Friday, May 1, 2015

2015 NFL Draft - Buccaneers Day Two - Who's #34?

The 2015 NFL Draft got off to a great start for the Bucs.  Not only did they land their (hopeful) franchise QB, but the way the rest of the night played out left a ton of attractive talent on the board to start day two.  Who will they pick?

First let me mention the 5 best available players that I don’t think the Bucs will target:

Randy Gregory – I don’t think he’s got the size that the Bucs are looking for with already two smallish ends in Jacquies Smith and George Johnson.  I understand that Lovie’s defense doesn’t rely on larger ends, but they can’t become so susceptible to the run by acquiring too many players with the same physical stats. 

Landon Collins – I hope the Bucs have learned their lesson about taking limited Alabama safeties.  Collins was thought to be a R1 pick by the experts, but his limitation to an in-the-box role has him still looking for a job on Friday.  The Bucs won’t bite, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the safety-needy Titans took him to kick off R2.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – Hopefully this is the last time I have to type his name.  I don’t think much of OO as a pass rusher, but he’s one of the top rated remaining ends.  I believe there are less risky options for the Bucs with this pick.  They already have a ends who are questionable pass rushers.  No need for OO.

La’el Collins – Without knowing the specifics, I can’t say that it’s a shame that Collins went undrafted Thursday.  For be it for me to analyze his strategy, but I would have thought that, if innocent, he would have done everything possible to get out in front of the issue and save himself millions of dollars.  The fact that he didn’t definitely doesn’t make him guilty, but it certainly doesn’t point toward innocence. 

Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Oklahoma)
The best way to describe this guy is to say it can’t be ignored.  I’m speaking to both his on-field talent and his off-field behavior.  Professional sports have been great at excusing transgressions by special talents, but that era seems to be fading.  If you believe what’s been written, DGB has been physical with women on more than one occasionOklahoma’s staff says he’s a changed young man, but it’s hard to ignore his past transgressions.  Is he a need or a luxury?  As talented as he appears, I can find a much safer receiver in the next round and not lose much in the talent category.

With those exclusions, here are my top 5 picks for the Bucs at #34:

5) Donovan Smith (OL, Penn State)
Initially believed to be a R3 pick, Smith earned a trip to the draft in Chicago.  That invitation does not guarantee a particular draft position, but I doubt he’s available when the Bucs pick at #65.  He’s large and projects as a top notch RT.  Some still project him as a LT, but he’s got quite a bit of work to do before he gets there.  I like him as an option at both RT and guard but not with this pick.  I believe I can find a less risky player in this spot.

4) Eric Kendricks (LB, UCLA)
My highest-ranked LB in this year’s draft, Kendricks went all of Thursday evening without hearing his name called.  I think he’d be a stud in the middle of Lovie’s defense, but they signed Bruce Carter in free agency with an eye on lining him up there.  Was he penciled in with the possibility of the draft forcing a move to SLB?  I think the Bucs would definitely be better at LB with Kendricks in the lineup, but is it worth it at the expense of the OL and DL?

3) TJ Clemmings (OL, Pittsburgh)
Here’s this draft’s biggest OL gamble in my opinion.  Clemmings shows the strength/potential to be a truly elite offensive lineman, but his technique needs a ton of work.  He’s also very inexperienced having played just two years on the offensive line.  Is the stress fracture in his foot a big deal?  There may not be a stronger or more physical imposing tackle in this draft, but with as much development as he apparently needs, is that a risk Bucs fans want to take?  Personally, I’m not optimistic about this staff’s ability to coach up the offensive line talent.

2) Preston Smith (DE, Mississippi State)
If the Bucs want to address the pass rush with this pick, it needs to be by selecting Smith.  He’ll play all three downs and give the Bucs the stability they’ve been searching for since they drafted Adrian Clayborn four years ago.  He has size, speed, strength, and hand usage to be an ideal compliment to Gerald McCoy up front.  He’s not a flashy speed rusher, but he’s also not the type of end to get washed out of plays.  You won’t see a lot of useless upfield rushed by Smith.  He fights well to the football.

1) Jake Fisher (OL, Oregon)
With the way R1 played out the Bucs will have their pick of a couple of top offensive tackles.  Are L&L focusing on the offensive line prospects as much as Bucs fans?  If they are, Fisher might be the pick.  A guy who steadily rose up draft boards throughout the process, Fisher projects as versatile OL with the ceiling of a franchise tackle and the floor of a decent RT.  I believe he can play guard as well and would provide the Bucs with two tackles who have the ability to play on both the left and right side.


If I had to put a wager on what I think the Bucs will do, I’d say Clemmings, and I wouldn’t be mad for a second.  The talent is certainly there.  It just needs to be developed in the right situation.  Here he wouldn’t be expected to be a LT right away but could start and grow at RT given the current state of affairs as the position.  Clemmings might have the most potential of any tackle in this class.  Unfortunately, he comes with quite a bit of risk as well. 

Honestly, the Bucs could take any of these top 5, and I’d be happy.  Although I’d really like to see it come from the top 3.  Locking up an offensive or defensive lineman after acquiring a potential franchise QB is the right way to build a winner. 

Go Bucs!