Oregon State S Sabby Piscitelli intercepted 15 passes during his collegiate career, tied for second in school history
After exercising their third and fourth picks on the first day of the 2007 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now addressed every level of their defense.
Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams was the first-round prize at the fourth overall pick, but the secondary got a boost at the end of the second round with aggressive Oregon State safety Sabby Piscitelli. Four picks and just a few minutes later, the Buccaneers added to their linebacking corps by nabbing speedy New Mexico linebacker Quincy Black.
This marks the first time the Bucs have made three first-day picks on defense since 1996, when a pair of first-rounders went to DE Regan Upshaw and DT Marcus Jones and a third-rounder was used on CB Donnie Abraham. The last time the Bucs drafted at least one defensive lineman, one linebacker and one defensive back on the first day of a draft was in 1995, when DT Warren Sapp and LB Derrick Brooks arrived in Round One and S Melvin Johnson followed in Round Two.
The Bucs have high hopes that their new defenders will boost a defense that last year fell out of the top 10 in the NFL rankings for the first time in a decade. In addition, both Piscitelli and Black are considered outstanding special teams players and should help out in that regard immediately.
Piscitelli's instincts and ball skills are evident in his 15 career interceptions, tied for second all-time at Oregon State. The 6-3, 225-pounder started 36 games at OSU and racked up 178 tackles and 29 passes defensed to go with his collection of picks. As a senior last fall, he started all 12 games and racked up 64 tackles, five interceptions and 12 passes defensed.
With his size and quick move to the line, Piscitelli is obviously a strong run defender. However, he also possesses enough speed and change-of-direction skills to be adept in coverage. His closing speed can be seen on punt coverage, where he often served as one of the gunners.
The 6-2 and 240-pound Black fits the mold of a Buccaneer linebacker – quick, fast and perhaps undersized by some teams' standards – and his stock was on the rise heading into the draft. As a senior at New Mexico he started all 13 games and racked up 114 tackles, one sack, four passes defensed and three interceptions. His top-end speed made Black a natural at rushing the passer and covering backs and tight ends out of the backfield.
Black's top-notch physical skills were on display at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he posted a combine-best vertical leap of 41.5 inches and ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.4s. Those skills helped him make plays sideline to sideline at New Mexico and should make him an intriguing figure in the Bucs' defense, where fast linebackers flourish.
The Buccaneers made four picks on the first day of the draft, also selecting Tennessee guard Arron Sears with the third pick of the second round (35th overall). On Sunday, the Bucs will pick one time each in the fourth and fifth rounds and three times in the seventh.