Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft & All Buccaneer Selections

First let me say that this is probably the hardest draft I’ve ever tried to predict.  There are next to no elite talents, and when we look back on this class in five years, you’re likely to see as many good picks in the third round as you will the first.  I think the player parity throughout the draft as well as evolving offensive and defensive philosophies across the league will lead to a lot of surprise selections. 

Tampa Bay has been pissin’ around with the Jets who want the 13th overall pick and more from the Bucs for Darrelle Revis.  While I’m not game on handing over multiple picks and a large chunk of the salary cap to a guy coming off an ACL injury, I’m not married to this year’s first rounder.  If I’m forced to trade for Revis I’d rather utilize this year’s first pick than next year’s when the Bucs may be looking for a new QB and in position to land one. 

With less than a month until what should be a real crapshoot of a draft, here’s my best educated guess as to how the first 43 picks will play out as well as what I think and hope the Bucs will do with all of their draft choices.

1) Kansas City Chiefs
Primary needs – OT, QB, ILB

They could still surprise everyone, but I believe Eric Winston’s release gives us the clearest indication as to where the Chiefs are going with this pick.  Branden Albert spouted off on Twitter about not moving to right tackle, and then his account was quickly shut down.  Hmmm… I’d be surprised if they took Floyd here due to how the Dorsey and Jackson experiments of moving a 4-3 tackle to the 5-techniqure worked out, or didn’t. 

The pick – Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)

2) Jacksonville Jaguars
Primary needs – QB, DE, CB, RT, OLB

Blaine Gabbert is awful, but I don’t think their interest in Geno Smith is sincere.  I expect new head coach Gus Bradley to focus on finding his Leo with his first pick.  Here he gets possibly the most complete edge guy in the draft and a sorely needed defensive difference maker.    

The pick – Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)

3) Oakland Raiders –
Primary needs – QB, DT, CB, OLB, MLB, DE

Carson Palmer is likely to be released, and I have a hard time accepting Terrelle Pryor as a legit starter.  Do they take one here?  I’d like to give a team a little credit.  Just because they don’t have a QB or a second round pick doesn’t mean that they have to take Smith.  I’m not high on him and think they’ll again be picking in the top five next year regardless of who’s under center.  If that’s the case wouldn’t it make sense to wait on a QB until next year when they’ll be worth taking this high?  Losing Desmond Bryant, Tommy Kelly, and Richard Seymour leaves a big hole in the middle of a weak defense, and I think they’ll take the highest rated tackle on their board.  Signing Vance Walker and Pat Sims shouldn’t prohibit them from going DT with this pick. 

The pick – Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)

4) Philadelphia Eagles
Primary needs – QB, T, ILB, CB

Chip Kelly’s QB of the future isn’t on his roster, but taking one here would be a bad move in my opinion.  Instead I think they’ll look to stabilize their offensive line with someone they can line up at right tackle until Jason Peters leaves or gets hurt again.

The pick – Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan)

5) Detroit Lions
Primary needs – T, DE, CB, OLB

Dee Milliner is a popular pick here, but I think Detroit already has their starters at corner with Chris Houston and Chris Greenwood.  With Joeckel and Fisher off the board, I have them looking at either Lane Johnson or a pass rusher.  For now I’ll assume they won’t take the third player at his position with the fifth overall pick.

The pick – Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)

6) Cleveland Browns
Primary needs – QB, WR, CB, RG, ILB

This is about as high as I think Chance Warmack could go.  The Browns figure to rely heavily on Trent Richardson this season, so adding his collegiate blocking mate would be one way to go.  I think the more likely option is for them to find a corner opposite Joe Haden.

The pick – Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)

7) Arizona Cardinals
Primary needs – QB, T/G, OLB

Another team linked to taking a QB.  Another time I pass on one.  I think drafting a QB here will set the Cardinals back another 3-5 years, and call me crazy but I’m actually a little intrigued to see what Drew Stanton can do.  There’s also talk that they’ll pounce on Carson Palmer when the Raiders release him.  Their line is awful, regardless of who’s under center, so I think they’ll go that route.  They’re showing no signs of giving up on Levi Brown yet at LT and could help him and Stanton at the same time with this pick.

The pick – Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)

8) Buffalo Bills
Primary needs – QB, WR, ILB

They’re not taking an inside linebacker here, but they could go after a pass rusher like Jarvis Jones.  I think this is too high for Cordarrelle Patterson, but he’s my second choice with this pick.  If you’ve been paying attention to anything Buddy Nix has said, publicly or recorded privately, he desperately wants a QB.  I don’t think any in this draft are worth this pick, but QBs are overdrafted more than any other position. 

The pick – Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)

9) New York Jets
Primary needs – QB, OL, OLB, S, RB

Part of me would like to see Smith still on the board here and watch fans react to the Jets passing on him.  What if they passed on him to take Warmack?  Rex Ryan has to show a pulse next season if he want to have any chance of being around in 2014, and getting a pass rusher here would likely make the biggest impact. 

The pick – Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)

10) Tennessee Titans
Primary needs – CB, G, DE

With Milliner off the board, I don’t see them going corner here.  I’ve got it down to a lineman or pass rusher, and even after adding Andy Levitre, they need more help in the interior.  Here I’m giving them someone to plug in at RG with center versatility.

The pick – Jonathan Cooper (OL, North Carolina)

11) San Diego Chargers
Primary needs – OL, CB, LB

If the Chargers want to give Philip Rivers any chance this year, they must upgrade his protection.  I think a worst case scenario has one from Warmack, Cooper, and Lane Johnson on the board when they pick.  Guess who I’m taking? 

The pick – Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)

12) Miami Dolphins
Primary needs – T, CB, DE, RB

After losing Sean Smith in free agency, the Dolphins must find a replacement.  Do they take Rhodes or Trufant here or look elsewhere?  Despite all the smoke about the Dolphins being interested in Rhodes, I don’t see him as a fit in their heavy zone coverage scheme.  I’m going with the first shocker of the draft. 

The pick – Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
Miami appears to be going as “all in” as they can this year, and I like the aggressiveness.  I expect it to continue in the draft.  Yes, I realize they signed Mike Wallace and re-signed Brian Hartline, but I see them going even further to give Ryan Tannehill the best chance to succeed. 

13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Primary needs – CB, TE, DL

It certainly has been a frustrating free agent period.  The Buccaneers went into the new year with huge needs at CB and TE and room for improvement on the defensive line, yet their big move was to make Dashon Goldson the highest paid safety in football.  Corner after corner signed elsewhere, and Michael Bennett went to Seattle on a very affordable one year deal.  What’s going on in the front office?  If I can rule out insanity, it’s safe to assume that the process of finding “Buccaneer men” requires adherence to a very strict set of criteria.  Yes, I’m going with roster philosophy over a return to the dollar store days.  Dominik and Schiano were well aware of the available corners and saw the relatively inexpensive contracts they were signing yet still didn’t get in the game.  Why not?

I agree with the philosophy of building the core of your roster through the draft, but there simply isn’t enough time in this era of football to rely as heavily on doing so as they appear to be.  I appreciate the fiscal integrity, but I believe the plan needs to be expanded.  With the window of patience shrinking by the season in the NFL, following a philosophy like this too rigidly could lead to the demise of Dominik and Schiano.  They don’t have to sign a Jackson or Nicks every offseason, but they must to a better job of finding “mid-grade” talent to supplement the draft picks and high profile free agents.  There needs to be a better sense of urgency. 

If I can end the rant there, let’s take a position-by-position look at the Bucs’ options with the 13th overall pick. 

Not under consideration – QB, RB, WR, G, C, S
We can dream of the Bucs finding Freeman’s replacement, but it’s not happening in the first round of this draft.  Martin is the man at RB, and they’re set at safety as well as the interior of the offensive line. Tavon Austin would have been tempting, but with him off the board, I think it’s safe to assume the Bucs won’t take a receiver.

OT – Unless Lane Johnson falls to #13 (zero chance Joeckel or Fisher are there), I can’t see them taking a tackle.  A couple of quarterbacks going in the top 12 would help the chances of him falling, but I just don’t see the happening.  Would they take Fluker at RT?  He’s a beast in the run game, but he’s never going to be a left tackle and could possibly be a better guard than tackle.  Is that the best use of this pick?

DE – Jordan won’t be there, and the Bucs will need some luck to have Ansah go unselected by the first twelve teams.  Consider this – if the Bucs let Bennett walk for next to nothing and want to give Clayborn and Bowers their chance to shine, would they really be looking for a pass rusher here?  I don’t mention Mingo as I don’t think he’ll be able to be anything other than a situational rusher in a 4-3 defense. 

DT – Floyd is a top 10 pick, so that leaves Star Lotulelei and Sheldon Richardson as the top defensive tackles in the draft.  Regarding Richardson, if we’re drafting a tackle I’d want to take someone who can play next to McCoy, not behind him, and Lotulelei would probably have a better chance of starting at the nose.  I realize that NT isn’t an impact position in this scheme, but if Lotulelei is there, he may be the personification of making your scheme fit your talent rather than the other way around.  

LB – The Bucs added Jonathan Casillas in free agency, but I’d like to think he’s depth and special teams rather than the solution at SLB.  If that’s the case, the Bucs ideally need to find either an upgrade to Watson and Goode on the strong side or a MLB who can cover and push Foster to the strong side.  Of the round one options Alec Ogletree has too many red flags, Kevin Minter isn’t a coverage upgrade, and I have zero interest in the drama queen from Notre Dame. 

TE – Tom Crabtree was a nice grab in free agency, but with just 18 catches in three years with Aaron Rodgers as his QB, he’s ideally the #2 to a pass catcher.  Like cornerback the Bucs sat idly by as tight end after tight end found a home, which may indicate their affinity for some of the draft’s talent, namely Tyler Eifert.  The Golden Domer is clearly the top player at his position and has the size, athleticism, and receiving ability of the en vogue tight ends such as Gronk and Graham. 

CB – Easily the team’s biggest weakness, the Bucs went into free agency needing to find two starters, and nearly a month later, the situation remains unchanged.  With Milliner long gone the remaining round one options figure to be Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Trufant.  There were reports earlier this offseason that the Bucs weren’t interested in taking a corner with this pick.  Was that true, and if so, is it still the case?  Ideally they’d move down a few spots and still get one of them while gaining another pick or two since it’s unlikely that the next several teams would pursue a corner over other similar talent that would address greater needs.  A trade down to #18 with Dallas seems ideal. 

If I can’t trade down, the best available players in my opinion are (in no particular order) Star Lotulelei, Xavier Rhodes, Tyler Eifert, Shelton Richardson, and Desmond Trufant.  What do I think the Bucs will do?

The pick – Xavier Rhodes (CB, FSU)

The Buccaneers, through their inactivity, have painted themselves into a corner this offseason, and it looks like they’ll be forced to take one with their first pick.  As a huge Rhodes fan, I obviously don’t see this as a reach at all, but I’d rather not feel like I have to take a corner with the first pick.  Can’t change that now though.

I still believe Rhodes has the highest upside of all the corners in this draft and that he’s the best way for the Bucs to give their pass defense a pulse.  If they end up mortgaging future draft picks and salary cap space for Revis without losing this pick, he and Rhodes would give the Bucs two serious presences at corner.  If they don’t make a move for Revis, I’d stay on the lookout for another corner in round two. 

If they don’t go with Rhodes, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they took Eifert.  They talk a lot about needing to stop the Grahams and Gronks of the world, and you could interpret that as their desire to acquire a similar weapon for their own usage.  Their free agent move was to get Tom Crabtree, an ideal #2 to a pass catcher.  They need to find out if Freeman is their guy, and surrounding him with as much talent as possible, could help them do that.  Lastly, if ever there was a year to make a non-traditional pick, it’s this year given the overall player parity in this class. 

 14) Carolina Panthers
Primary needs – DT, CB, S, OL

Defensive tackle has been a big need of theirs for a few years, and with two of the draft’s top three still available, I’d have a hard time seeing them go elsewhere.  If I had to make a surprise pick, I’d go with a receiver. 

The pick – Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)

15) New Orleans Saints
Primary needs – T, S, DL, OLB

I’d list left tackle as the team’s biggest need, but unless they move up the board, they’re not getting one in this round.  Defensively, they’re moving to a 3-4 front under Rex Ryan, and while they’re not overloaded with pass rushers, there is a bit of quantity.  They just signed Victor Butler, a similar talent to Barkevious Mingo, so I pass on him here.    Instead I’m giving them the anchor at NT to build the defense around.

The pick – Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)

16) St. Louis Rams
Primary needs – S, WR, SLB

Fortunately for the Rams they should be able to address both of their top needs with their two first round picks.  Here I’m taking the guy most likely to be coveted by the teams picking between this selection and #22. 

The pick – Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)

17) Pittsburgh Steelers
Primary needs – OLB, WR, DE, ILB

It’s too early for an inside backer, and despite losing Mike Wallace, it’s not the Steeler way to take a receiver in round one.  They could take a pass rusher, but I’m not loving the available talent.  I’m going off the radar here and giving Big Ben a guy who could end up being his primary target for the second half of his Steeler career.

The pick – Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)

18) Dallas Cowboys
Primary needs – OL, S, DL
There aren’t any suitable offensive linemen available, and with Vaccaro off the board I think they’ll look to find a defensive lineman that can be a building block of Monte Kiffin’s defense.  This one will surprise some people.

The pick – Tank Carradine (DE, FSU)
Yes, I think Carradine has a good chance of going before his teammate Bjoern Werner since it looks like teams are starting to get with the program and realize how much potential this guy has.  With Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware anything but long term fixtures, they need to get a pass rusher that fits the scheme and will still be on the team in three years.    

19) New York Giants
Primary needs – LB, RT, CB, DE
With the way this has played out, I see three options with this pick.  Do they take DJ Fluker to solve their problem at RT?  What about Trufant to improve their pass coverage?  I’m going the linebacker route with a guy who looks like the perfect Coughlin player and whose stock has reportedly been soaring. 

The pick – Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)

20) Chicago Bears
Primary needs – OL, LB, CB

I believe in this scenario the Bears will go the best available route rather than focusing on a primary need.  Charles Tillman is 32, and Tim Jennings turns 30 in December.  Both are free agents in ’14.  Depth is needed, as is help against the Packers and Calvin Johnson. 

The pick – Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington)

21) Cincinnati Bengals
Primary needs – RB, LB, S, RT

As I type, Andre Smith remains a free agent, so if he isn’t brought back, maybe they consider replacing him with another Bama tackle, Fluker.  Rey Maualuga is garbage but was brought back to play MLB.  There’s talk that they could replace him with Te’o, but that’s a headscratcher since Te’o, like Maualuga, is a two down linebacker.  They could use a #1 back, but I doubt they’d take Lacy here.  It wouldn’t shock me at all if this guy ends up being the best player at his position from this class. 

The pick – Jonathan Cyprien (S, FIU)

22) St. Louis Rams (via WAS)
Primary needs – WR, SLB

With one of the picks acquired in last year’s RGIII trade, the Rams will likely be taking their top rated available receiver. 

The pick – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)

23) Minnesota Vikings
Primary needs – WR, DT, MLB, CB

The Vikings had a weak passing game last year and dealt away their biggest weapon behind Adrian Peterson.  Even with the acquisition of Greg Jennings, I’ve got the think they’ll look to take a receiver with one of their first two picks. The smarter move might be to take the guy they want who is most likely liked by Indy as well.  Both teams need a big presence in the middle of their defensive lines. 

The pick – Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State)

24) Indianapolis Colts
Primary needs – CB, OLB, G, DE

Andrew Luck is the franchise, and the franchise spent a lot of time on his franch-ass last year.  They’ve added Gosder Cherilus at RT and Donald Thomas at LG, so RG is currently their weak link up front.  They could address that weakness by taking DJ Fluker here and moving him inside.  They brought in a couple of pass rushers this offseason, but neither Erik Walden nor Lawrence Sidbury should prohibit them from drafting one here. 

The pick – Damontre Moore (OLB, Texas A&M)

25) Minnesota Vikings (via SEA)
Primary needs – WR, MLB, CB

Te’o is getting some talk here, but I really question how productive a three down backer he’ll be in the pros.  I have a hard time seeing them pass on a receiver here to pair with Jennings, and I’m a big fan of this player. 

The pick – DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)

26) Green Bay Packers
Primary needs – C, RB, OLB, OT, WR

I don’t see the first two positions of need being the pick, and I don’t see immediate impact by the available pass rushers.  You don’t think of receiver being a big position of need for the Packers, but with the loss of Greg Jennings and how often they run multiple receiver sets, they’re not terribly deep.  This guy is my favorite receiver in the draft and would make things nearly unfair lined up with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones. 

The pick – Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech)

27) Houston Texans
Primary needs – WR, ILB, RT, RG, OLB

I feel like I mock a receiver to these guys every year.  Maybe this time they’ll actually do it.  Their need for a viable target opposite Andre Johnson was highlighted this past season, and I doubt they continue to ignore it.  I keep reading about an emphasis on speed, but I’d rather have the well-rounded receiver.

The pick – Keenan Allen (WR, California)

28) Denver Broncos
Primary needs – DE, S, RB, MLB

Eddie Lacy might be a popular pick, but I think Denver will first look to upgrade the other side of the ball.  They lost Elvis Dumervil in that weird contract deadline situation, and here they’ll get really good value in attempting to replace him.

The pick – Bjoern Werner (DE, FSU)

29) New England Patriots
Primary needs – WR, DT, DE

I think they’ll focus on defense with this pick, and finding a versatile athlete to pair up front with Vince Wilfork would be a nice move in my opinion.

The pick – Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)

30) Atlanta Falcons
Primary needs – DE, LB, DT, CB

Even after landing Osi Umenyiora they’ll still be really thin at DE. 

The pick – Datone Jones (DE, UCLA)

31) San Francisco 49ers
Primary needs – FS, CB, OLB, NT
The 49ers own two of the next four picks, and I’ll look to address the defense with both of them.  I’m very intrigued with the idea of making this guy a part of that unit.

The pick – Margus Hunt (DE, SMU)

32) Baltimore Ravens
Primary needs – ILB, WR, LT, FS
The champs have been hit hard by free agency, and no position more so than inside linebacker.  I think this guy would help them start to make up for losing Ray Lewis to retirement and Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins.

The pick – Kevin Minter (ILB, LSU)

Round 1 position breakdown –
QB – 1
RB – 0
WR – 5
TE – 1
OT – 3
G/C – 2
DT – 5
DE – 6
OLB – 3
ILB – 1
CB – 3
S – 2

It’s not often that you see 1 combined QB and RB go in the first round of a draft, but I really don’t see how that number is higher unless teams start forcing it.  No, it’s not a terribly top-heavy-talented draft, but overall the QB class is simply shoddy. 


33) Jacksonville Jaguars
Primary needs – QB, CB, RT, OLB

The Jags appear to be committed to a Gabbert-Henne battle for some reason, but if every QB other than Smith is still here, I wouldn’t put it past them to use this pick on one.  If they don’t, I think Bradley will look to find his second Seattle reproduction – a tall, aggressive corner.  Johnthan Banks is my fallback pick here.

The pick – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)

34) San Francisco 49ers (via KC)
Primary needs – CB, OLB, NT

After netting Hunt with their first choice, I think they’ll focus on the back end of the defense with one of the picks acquired in the Alex Smith trade.

The pick – Jonthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)

35) Philadelphia Eagles
Primary needs – QB, ILB, CB

I think this could be where Chip Kelly rolls the dice on a QB, and I’ve got him taking the guy he tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit to Oregon five years ago. 

The pick – EJ Manuel (QB, FSU)

36) Detroit Lions
Primary needs – T, CB, OLB

After missing out on a tackle in the first round, I think the Lions will look to pounce on one here should the opportunity present itself.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see this guy go in the top 25. 

The pick – Menelik Watson (T, FSU)

37) Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK)
Primary needs – RB, LB, RT

As I touched on earlier, I think the Bengals are better off in the long run without Maualuga, so I’ll look to find a guy who can play on the weak side, allowing Burfict to slide inside. 

Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)

38) Arizona Cardinals
Primary needs – QB, OLB

I was set to slot a different passer here, but the Cardinals appear to be smitten with this guy.  They’re fools if they take him with their first pick because I strongly doubt he won’t be on the board at #38. 

The pick – Mike Glennon (QB, NC State)

39) New York Jets
Primary needs – QB, RB, S

Would the Jets really take another Trojan QB with a questionable arm?  As much as I’d love to see them take Matt Barkley and watch the calamity ensue, I’m going to address their safety deficiency.

The pick – Matt Elam (S, Florida)

40) Tennessee Titans
Primary needs – S, CB, DE, TE

Zach Ertz might make a good Jared Cook replacement, but I think they’ll look to improve their secondary. 

The pick – Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State

41) Buffalo Bills
Primary needs – WR, ILB

If they’re going to invest in Geno Smith, they’ll also need to invest in someone for him to throw to other than Stevie Johnson.

The pick – Robert Woods (WR, USC)

42) Miami Dolphins
Primary needs – T, CB, DE, RB

As they move to a 4-3 front, the Dolphins could use a true strong side end, but with the way this one has played out, I’ve got to go with the guy who has fallen much further than expected.  I think he’s more likely to go sooner, but since he’s either a RT or RG I don’t see a lot of teams picking late in round one seeing that as their top priority. 

The pick – DJ Fluker (OL, Alabama)

43) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Primary needs – TE, CB, DL, LB

I’ve got this one down to two players – a tight end and another corner.  Zach Ertz is the #2 tight end in the draft, and like Eifert, would give the Bucs a presence that’s missing in the middle of the field.  He would be the pass catcher to Crabtree’s blocker.  The corner I’m considering is Darius Slay.  I had him listed just below Logan Ryan in my list of corner to consider in my offseason previous, but Slay is probably an even better fit, is soaring up draft boards, and I’d proffer that he’ll end up a better professional than his collegiate boundary mate.    

The pick – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
Ertz is a move tight end that and could take advantage of coverage mismatches.  He’s a true hands pass catcher who would give Freeman another big target to heave it up to.  I like the thought of him creating more looks/formations for the offense.  Ertz isn’t a slippery or speedy guy, but has impressive agility for a big guy.  Combine that with his excellent hands and wide catch radius, and this is a guy who can be a difference maker.  He’s got a long way to go as a blocker from strength and leverage points, but the effort is there.  


Round 3

After taking Rhodes and Ertz, the positions I don’t think will be considered here are RB, TE, G, C, and S.  That leaves possibilities at QB, WR, T, DE, DT, and LB.  Who’s available?  The third round is no man’s land at QB for the Bucs.  My favorite QB for the Bucs in this draft is EJ Manuel, and I have him going in the second round.  The Bucs will want whoever this pick is to play right away. 

Stedman Bailey is my favorite receiver for the Bucs.  I believe that he’s horribly underrated having played in Tavon Austin’s shadow at West Virginia, and is going to be a huge steal for someone.  The guy is a terrific route runner and has two of the best hands in this draft.  The knock on him is size, but give me a guy with an extensive route tree who consistently racks up yards after the catch.  I think Bailey has a really bright future as a professional.  Remember how successful the Bucs offense was with Ike Hilliard in the slot? 

Big Brandon Williams is a small school guy who I think would provide an attractive, stout presence next to McCoy.  If they go defensive line, he’s the guy I want to them to take.  From what little I’ve seen of him, he has the size, strength, and hands to be a contributor in multiple positions up front.  He has quick feet and does a good job occupying blockers, making them work.  I’d like to see him play with a little more control, and that can be coached. 

The pick – Stedman Bailey (WR, West Virginia)
I pleaded for Randall Cobb as a second round pick in the ’11 draft, and Bailey, while not as explosive, would abuse defenses in open the open field just as Cobb does. 

Round 4

The Bucs have two selections in this round and so far have gone:
Xavier Rhodes (CB, FSU)
Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
Stedman Bailey (WR, West Virginia)

With the remaining five picks I’d focus on QB, T, DL, LB, and CB.  Also, if the Bucs have yet to draft a tight end, I’d spend one of these picks on Dion Sims.  If Brandon Williams is still available he’d be at the top of the list here.  If he’s not, I have five players in mind with these two selections.  Here they are:

QB – Zac Dysert
What stands out most to me with him is his confidence and how he looks to have some of that “it” factor that everyone wants in a quarterback.  He’s far from complete as a quarterback, but I think he’s got a lot to work with.  Dysert is an athletic guy who throws well on the run.  He also threw a lot of timing plays in college, but he does a nice job of seeing the whole field.  If I’m going to pick on something, he puts too much air under a lot of his passes which is correctable.  He’s not a dual threat guy but can pick up yards with his legs; doesn’t look like Tom Brady when he tucks it and runs.

RB – Christine Michael
Michael has plenty of talent, but his baggage is the reason he won’t get drafted high.  Based on skill he’s one of the top three backs in the draft.  To me I think he’s worth the risk this late as a well-rounded compliment to Martin.  He runs with authority and effort, something Martin’s current backup does not. 

WR – Ryan Swope
If Bailey isn’t the third round pick, I want them to seriously consider Swope.  He has tremendous concentration, catches the ball in any spot in the field, and has more long speed than he’s given credit for. Welker is the lazy comparison for Swope, but I’d argue that Swope is the more aggressive receiver. He has a large catch radius due to skill not arm length, which is something I look for. The ball doesn’t have to be in his chest in order for him to catch it. The guy is simply a football player.

LB – Ty Powell
Schiano is very active with his linebackers, and I have someone in mind that I think would be a perfect fit.  Ty Powell played DE at Harding but has the skill set to shine at SLB in this scheme.  I’m very impressed with his agility and footwork for a guy who’s 6-2, 250.  He has experience as a safety, and it shows with his impressive change of direction in coverage.  Powell had 8.5 sacks as a senior and would give the Bucs another needed pass rushing presence.    

CB – Will Davis
Davis isn’t a large corner, but I really like his coverage skills and the way he tracks the football.  He uses his aggressiveness and plus speed to stay with receivers downfield; good recovery speed as well.  The two things I believe he needs to work on most are play recognition and tackling technique which are both coachable.  Tons of upside here.

The picks –
Ty Powell (LB, Harding)
Will Davis (CB, Utah State)

Rounds 5 & 6

The Bucs have three picks in these two rounds – their two and the extra sixth they picked up in the Arrelious Benn deal. 

The picks –
Kenjon Barner (RB, Oregon)
Montori Hughes (DT, Tennessee-Martin)
Armonty Bryant (DE, E Central Oklahoma)

I see Barner as the Buccaneers’ version of Darren Sproles.  He’d be an electric compliment to Martin, carrying and catching the ball out of the backfield and helping out on returns.  In my offseason preview I mentioned Danny Woodhead as an option in free agency and how attractive he’d be as a no-huddle / fast break option.  Barner is that guy too, and like Woodhead is a tougher runner than he’s given credit for. 

Hughes moves well for a big guy and shows a good get-off.  He has a big wing span to go with a large frame and occupies a lot of space.  Hughes does a nice job of holding up against double teams; doesn’t give ground.  He’s a handful in one-on-one matchups.

Bryant would occupy a Bennett-type role as a strong side end who has the ability to movie inside on passing downs.  I like his size at the position, but I think he will be much better off when he adds another 10-15 pounds of upper body in the weight room.  He gets stoned a little too much when he can’t use his speed to get around blockers, so strength and hands stand out as things to work on.  Still, he’s a true lottery pick at this point, and you could make worse gambles than an athletic pass rusher in the sixth round. 


R1 – Xavier Rhodes (CB, FSU)
R2 – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
R3 – Stedman Bailey (WR, West Virginia)
R4a – Ty Powell (LB, Harding)
R4b – Will Davis (CB, Utah State)
R5 – Kenjon Barner (RB, Oregon)
R6a – Montori Hughes (DT, Tennessee-Martin)
R6b – Armonty Bryant (DE, E Central Oklahoma)

A Rhodes/Ertz or Eifert/Slay one-two is how I’d start this draft.  In all the Bucs add three offensive players and five defensive players.  They get their ‘now or never’ QB immediate impact dynamic talents at TE and slot receiver.  Ertz is a matchup nightmare, and Bailey can break big plays in the open space that Ertz creates.  Barner is an explosive compliment to Martin. 

On defense, they double down at corner and defensive line while adding a potential gem SLB.  Rhodes is an instant starter, and Davis is extremely raw but shows plenty of potential as a boundary corner.  Powell is a multi-dimensional linebacker that could shine opposite Lavonte David.  They finish up by taking two high upside defensive linemen who could contribute right away. 

I waited a while to take a defensive lineman for a couple of reasons.  Judging by their handling of the Bennett situation, the Bucs are committed to Clayborn and Bowers at end.  I don’t see them spending a high pick on a pass rusher when they could have retained a versatile, proven commodity rather inexpensively.  Again, with NT not being a huge impact position in this defense and the fact that they’re soon going to have to commit a lot of money to McCoy makes me think they’ll wait a while on a DT.  Look at the Bucs draft history of offensive linemen under Dominik.  They haven’t drafted one since Xavier Fulton in 2009.  Why think that will change this year? 

It’s been a frustrating offseason thus far, but if the Bucs put together a draft like this they’ll be addressing some urgent needs as well as adding high upside depth throughout the roster. 

Go Bucs!  


  1. Very well thought out, and i whole-heartedly agree that this draft would set us up to be competitive in the upcoming season. Seems that it all depends on our lines staying healthy this year though...

  2. Thanks. The Bucs were 15th in the league in rushing ypg last year, and that was without their two best lineman and a rookie rusher. I'm anxious to see how much more dominant they can be with Nicks and Joseph back and Martin with a year under his belt.

    Their offseason inactivity indicates they're going all in with Clayborn and Bowers which is a scary proposition. I don't necessarily care about sack numbers, but they need to do a better job of getting to the passer quicker and obstructing passing lanes. They added Derek Landri today, but don't think he's anything more than a rotational tackle; nothing to get excited about.

  3. Since it looks like the Bucs are going to end up trading their first round pick for Revis, in which case I likely won't do a revised mock, I figured I'd acknowledge that I unintentionally, yet inexcusably, left Mingo out of my mock. He could go anywhere from 7-24 or lower, but I'd have him closer to the 24.

  4. I’m going to do my first mock draft, because those little creatures that live in my basement have been clamoring for me to do one since we moved into this gloomy, isolated estate with its peculiar history of former owners going missing. Wait…I’m conflating the NFL with that ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ movie again. I don’t know how to write fancy web page things so I can’t columns with decorations and such, so please read what follows as ‘Team: Who they will take/Who they should take if they had the guts.

    1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel / Chance Warmack

    You need a good player at left tackle, not necessarily a great one. The seven step drop, long developing plays are becoming increasingly rare. Face pressure is a bigger issue nowadays. If you have the first pick, take the best football player in the draft.

    2. Jacksonville: Shariff Floyd / Shariff Floyd

    I would trade down and pick up an extra 2nd. That being said, this kid is going to be phenomenal.

    3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei / Dion Jordan

    If the old man were alive, they’d probably draft Geno Smith. If nothing else, McKenzie is committed to getting them out of an awful cap situation.

    4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher/Eric Fisher

    This one is tough. It all depends on how Jason Peters’ recovery is going. I’m guessing that the Eagles don’t want to bet on a 320 lb. guy with an injury from which it is notoriously difficult to recover. If they are 100% sure Peters is good to go, they should take Lotulelei.

    5. Detroit Lions: Dion Jordan / Lane Johnson

    They’re going to want to fix up that rush end position. They saw what happened when they go no production from that side last year with van der Bosch, and my guess is they have no one even close to him on the roster.

    6. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack / Chance Warmack

    If they are smart, they will listen to me. Oddly, they are not taking my calls.

    7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson / Lane Johnson

    When you have a historically bad O-Line, take the best lineman available.

    8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith / Tyler Eifert

    The Bills personnel philosophy brings to mind a line I heard poker legend Phil Hellmuth say to another player at the WSOP a few years ago: “You have a fundamental misunderstand about how this game is to be played.”

    9. NY Jets: Dee Milner / Ezekiel Ansah

    This one will depend on how much say Rex Ryan has on draft day. I don’t see it with the Milner kid, I really don’t, but I can see Ryan convincing himself he needs a great corner if he want to do the things he did the years the Jets were more successful.

    10. Tennessee Titans: E. Ansah / K. Vaccaro

    Ansah’s measurables will be to tempting to pass up.

  5. 11. Cleveland Browns: Tavon Austin / Tyler Eifert

    The Browns have been an ‘eh’ team on offense a long time. I think they have to sell their fans that this kid could be their Percy Harvin. They’re probably not going to sink money into a D-lineman after the Krueger signing.

    12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes / Cordarrelle Patterson

    You can flip those two names. I kind of like the big risk big reward pick of Patterson, but it’s not me that has to pay a mortgage in Miami. Jeff Ireland is kind of nutty, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they pull the trigger on the Patterson kid.

    13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyler Eifert / Tyler Eifert

    He’s going to end up better than Pitta and that guy from the Oilers, and those are both pretty good players…and I want there to be no excuses for Josh Freeman. The Bucs need to be in the business of giving him every weapon possible, so that when he fails the experiment can end, and the next guy has a fighting chance.

    14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson / Sheldon Richardson

    They have to do something to shore up the middle. I didn’t see this kid play one time, but everybody says he’ll be a solid player, and that’s more than what they have now.

    15. NO Saints: Bjorn Werner / Barkevious Mingo

    The Saints are probably by now pretty desperate to get anyone that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If they take Werner they are taking the wrong player. He’s going to be a slightly above average NFL end. Mingo is going to end up being better and probably better suited to playing standing up.

    16. St. Louis Rams : Kenny Vaccaro / Kenny Vaccaro

    Tough call. If Patterson and Vaccaro are off the board, and they can find a buyer, they’re going to trade down. If they’re both still around, and since I expect to be 15/15 by this point, they fill their most pressing need and hope Patterson is still around at 22.

    17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Corradelle Patterson / Alec Olgetree

    I would have wavered about this one right up until the Patriots offered to Sanders, a number which I doubt the Steelers match. Either way, he’s out of the league in four years. The NFL junkyard is littered with guys like Patterson.

    18. Dallas Cowboys: D. J. Fluker / Johnathan Cooper

    I’m not the biggest Romo defender in the world, but at least plug one leak up front. I don’t have one of these guys dramatically better than the other, so either would do.

    19. NY Giants Desmond Truffant / Johnathan Cooper

    Truffant is going to look good to them given that T. Thomas coming back is no sure thing. However, if I was the GM of an NFL team with a quarterback capable of winning Super Bowls, I would draft the best available offensive lineman on the board every other year…you know, like that Patriots have done.

    20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree / Alec Ogletree

    I’ve heard two mentions of Man’ti Teo at this slot. I won’t even dignify that guess with a comment.

    21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jarvis Jones / Eddie Lacy

    If they’re determined to bring in a guy like Maualuga to play linebacker, I’d guess they would be looking to complement him with a guy that can go backwards. They will be making a huge mistake, because Jones is going to end up being the biggest bust of this draft and it has nothing to do with spinal stenosis. His game will not translate to the next level.

  6. 22. St. Louis Rams: Robert Woods / Robert Woods

    If Vaccaro is gone, they’re going to reach for Cyprien since he’s probably the next safety on the board, but HE PLAYED AT FIU. Robert Woods is going to be very solid and they need more help on offense than defense. I think I might be the only person that has done a mock draft with Robert Woods in the first round!

    23. Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams / Kevin Minter

    I saw two mocks, one having them with SW the other with KM. I would have had them taking Trufant, but in my thing he’s done gone. They should take Minter since they have absolutely nothing at LB and might be able to squeeze another year out of one of those Williams tackles.

    24. Indianapolis Colts: Margus Hunt / Margus Hunt

    I see you have them with D. Joned, and that may be with whom they go. Either way, whoever they have as the best interior lineman on their board goes here. I’m going to eventually go back and look at the Pollian drafts. I have a suspicion he spent the better part of his 1st round picks on offensive players for his HoF quarterback. I thought that was a mistake, and if the Colts had had a couple of more serious playmakers on defense, they might have won at least one more SB.

    25. Minnesota Vikings: Kevin Minter / Kevin Minter

    If the Colts take Minter, and I wouldn’t bet against it at 24, the Vikings are going to take M. Hunt.

    26. GB Packers: Menelik Watson / Kyle Long

    The NFL is not an idea place for an offensive lineman who comes in raw to learn his craft. The Packers should take a good hard look at a kid that had tremendous physical tools coming in to the league and has become to lowest order, indistinguishable from a turnstile: Vladimir Ducasse. Every time I saw Oregon play, the Long kid was running all over the place making blocks.

    27. Houston Texans: Justin Hunter / Justin Hunter

    As great as Andre Johnson has been, I think he’s reached the point of rapid decline from here on out. This guy looked really good in the one game I saw him play, and that’s good enough for me. Anyway, they’re going to trade down from here, so whoever they get, it won’t be at 27.

    28. Denver Broncos: D.J. Hayden / D.J. Hayden

    For all the hoopla about Dumervil, he wasn’t very impressive in 2013. The Broncos know that the Ravens have taken a step back; they're going to have to beat NE in a mediocre AFC to get to the Super Bowl, and that means potentially defending Sanders and a receiver the Patriots might take next.

    29. NE Patriots: Tank Carradine / Matt Elam

    The prospect of sticking Carradine on the other side of Chandler Jones as a quick fix will be too much to for the Patriots to pass up, but they will regret not taking Matt Elam who will end up being the best safety to emerge from this year’s draft class.

    30. Atlanta Falcons: Barkevious Mingo / Barkevious Mingo

    The Falcons are not going to contend for a SB title with their D-line as it is currently comprised. They are pretty well situated everywhere else, to the extent that if they played the 49ers ten times, they’d win three games. That’s probably about as much as they can hope for in the next four years, because the talent disparity is significant.

    31. SF 49ers: Datone Jones / Datone Jones

    SF had to be acutely aware of what happened to them when Justin Smith became the one armed man. He may not be the idea fit to fill in for Smith, but he’s the best guy left there. Yes, I could see the picks I have at 29-30 permuted the six ways possible, or as we like to say in the math business, the ‘3!’ ways.

    32. Baltimore Ravens: Keenan Allen / DeAndre Hopkins

    They’d be deluding themselves to think Keenan Allen is going to give them what AQ did, even minimally. Take the better player with more top end speed.

    Notable absences from Thursday night's roster:


  7. Manti Teo. He's just another guy.
    E.J. Manuel. Not a first round QB, but better than Geno Smith
    Johnathan Banks. Why Johnathan Banks you ask? Because I really, really want him to be there when the Bucs pick on Friday!

    Thank you for your work as always, Mr. Talbuc...or DR. Talbuc, as your readers have all voted to award you an honorary doctorate in football matters!

  8. Good stuff TPE. Here are some of my thoughts –

    "7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson / Lane Johnson
    When you have a historically bad O-Line, take the best lineman available."

    I get the feeling they’re going to move up and secure one of the three tackles. I don’t think I have ever done a mock with trades in it, but I’m working on now. I may lose interest in finishing it if the Bucs deal away #13 for Revis.

    "10. Tennessee Titans: E. Ansah / K. Vaccaro
    Ansah’s measurables will be to tempting to pass up."

    I think they’d pounce if he was to fall this far.

    "11. Cleveland Browns: Tavon Austin / Tyler Eifert
    The Browns have been an ‘eh’ team on offense a long time. I think they have to sell their fans that this kid could be their Percy Harvin. They’re probably not going to sink money into a D-lineman after the Krueger signing."

    Cleveland is a tough one to project and in my mind is a likely candidate to trade down.

    "13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyler Eifert / Tyler Eifert
    He’s going to end up better than Pitta and that guy from the Oilers, and those are both pretty good players…and I want there to be no excuses for Josh Freeman. The Bucs need to be in the business of giving him every weapon possible, so that when he fails the experiment can end, and the next guy has a fighting chance."

    I can get on board with that. I’m not in the “You’ve got to take a corner!!!” club and believe the Bucs need to go with the best available player on their board. If that’s Eifert, then I’m fine with that.

    21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jarvis Jones / Eddie Lacy
    "If they’re determined to bring in a guy like Maualuga to play linebacker, I’d guess they would be looking to complement him with a guy that can go backwards. They will be making a huge mistake, because Jones is going to end up being the biggest bust of this draft and it has nothing to do with spinal stenosis. His game will not translate to the next level."

    Yeah Jones has the chance to be really good or really bad. Neither would shock me.

    "26. GB Packers: Menelik Watson / Kyle Long
    The NFL is not an idea place for an offensive lineman who comes in raw to learn his craft. The Packers should take a good hard look at a kid that had tremendous physical tools coming in to the league and has become to lowest order, indistinguishable from a turnstile: Vladimir Ducasse. Every time I saw Oregon play, the Long kid was running all over the place making blocks."

    With everyone focusing so much on the top three, hardly anyone is talking about Watson or Long. Both of those guys come with a lot of upside.

    "29. NE Patriots: Tank Carradine / Matt Elam
    The prospect of sticking Carradine on the other side of Chandler Jones as a quick fix will be too much to for the Patriots to pass up, but they will regret not taking Matt Elam who will end up being the best safety to emerge from this year’s draft class."

    I like this.

    "Notable absences from Thursday night's roster:
    Manti Teo. He's just another guy.
    E.J. Manuel. Not a first round QB, but better than Geno Smith
    Johnathan Banks. Why Johnathan Banks you ask? Because I really, really want him to be there when the Bucs pick on Friday!"

    We’ll probably be surprised by some of the names that end up not getting picked on the first day. This thing looks pretty wide open.

    "Thank you for your work as always, Mr. Talbuc...or DR. Talbuc, as your readers have all voted to award you an honorary doctorate in football matters!"

    I feel like Tommy Lasorda! That guy gets one of those every day.