PewterReport.com’s official Buccaneers 7-round mock draft – version 4.0 – has reached its final stage. With the 2011 NFL Draft beginning tomorrow night, here is the Pewter Report staff’s best guess as to which players Tampa Bay will select. This is a representation of the direction Pewter Report thinks the Bucs might go when they are on the clock in 2011 – not necessarily the players Pewter Report believes are the best fits in Tampa Bay.
The names listed below in the pick in bold represent the players Pewter Report had in its three previous mock drafts in February, March and April.ROUND 1 – Purdue DE Ryan KerriganAPRIL PICK – Georgia DE Justin HoustonMARCH PICK – HoustonFEBRUARY PICK – Kerrigan
JANUARY PICK - Adrian Clayborn
In PewterReport.com’s first mock draft we had selected Kerrigan as our selection for the Buccaneers in the first round. After flirting with the notion of having Georgia DE-OLB Justin Houston be Tampa Bay’s first-rounder, PewterReport.com has come back round and projects Kerrigan to be the selection – but maybe not at No. 20.
The Buccaneers love Kerrigan’s production, ability, character and leadership qualities so much that general manager Mark Dominik may be tempted to trade up – possibly with Miami at 15 or New England at 17 – to land the stud pass-rusher from Purdue. When Dominik has targeted players he has coveted in the past, he has gotten antsy to ensure he lands those guys. The cases in point were Dominik trading up two spots in the first round to land quarterback Josh Freeman in 2009 and moving up a few spots in the second round to land wide receiver Arrelious Benn last year.
The 6-foot-4, 267-pound Kerrigan, who is Pewter Report’s Bucs’ Best Bet at the defensive end position, was the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and finished his massively productive career at Purdue with 33.5 sacks, 14 forced fumbles, 210 tackles, and 57 tackles for a loss. As a senior, he had 12.5 sacks after recording 13 sacks as a junior. The Bucs love the consistency about Kerrigan’s game and his blue-collar, hustling approach to football.
Former Boilermakers teammate Mike Neal, who is a defensive lineman with Green Bay, gave Kerrigan the nickname “Superman” while the two were together at Purdue. Boilermakers coach Danny Hope said the nickname fits.
“It has a lot to do with the way he plays,” Hope said. “He can do anything from a player standpoint. He can go longer and harder than most. He’s faster than most. He’s bigger than most. He’s stronger than most. He’s smarter than most. Better looking than most. He’s Superman. He’s our Superman.”
The Buccaneers could use a Superman of their own at the defensive end position, which is arguably the least talented and least productive positions on the team. Tampa Bay has recorded just six sacks through eight games this year and has been held sackless in five of those contests.
Kerrigan is a physical defensive end that is stout against the run and doesn’t have anything finesse about him. He does need to maintain proper pad level and can get knocked around when he plays too high and his base isn’t wide enough.
Kerrigan is the epitome of a high-motor, high-effort defensive end – the kind any head coach or general manager would want on his team. Because of the production from his sophomore and junior years, Kerrigan has been double-teamed more often during his senior campaign. Yet he has recorded at least one sack in nine out of the 12 games Purdue played in 2010.
The Muncie, Ind. native has the ability to take over games, which he did in 2009 when Purdue upset Ohio State 26-18. He was a one-man-gang against Terrell Pryor, recording three key sacks and forcing two critical fumbles. Against Michigan in 2010, he recorded a career-high four sacks and forced two fumbles. Kerrigan has always played his best against the top competition in the Big 10 – Ohio State and Michigan – evidenced by his combined 15 sacks and six forced fumbles in five combined meetings.
NFC South division rival Carolina will likely draft Auburn’s mobile quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick. Kerrigan has sacked Pryor, a similarly styled player, six times and forced two fumbles during his career.
If the Bucs don’t wind up with Kerrigan in the first round, PewterReport.com expects Tampa Bay to select UCLA’s athletic, playmaking linebacker Akeem Ayers or Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.ROUND 2 – Wisconsin TE Lance KendricksAPRIL – KendricksMARCH – KendricksFEBRUARY – Illinois MLB Martez Wilson
For the third straight month, Pewter Report is sticking with Kendricks in the second round. The Buccaneers could continue the trend and stick with defense, but picking this late in the second round could rob the team of great value because all of the first- and second-tier defensive ends will likely be gone and this is not a top-heavy draft for linebackers as only a handful rate as first- or second-round prospects this year. Where the linebacker position is stronger in 2011 is in the middle and late rounds, which is where Pewter Report has the team selecting a pair.
The selection of Kendricks could be considered a surprise choice as the Bucs could easily address defense with their first four picks in this year’s draft, but there is a need for a number two tight end in Tampa Bay behind Kellen Winslow with veteran John Gilmore currently unsigned. Should something happen to Winslow, Kendricks has the athleticism (37-inch vertical), speed (4.5 in the 40-yard dash) and hands to become a starting pass-catching tight end for the Buccaneers.
Kendricks, who is considered one of only a few complete tight ends in the draft this year, played in 34 games for Wisconsin and finished his career with 78 catches for 1,160 yards and eight touchdowns. He had a huge senior year in which he recorded 43 receptions for 663 yards and five scores after hauling in 29 passes for 356 yards and three TDs as a junior.
The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder does a great job as an in-line blocker despite not having ideal size for the NFL. The reason? He played at Wisconsin, which is a run-first school that teaches great run-blocking technique. Kendricks has the frame to add another 5-10 pounds without slowing him down too much and that would help him hold up better at the point of attack in the perimeter running game.
If Kendricks is gone, don’t be surprised if the Buccaneers go for a linebacker in the second round like North Carolina’s Quan Sturdivant or Bruce Carter, or Washington’s Mason Foster, or a defensive end, such as Pittsburgh’s Greg Romeus or Miami’s Allen Bailey.ROUND 3 – Pittsburgh DE Greg RomeusAPRIL – RomeusMARCH – RomeusFEBRUARY – Washington LB Mason Foster
Pewter Report’s second- and third-round picks remain the same for the second straight mock draft with the Bucs selecting Romeus. Tampa Bay general manager Dominik has gambled in the middle rounds before, taking wide receiver Mike Williams in the fourth round last year despite some character concerns during his time at Syracuse. In 2009, Dominik took USC defensive end Kyle Moore in the fourth round despite Moore having little production at the college level. Moore was projected to be a better pro than college player.
Dominik just might gamble again, this time on Romeus, whose college career ended with just seven tackles during an injury-plagued senior season. A back injury that required surgery after the season opener forced him to miss the next seven games of the season. When he returned to action against Connecticut, Romeus suffered a torn ACL, which caused him to miss the final four games in 2010. He is expected to be able to do straight-line running in late April, begin agility work in May and be ready for training camp in August.
Heading into 2010, Romeus was one of the highest touted defensive ends in the nation. Coming off a junior campaign in which he was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year after recording 43 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, five passes defensed, three forced fumbles, one interception and one blocked kick, Romeus was regarded as a potential Top 10 pick.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end showed fine consistency as he produced 51 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, three blocked kicks and one forced fumble as a sophomore. Once healthy, he would make a fine left defensive end for the Buccaneers with the flexibility to also play right end. Romeus is on Tampa Bay’s radar and the team comes away with two starting-caliber defensive ends with two of its first three picks.
If Romeus is gone, Miami’s Allen Bailey or Nevada’s Dontay Moch would be candidates if they are still on the board when the Bucs pick in the third round.ROUND 4 – Citadel CB Cortez AllenAPRIL – Oregon State RB Jacquizz RodgersMARCH – Fresno State OLB Chris CarterFEBRUARY – Pittsburgh DE Greg Romeus
The Buccaneers like big corners and at 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, Allen has the size that reminds some of troubled starter Aqib Talib and Myron Lewis, last year’s third-round pick. Talib’s legal woes will ensure that Tampa Bay drafts a cornerback to team with Ronde Barber, E.J. Biggers and Lewis in case Talib is suspended for some or all of the 2011 season.
Allen showed off his abilities at the East-West Shrine Game while head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris looked on. Allen picked off five passes over the past two years at The Citadel, returning two for touchdowns. He also broke up 15 passes in his Bulldogs career.
Allen has 121 tackles (77 solo) in his career at The Citadel, but does need to work on his technique at the next level. The rangy cornerback has the length and skill set that Morris and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake can work with and mold him into a Buccaneer cornerback within a season or two.
However, whatever round Tampa Bay drafts a cornerback, that player won’t figure prominently into the 2011 plans as Barber and Biggers are experienced starters, and the team projects Lewis to be a breakout player this year. If Talib and his sensational abilities can navigate through his legal quagmire, the Bucs will only benefit from a loaded cornerback position with the addition of Allen.ROUND 5 – Fresno State OLB Chris CarterAPRIL – CarterMARCH – Virginia Tech QB Tyrod TaylorFEBRUARY – Nebraska TE Mike McNeil
Pewter Report is sticking with Carter, who has visited One Buccaneer Place, in its mock draft for a second consecutive time. Because head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris likes to use both the 4-3 and a 3-4 schemes, drafting a ‘tweener like Carter makes sense in the fifth round.
Carter was a pass-rushing defensive end at Fresno State where he played in 49 games and registered 205 tackles, 38 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks (18 solo), seven forced fumbles and one pass defensed. Carter is coming off a senior year in which he notched 55 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks (10 solo) and forced four fumbles.
At 6-foot-1, 248 pounds, Carter does not have the size to be an every down defensive end in a 4-3 scheme at the NFL level. And he has little experience dropping into coverage and no experience playing the linebacker position. But what Carter does have is great athleticism and natural pass rush ability. Carter ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, benched 225 pounds 27 times and had an impressive 6.88 time in the three-cone drill at the combine.
The Bucs could view Carter, who worked out for the Bucs prior to the draft, as a player similar to starting strongside linebacker Quincy Black. Because he played defensive end for the first two years of his collegiate career before he made the switch to linebacker, it took Black two years to develop on special teams while he learned how to become an NFL linebacker before the team even considered him as a viable starting option in 2009.
Carter could take a similar developmental path in Tampa Bay and be used as a situational pass rusher in the meantime. Carter could see some spot duty at defensive end and even some reps as a designated blitzing linebacker in Tampa Bay’s 3-4 or 3-3-5 fronts while starring on special teams. Carter showed he had the ability to take over games at the collegiate level, recording three sacks and a forced fumble against Cincinnati and three sacks and two forced fumbles against New Mexico State last year, and that has the Bucs excited about his potential.
It would not be unreasonable to suggest that Carter would be gone by the time the fifth round came around, but considering that he was a full-time defensive end and has virtually no experience dropping into coverage or playing at the second level, Carter falling to the fifth round would not be a shock.ROUND 6 – Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis APRIL – Virginia Tech QB Tyrod TaylorMARCH – Oregon WR Jeff MaehlFEBRUARY – Lewis
With Kareem Huggins likely sidelined for the 2011 season due to a serious knee injury last year and Cadillac Williams’ availability not known due to his age (29) and free agent status, the Bucs could be poised to draft a player that could be a third-down back and provide a change of pace that complements the bruising running style of LeGarrette Blount. That player could be Lewis.
Some NFL draft pundits believe that Lewis would have greatly helped his draft stock by staying in school, but the redshirt sophomore felt he was ready to make the leap to playing on Sundays. Due to the fact that he started as a redshirt freshman, Lewis was able to amass 2,860 yards and 30 touchdowns on 544 carries in just two years.
He rushed for 1,799 yards and 17 TDs on 325 carries in 2009, adding 189 yards and one touchdown on 25 receptions. Entering his sophomore season as a marked man, Lewis got off to a very slow start, not notching his first 100-yard game until the seventh game of the year against Rutgers where he rushed for 130 yards and one TD on 17 carries. He finished the regular season with a flurry against Cincinnati, rushing for a career-high 261 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries.
The 5-foot-8, 190 pound Lewis is undersized by NFL standards, but has shown great toughness, shiftiness and good speed. Adding Lewis would give the Buccaneers a quick, change-of-pace back to mix things up for defenses that are used to Blount’s power running style.
If Williams is unsigned, expect the Bucs to move Earnest Graham back to halfback from fullback where he has spent the last two seasons. Without Williams and Huggins, the Bucs would likely draft a running back to compete with Kregg Lumpkin, and Lewis makes sense in the sixth round if the team waits that long to address the running back spot. If Lewis is off the board, Maryland’s Da’rell Scott could be another option. ROUND 7 – Arkansas Pine Bluff WR Raymond WebberAPRIL – West Virginia WR Jock SandersMARCH – Maryland MLB Alex WujciakFEBRUARY – Oregon WR Jeff Maehl
The Buccaneers had Webber in for a pre-draft visit at One Buccaneer Place and there is plenty to like about the 6-foot-2, 218-pound receiver that became just the second player in the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) to record at least 100 catches in a season. The other? Jerry Rice, who played for Mississippi Valley State.
Webber caught 101 passes for 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, including 10 passes for 123 yards against Division I-A UTEP in the season opener. Throughout his APB career, Webber has recorded 180 catches for 2,376 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Webber’s skills are reminiscent of those of Bucs wide receiver Mike Williams in the way both pass-catchers can create separation from defenders and pluck the ball out of the air on jump balls. He has the speed to get deep, evidenced by recording a catch of 49 yards or longer in every collegiate season, including an 80-yard reception as a senior.
Josh Freeman can never have enough good weapons, and Webber gives the Bucs another big-bodied receiver to replace unrestricted free agent Maurice Stovall and compete for a roster spot against the likes of Sammie Stroughter and Preston Parker. For those unfamiliar with Webber’s skills, here’s a highlight reel.ROUND 7 – Georgia MLB Akeem Dent (Compensatory pick)APRIL – Dent
Pewter Report.com is sticking with its selection of Dent, who came in to One Buccaneer Place for a visit, with the team’s compensatory pick. The Buccaneers are fond of taking linebackers late in the draft, evidenced by the selections of Adam Hayward (sixth round, 2007), Geno Hayes (sixth round, 2008) and Dekoda Watson (seventh round, 2010).
Tampa Bay has not been shy about drafting developmental prospects in the final two rounds that could help immediately on special teams and Dent fits that mold. Dent was the Bulldogs leading tackler in 2010 with 126 stops, and also had 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a senior. He finished his Georgia career with 240 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, five passes defensed, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
At 6-foot-1, 242 pounds, Dent has good size and the Bucs could use a more physical presence in the middle of their defense where starter Barrett Ruud, who is an unrestricted free agent and is not a lock to return to Tampa Bay, has come under fire from critics. Dent was a team captain at Georgia where he and Justin Houston teamed up to lead one of the stingiest run defenses in the nation.
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