Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Cosey Feeling

The Buccaneers feel good about their interior offensive line depth after an extended look at second-round pick Cosey Coleman


The Bucs traded up in the 2000 NFL draft for a chance to land G Cosey Coleman

We're not trying to stir up trouble here or anything, but on Tuesday Buccaneers.com learned of one current Buc that was disappointed when Tampa Bay traded for Pro Bowl WR Keyshawn Johnson on April 12.

Okay, we admit it: that was an intentionally misleading statement. Yes, rookie guard Cosey Coleman was disappointed at the Bucs' trade, but he wasn't a member of the team at the time. Heading into the 2000 NFL draft, the standout Tennessee lineman had figured the Buccaneers for the team most interested in gaining his services, then had suddenly ruled them out when Tampa Bay gave up both of its first-round picks for Johnson.

Coleman was right and wrong. He had correctly read the intentions of Director of Player Personnel Jerry Angelo, whom he had met on several occasions, and Head Coach Tony Dungy, who had made his acquaintance at the Senior Bowl in February. However, he was mistaken when he thought the Bucs had lost all chance to land him when they gave up their first-rounders.

"There were a couple of teams that I knew had an eye on me in the late first or early second rounds," said Coleman. "After those teams passed, I didn't know where I was going to end up, to be honest with you. I knew the Bucs had some interest in me, but I didn't have any idea they were going to trade up and make a move until Coach Dungy called me.

"I was disappointed when they traded their picks for Keyshawn. I crossed them out at that point, but things worked out pretty good."

Coleman slipped farther in the draft than many mock roundups had predicted, but his stock had not fallen and the Bucs were excited to see him still on the board midway through the second round. In fact, it was an opportunity Tampa Bay couldn't pass up, as Coleman was one of the players it was originally considering in the first round. The Bucs surrendered their fourth-round pick in order to move up six spots and nab Coleman.

Thus Coleman ended up where he was hoping to go all along, in a situation that seems perfectly suited for him. With fourth-year player Frank Middleton slated to start at right guard and 11-time Pro Bowl player Randall McDaniel brought in to take over the left guard spot, Coleman is not expected to jump right into the starting lineup.

"We traded up and gave away a pick to make sure we could get him," said Dungy. "He was a guy that we were targeting. We feel like it's going to be a perfect fit, coming in and learning behind Randall McDaniel and Frank and giving us a very good third guard and a guy that we feel can grow into a starter and be an excellent player in the league."

On Tuesday, Coleman finished the main portion of the Bucs' 12th voluntary summer workout, then joined the rest of the Bucs' young linemen for additional drills in the north end zone of the team's practice field. It was a time for some additional tutelage under the watchful eyes of Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster; in fact, the entire four weeks of summer workouts are intended as a learning period, particularly for the young players. Coleman is making the most of it.

"It's gone pretty good," he said on Tuesday. "It's an opportunity for me to learn the system and pick up the speed of the game and interact with the other players. We're not out here long, but it's an opportunity for me to catch up so I can be up to par when camp starts. When training camp starts, I'll be comfortable and it will be smooth sailing."

Dungy is also very pleased with Coleman's progress and further convinced that the Bucs made the right move in April by trading up. Dungy claimed that Coleman's experience at Tennessee has given him an added edge. "He's doing well. He's very athletic. He's ahead of most rookies in pass protection because of the time they spent when they had Peyton Manning and Tee Martin. They threw the ball an awful lot. He's more well-versed in pass protection, which is where most young guys struggle, so he's doing well."

After two years in Indianapolis, Manning is already one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, and Martin, a rookie, will try to make it in Pittsburgh, which drafted him in the fifth round. Coleman, meanwhile, will turn his attention to protecting Shaun King, the Bucs' own young signal-caller. So far, he has been up to the task.

"It's not tough as I expected, but we haven't put the pads on yet," said Coleman. "For certain, when we do that the tempo will pick up a couple more notches. As for now, everything's pretty much straight to the point. There's no wasting time on the field; we just come out, do what we've got to do and get off the field.

"Like Coach Dungy said, I'm in a situation where there's no pressure on me to come in and be a starter or anything like that. I just have to come in and learn. I don't want to prolong anything, I want to catch on and pick up things as quick as I can, but there's not that added pressure of being a first-round pick and having to come in and make an immediate impact."

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