So far, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2010 draft looks like a project for the Department of the Interior.
With the third pick of the second round, number 35 overall, the Buccaneers have selected UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price. This comes roughly 22 hours after Tampa Bay started its draft with another defensive tackle, Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy.
Obviously, this is a team that intends to be much more stout in the middle in 2010, an unsurprising focus given that Tampa Bay ranked last in the NFL in rush defense in 2009.
Even with McCoy - a penetrating pass-rusher and a lineman who can take on double teams - now on board, there is plenty of room for Price in the Buccaneers' plans. The 6-1, 303-pound defender had seven sacks for the Bruins last year but is considered particularly strong against the run. By pairing Price with McCoy - and including last year's third-round pick of Roy Miller - the Bucs have completely rebuilt the interior of their defense. Considering the goal is to return the entire defensive unit to Tampa Bay's usually lofty standards, that seems like the perfect place to start.
Price played three seasons at UCLA and appeared in 35 games with 30 starts. He amassed 97 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 44.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. Last season, Price ranked third in the entire nation with 23.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Price has a strong initial move up the middle in addition to exceptional strength to hold the point. He is outstanding in one-on-one hand work with opposition linemen; if McCoy does indeed draw extra attention, Price should be able to take full advantage.
Last year, Price started all 13 games for UCLA and posted career highs in tackles (48), tackles for loss (23.5) and sacks (7.0). He was a first-team All-America choice by Sports Illustrated and a third-team selection by the Associated Press. Price, who occasionally lined up at fullback for the Bruins' offense, was also a first-team All-Pac-10 selection.
The 21-year-old Price hails from Los Angeles and was a member of the UCLA honor roll in 2007.
This marks the first time in team history that the Buccaneers have taken defensive tackles with each of their first two picks in the draft. In fact, if one draws distinctions between tackles and ends on defense and guards and tackles on offense, this is the first time Tampa Bay has ever picked two players at the same position to start a draft. The nearest similarities occurred in 1996 (DE Regan Upshaw and DT Marcus Jones) and 2006 (G Davin Joseph and T Jeremy Trueblood).
The Buccaneers will be back on the clock shortly, as they are scheduled to make pick #42 overall in the second round. That selection was acquired in last year's trade of DE Gaines Adams to Chicago.