The fifth round of the draft produced the Bucs' fifth defensive player in six overall picks
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' draft-weekend search for fresh talent on defense has taken them near (Clemson) and far (Oregon State), north (Syracuse) and south (New Mexico).
Now, in the fifth round, it has taken them into the small-school ranks, from where they've plucked defensive tackle Greg Peterson out of North Carolina Central. Peterson is the second defensive linemen the Bucs have drafted in 2007, following first-round end Gaines Adams out of Clemson, and the fifth defensive player the Bucs have taken out of six choices overall.
Those five picks have run the gamut of the defensive zones, too. They include an edge rusher in Adams, an inside man in Peterson, an outside linebacker in New Mexico's Quincy Black, a rangy safety in Oregon State's Sabby Piscitelli and a corner who is converting to safety in Syracuse's Tanard Jackson.
Though tall (6-5, 271 pounds) for a defensive tackle, Peterson has the sort of quick upfield skills that the Buccaneers covet in a three-technique interior lineman. Those skills translated into 10.5 sacks over his two seasons at North Carolina Central after he had transferred to the school from Hinds Community College in Mississippi.
A hard worker on the field and in the weight room, Peterson has a muscular build and unusual speed for his size. In addition to his sacks, he contributed 104 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, one interception, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick during the 2005-06 seasons. Some scouts project that Peterson could play defensive end in the NFL as well.
This marks the second straight year that the Buccaneers have taken a versatile pass-rushing lineman in the fifth round of the draft. Last spring, the Bucs used that spot to grab Stanford's Julian Jenkins, who logged significant playing time late in his rookie season. With the exception of WR Larry Brackins in 2005, the Buccaneers have found keepers with most of their recent fifth-round picks, including safety Jermaine Phillips (2002), guard Sean Mahan (2003), guard Jeb Terry (2004), safety Donte Nicholson (2005) and Jenkins.
The Buccaneers still possess four more picks to execute on the second day of the 2007 NFL Draft, including a sixth-rounder they picked up earlier in the afternoon in a trade with Minnesota. That pick, number 182 overall, is next and will be followed by a trio of seventh-rounders.