join in on the quarterback frenzy and make McNown the fifth quarterback taken with their first-round pick. And if Dilfer opens 1999 like he did last season -- 5 TDs and a high of 219 yards in his first seven games -- look for McNown to get a chance to prove himself worth the pick.
Click here if you have a question or comment about the upcoming NFL Draft. We'll answer a few questions and publish selected comments once a week between now and April 17.
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