With a disappointing 2013 season in the review mirror for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have hired Lovie Smith to replace head coach Greg Schiano, it’s time to look ahead to the 2014 campaign. On the eve of the beginning of Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., PewterReport.com offers up its first 2014 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft, which features three new playmakers for Tampa Bay’s offense and two defensive linemen.ROUND 1 – Fresno State QB Derek Carr – 6-3, 215
The new Bucs regime doesn’t know what it has in Mike Glennon, who started 13 games last year and set several rookie records. New Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has said he wants an athlete at every position and Glennon lacks the mobility to escape pressure and struggles throwing on the run to his left. The Bucs have two choices. The first is to give 2014 to see what Glennon can do in offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford’s system and sign a veteran like Josh McCown for veteran competition and then draft a quarterback in 2015 if Glennon isn’t deemed to be the QB of the future.
However, if the Bucs go 8-8 in 2014 based on the strength of their defense and still want to draft a quarterback to replace Glennon, the elite QBs will be gone by the time the Bucs select around No. 20 in 2015. That brings us to the second scenario, which is to take advantage of picking in the top 10 in 2014 and using the seventh overall pick to select a quarterback to challenge Glennon immediately. With Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles likely going in the top five as Houston (first overall pick), Jacksonville (third overall pick), Cleveland (fourth overall pick) and Oakland (fifth overall pick) all need quarterbacks, the quarterback Tampa Bay would select would be Carr for a couple of reasons.
The first is familiarity as Tedford coached Carr’s brother, David, at Fresno State. Tedford has followed Carr’s career from a far because of that familiarity and because Tedford is a former Fresno State quarterback and keeps tabs on his alma mater. Carr broke virtually every Bulldogs record set by Tedford, Trent Dilfer and his brother, David, passing for 5,082 yards, which was 420 more yards than any other quarterback at the FBS level last year.
The second reason is that Carr has the football I.Q., strong arm, quick release and ability to be productive in a complex, quarterback-driven offense like Tedford’s. Carr was the nation’s most prolific passer, averaging 390.9 yards per game, and will quarterback the South team in the Reese’s Senior Bowl game. Carr was responsible for more points (314) than any other college football player in 2013, including Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch (288), Baylor’s Bryce Petty (278) and Manziel (276).
The final reason is that Carr brings the mobility to Tampa Bay’s offense that Glennon lacks. While no one will confuse Carr with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Carr has the ability to elude the pass rush, extend plays and pick up first downs with his legs when possible, much like another Tedford protégé, Aaron Rodgers.
Carr, who has great leadership qualities and displays maturity given the fact that he is married and has a son, is viewed as a top 15 pick by many draft prognosticators. Look for his stock to rise into the top 10 with a good week’s worth of work in Mobile, Ala. in front of NFL talent evaluators.ROUND 2 – Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald – 6-0, 285
Buccaneers fans would love to see the team draft a wide receiver, a guard or a defensive end in the second round. Yet with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as the Bucs’ top pass catchers, the team can afford to wait until later to draft a No. 3 receiver.
Smith doesn’t have a history of drafting of using premium picks on guards and many not place a high value on the position. Tampa Bay could sign Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, who played for Tedford at Cal, from Cleveland where he played for new offensive line coach George Warhop. Doing so would allow the Bucs to move Jeremy Zuttah back to left guard if Carl Nicks does not return from a MRSA-infected toe.
As for the defensive end position, it would be surprising if the Bucs didn’t sign a veteran in free agency like the Vikings’ Jared Allen, who was coached by new Tampa Bay defensive end Leslie Frazier when he was in Minnesota, Carolina’s Greg Hardy or Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson. The Bucs already have a promising young defensive end in Will Gholston to continue to develop, along with Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, who are entering their fourth year in the league in 2014.
In the second round, the Bucs draft Donald, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in college football in 2013. Smith has a history of drafting defensive linemen in the second round back in Chicago, including defensive tackle Stephen Paea (2011), defensive end Daniel Bazuin (2007) and defensive tackle Tank Johnson (2004). Donald, an All-American and the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award, recorded 29.5 sacks and an amazing 66 tackles for loss at Pittsburgh and would be a great fit in the Bucs’ one-gap scheme due to his ability to penetrate.
While Donald played the three technique tackle for the Panthers, the 6-foot, 285-pounder can help the Bucs – even though Tampa Bay has a two-time Pro Bowler in Gerald McCoy. The cat-quick Donald can be used as a rookie as a situational pass pass-rushing nose tackle next to Gerald McCoy on obvious pass-rushing downs to bolster Tampa Bay’s pressure up front. McCoy is entering a contract year and the Bucs don’t have a defensive tackle that can create that much havoc. Tampa Bay could use a talent like Donald, who will perform at the Senior Bowl, for immediate depth and insurance in case McCoy gets hurt or gets away in 2015.ROUND 3 – Traded to NY Jets for CB Darrelle RevisROUND 4 – North Carolina DE Kareem Martin – 6-5, 265
The Bucs can’t afford to pass up on Martin if he slips into the top of the fourth round. The reason is that Clayborn and Bowers are both in contract years and the team needs to add some depth at the defensive end position – even with Gholston on the roster.
At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Martin is the type of athlete that Smith wants on the team. Martin was very productive as a senior with 78 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He finished his North Carolina career with 174 tackles, 44 tackles for loss and 19 sacks as a three-year starter.
The Tar Heels’ leading sacker was a second-team All-ACC selection after posting three multiple sack games in 2013. As an emerging pass rusher, Martin will have the chance to improve his draft stock at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. this week. The Bucs will undoubtedly be watching.ROUND 5 – Fresno State TE Marcel Jensen – 6-6, 270
After drafting Carr in the first round, the Buccaneers come back on the third day of the draft to select his tight end, Jensen. With Tim Wright and Tom Crabtree as the only proven tight ends in Tampa Bay, the team could use a versatile player that can block and also catch the ball. The Bucs thought they were getting that player in Luke Stocker four years ago, but injuries have derailed his career and stunted his development.
Jensen has great size at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds and is a good in-line blocker. Although he’s not an overly fast tight end, Jensen can make big plays in the passing game due to his hands and size, which makes him an ideal target for quarterbacks. Jensen and Carr had a great rapport in college, with the Bulldogs’ starting tight end catching 20 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns as a junior and 26 passes for 353 yards and three scores as a senior.
Smith is a big believer in strong special teams play, and Jensen can also be a contributor there for Tampa Bay. Using his size and wingspan, Jensen blocked four field goals in college, including three his sophomore year. As a senior, Jensen blocked a field goal against San Diego State that sent the game to overtime and allowed the Bulldogs to ultimately prevail. ROUND 6 – Traded to Chicago for OT Gabe CarimiROUND 7 – Baylor WR Tevin Reese – 5-10, 170
Tampa Bay desperately needs some speed at wide receiver, especially with the team’s fastest receiver, Tiquan Underwood, heading for free agency and lacking some elements in his game that the new Bucs regime may want. While Jackson and Williams have dynamic playmaking ability due to their size and physicality, neither one has the speed to consistently separate.
With legitimate 4.31 speed in the 40-yard dash, Reese was the fastest playmaker at Baylor and may be the fastest wide receiver in the draft. The Bucs can use his speed as a slot receiver where he spent most of his time in the Bears offense. Reese caught 187 passes for 3,102 yards and 24 touchdowns despite missing the final five regular season games of his senior season due to a broken wrist.
Reese, who will suit up at the Senior Bowl, had 38 catches for 867 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013, while averaging an impressive 22.8 yards per catch. Had he played in all 13 games, his numbers would have projected to 61 receptions for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder produced 23 catches of 40 yards or more in his Baylor career, including 10 from 60 yards and could be a big-play weapon in Tedford’s offense.
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