In Eric Dellaratta's second installment of the Draft Discussion series, you will find out which team has two players that could bolster the Buccaneers offense, and you will also find out who is in this week's buried treasure. TENNESSEE DUO
Quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson have gotten all of the attention when it comes to the 2013 NFL Draft, but Tennessee has more talent coming to the NFL this April. Here are two Volunteers that could bolster the Buccaneers offense on draft day.
The Buccaneers could use some competition at the tight end position. They could look to the later rounds in draft to acquire that talent. Volunteer senior Mychal Rivera could be the perfect player to challenge Luke Stocker for playing time as a rookie.
Rivera took over at tight end after Luke Stocker was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2011, and ever since he has been a legitimate threat in the passing game. He doesn’t have tremendous speed, but Rivera creates solid separation and has soft hands.
Rivera is good blocker that has acquired experience against some of the best pass-rushers in the SEC over the past two seasons. He plays with good pad level and has good footwork when asked to run block.
The senior tight end could be a nice value on day three of the draft, somewhere between rounds five through seven. Don’t forget, the Buccaneers have taken a tight end on day three of the draft in three consecutive years. Those include Daniel Hardy (2010), Luke Stocker (2011), and Drake Dunsmore (2012).
Senior offensive lineman Dallas Thomas could help the Bucs front five on offense. Thomas is a versatile three-year starter that can play both guard and tackle positions at the next level. The Volunteer has technically sound footwork and plays with good pad level. He also has good athleticism, which would allow him to move around the offensive line. The Bucs might not be willing to select a right tackle with their second round pick, but that is likely where the Bucs would have to play him from day one. Thomas could provide the Bucs with very good depth along the line at the very least.
Thomas is slated to play in this year’s Senior Bowl. PewterReport.com will be watching to see how he fares against the nation’s best defensive lineman. He will partake in the entertaining one-on-one drills, which always catch the eye of NFL talent evaluators and draftniks.
PewterReport.com currently has a late-first round grade on the Tennessee senior, but a deep group of lineman could push him out of the first round, much like Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Georgia’s Cordy Glenn from a year ago. If he were to fall to Tampa Bay’s second round pick, it would be very difficult for the Bucs to pass on such a solid offensive lineman. BURIED TREASURE
Every year there are players that are selected on day three, rounds four through seven, of the NFL draft that surprise and contribute early on in their careers. Some players that fit in this category from 2012’s draft are Washington running back Alfred Morris, New England cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Indianapolis running back Vick Ballard, Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, and Philadelphia running back Bryce Brown. This section will cover three players that I believe could be late-round picks that contributes early on in their NFL careers.
We’ve already discussed the following buried treasures in previous “Draft Discussion” articles.
Arkansas RB Dennis Johnson
Georgia WR Tavarres King
Vanderbilt RB Zac StacyTENNESSEE WR ZACH ROGERS
Tennessee has another solid receiving prospect outside of Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. His name is Zach Rogers and he’s quietly been a great asset to the Volunteer offense. Rogers is a very good route-runner that would fit best as a slot receiver in the NFL. He’s great at finding holes in zone defenses, and he also possesses legitimate speed.
Rogers received great praise from former Volunteers head coach Derek Dooley earlier this season.
“Zach has the greatest consistency of all in how he practices. It reminds me of how Wes Welker was when I was with the [Miami] Dolphins. He practiced so fast that the quarterback knew exactly where he was going to be on all of these routes, and that’s something we’re learning to do with the other guys.”
He then answered a question on why Rogers hasn’t garnered as much attention as the other star Tennessee receivers.
“It’s probably just because his stature is not like the other guys. Not as long, not as physical, that sort of thing. Zach has always been fast, he’s always had a great knowledge of the game, and he’s always had good hands.”
Rogers will not be a high draft pick. He might not be drafted at all, but he could definitely find his way into an NFL camp. If he practices like Dooley says he does, he could impress a team enough to give him a spot on a roster. PewterReport.com thinks he will end up as a priority undrafted free agent when it’s all said and done, but don’t be surprised if he develops into a contributor. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL S JOHNATHAN CYPRIEN
Finding instant impact safeties later in the draft can be tough, but Florida International’s Johnathan Cyprien is one that should stand out to NFL talent evaluators.
Cyprien is a physical, in-the-box safety who is a very good run defender. He is a sure-tackler that does a good job knifing into the line of scrimmage to make plays on opposing ball carriers. Cyprien has good speed and instincts, but the reason he will likely be pushed out of the first three rounds is his size. He stands just 6-foot and weighs 210 pounds. He is undersized compared to most NFL strong safeties. His size limits his ability to shed blockers. If a team can look past his size, they could be getting a tremendous value.
The senior takes good angles and has enough range to make big plays against opposing passing attacks. Cyprien is also a great special teams player, which is sometimes overlooked when talking about NFL Draft prospects.
Cyprien is slated to attend Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama later this month. It will be interesting to see how he fares in man-to-man pass coverage against the nation’s best tight ends and running backs. If he performs well he could significantly improve his draft stock. A team looking for a physical strong safety prospect in the later rounds should look no further than Johnathan Cyprien. WESTERN KENTUCKY TIGHT END JACK DOYLE
Doyle stands 6-foot-6 and weighs about 250 pounds. The Western Kentucky senior is a fantastic receiver. Doyle consistently creates separation and makes plays in the passing game. He has a great pair of hands and runs crisp routes for a big man.
The big tight end hauled in 162 passes for 1769 yards and 8 touchdowns over the course of his four-year collegiate career. Doyle posted three 100-yard receiving games as a junior in 2011.
Doyle is an aggressive blocker, but he will need to clean up his technique at the next level. When defenders get inside his frame, he is often beaten because his pad level is too high. This understandably tough considering his size, but it will be an area that he needs to improve. Doyle could also benefit from adding some bulk to his frame for the next level.
Doyle was great in the Little Caesar’s bowl against Central Michigan as a senior. He caught six balls for 36 yards, and he also made a tremendous touchdown catch.
A team in need of a receiving tight end could draft Doyle in the later rounds. He could contribute immediately as a situational pass-catching threat, and he could be especially valuable in the red zone.
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