Monday, April 20, 2015

Predicting the 2015 Buccaneer Draft - The Time is Now


The lead-up has been painfully slow, but the 2015 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away.  Since the last time I went through this exercise, the only substantive move the Bucs have made is to trade for DE George Johnson and drop 63 spots in the draft in the process.  I’ve already expressed my thoughts on that “deal”.  That move doesn’t lessen the need to add a pass rusher, but Licht and Lovie might disagree. 

I see the Bucs needs as QB, T, G, DE, WR, S, CB, and LB, and as it stands right now, they have 7 draft picks.  Coming off a 2-14 season followed by an unspectacular free agency period, April 30 starts possibly the most important three day span of the L&L regime. 

For this reason, I expect them to be active in the trade market draft weekend.  As a fan who has been disgusted by the organization’s performance both on and off the field for more than a decade, I need them to be active in the trade market draft weekend.  In addition to the 7 draft picks, they have a couple of movable parts (namely Mike Glennon and Doug Martin) that could net them additional prospects. 

Barring the upset of all upsets, the Bucs will kick off the draft by selecting what they hope is a franchise QB.  I believe they need to partner that pick with aggressive moves that give them multiple players who can contribute right away.  If the Bucs take who I expect them to take #1 and he performs as I expect he will perform, the wise move would be work the draft to address those primary needs with players who can step in as soon as possible.  But that’s just me. 

On with the picks…

Round 1



#1 TB – Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
January…check.  February…check.  March…check.  First half of April…check.  Jameis was the Bucs best bet back in January, and all he had to do to stay at the top of the draft board was to stay clean.  Mission (nearly) accomplished.  Sooner than later, this will be his team.  They will finally have someone to truly build the franchise around.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Jameis will be the best QB in the history of the Buccaneer franchise. 

#2 TEN – Leonard Williams (DL, USC)
Here is where most “experts” have Marcus Mariota going.  I don’t see it.  I don’t believe that there will be a team that offers anything of significance to Tennessee for the rights to the Oregon QB, largely because unless he’s playing for Chip Kelly, he’s likely to need a professional redshirt.  I’ve dropped him in each of the mocks I’ve done (3rd, 5th, 6th).  I simply don’t see him as a prospect worthy of giving away the future to take at 2.  Anyways, for the fourth time in four tries, Williams follows Winston off the board.

#3 JAX – Vic Beasley (DE/OLB, Clemson)
Dante Fowler gets mocked here a lot, but I’m sticking with Beasley.  I think they are the two most likely picks, and I still believe that Beasley is the better fit for Gus Bradley’s LEO position.  We’ll find out what he thinks soon enough.

#4 OAK – Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
I went with White the first two times and Cooper the last go-round, and now I’m back on White.  The only other player I’m considering here is Williams if he falls to #4.

#5 (trade) ATL – Dante Fowler (DE/OLB, Florida)
I proposed this WAS/ATL trade last time around, and I still like it.  Atlanta must add an elite pass rusher, and jumping up 3 spots allows them to take the best of what’s left after the Jaguars take their pick.  I really see a strong possibility of this exact trade pairing happening April 30. 

#6 (trade) PHI – Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
I have no clue where Mariota is going to go, but aligning him with Chip Kelly seems like a safe move.  I’m sticking with the deal I proposed last time:

Philly trades Bradford to the Browns for pick #19.  Philly then flips that selection, the 20th overall pick, and Mychal Kendricks, to the Jets for pick #6.  If you look at the trade value chart, #19 and #20 are more than enough for pick #6.  I think Kendricks is the cherry on top and an expendable player based on Philly’s offseason activity.  Chip Kelly said that he wouldn’t mortgage his future to move up for one player, but this scenario allows him to get his star pupil and stay true to his word.

#7 (trade) MIA – Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
Just as strongly as I feel Atlanta will move up for a pass rusher, I believe that the Dolphins will move up for a receiver.  They’ve reworked their receiving corps by trading and releasing Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline and trading for Kenny Stills.  Jarvis Landry is best in the slot, so they need to add a boundary #1 opposite Stills.  Whether it’s White or Cooper, I think Miami moves up to get the second receiver off the board.  Chicago makes sense as a trade partner because they have multiple needs and don’t appear to be keying on one player or position.

#8 (trade) WAS – Brandon Scherff (OL, Michigan)
Washington still gets their guy at #8.  This trade pairing with ATL just makes too much sense to not happen.  The Falcons are desperate for a pass rusher, and no one in the top 7 other than the Redskins is going to take an offensive lineman. 

#9 NYG – La’el Collins (OL, LSU)
Collins will line up at either RT or RG for the Giants, depending on what they want to do with Justin Pugh.

#10 STL – Andrus Peat (OL, Stanford)
The first pure/definite tackle goes off the board.  If this draft looks exactly like my last one so far, it’s because it is.  I promise picks will change.

#11 (trade) SF – Bud Dupree (DE/OLB, Kentucky)
Starting here.  I don’t know the odds of this happening, but I like the idea of San Fran moving up a handful of spots to secure their target.  This just seems like something they’d do.  The Niners move up 4 positions, and ahead of the pass rush needy Saints, to land Dupree, a player reportedly held in very high regard by coaching staffs.

#12 CLE – DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville)
The Browns actually do some things that make sense.  After acquiring their QB in Bradford, they give him a legit #1 receiver.

#13 NOR – Arik Armstead (DL, Oregon)
It might surprise some folks if Armstead goes this high, but he may have more raw potential than any other defensive player in the class.  The production hasn’t been there, hence the lack of top 5 mentions.  I had Randy Gregory here last time but feel that Armstead may be more worthy of the selection.

#14 (trade) CHI – Danny Shelton (DL, Washington)
He makes sense for them at #7 and is a heck of a value 7 spots later.  Plugging Shelton in as the nose of their new 3-4 defense is a great way to start restocking that side of the ball.

#15 (trade) MIN – Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)
Wrapping up the SF/MIN swap, the Vikings deal down and are still able to secure the press corner that fits Mike Zimmer’s defense. 

#16 HOU – Randy Gregory (DE/OLB, Nebraska)
I think the Texans are going to take a front 7 defender.  This time I give them the sliding pass rusher who Greg Cosell said is more athletic than Houston’s #1 overall pick from last year, Jadeveon Clowney. 

#17 SD – Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
This is right around the range I expect him to come off the board, and again, a franchise back like Gurley might be enough to convince Rivers to make the move with the rest of the team to LA.

#18 KC – Cameron Erving (OL, FSU)
I’ve got two players that I really like in this spot for the Chiefs.  Erving is obviously one, and Eric Kendricks is the other.  Here Erving replaces fellow Nole, Rodney Hudson as the Chiefs center.

#19 (trade) NYJ – Shane Ray (DE/OLB, Missouri)
#20 (trade) NYJ – Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
I’ve still got the Jets picking up Ray and Gordon in the trade with Philly.  I’m thinking one of Ray and Gregory will be on the board at this point, and I still like the Jets to take Gordon despite their signing of Stevan Ridley.  I’m projecting the Jets to head into the season with Ridley or Chris Ivory (likely Ivory) along with a rookie and Bilal Powell.

#21 CIN – Ereck Flowers (T, Miami)
I’m sticking with Flowers here as a future fixture on the outside, but I also think Malcom Brown could be in play if he’s still on the board.  If anyone’s counting, that’s 5 offensive linemen in the first 21 picks.

#22 PIT – Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut)
Jones is one of the more difficult players to project in this year’s draft.  He could end up being the first corner selected, or he could go early R2.  My money is right in this range, and corner is the biggest need for the Steelers.

#23 (trade) IND – Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
Here’s a new trade.  I’ve been ready for a while here and there that Collins is high on Indy’s board, and I think they’ll have to move ahead of Baltimore and Dallas to ensure that they get him. 

#24 ARI – Malcom Brown (DL, Texas)
This isn’t the biggest area of need for the Cardinals, but Calais Campbell and the recently signed Cory Redding are on the wrong side of their playing primes.  I like Kendrick as an option here as well.

#25 CAR – Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
This is a pick I don’t believe I’ll be changing.  The Panthers reportedly have been big on Ogbuehi for a while and see someone they can groom (and let heal) behind their stopgap additions.

#26 BAL – Breshad Perriman (WR, UCF)
I’m sticking with receiver for the Ravens, but I’m swapping Strong for Perriman, who has a very similar skill set to the recently-lost Torrey Smith.

#27 DAL – Kevin Johnson (CB, Wake Forest)
The RB position for the Cowboys gets a lot of talk when it comes to this pick, but I think they’re far more likely to draft either a corner or DT.  Johnson could be off the board long before 27 on the 30th

#28 DEN – DJ Humphries (T, Florida)
I’ve got to think the Broncos go OL with this pick.  Cameron Erving was my pick for them in the last 2 versions, but he’s gone at 18 this time around.  Humphries can be inserted immediately at RT and be a potential eventual replacement for LT Ryan Clady.

#29 (trade) DET – Eddie Goldman (DT, FSU)
With the 2nd half of my 5th R1 trade, the Lions finish addressing the losses of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley by pairing Goldman with Haloti Ngata. 

#30 GB – Eric Kendricks (LB, UCLA)
Some “experts” say that Kendricks doesn’t belong going in R1.  I’m having trouble keeping him on the board through the first 29 picks.  I’ve got to think the Packers would pounce on him here given their desperate situation at ILB.

#31 NOR – Eli Harold (DE/OLB, Virginia)
After netting Armstead at 13, the Saints select a pass rusher in this spot.  Corners Jalen Collins and Marcus Peters could be in play, and my sneaky pick for them is AJ Cann.

#32 NE – Mario Edwards (DL, FSU)
I’m closing out this version’s R1 with a bit of a surprise.  I don’t think Edwards is listed as a R1 pick anywhere, but the Patriots are known to be interested in him and he’s apparently endeared more by coaching staffs than scouts. 

Round 2

#33 TEN – Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Oklahoma)
If Tennessee holds onto this pick, I think they will be intrigued with the possibility of adding DGB, a first round talent with questions.  The Titans have a bunch of #2 and #3 receivers, and DGB (if focused) is a legit #1.  Maybe they feel comfortable taking a chance with this pick after taking, arguably, the draft’s safest selection, Leonard Williams, in R1.

#34 –
I had 7 OL picked in R1 which is (give or take one) likely what we’ll actually see.  The Titans are also a threat at #33.  With the way this mock has played out, Jake Fisher and TJ Clemmings are the best available OL.  I basically have Fisher and Humphries neck and neck as my favorites at #34, and Mississippi State DE Preston Smith remains my third choice.  If Clemmings is the highest rated tackle left in this spot, I could see the Bucs fielding calls.  Donovan Smith drew a draft invite, but I think this is too high to take him. 

The pick – Jake Fisher (OL, Oregon)


Fisher steps in right away at RT and, paired with Demar Dotson, gives the Bucs two tackles with the skill sets to play both ends of the line.  Fisher is an athletic tackle who offers quite a bit of power drive blocking in the run game as well. 

Round 3

The Bucs own the first pick in R3, but I believe they can gain another one.  If Jameis is the pick at #1, he’s in all likelihood going to start right away.  That would make Glennon one of the league’s better backup, a position in which I’ve placed less and less importance in recent history.  I’d rather take an aggressive approach in getting what I can for Glennon and back up Jameis with a veteran that becomes available after the draft.  In a league where we struggle to identify 20 quality QBs total, I believe that the band-aid approach is the most economical way to manage the roster.  I don’t need to aim for having a starting-caliber backup, because the odds of needing that starter to play for a significant stretch doesn’t outweigh my need to upgrade other positions.

Also, look at the available QBs in this year’s class.  After Jameis and Mariota, there’s not even a consensus on who’s the third best passer.  I think Petty and Grayson could eventually be decent starters, I’m not sold on Hundley at all, and it only gets worse after him.  So if these QB-needy teams are seeing what I’m seeing, where are they going to find a starting caliber passer? 

Arizona has Carson Palmer.  Technically, they don’t need a starter, but everyone remembers how their defense was dragging a limp offense into the playoffs while he was out.  Palmer also turns 36 two days after Christmas and is coming off his second ACL tear.  With San Francisco trending in the wrong direction this offseason and St. Louis being St. Louis, Arizona is on the verge of establishing itself as Seattle’s biggest nemesis. 

The other team I’m looking at is Buffalo.  They have Matt Cassel penciled in as their starter and Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel as backups.  The latter two aren’t guaranteed to make the final roster, and Cassel shouldn’t be starting on any team looking to compete for the playoffs.  Buffalo’s roster is built, both defensively and offensively, to get to the playoffs right now. 

Would the Cardinals think the 86th overall pick is worth the insurance of not repeating last year’s struggle?  Might the Bills think the 81st pick is worth what would be the best signal caller on their roster?  These two teams will be definitely be looking for QBs, as will the Jets, Browns, Rams, Texans, and Redskins.  Is it logical to think they’ll find a better option with those picks who can help them sooner than Glennon?  Is it reasonable to think the Bucs can negotiate a R3 pick from one of those many teams looking for QB in a dead market?

I have the Bucs acquiring Buffalo’s R3 pick (#81 overall) for Mike Glennon.

What should the Bucs do with those two picks?

After going QB and OT, I’m looking to find a third starter.  Which positions?  I believe WR, DE, and OL are where to look, and here are my picks –

#65 – Rashad Greene (WR, FSU)
#81 – Anthony Chickillo (DE, Miami)


Greene was my R3 pick for the Bucs last time around as well.  As I mentioned, he offers exactly what the team needs in a receiver – someone who can play right now and be a real asset in the slot while providing the ability to play out wide when Vincent Jackson inevitably moves on.  The fact that he’s been the #1 target of the team’s likely #1 pick for the last two years can’t be ignored.


Chickillo is a three-down end who, according to the player himself, feels that he was misused (and therefore undervalued) at Miami.  He’s a strong edge setter who, even miscast, showed the ability to use his arms to direct the action and vision to make consistent reads on the ball.  I believe that he would make a fine pairing with William Gholston at the base end position opposite the combination of George Johnson and Jacquies Smith.  It wouldn’t rival the pass rushing potential of the Giants during their Super Bowl run, but it would make the Bucs competent at the position. 

Round 4

After a lengthy R3, I’ll keep this one short and sweet.  Bradley McDougald has shown promise at SS, but the Bucs appear to be actively looking for a FS after trading Dashon Goldson to the Redskins.  Chris Conte and Major Wright make for better depth than starters. 

I don’t want the Bucs to spend an earlier pick on a safety.  Yes, I said I wanted to get starters with the first three (four now if you include the Glennon trade) picks, but I believe you can get equitable R3 DE value for a FS in R4. 


The pick – #109 – Derron Smith (FS, Fresno State)
Smith is a playmaker with coverage skills who I believe he possesses the ability to play the role in Lovie’s single-high sets.  Having Wright and Conte around would allow Smith to focus on certain sets early while learning the entire defensive playbook.  He also looks to have the ability to line up in coverage against slot receivers, surely a plus for a team lacking in talent and depth at CB.

Round 5

The Bucs had two R5 picks until the George Johnson trade, but thanks to the magic of pretend general managing, they’re about to have a second once again.

Despite public quotes that could vaguely be construed to contain support for Doug Martin, I believe the L&L regime is ready to cut ties with former R1 pick.  Whether it was the offensive line, QB play, or Martin himself, the muscle hamster hasn’t resembled the back who tallied the 5th most yards in the league as a rookie.  Still, he has value. 

One locale where I believe he would prove valuable is Tennessee, where last year’s flop Bishop Sankey resides as the team’s only rosterable rusher.  Maybe Martin can give the Titans a glimpse of the record setting rookie from a few seasons ago, but safe estimates say he could give the Titans more of what they’re looking for (a starting, three-down-capable back) in a rusher than a R5 pick will.

I have the Bucs acquiring Tennessee’s R3 pick (#138 overall) for Doug Martin.

Order has been restored.  The Bucs again have two R5 selections, and here are the picks –

#138 – Andy Gallik (C, Boston College)
#162 – Matt Jones (RB, Florida)


Gallik was my R4 pick for the team in the last version.  I’m going to gamble that he’s still available at the top of R5.  Gallik would give the Bucs interior depth and a starting caliber center should they ever decide to move EDS to another position or team.  More about Gallik here.  Should Gallik be gone, I’d stay with an interior offensive lineman and take Max Garcia from Florida.  Unlike Gallik, Garcia has played multiple positions in college and projects as a versatile interior guy.


I can’t believe I’m going to mention two of “their” players in a row, but according to Roy Cummings (among others), the Bucs like Jones as a day 3 RB.  He would give the Bucs a different back than they currently have on the roster; a strong interior rusher capable of picking up short yardage or cashing in at the goal line.  He’s also an underrated pass protector. 

Rounds 6 & 7

Through five rounds the Bucs have secured a QB, OT, WR, DE, FS, C, and RB.  They have three picks left and (going by my list of needs) should target G, CB, and LB with them.  Sadly, I’m only going to address two of those positions.  The picks –

#184 – Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis)
#218 – Junior Sylvestre (LB, Toledo)
#231 – Tye Smith (CB, Towson)


McCain remains a faux Buccaneer for the third time in a row.  He would develop behind Sterling Moore in the slot and contribute on special teams. 


Sylvestre stretches to reach 6’0 and is on the small side for an NFL LB.  However, he has excellent sideline-to-sideline speed and is more than passable in coverage.  Sound like a fit for a particular coach’s defense?  Sylvestre would be depth behind Lavonte David and a guy on which to focus your binoculars on special teams. 


Smith is an FCS corner who plays physical football for a guy who was 180ish during the season.  He’s got a nice skill set that could develop behind the current starters.

Summary

#1 – Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
#34 – Jake Fisher (OL, Oregon)
#65 – Rashad Greene (WR, FSU)
#81 – Anthony Chickillo (DE, Miami)
#109 – Derron Smith (FS, Fresno State)
#138 – Andy Gallik (C, Boston College)
#162 – Matt Jones (RB, Florida)
#184 – Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis)
#218 – Junior Sylvestre (LB, Toledo)
#231 – Tye Smith (CB, Towson)

That’s 10 picks in total with a bit of an unintentional theme.  I have no idea if L&L or the Glazers are focusing on local talent, but I have them taking four players from the state of Florida.  Drafting identifiable talent is one way to spark a largely disenchanted local fanbase.  If the Bucs do not draft a guard, as they do not in this scenario, I expect them to reach out to Dan Connolly the following week. 

Go Bucs!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Predicting the 2015 Buccaneer Draft - Almost There


The first pick is nearly four weeks away, but it’s finally draft month.  Tampa Bay has been quiet in free agency the last couple of weeks, so the needs remain the same.  Here’s my updated look at how I believe the first round plays out as well as what the Bucs should do with all of their selections.

1) TB – Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
It goes without saying that this pick will not change.  I believe that Jameis is the best player in this draft and will go down as the best QB in Tampa Bay history.  He was the team’s best option back in January, and the events of the offseason have only strengthened his case.  Some Bucs fans hesitate to embrace Jameis because of concerns about his character.  They may be dismayed that he’s not concerned with making people believe he’s a good guy.  He’s focused on greatness.  He’s been a winner and wants to continue that at the next level.  His message has been consistent.  He wants to be compared to Tom Brady.  He wants to win a Super Bowl this year.  He wants to be a hall of famer.  Like him or not, Bucs fans are going to appreciate the way this young man plays the position and becomes a leader of this franchise. 

2) TEN – Leonard Williams (DL, USC)
I’m still not buying Mariota going #2.  Tennessee takes the guy widely considered to be the best overall player in the draft.  Lining Williams up opposite Jurrell Casey beefs up an improving defense.

3) JAX – Vic Beasley (DE/OLB, Clemson)
I’ve had Dante Fowler here before, but I believe that Beasley is probably the best fit for the Jags LEO position on defense.  Jax will have their pick of edge rushers, so we’ll eventually see how right I am.

4) OAK – Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
Like anyone else who talks draft, I’m having a hard time putting any discernable difference between Cooper and Kevin White.  I’ve had White here both times in the past, but right now I’m leaning Cooper because he might be the safer option.  Can I really count on Oakland making the safe choice?

5) ATL – Dante Fowler (DE/OLB, Florida)
I think this trade makes a ton of sense for both teams.  Yes, Washington could use a pass rusher like Fowler after losing Brian Orakpo this offseason, but if they feel they can receive similar value three picks lower and gain one or more picks in return, I think they pull the trigger.  I like the potential of a trade between WAS/ATL.  Atlanta moves up to secure, arguably, the draft’s best pass rusher rather than hoping the guy they want falls to #8.

6) PHI – Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
Here’s how this one goes down.  There are several parts to it, but I believe it has substantial legs. 

First, I’m going to assume Philly and Cleveland have at least discussed the potential of making a deal should the draft play out where Mariota is available here.  The Browns reportedly were in on Sam Bradford, and here they get him.

Philly trades Bradford to the Browns for pick #19.  Philly then flips that selection, the 20th overall pick, and Mychal Kendricks, to the Jets for pick #6.  If you look at the trade value chart, #19 and #20 are more than enough for pick #6.  I think Kendricks is the cherry on top and an expendable player based on Philly’s offseason activity.  Chip Kelly said that he wouldn’t mortgage his future to move up for one player, but this scenario allows him to get his star pupil and stay true to his word.

7) CHI – Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
I’ve had them taking Cooper, and with him off the board, they take White.  Again, I don’t see a ton of difference in projecting these two receivers.

8) WAS – Brandon Scherff (OL, Iowa)
The Redskins move down 3 spots and still get a guy they would likely be comfortable taking at #5.

9) NYG – La’el Collins (OL, LSU)
I’ve got to think this pick goes to either the offensive or defensive line.  Scherff and Danny Shelton have been my previous picks for the Giants.  Collins is an immediate starter at RT and gives Eli some much-needed protection.

10) STL – Andrus Peat (OL, Stanford)
The run on offensive linemen continues with the Rams.  I think they’re in a tough spot here with Scherff and Collins going with the two previous picks, but they’ve apparently been in on Peat for a while.  Maybe they don’t see much separation here.

11) MIN – DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville)
Teddy Bridgewater gets his man.  This pick makes too much sense.  Parker is not a reach here at #11, fills a need, pairs nicely with recently acquired Mike Wallace, and is reunited with his collegiate QB.

12) CLE – Danny Shelton (DT, Washington)
If Shelton falls this far, I’ve got to think the Browns jump on him.  Great value and fit.

13) NOR – Randy Gregory (DE/OLB, Nebraska)
Bob Marley doesn’t fall far.  The Saints take a bit of a chance in attempt to address their need for a pass rusher. 

14) MIA – Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)
Todd Gurley would be a nice surprise pick here, but with I think Waynes matches up well with Maimi’s need for a corner.

15) SF – Bud Dupree (DE/OLB, Kentucky)
Back before the regular season ended I had Dupree on my radar as an option for the Bucs in R2.  He’ll be off the board well before R1 ends, and even this might be too low for him.  Aldon Smith is unreliable, and there’s no pass rushing depth to speak of.

16) HOU – Malcom Brown (DL, Texas)
Big man doesn’t have to travel far and gives the Texans help opposite JJ Watt.

17) SD – Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
Barring a trade, San Diego is the second team in the draft (after Miami) I could see taking Gurley.  Taking the talented back and focusing on the offensive line in subsequent rounds would be a way to entice Philip Rivers to hang around.

18) KC – Eric Kendricks (LB, UCLA)
Same as last time.  I think this is either Kendricks or someone (Flowers) who can play RT.

19) NYJ – Shane Ray (DE/OLB, Missouri)
With the first pick acquired in the in the Mariota deal, the Jets take a pass rusher.  Ray “slides” in this version.  I think his less than stellar workout numbers will cause him to be the guy from this closely grouped group of pass rushers that could wait to hear his name called.

20) NYJ – Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
The Jets need to add talent in the backfield, and Gordon pairs nicely with Chris Ivory.

21) CIN – Ereck Flowers (OL, Miami)
Here’s another pick I think coes down to either the offensive or defensive line.  Flowers could be the best available lineman at this point. 

22) PIT – Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
Fit meets need meets value.  Collins could be the Andrew Luck to Troy Polamalu’s Peyton Manning.

23) DET – Eddie Goldman (DT, FSU)
Haloti Ngata was a nice response to losing Ndamukong Suh, but there’s still work to do up front.

24) ARI – Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
After losing Antonio Cromartie in free agency, there’s an opening opposite Patrick Peterson.  Landing with a fellow former Tiger should be a good thing for the talented and inexperienced Collins.

25) CAR – Cedric Ogbuehi (T, Texas A&M)
Ogbuehi often gets left out of the tackle conversation, in large part because of his ACL injury.  Free agent signing Michael Oher might be the bridge to the future of Ogbuehi. 

26) BAL – Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
Anyone paying attention knows that WR is a huge need for the Ravens.  I think Strong is their best option here, but Breshad Perriman could get their attention as well.

27) DAL – Kevin Johnson (CB, Wake Forest)
After adding Greg Hardy, finding a corner is Dallas’ biggest need.  Johnson doesn’t get a lot of attention but will be among the first off the board at his position.

28) DEN – Cameron Erving (OL, FSU)
He can play center or guard for the Broncos right now, both positions of need.

29) IND – Arik Armstead (DL, Oregon)
If the Colts want to make it past the Patriots, they must get better players on the defensive side of the ball.

30) GB – Stephone Anthony (LB, Clemson)
I’m going corner or linebacker here.  Anthony fills a need that seems to exist every year for this team.

31) NOR – Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)
If they go in on Gregory at #13, then why not go with another off-field question here?  Peters could be the best cornerback in this year’s draft class.

32) NE – Byron Jones (CB, Connecticut)
One of the stars of the offseason completes R1 and helps the Patriots slow the bleeding from the losses of both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.


Round 2

33) TEN – TJ Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
The Titans could obviously go in several directions here, including trading the first pick of day two, but I’ve got them addressing a need at RT with a guy should pair nicely with LT Taylor Lewan for quite a while. 

34) TB
Nothing has changed.  Given the Bucs needs this pick still must be spent on either an offensive or defensive lineman.  Drafting any other position would be a mistake.  There are no “must have” prospects still on the board; no one to entice the Bucs to stray from their needs here. 

My three targets with the 34th pick are (in order) Jake Fisher, DJ Humphries, and Preston Smith.  The tackles are both among the top of this year’s class in their present ability to protect the passer.  Here’s how they checked in at the Combine:

Fisher – 6’6, 306 with 33 ¾ arms
Humphries – 6’6, 307 with 33 5/8 arms

Both have the size and athleticism (footwork, range, recovery) to project as left tackles with the ability to play on the right side as well.  I’m more comfortable with Fisher because of how refined he is already, but Humphries has just as much, if not more, potential.  Adding either Fisher or Humphries will not only improve protection for their rookie passer, but the skill sets of these two players along with Demar Dotson’s gives them some side flexibility/versatility with their tackles. 

Smith remains my favorite pass rusher in this range.  He’s got the size and ability to play all three downs, something this team desperately needs and won’t likely find in this year’s draft after this round.  One reason Smith isn’t rated higher is that he doesn’t play as fluid as his numbers suggest.  His versatility to line up in multiple spots up front will also be attractive to Lovie Smith. 

The pick – Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)



Round 3

So far the Bucs have taken a QB and someone to protect him.  I’d love to find a stud pass rusher here, but there’s a reason those guys aren’t readily available with the 65th pick in the draft.  The Bucs need to capitalize on talent here rather than blindly continuing down their checklist of needs. 

The three players I’m projecting here hold the talent worthy of the selection and address immediate needs.  In order they are Rashad Greene, Tre McBride, and Tre’ Jackson.  Yes, two of them are Noles. 

Possibly the biggest factor in Rashad’s favor is the fact that he’s Jameis’ go-to guy.  On a ’13 team with Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw, and Nick O’Leary, Rashad led them all in receptions (76) by 21.  This year he caught 99 passes, or 41 more than any other receiver on the roster.  Getting your new #1 asset his favorite collegiate target seems like a no-brainer.  Rashad obviously has a great relationship with Jameis, but he’s not simply a product of his QB’s success.  He has excellent hands, runs a full route tree, and despite a lack of great size or speed combined with the attention he gets from the defense, he’s routinely able to get open and make plays.  For the Bucs, he fills the immediate need of a slot receiver while also bringing the ability to play out wide when Vincent Jackson inevitably moves on. 

I’ve been driving the McBride bandwagon for a while now, and only the #1 pick’s #1 target could cause him not to be my #1 choice.  Like Rashad, McBride has the skills to play both inside and outside the formation.  His level of competition is in question, but McBride’s ability to make contested catches is not.  I’d be thrilled with either receiver. 

Jackson rounds out this group of candidates.  Regarded as one of this class’ top guards (for reference I have Cann and Tomlinson off the board at this point), he would slide right into the opening at RG, a position he played at FSU for the past 3+ years.  Jackson does most of his damage destroying defenders in the run game and needs to improve his technique in pass protection. 

Want a shocker for the 3rd round?  TJ Yeldon (RB, Alabama).  If the Bucs were to take a RB early, it should be Yeldon.  In my opinion, he represents this draft’s best running game partner to Charles Sims.  Yeldon could handle the early down work, while Sims is allowed to play the change of pace role for which he is better suited.  I still expect Doug Martin to be moved at some point, and while most Bucs fans would be upset with another early pick being spent on a RB, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility.  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon) and Trey Flowers (DE, Arkansas) are two other players I’d consider in R3.

The pick – Rashad Greene (WR, FSU) 


Round 4

Here’s the haul through 3 rounds –
QB – Jameis Winston
OL – Jake Fisher
WR – Rashad Greene

The biggest remaining needs are starting talent on the offensive and defensive lines and depth at linebacker and in the secondary.  Seeing as how the Bucs current roster is lacking in overall talent, no position can be ignored.  However, I think the lines will receive higher consideration.

I’ve got a ton of candidates for this pick, spanning the offensive line, pass rusher, cornerback, wide receiver, and running back.  My favorites are Andy Gallik, John Miller, and Lynden Trail. 

I’ve already mentioned Gallik as an option for the Bucs.  He’s a really strong anchor who won’t get pushed around, which of course is a desirable trait for the guy playing in front of your passer.  Consistency is his game.  He was BC’s starting center for four years and the key to an offensive line that produced 212.5 rushing ypg in ’13 and 251.8 in ’14.  He makes all the line calls, and you don’t see many missteps in his footwork in the run game.  His knock is a lack of athleticism and size (6’2, 306), which has him in the R4 range rather than being an earlier pick. 

Similar to Gallik, Miller does everything you want from an interior lineman, but he isn’t as athletic or big as one might prefer.  Miller has good size (6’2, 303), but he’d ideally be another inch taller and 10 pounds heavier.  Power and consistency are his game.  He could step in and start right away at RG.

Trail was my previous R4 pick.  The athletic pass rushing project is still a candidate, but I believe Gallik and Miller represent safer gambles; something a team that has swung and missed as often as the Bucs must consider.

The other players I would consider in this round –
Rob Havenstein (T, Wisconsin), Mike Davis (RB, S Carolina), Donovan Smith (T, Penn State), Senquez Golson (CB, Mississippi), Justin Hardy (WR, ECU), Jeremy Langford (RB, Michigan St), Mitch Morse (G, Missouri), Za’Darius Smith (DE, Kentucky), and Cedric Reed (DE, Texas).

The Bucs currently own one 4th round pick, but if they are able/decide to deal Martin and/or Mike Glennon, maybe one of those other guys enters the equation.

The pick – Andy Gallik (OL, Boston College)


Round 5

The Bucs own two selections in this round.  In the past I’ve mocked Jeremiah Poutasi, Jarvis Harrison, and Stefon Diggs with those picks.  Given the way this draft has played out, with the Bucs spending all four previous picks on the offensive side of the ball, I’ve got a few new candidates for the fifth round, namely Ben Heeney and Zack Wagenmann. 

Heeney was a three year starting MLB for Kansas, team captain for the last two, and led the NCAA in solo tackles in ’14.  At 6’0, 230 he’s light for your prototypical MLB but is the epitome of the sideline-to-sideline player that the Bucs are reportedly looking for at the position.  He demonstrates above average straight line speed and change of direction.  Heeney is a form tackler and doesn’t make many missteps or misreads to the ball.  If you want to play a little past player association, Heeney should strive for Shelton Quarles’ career.  His speed, pursuit, and tackling ability will make him an instant star on special teams, and I expect he would start out as depth at SLB.  Also, if you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and check out the Captain Heeney website

Wagenmann is a pass rusher who accumulated 37.5 career sacks and 52 TFL in college.  Why in the world is he a 5th round prospect?  For starters, he played at Montana, an FCS university.  He also measures in at an undersized 6’3, 247.  His weak showing of strength at both the Combine and his pro day reveal his likely future as a situational rusher.  There’s plenty of room for guys like that in today’s NFL.  The guys at Pewter Report have been on Wagenmann for a while now, so I did some digging myself.  If the Bucs haven’t drafted a pass rusher at this point, I believe Wagenmann represents excellent value as someone to get after the passer and make contributions on special teams.

Poutasi would be on my radar if the Bucs don’t add a couple of offensive linemen earlier, but I think Harrison and Diggs have seen their stock settle a round lower.  Other players I’d target in R5 – Kenny Bell (WR, Nebraska), Jamison Crowder (WR, Duke), Karlos Williams (RB, FSU), Kevin White (CB, TCU), Kurtis Drummond (S, Michigan State), and Adrian Amos (S, Penn State).

The picks – Ben Heeney (LB, Kansas) and Zack Wagenmann (DE, Montana)


Rounds 6 & 7

Through five rounds, here’s the haul –

QB – Jameis Winston
OL – Jake Fisher
WR – Rashad Greene
OL – Andy Gallik
LB – Ben Heeney
DE – Zack Wagenmann

After signing Sterling Moore to man the nickel corner spot, I like the Bucs starters in three receiver sets.  What I don’t like is the complete lack of talented depth behind Alterraun Verner, Johnthan Banks, and Moore. 

As I mentioned earlier, I still believe that Martin gets moved.  Fans may not like the return, but that hasn’t stopped this regime from moving players they don’t believe fits their plan. 

I wouldn’t sneeze at another offensive or defensive lineman in these rounds either.

In the end, I’m sticking with my previous picks.  I still believe that Bobby McCain will be a starting caliber corner and that John Crockett can be a three-down NFL rusher.

The picks – Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis) and John Crockett (RB, North Dakota State)


I’ve got quite a few players I’d consider either in R7 or as undrafted free agents.  They are –

Cody Fajardo (QB, Nevada)
Hutson Mason (QB, Georgia)
Shane Carden (QB, ECU)
Laurence Gibson (OL, Virginia Tech)
Mark Glowinski (OL, West Virginia)
Doniel Gambrell (OL, Notre Dame College)
Adam Shead (OL, Oklahoma)
Max Garcia (OL, Florida)
DeAndrew White (WR, Alabama)
Mike Reilly (DE, North Dakota State)
Mark Nzeocha (LB, Wyoming)
Tye Smith (CB, Towson)
Bryce Callahan (CB, Rice)
Robertson Daniel (CB, BYU)
Donald Celiscar (DB, Western Michigan)
Cody Riggs (DB, Notre Dame)
Dean Marlowe (S, James Madison)


Total Haul


Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
Jake Fisher (OL, Oregon)
Rashad Greene (WR, FSU)
Andy Gallik (OL, Boston College)
Ben Heeney (LB, Kansas)
Zack Wagenmann (DE, Montana)
Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis)
John Crockett (RB, North Dakota State)

In this draft the Bucs take their 5th R1 QB in team history, two long term starters on the OL, a starting slot receiver and new #3 on the depth chart, a starting caliber nickel corner, two defensive reserves with big special teams potential, and a rusher to add to the backfield equation.

Go Bucs!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Are the Bucs Getting a New Center?


With the Bucs sniffing around Stefen Wisniewski, it raised the question of whether or not they were making a change at center.  Wisniewski can play guard too, so it can be reasoned that the Bucs wanted him to play alongside EDS rather than in place of him.    

However, I’ve read that the Bucs have taken a strong interest in Boston College center, Andy Gallik.  I love it.  Gallik has been a stud in the middle of their offensive line.  I could definitely him as the Bucs R4 pick.  Here’s an excerpt from BC’s head coach, Steve Addazio:

“He’s not strictly a center. He can play guard but he’s uniquely a good center,” Addazio said. “But he sure could play guard but he’s just got that knack. To watch him snap. To watch him shotgun snap a ball for example, or under center snap it and pull to the perimeter, I think he’s gifted. He’s one of the better guys I’ve seen do that. It’s just natural for him. He’s got great balance and he can run. I don’t know what the 40-times are but when you watch him on film, he runs well when he pulls and I think that’s a unique ability he has. And he’s bright. He calls every protection.”

Pursuing Wisniewski is one thing, but a strong interest in a guy like Gallik who should remain at center tells me the Bucs are eyeing a change in the middle.  Do they slide EDS over to RG, or do they save his $3.75m and find someone else to play next to the new center?

Monday, March 16, 2015

2015 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offseason Plan - Take Two


The first wave of free agency has ended, and it’s time to reassess the offseason plan.  In are Bruce Carter, Henry Melton, and Chris Conte.  New jersey sales aren’t exactly booming, but Lovie Smith has brought in players who he believe will make a difference.  Both Melton and Conte played for Smith in Chicago, and Carter played for Lovie’s buddy Rod Marinelli in Dallas.

The plan is for Carter to fill the MLB vacancy, Melton to provide pass rush depth at tackle, and Conte to take the starting FS job from an eventually released Dashon Goldson.  Carter played the SLB position in Marninelli’s defense, but he believes he can make the transition to the middle in Tampa.  It’s a bit of a gamble for the Bucs personnel-wise, but his contract isn’t guaranteed past this year.  Melton and Conte are short-term investments as well, both signing one year deals. 

I don’t love the Carter acquisition, but I see the thought behind it, and given the contract, I’m on board.  I like Melton as depth in pass rushing situations, but I’m not a fan of the Conte acquisition.  I would have liked to see the Bucs be more involved for Devin McCourty, Jabaal Sheard, Walter Thurmond, and Eddie Royal.  Two other targets of mine, RT Joseph Barksdale and CB Patrick Robinson, are still available as I write this. 

McCourty ended up signing a 5yr $47.5m contract with the Patriots that pays him nearly $30m in the first 3 years.  The Bucs could not have topped that.  They could have, however, topped the 2yr $11m contract ($5.5m guaranteed) that the Patriots gave Sheard.  The Bucs entered the offseason needing to add a pass rusher and so far have released Michael Johnson.  Thurmond got $3.25m from the Eagles for one year; nothing obscene about that.  Royal signed a very affordable 3yr $15m contract with only the first two years guaranteed. 

Taking into account Goldson’s inevitable release, the Bucs have about $33m in cap space.  Sheard and Royal would have fit in their nicely and given the Bucs two less positions to worry about in the draft.  But the Bucs had other plans. 

If I can assume Demar Dotson is going to play LT, then it appears the Bucs are going to enter the draft, a draft in which they’re expected to spend the first pick on a QB, with noticeable holes at RG and RT.  If they had picked up a pass rusher or slot receiver in free agency, then they could have more comfortably allocated more draft picks to the offensive line.  But the Bucs had other plans. 

Now they’ll be forced to, again, focus more of their draft on addressing needs rather than grabbing the best available talent.  Given this organization’s history with the amateur lottery, relying on them to hit with more consistency with draft picks isn’t a wise proposition. 

So here we are.  The Bucs currently have eight draft picks; one in each round and two in the fifth.  Their remaining trade bait includes Mike Glennon and Doug Martin.  Odds are decent that at least one of those guys is dealt, giving the Bucs at least one more opportunity for success.  I have their top needs, in order, as QB, DE, RT, RG, NCB, SWR, and FS. 

Here’s my revised look at how R1 will play out –


1) TB – Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
No change here.  The Bucs need a franchise QB and get the best this class has to offer.  I expect Jameis to take the first snap week 1. 

2) TEN – Leonard Williams (DL, USC)
I don’t know if Zach Mettenberger is going to save Ken Whisenhunt’s job in Tennessee, but it would be very un-Whisenhunt for him to put all of his eggs in Mariota’s basket.  I think Tennessee plays it safe and takes the consensus best defensive player in the draft.

3) JAX – Dante Fowler (DE/OLB, Florida)
Jared Odrick was a nice addition to the defensive line, but they still need a pass rusher.  As I mentioned last time, Fowler may end up being the best defensive player from this class. 

4) OAK – Kevin White (WR, West Virginia)
Oakland supposedly got in on Randall Cobb and Julius Thomas and obviously failed.  I expect them to focus on giving David Carr a true #1 receiver with this pick, and I’m sticking with White over Cooper.

5) CLE – Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
I’m having a really hard time projecting where Mariota is going to go, and I still think this might be a little high.  You can’t count Philly out, despite what Chip Kelly himself said, but who else would trade up for Mariota?  Cleveland is starving for success at the position, and they’ve shown interest in and have at least one tie (QB coach Kevin O’Connell) to Mariota.  I think the deal gets done for the #12 pick, and Cleveland’s R2 and R7 picks. 

6) NYJ – Vic Beasley (OLB, Clemson)
After striking gold in free agency at the cornerback position, new HC Todd Bowles get a much needed pass rusher.  No, I don’t think they’d take Mariota if he was available. 

7) CHI – Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
I’ve got the Bears going with Cooper over Danny Shelton here.  Trading Brandon Marshall to the Jets opened up a spot opposite Alshon Jeffery, and I’m not sure the new regime is sold on Marquess Wilson as a starter. 

8) ATL – Randy Gregory (DE/OLB, Nebraska)
No change here.  Atlanta’s biggest addition thus far was to bring in Brooks Reed. 

9) NYG – Danny Shelton (DT, Washington)
The Giants have needs on both offensive and defensive lines, and tackle Marshall Newhouse is the only guy they’ve brought in.  They’ve got nothing inside next to Johnathan Hankins, so I’m going with Shelton over Shane Ray and Brandon Scherff.

10) STL – Brandon Scherff (OL, Iowa)
As of now Joseph Barksdale hasn’t resigned with the Rams, so they have openings at both guard and tackle.  Scherff projects to both positions. 

11) MIN – Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)
After acquiring Mike Wallace, a receiver doesn’t seem like a possibility here.  This should come down to a corner or offensive lineman.

12) WAS – La’el Collins (OL, LSU)
With the first pick gained in the trade with Cleveland the Redskins take Collins, who, with Trent Williams, gives them an impressive pair of starting tackles. 

13) NO – Shane Ray (DE/OLB, Missouri)
Pass rush is a huge need, and Parys Haralson has been their only addition so far.  Also, Sean Payton apparently wants to get rid of Junior Galette.

14) MIA – DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville)
They did just replace Wallace with Kenny Stills, but I believe adding Parker to go with Stills and Jarvis Landry will give Ryan Tannehill all the chance in the world to succeed.

15) SF – Bud Dupree (DE/OLB, Kentucky)
The Niners have really taken a hit since the start of free agency.  Patrick Willis retired, Justin Smith might not be too far behind him, they lost their two most productive cornerbacks, and the offense lost Frank Gore and Mike Iupati.  New head coach Jim Tomsula gets himself a pass rusher. 

16) HOU – Andrus Peat (T, Stanford)
Tackle isn’t an urgent need, but Peat’s skill set fits what they do in Houston and gives them versatility to play right or left tackle.

17) PHI – Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Oklahoma)
Chip Kelly moves up, but it’s not for Mariota.  I think DGB fits what Kelly is looking for at receiver, and I could see him moving ahead of receiver-needy KC and Cleveland to secure his guy.  The cost may be nothing more than the 20th pick and their R4 selection. 

18) KC – Eric Kendricks (LB, UCLA)
Inside linebacker and offensive tackle are the Chiefs biggest needs, and if they stay in this spot, I don’t think it’s too early for Kendricks.  He’d look great next to Derrick Johnson.

19) CLE – Eddie Goldman (DT, FSU)
With the pick acquired from Buffalo, the Browns address a big need on the defensive line.  Goldman can occupy blockers, shut down run lanes, and get after the passer.

20) SD – Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)
The Chargers spent some of their free agent dollars on offensive linemen and watched their best running back leave for Philly.  Gurley is a big boost to Philip Rivers’ career.

21) CIN – Malcom Brown (DL, Texas)
The Bengals have numbers on the defensive line, but I think they need to improve the quality at tackle. 

22) PIT – Landon Collins (S, Alabama)
I’ve got to think they go defense with this pick.  If not Collins then a CB or OLB.

23) DET – Arik Armstead (DT, Oregon)
They did replace Ndamukong Suh with Haloti Ngata, but they also lost Nick Fairley and may lose CJ Mosley.  Corner and offensive line are two other avenues they may pursue.

24) ARI – Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)
If the Cardinals don’t acquire Adrian Peterson from the Vikings, maybe RB is in play here, but they also need a starting corner since Cro went back to NY.

25) CAR – TJ Clemmings (T, Pittsburgh)
The Panthers have needs at both left and right tackle, and Clemmings is a prospect with that “upside” descriptor. 

26) BAL – Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona State)
Torrey Smith bolted for San Fran, and Jacoby Jones left them for the Bolts.  Steve Smith can’t play forever, and Marlon Brown is currently listed as their other starter.  That won’t last long.

27) DAL – Eli Harold (DE/OLB, Virginia)
Of the additions Dallas has made, none have been along the defensive line.  They must get better at getting to the passer.

28) DEN – Cameron Erving (OL, FSU)
Perfect fit.  Erving gives Gary Kubiak a versatile chess piece in the interior of his zone-blocking offense.

29) IND – Stephone Anthony (LB, Clemson)
This may look a little high for Anthony, but the Colts are desperate for help in the middle of their defense and have reportedly been hot after Anthony.

30) GB – Kevin Johnson (CB, Wake Forest)
They’ve already lost Davon House and may lose Tramon Williams too.  I think this is either CB or LB.

31) NOR – Ereck Flowers (T, Miami)
The Saints use the Jimmy Graham pick to add some needed depth to the offensive line.

32) NE – Jalen Collins (CB, LSU)
The champs close out R1 by addressing their cornerback exodus with the press cover guy from LSU. 


Remaining Buccaneer Picks

R2
This pick has to be an offensive lineman or edge rusher.  In the first round I had six offensive linemen and six edge rushers chosen, and with pick #34, I expect the Bucs to have more options on the offensive line.  As the draft played out above, I’ve got this pick down to two players head and shoulders above the rest. 


The pick – Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
As I mentioned earlier, the first pick is going to be a QB, and there are zero quality starting candidates on the current roster at RG and RT.  They must protect their investment, and if (when) Jameis is the pick, he’s going to play early.  Fisher might be the most athletic tackle in this year’s class, and what I really like about him is that he’s not simply an athletic, zone-blocking stereotype guy, he plays with power.  I also think he has a bit of position flexibility with him, so Fisher could give the Bucs options at LT, RT and guard. 

My other choice at #34 is Preston Smith (DE, Mississippi State).  I think he’s the Bucs best remaining chance to upgrade the pass rusher.  He’s big and quick and doesn’t give ground on the line of scrimmage.  I have noticed that he stops his feet too often and gives up too early on plays, but that’s correctable. Smith played a lot of right end at MSU, but I like him better on the left side in the pros.  He’s big and strong enough to handle himself against right tackles and often gets the edge with his quickness off the line and hand usage. 

R3
After addressing the offensive line and not seeing a pass rusher I like in this range, I’m looking at wide receiver and cornerback.  At receiver I want someone who could start right away in the slot and eventually be able to move out wide when Vincent Jackson moves on.  At corner I want someone who can contribute as the nickel right away and eventually project as a boundary starter. 



The pick – Tre McBride (WR, William & Mary)
He’s an ideal slot receiver for Jameis.  McBride has excellent hands and consistently makes contested catches in tight spaces.  He’s the perfect compliment to Evans and Jackson and has shown enough vertical playmaking ability to project as an eventual flanker.  McBride could also contribute as a return man. 

I’ve read that Ifo-Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon) has a chance to be available in this range, and he would be my choice at cornerback. 

R4
So far the Bucs have taken:
Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
Tre McBride (WR, William & Mary)

I’ve got three positions in mind here – OL, CB, and edge rusher – with an emphasis on the latter two.  You’ve got a better chance of finding an offensive lineman or cornerback later in the draft than a quality pass rusher, so I’d really like to see the Bucs get one with or before this pick if they’re going to draft one. 


The pick – Lynden Trail (DE, Norfolk State)
Long and lean pass rusher who must get stronger and improve his hand usage at the point of contact.  He’s got a bigger wingspan than likely #2 overall pick Leonard Williams and the quickness to contribute in backside pursuit. 

At corner I like Senquez Golson (Ole Miss), and Donovan Smith (Penn State) and Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin) are two tackles I’d consider here.  If the Bucs end up trading Martin or Glennon, I’d want one of these guys to be the pick. 

R5



Jeremiah Poutasi (OL, Utah)
Jarvis Harrison (G, Texas A&M)
With the two fifth round picks I’ve got the Bucs double dipping on the offensive line with holdovers from my first mock.  Poutasi played both right and left tackle in college but projects as either a right tackle or guard in the pros.  Harrison saw most of his time at left guard and would be an option at the right guard spot as well. 

With their first six picks, I have the Bucs taking three offensive linemen, a quarterback and a pass rusher.  Cornerback is the one position of obvious weakness I’d still like to address, and depending on what happens with Martin or one of the other rushers, running back might be an option. 

R6-R7



Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis)
John Crockett (RB, North Dakota State)
McCain is so quick to close on the ball.  He’s physical enough to play man in the slot and quick enough to play the short zone in front of him.  Technique and tenacity are there as a tackler, but he can’t help his size.  Only Shaq Thompson has more defensive TDs among players in this class than McCain.  I took Crockett with my last pick in the first draft, and I’ll stick with him here.  I still think the Bucs tinker with the backfield, and as I mentioned last time, Crockett reminds me of James Starks.  I think there’s value in taking a back capable of playing all three downs this late in the draft. 

In Summary –
R1) Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
R2) Jake Fisher (T, Oregon)
R3) Tre McBride (WR, William & Mary)
R4) Lynden Trail (DE, Norfolk State)
R5) Jeremiah Poutasi (OL, Utah)
R5) Jarvis Harrison (G, Texas A&M)
R6) Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis)
R7) John Crockett (RB, North Dakota State)

Go Bucs!