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Davis: Bucs drafted Barron specifically because of Graham

Graham Getty Images

We’ve managed to get our mitts on a portion of the testimony generated during the Jimmy Graham franchise-tag grievance hearing. And I’ve managed to actually devote some time to reading the many pages, which turned out to be far more difficult than actually getting a partial transcript.

Testifying as an expert in support of Graham’s position that he should be regarded as a receiver for franchise-tag purposes, former Buccaneers special assistant to the head coach Butch Davis said that the team’s draft strategy in 2012 was fueled directly by a desire to stop Graham.

“We took [safety] Mark Barron in the first round simply because of Jimmy Graham,” Davis said of the team’s decision with the eighth overall pick that year.

The goal, as Davis explained it, was to have Barron cover Graham for short to intermediate routes, with help over the top on deeper routes, because Graham is faster than Barron.

It hasn’t exactly worked; the Saints are 4-0 against the Bucs since Barron arrived.

The testimony ultimately was turned against Davis on cross examination by the NFL’s lawyers, when Davis was forced to admit that the Buccaneers didn’t draft a cornerback to cover Graham — and that the Bucs never would have drafted a safety to cover Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

In hist testimony, Davis compared Graham to Johnson and other large receivers, including Plaxico Burress and Harold Carmichael. Ultimately, however, arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejected the argument that Graham becomes a receiver when moved from the classic tight end alignment, drawing an arbitrary four-yard line from the tackle and holding that snaps inside that bubble count as tight end snaps.

Burbank’s decision apparently was swayed heavily by the testimony from Saints coach Sean Payton. We’ve gotten our hands on his testimony, too. If/when I managed to focus my eyes and brain on the many questions and answers, I’ll share some of the highlights.

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30 Responses to “Davis: Bucs drafted Barron specifically because of Graham”
  1. chad504boy says: Jul 8, 2014 11:35 AM

    What a horrible argument made by the Jimmy Graham camp.

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 8, 2014 11:42 AM

    And what did the Bucs do to specifically counter every other player in the NFL? Sounds like a lame-brained philosophy for building a team.

    Any investment to stop Graham costs the team somewhere else, such as having a wide receiving Tight End to exploit their opponents’ defenses. Everything is a trade-off, so to build a strategy around the pros of one side of the trade-off is illogical unless you have weighed the cons of the other side of the coin. That doesn’t mean that Barron couldn’t still have been a logical pick, but the way it is described sounds like general management incompetence at the core of their thinking. Hopefully Jason Licht eventually learns from the mistakes of the last person in charge of sinking this ship.

  3. therealtrenches says: Jul 8, 2014 11:50 AM

    Okay, so it was a poorly executed plan. But it still reveals quite clearly that they were preparing for Graham as a major pass-catching component of the New Orleans offense.

    The most mind boggling aspect of this whole situation is that the NFLPA collectively bargained for a 5.3k differential between TEs and WRs, even after all we’ve been hearing for the past ten years about the “evolution of the TE into an offensive weapon.”

    If the NFLPA had done its job, Graham never even would have had to go to court to argue that a guy who catches ca. 60 – 80 balls per year should be franchised at a rate competitive to….a guy who catches 60 – 80 balls per year, no matter where he lines up, or what letters appear next to his name on the roster.

  4. whysomanylosers says: Jul 8, 2014 11:52 AM

    I HAD a lot of respect for Butch Davis, but I dont know what he did (if anything) for the Bucs while he was in Tampa.

    If your safety is covering the TE who was supposed to be the “help over the top for deeper routes”?

  5. milkmandanimal says: Jul 8, 2014 11:53 AM

    The Bucs drafted Barron because there had been a giant hole of suck at safety for years; this is a team that actually started Sabby Piscitelli for a couple years. They needed a safety and got a pretty good one, and . . . why is anybody listening to Butch Davis anyways based on his history in the NFL?

    That was the draft where the Bucs got Barron, Doug Martin, and Lavonte David in the first 39 picks. That was one heck of a draft.

  6. therealtrenches says: Jul 8, 2014 11:54 AM

    Oh…that should say “…a 5m3k differential.” Danged fumbly fingers!

  7. steelerben says: Jul 8, 2014 12:03 PM

    The idea that was just floated about the franchise tag being used based upon production instead of position makes a lot of sense. Not just for tight ends, but for situations like guards having their tag set by tackles, first deal quarterbacks being paid like Peyton, slot guys being set by #1 wide outs, and the whole linebacker/defensive end argument.

    Let it be based upon stats averaged out per game over the course of their previous contract.

  8. acebuccs08 says: Jul 8, 2014 12:05 PM

    “While Pro Football Talk claims drafting Barron to stop Graham didn’t exactly work because the Saints are 4-0 in games against Mark Barron, that’s not completely accurate. Mark Baron and Jimmy Graham only faced each other twice, with Barron missing last year’s week 17 contest, while Graham missed the game in Tampa the year before.

    Graham was certainly productive in those two games, catching an agonizing total of 15 passes for 248 yards, the 2013 matchup between Barron and Goldson specifically was very educational. In that game, the Bucs had Goldson covering Graham in man coverage for most of the first half, as the tight end racked up 156 yards on eight catches. In the second half, the Bucs largely covered him with Mark Barron. Once they made that switch, Drew Brees completed just two of five passes in Graham’s direction for 23 yards and a pick-six.”

    Thank you bucsnation for adding on to those claims.

  9. cipher0352 says: Jul 8, 2014 12:07 PM

    The more this goes on, the more I hate Jimmy Graham.

  10. bucsmightbegood says: Jul 8, 2014 12:09 PM

    We should’ve drafted Luke Keuchly instead of Barron.

    This year is make or break for Barron and Goldson.

    We have expensive safeties that can’t cover.

  11. crazycane says: Jul 8, 2014 12:15 PM

    #AAB

    Another Alabama Bust

  12. milkmandanimal says: Jul 8, 2014 12:27 PM

    bucsmightbegood says:
    Jul 8, 2014 12:09 PM

    We should’ve drafted Luke Keuchly instead of Barron.
    —————————————————-

    Uh, no. If the Bucs had drafted Kuechly, they wouldn’t have drafted Lavonte David, and Lavonte David last year was one of the best defensive players in the league (PFF ranked him as the #5 player in the ENTIRE NFL last year). The kid is that good, and, while Kuechly is a great player, David was just mind-bogglingly good last year.

  13. walkinginthewasteland says: Jul 8, 2014 12:32 PM

    thestrategytard says: Jul 8, 2014 11:42 AM

    And what did the Bucs do to specifically counter every other player in the NFL? Sounds like a lame-brained philosophy for building a team.

    __________

    Wrong, just so wrong. The Saints for the longest period of time (and arguably still) are one of the main obstacles to the Bucs winning the division. Planning to neutralize your biggest rivals best weapon isnt lame brained. Unlike your post.

  14. radioactivechimp says: Jul 8, 2014 12:33 PM

    Considering Graham had 250 yards and 2 TD’s in two games against the Bucs last season, this plan has failed miserably.

  15. Marshawn Lunch says: Jul 8, 2014 12:38 PM

    “I HAD a lot of respect for Butch Davis, but I dont know what he did (if anything) for the Bucs while he was in Tampa.”

    But you still had a lot of respect for him?? You don’t know if he even did anything, but you had a lot of respect for him? To each, their own – I guess.

  16. theboondoggles says: Jul 8, 2014 12:39 PM

    whysomanylosers says:
    Jul 8, 2014 11:52 AM
    I HAD a lot of respect for Butch Davis, but I dont know what he did (if anything) for the Bucs while he was in Tampa.

    If your safety is covering the TE who was supposed to be the “help over the top for deeper routes”?
    _________________________
    The other safety. It’s Cover 1.

  17. 6ball says: Jul 8, 2014 12:41 PM

    .
    Tampa used S Barron to cover Graham. The Patriots used CB Aqib Talib. The bottom line is you have to have an oversized defensive back to deal with the Grahams, Gronkowskis, and Gates of the world.
    .

  18. kd75 says: Jul 8, 2014 12:54 PM

    The 49ers drafted 11 guys to stop Mark Bavaro and he dragged all of them into the end zone.

  19. mdd913 says: Jul 8, 2014 12:54 PM

    Would you draft a safety to cover an elite WR? No, you say??? Wow, Graham’s camp might’ve had a better chance if they had literally just not shown up for the hearing.

  20. mdd913 says: Jul 8, 2014 1:15 PM

    Tampa used S Barron to cover Graham. The Patriots used CB Aqib Talib. The bottom line is you have to have an oversized defensive back to deal with the Grahams, Gronkowskis, and Gates of the world.
    .

    ——————————————————————

    The bottom line is that Graham is treated as a tight end by the vast majority of defenses. And this illustrates that. Talib was the only instance of a CB going full-on man coverage against Graham last year, and the Saints played a lot of good defenses. If he was really a great wide receiver the Bucs would’ve put Revis on him, not a safety.

  21. bucsmightbegood says: Jul 8, 2014 1:20 PM

    milkmandanimal says:Jul 8, 2014 12:27 PM

    bucsmightbegood says:
    Jul 8, 2014 12:09 PM

    We should’ve drafted Luke Keuchly instead of Barron.
    —————————————————-

    Uh, no. If the Bucs had drafted Kuechly, they wouldn’t have drafted Lavonte David, and Lavonte David last year was one of the best defensive players in the league (PFF ranked him as the #5 player in the ENTIRE NFL last year). The kid is that good, and, while Kuechly is a great player, David was just mind-bogglingly good last year.
    ___________________________

    Tampa still could have traded back and taken Keuchly. And, Tampa could have still traded up for Martin at the end of the 1st and for Lavonte David in the 2nd.

    David is a monster, no argument here. Barron just doesn’t seem to give the Bucs a good return on investment.

    This year, under Lovie, we will see.

  22. jacktumlinson says: Jul 8, 2014 1:27 PM

    teams usually draft to win the division. if you are not number one in your division then you draft to beat the number one team. So, drafting Barron to cover Graham seems like a good pick. Thing is that in the NFC South, no team ever won the division twice in a row.

  23. mattryansnoodlearm says: Jul 8, 2014 1:33 PM

    Hahaha guess that hasn’t worked out

  24. thegreatgabbert says: Jul 8, 2014 1:57 PM

    If Graham holds out or is traded out of the division, Barron will be cut.

  25. myeaglescantwin says: Jul 8, 2014 2:19 PM

    Graham request trade to a team that will list him as a WR.
    Saints look dumb.

  26. saint970 says: Jul 8, 2014 2:38 PM

    myeaglescantwin says:
    Jul 8, 2014 2:19 PM
    Graham request trade to a team that will list him as a WR.
    Saints look dumb.

    ____________________________________

    The Saints looke just fine beating you in Philly.

  27. micknangold says: Jul 8, 2014 2:51 PM

    We drafted a safety to cover him. Cause he’s a tight end. I mean receiver! Whose side am I arguing again?

  28. mikekowa says: Jul 8, 2014 7:17 PM

    Meh. Graham’s just another player. The Hawks just put a linebacker on him. Nothing special.

  29. GO BUCS says: Jul 8, 2014 8:40 PM

    Davis said of the team’s decision with the eighth overall pick that year. ? I might be wrong here, but didn’t the Bucs pick Barron with the 7th pick?

  30. johnclaytonsponytail says: Jul 9, 2014 1:28 AM

    Seahawks used a bracket coverage with a safety over the top at all times. They used a lot of different looks and personal overall and their coaching staff knew that. Believe me they had to cover Our best receiving threat with more than one player or they wouldn’t have went to the Superbowl. I cant wait till the Hawks have to come to the Dome. Revenge is sweetest served cold.

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