Friday, May 9, 2014

2014 NFL Draft - Buccaneers Day 2

After acquiring Mike Evans with the 7th pick in R1, the Bucs have addressed one weakness – finding a starter opposite Vincent Jackson.  While I found the pick underwhelming, there’s no mistaking that Evans is an upgrade over Mike Williams, gives Josh McCown two very large wideouts to work with, and is an eventual #1 replacement for Jackson.

With two picks for Friday night’s action, the positions I would target are – QB, WR, OL, CB, and DL.

Here’s what I expect to happen with the first six picks of the evening:

33) Houston Texans – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
I don’t think the Texans want to tempt fate by drafting David Carr’s little brother.  I think this will be a DL pick.  Ra’Shede Hageman is my fallback.

34) Washington Redskins – Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
I think this one is going to be a tackle, and I’m going with Moses.  Cyrus Kouandjio is my fallback.

35) Cleveland Browns – Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
The Browns want to upgrade at RG, and XSF might be the best player remaining on the board, regardless of position.  Marqise Lee is my fallback as a nice addition to Gordon-Cameron-Hawkins.

36) Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
Unless they simply enjoy confusing the media, all indications point to the Raiders taking Carr.  I’ll be shocked if Carr isn’t a Raider.  They may even move up to #33 to secure him.

37) Atlanta Falcons – Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State)
The Falcons need an impact rusher, and Lawrence is widely considered the most dynamic pass rusher remaining.  A sneaky good pick would be to take XSF as a follow up to Matthews last night.  Jace Amaro could be Tony Gonzalez’s successor.

38) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joel Bitonio (OL, Nevada)
If XSF is off the board, I think Bitonio becomes the Bucs #1 target.  He has the ability to play both tackle and guard but would likely settle into one of the guard spots in Tampa.  I like Bitonio, but he’s not my first option.  I would first encourage the Bucs to deal down, and with a lot of talent remaining at receiver and along the offensive and defensive lines, hopefully the Bucs are able to move down a bit and add another pick or two. 

My order of preference for pick #38 –
1) Derek Carr
2) Donte Moncrief
3) Joel Bitonio
4) Lamarcus Joyner
5) XSF
6) Timmy Jernigan
7) Allen Robinson
8) Kony Ealy

Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 NFL Draft - Final Mock Draft

Here’s one last take on the first round of the draft before things kick off tonight.

1) Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
The Texans are reportedly open to moving the pick if they can get an RGII-like haul, but I don’t think anyone meets their price, even the Falcons.  Houston adds the draft’s best player to an already stout defensive front.

2) St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
I’m sticking with Matthews to the Rams, but this time they stay put at #2 and take him.  Detroit and Buffalo are reportedly interested in moving up for Sammy Watkins, but I’m not sure we will actually see a team outside the top ten move up that high. 

3) Jacksonville Jaguars – Khalil Mack (DE/OLB, Buffalo)
I’ve had the Jaguars going defense all along, and I’m sticking to it.  I think this comes down to Mack or Watkins, and I have the Jaguars going with the elite defensive player over the elite offensive player due in part to the sizeable draft depth difference between the two positions.

4) Cleveland Browns – Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
If Matthews going #2 isn’t the first swerve of the draft, this is.  The Browns take Evans over Watkins and add him to Josh Gordon, Andrew Hawkins, and Jordan Cameron.  If they go this route, expect QB to be their target with R1 pick #2. 

5) Oakland Raiders – Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
If Watkins is there, I don’t see any way the Raiders don’t take him.  I’d probably give them Evans if Watkins goes earlier.  If not a receiver then I’d go with my previous pick, Aaron Donald.  I’m guessing the tackle talk, specifically Taylor Lewan, is draft smoke.

6) Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Rather than trade up to #1 for Clowney, the Falcons stay at six, keep their picks, and add, arguably, the draft’s top tackle prospect. 

7) Dallas Cowboys (TRADE) – Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
Today’s rumor says Lovie Smith wants Aaron Donald, but I’m not buying it.  I’d like to think that a team with more dire needs on the offensive side of the ball would go that route rather than add a part time pass rusher.  Donald wouldn’t be a part timer for the Cowboys.  Bucs get Dallas’ picks in R1, R2, and R4. 

8) Minnesota Vikings – Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
This may be a surprise pick, but without Donald there, I don’t think they take Mosley this high or a QB in R1. 

9) Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
I think it’s either a tackle or receiver here, and I’ve got them taking the former.

10) Detroit Lions – Odell Beckham (WR, LSU)
They’re mentioned as being interested in moving up for Watkins, but if they stay put, they could get a similarly successful player.

11) Tennessee Titans – Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
Oh how the mighty have fallen.  Bortles slides ten spots from my previous pick and ignites a QB controversy in Nashville.  HC Ken Whisenhunt gets a QB who compares favorably to former pupil, Ben Roethlisberger.

12) New York Giants – Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
As I mentioned last time, the Giants need to really hit with this pick, and Martin is probably the safest pick they can make and also addresses a need on the offensive line.

13) St. Louis Rams – Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
The smaller, physical Dennard replaces the departed, smaller, physical Cortland Finnegan.

14) San Francisco 49ers (TRADE) – Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
The Niners make the move up for a receiver to compliment Boldin, Crabtree, and Davis. 

15) Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Gilbert (CB, Oregon State)
Projected as the draft’s #1 corner, Gilbert is the third player off the board at his position.  I think the Steelers will have a tough time going any other route than corner with this pick.

16) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE) – Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
I’m sticking with Carr.  Ideally the Bucs are able to move down from #7 into this range in order to take their QB, but I could see them doing it with their original pick.  I don’t buy the Manziel talk because I don’t think his quick improvisation trigger fits with Jeff Tedford’s structured/disciplined offense. 

17) Baltimore Ravens – Eric Ebron (TE, UNC)
Ebron is reportedly high on Baltimore’s radar, and if they don’t go big at WR, adding Ebron to go with Dennis Pitta in the middle of the field would be a nice way to upgrade the pass offense.

18) New York Jets – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
This may be too low for HHCD, but I think the Jets would love to add a DB of his caliber to a very weak and shallow group.

19) Cleveland Browns (TRADE) – Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
Jay Glazer is firm about the Browns not taking JFF at #4, but that doesn’t mean that can’t get him later.  If I can trust that intel, I don’t think Manziel ends up a top 10 pick.  At that point, it’s about who can deal up the quickest to get him. 

20) Arizona Cardinals – Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA)
I’m not a Barr fan, but if he’s still available, I think Arizona will have a tough time passing on him.  A safety would be my second choice.

21) Green Bay Packers – CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Sadly, the Packers seem to be a team spinning their wheels on defense, regardless of the talent they’ve acquired in recent years. Mosley would give them an upgrade on Brad Jones’ spot next to AJ Hawk on the inside. 

22) Philadelphia Eagles – Ryan Shazier (OLB, Ohio State)
I don’t know that I’ve seen Shazier mentioned to the Eagles elsewhere, but if they do indeed go defense, I think adding the very active Shazier to a linebacker group that already features Mychal Kendricks would be one hell of a move.

23) Kansas City Chiefs – Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
He may not fall this far in the real deal, but since he did here, the Chiefs don’t pass up an ideal fit at a position of need.

24) Cincinnati Bengals – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
I’m taking the bait.  Cincinnati is reported to have interest in Bridgewater, and, if true, I think it’s a very smart move.  They’re getting close to decision time with the underwhelming Andy Dalton, and adding Bridgewater to the fold give them more leverage in Dalton’s contract talks and security in case they decide to let Dalton depart.

25) San Diego Chargers – Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
I’m going with CB over DL with this pick as the Chargers look to upgrade a vulnerable secondary.

26) Miami Dolphins (TRADE) – Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
The standard line of thinking has the Dolphins taking a tackle in R1.  Moving down via the Cleveland trade makes Moses the move look less forced.

27) New Orleans Saints – Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
With Marques Colston not getting any younger and only Kenny Stills as a developing receiver, the Saints need to add to the position.

28) Carolina Panthers – Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Carolina got through a successful ’13 season with a smoke-and-mirrors act in the secondary.  Talent is sorely needed at corner.

29) New England Patriots – Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
The Wilfork comparison is too obvious, but so is the fit. 

30) Chicago Bears (TRADE) – Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU)
I’m not sure if he’s still on the team’s radar after the failed drug test, but as we’ve seen in the past, teams make excuses for talent.  Maybe this will be another one of those instances.

31) Denver Broncos – Deen Ford (DE/OLB, Auburn)
I like the fit for Ford.  He goes to a team where he can be eased into the rotation and won’t be counted on to be the sack savior. 

32) Seattle Seahawks – Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
Since his medicals apparently shed good light on his status, I think Easley is definitely in play at the end of day one.  If any team can afford to give a guy with Easley’s ability a redshirt season, it’s the champs.

Remaining Buccaneer Selections
If the Bucs were to get Carr in R1, I’ve got to think they’re making every attempt to deal Glennon.  I will say this – If they don’t get at least a third round pick in exchange, I’d take Glennon to camp and look to deal him again if/when a team experiences an injury at QB. 

With QB taken care of, like last time I’m focusing 100% on receiver at pick #38.  Unlike last time, I’m going with the player I prefer, rather than guessing who the Bucs might prefer. 

R2a – Donte Moncrief (WR, Mississippi)

In my last version, I had the Bucs taking Easley with the pick acquired in the R1 trade.  With Easley off the board, I’m going with choice 1a.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I love this guy’s fit as a slot corner and potential contributor/successor at free safety.

R2b – Lamarcus Joyner (DB, FSU)

I’m switching my pick here.  I’ve been big on both Bruce Ellington and CJ Fiedorowicz, but since I’ve yet to read anything about the Bucs being tied to the receiver and know that they have visited with the tight end, I’m going for the most likely outcome. 

R3 – CJ Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa)

Since I switched from Ellington in R3, I still want to add another receiver.  I don’t wait long to do so and take a guy who has some of that speed in space stuff.  He can line up inside or outside, and I think he’d make a fine #3 inside of Jackson and Moncrief.  With the last pick acquired in my hypothetical Dallas trade, Tampa Bay takes…

R4 – Jared Abbrederis (WR, Wisconsin)

No change in plans with my R5 pick.  The Bucs have yet to address the hole at guard and take the strong man from Bama. 

R5 – Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)

Since I’ve got them taking Fiedorowicz in this version, Crockett Gillmore is overkill.  I’ve got to think Lovie will lobby for a defensive lineman at some point, and here I’m giving them a guy who offers versatility and a good bit of pass rush potential.

R6 – Calvin Barnett (DT, Oklahoma State)

I’m going with the same shot in the dark with the last pick; another strong offensive lineman with a lot of starting experience.

R7 – Corey Linsley (C, Ohio State)

*1) Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
2a) Donte Moncrief (WR, Mississippi)
*2b) Lamarcus Joyner (DB, FSU)
3) CJ Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa)
*4) Jared Abbrederis (WR, Wisconsin)
5) Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)
6) Calvin Barnett (DT, Oklahoma State)
7) Corey Linsley (C, Ohio State)

* = pick acquired in Dallas trade

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings By Position

Here are my (at least) top 5 prospects at every position.  I also mention my favorite per position for the Bucs.  Players are ranked, not in the order in which I think they’ll be chosen but rather my projection of their success as pros.  For reference, I ranked Colin Kaepernick higher than Cam Newton in 2011 (pay no attention to QBs 1-4) and had this to say about the eventual Niners QB prior to the draft –

Kaepernick might look a little high here, but he could actually have the greatest potential as a developmental prospect with a big arm and plus mobility. Once Kaepernick commits to keeping the ball, he shows impressive straight line speed. He avoids the pass rush well for a guy who isn’t the thickest QB. Despite running the Pistol offense at Nevada I think his skill set will make the transition to a more traditional scheme fairly seamless.....

Are there any Kaepernicks in this year’s class?

1) Blake Bortles (UCF)
2) Derek Carr (Fresno State)
3) Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
4) Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
5) Jimmy Garoppolo (E Illinois)
6) Aaron Murray (Georgia)
7) Zach Mettenberger (LSU)

Favorite for the Bucs – Derek Carr
I’m of the belief that the Bucs will take a QB early and trade Mike Glennon for a draft pick.  Carr is still my projected pick for the Bucs in round one, whether it is at #7 or via a trade down in R1.  Carr won’t start right away, and if Josh McCown plays anything like he did last year, he won’t have to.  I love the idea of him learning behind the scenes with Jeff Tedford without the pressure to produce right away that derailed his brother’s career.    

Running Back
1) Tre Mason (Auburn)
2) Jeremy Hill (LSU)
3) Carlos Hyde (Ohio State)
4) Devonta Freeman (FSU)
5) Bishop Sankey (Washington)
6) Terrance West (Towson)

Favorite for the Bucs – Tre Mason
Running back is probably the safest position to rule out as far as the Bucs go, but if the cupboard was bare, Mason seems like the type of toy Tedford would be giddy about getting on draft day. 

Wide Receiver
1) Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
2) Odell Beckham (LSU)
3) Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss)
4) Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
5) Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)
6) Allen Robinson (Penn State)
7) Davante Adams (Fresno State)
8) Kelvin Benjamin (FSU)
9) Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
10) Marqise Lee (USC)
11) Bruce Ellington (South Carolina)
12) Cody Latimer (Indiana)

Favorite for the Bucs – Donte Moncrief
Watkins is the easy pick, and I’m a huge huge Beckham fan.  I see them being special NFL receivers.  I also think Moncrief will be in the same discussion two or three years from now, and he’s my ideal R2 pick for the Bucs.

Tight End
1) Eric Ebron (UNC)
2) CJ Fiedorowicz (Iowa)
3) Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
4) Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington)
5) Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)
6) Crockett Gillmore (Colorado State)

Favorite for the Bucs – CJ Fiedorowicz
The Bucs may not draft one, but Fiedorowicz would be the most complete tight end on the roster and allow the Bucs to be more creative with Tim Wright and Brandon Myers. 

Offensive Tackle
1) Greg Robinson (Auburn)
1a) Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)
3) Taylor Lewan (Michigan)
4) Morgan Moses (Virginia)
5) Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama)

Favorite for the Bucs – Jake Matthews
Robinson might be the better long term tackle prospect, but if I can be optimistic about Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson establishing themselves as Buccaneer bookends, Matthews’ ability to play multiple positions would help a weak Tampa Bay interior. 

Interior OL
1) Zack Martin (G/T, Notre Dame)
2) Joel Bitonio (G/T, Nevada)
3) Marcus Martin (C, USC)
4) Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
5) Gabe Jackson (G, Mississippi State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Anthony Steen (G, Alabama)
I don’t see the Bucs spending a pick on a guard in the first three rounds.  If that’s the case, Steen should be there on day three when the Bucs go guard shopping.  I like him as a candidate to fill the vacant RG spot.  Brandon Thomas would be an honorable mention as someone the Bucs could basically redshirt his rookie year and insert in ’15 as a draft steal.

Defensive End
1) Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
2) Kony Ealy (Missouri)
3) Kareem Martin (UNC)
4) Dee Ford (Auburn)
5) Scott Crichton (Oregon State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Kony Ealy
If the Bucs were fortunate enough to find Ealy on the board in R2, he’d be awful tough to pass up as a guy who could offer pass rush potential at end and tackle positions. 

Defensive Tackle
1) Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)
2) Timmy Jernigan (FSU)
3) Dominique Easley (Florida)
4) RaShede Hageman (Minnesota)
5) Louis Nix (Notre Dame)
6) Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
7) Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina)
8) Ego Ferguson (LSU)

Favorite for the Bucs – Dominique Easley
Similar to Ealy, Easley would be a R2 gift.  Since his medicals apparently checked out well, I could see him going to the Seahawks at the end of R1.  Should he slide, he’d be tough to pass up as a compliment to McCoy and McDonald. 

Outside Linebacker
1) Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
2) Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
3) Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)
4) Anthony Barr (UCLA)
5) Telvin Smith (FSU)
6) Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State)
7) Christian Jones (FSU)
8) Carl Bradford (Arizona State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Telvin Smith
The Bucs only have six draft picks, and with Lavonte David in place, WLB may be the most solidified starting position on the team.  Still, the Bucs have been stung by a lack of depth in the past, and there’s nothing behind David.  If the Bucs add another pick or two and they really feel like going best available in R3, then Telvin would be a fantastic acquisition. 

Inside Linebacker
1) CJ Mosley (Alabama)
2) Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
3) Shayne Skov (Stanford)
4) Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut)
5) Preston Brown (Louisville)

Best for the Bucs – CJ Mosley
If I had to pick a surprise R1 selection for the Bucs, Mosley or Aaron Donald would be my choice.  Acquiring Mosley would upgrade both the MLB and SLB spots as Foster would likely move over and start ahead of Jonathan Casillas opposite David.

1) Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
2) Jason Verrett (TCU)
3) Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State)
4) Lamarcus Joyner (FSU)
5) Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)
6) Bradley Roby (Ohio State)
7) Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
8) Rashaad Reynolds (Oregon State)

Favorite for the Bucs – Lamarcus Joyner
Yep, another Nole.  As I’ve mentioned in detail on previous occasions, the Bucs are awfully weak at the nickel corner spot, and Joyner would give them an ideal fit in Lovie’s defense.  He might also project as a future replacement for Dashon Goldson at free safety. 

1) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama)
2) Calvin Pryor (Louisville)
3) Deone Bucannon (Washington St)
4) Terrence Brooks (FSU)
5) Jimmie Ward (N Illinois)

Favorite for the Bucs – Deone Bucannon
He’s not rated as high by the “experts”, but I really think Bucannon is going to be a star in the NFL.  He’s long, physical, and excels in zone concepts.  From the games I’ve seen, I think, given the right coaching, he has more potential in pass coverage than his draft bios will lead you to believe.