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February 5, 2014 @ 12:34 pm
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5 Underclassmen That Could Help The Bucs In Round 1

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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A record number of 98 underclassmen have entered the 2014 NFL Draft this year. Which five underclassmen has PewterReport.com identified as potential first-round picks that could help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Find out in this article.
On Tuesday, PewterReport.com outlined the problems facing the NFL and college football with a record 98 underclassmen entering the 2014 NFL Draft. However, if a team drafts the right underclassmen it can pay off some real dividends, as the tandem of defensive linemen Akeem Spence and William Gholston did last year as rookies after being selected in the fourth round by Tampa Bay. 

The Bucs have only drafted three underclassmen – Spence, Gholston and Da’Quan Bowers (second round, 2011) in the past three years out of team’s 21 draft picks during that span. Today, PewterReport.com lists five underclassmen that are projected first-round picks that could help the Buccaneers in 2014.

Because Tampa Bay appears to be willing to give Mike Glennon the 2014 season to see if he can be the team’s quarterback of the present and the future, PewterReport.com does not believe the Bucs will be selecting one of the three junior quarterbacks – Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles – in the first round, and thus does not include their profiles in this article.

South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney – Top 5

It is doubtful that Clowney, the top-rated defensive prospect in the draft, would slip to the Bucs, who own the seventh overall pick, but few thought legendary defensive tackle Warren Sapp would fall to 12th spot to Tampa Bay in 1995. Clowney is an athletic freak of a pass rusher, notching 24 sacks, 47 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles in his South Carolina career.

The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Clowney burst onto the scene as a sophomore, notching 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and three forced fumbles. With just 11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble, his numbers were down considerably in 2013 as Clowney was a marked man, facing countless double teams. NFL scouts questioned his effort as he seemed resigned to being double-teamed at times, knowing that he had already secured his top five draft status.

There’s no denying Clowney’s ability, though, and he will dominate at the combine, which could catapult him to Houston, which owns the top overall draft pick. The Bucs likely don’t have enough draft picks to use as ammunition to trade up in the first round to select Clowney.

Clemson WR Sammy Watkins – Top 10
Listed at 6-foot-1, 205, Watkins plays bigger than his size due to his long arms and big hands. He had a record-setting season as a junior in 2013, catching 101 passes for 1,464 yards (14.5 avg.) and 12 touchdowns, due to a Clemson and Orange Bowl-record 16 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-35 victory over Ohio State.

Watkins is a rare talent as he is a big receiver that possesses small receiver speed. Expected to run in the 4.4-range at the Combine, Watkins had touchdown catches of 91 and 96 yards in 2013 and had 12 offensive plays of 50 yards or more in his three years with the Tigers.

Watkins burst onto the scene as a freshman, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. His numbers fell in 2012 as injuries and an early season suspension for an offseason marijuana arrest that caused him to lose focus. But Watkins regained that focus in 2013 and has positioned himself as a top 10 pick and the top-rated receiver in the 2014 draft.

The Bucs need a complete receiver with leaping ability to be a viable red zone target and the deep speed to be a yards-after-catch threat. Watkins brings added value as a kick returner, as he returned 60 kickoffs for 1,376 yards (22.9 avg.) and one touchdown. Watkins would be an ideal fit in Jeff Tedford’s offense and it would be hard for the Buccaneers to bypass him if he’s still available with the seventh overall pick.

Auburn OT Greg Robinson – Top 10
The pre-draft process will determine if Robinson can play left tackle in the NFL or if he would be a more effective right tackle, and if he will have the chance to overtake the top-rated tackle, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Robinson is a mauling run blocker that plays with great leverage, pad level and powerful leg drive. Robinson has the athleticism and quick feet to be a good pass protector, but Auburn’s run-first offense didn’t afford him a lot of opportunities to showcase those skills and ultimately improve them.

If Robinson is available when Tampa Bay picks seventh overall he will be hard to pass up, especially with the Bucs needing depth at offensive tackle. If he wasn’t deemed to be good enough to play left tackle in Tampa Bay, the Bucs could move Demar Dotson to the left side to challenge the aging Donald Penn, whose play dipped in 2013, and insert Robinson at right tackle to help bolster the offensive line.

Missouri DE Kony Ealy – First Round
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Ealy is one of the fastest rising players in the 2014 NFL Draft. A relative newcomer to football, Ealy has only been playing the sport since his junior season in high school, and had a breakout junior season in college with 14.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, including three multiple-sack games, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown. In three years at Mizzou, Ealy recorded 25.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 13 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and a pick-six.

Ealy reminds some talent evaluators that have scouted Missouri football of former Tigers pass rusher Aldon Smith, but his raw skill set is more like that of Ezekiel Ansah or Jason Pierre-Paul – two first-rounders that had a very limited football background before entering the NFL. Ealy could develop into a dominant defensive end in the NFL and has first-round ability, but he may be a bit of a project and he might not make the instant impact that the Buccaneers defense needs in 2014.

The Bucs have a similarly built player in William Gholston, but a team can never have enough pass rushers and picking Ealy with the seventh overall pick might not be considered a reach.

USC WR Marqise Lee – First Round
At 6-foot, 195 pounds, Lee is big enough to play wide receiver and athletic enough to be a dangerous slot receiver at the next level, which gives him great versatility. Lee, who possesses tremendous speed and agility, amassed 248 catches for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in his three years at USC.

After a freshman season that saw him catch 73 passes for 1,143 yards (15.7 avg.) and 11 touchdowns, Lee had a monster sophomore campaign, catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards (14.6 avg.) and 14 scores. Lee set the stage for a great 2012 season by ending his freshman season with 13 catches for 224 yards and two scores against UCLA in a 50-0 victory. As a sophomore, Lee set USC and Pac-12 records with a 16-catch, 345-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 39-36 loss to Arizona.

Lee had 15 games with 100 receiving yards or more for the Trojans, and showcased his elite speed with 10 catches of 55 yards or more. His numbers slumped as a junior with the departure of quarterback Matt Barkley, and Lee posted just 57 catches for 791 yards and four touchdowns.

While Bucs fans love the idea of their team drafting Watkins in the first round, Lee might be just as good of a fit in Tedford’s offense because of his ability to play flanker, split end and slot receiver, and the added bonus of him returning kicks. Lee, who reminds some of a bigger version of DeSean Jackson, has returned 50 kicks for 1305 yards (26.1 avg.) and two touchdowns at USC.

Tomorrow, PewterReport.com will profile five underclassmen that can help the Buccaneers in rounds 2-7 of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Last modified on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 13:42

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  • avatar

    Scubug. I need your help understanding something. Josh Freeman 2013-49.3% 2 TDs 4 INTs. Please help me understand why those stats (I know "stats are for losers") does not reflect the quality of his play (poor choice of words)?
  • avatar

    Glennon vs Wilson? Forget the numbers. Watch them play. Sapp: "The eye in the sky don't lie." Morris: "Stats are for losers."
  • avatar

    Scubug "Stats are for losers" is harsh and a cop out. The point was NOT that Glennon is as good as Wilson. He is not.////// The point was the defense won the game and that Glennon on the Seahawks (except for runs) would have done better, and Wilson on the Bucs would do worse.
  • avatar

    I'm knew here but have been following the Bucs for a long time. Read everything about the Bucs including what is usually written here. My inclination is leaning towards drafting Sammy Watkins at 7. My reasoning... 1.Thin at WR. 2.Lack of offensive "quick twitch speed". 3. VJac isn't getting any younger. 4. Lack of pass catching TE. Sammy would bring another dimension to our offense that we haven't seen since the best days of Galloway. I believe that with Sammy we wouldn't actually need a stellar pass catching TE and a conventional TE would work better anyway because the OL could use the help in the run game. I've read all the pros and cons from everyone about Mike Glennon and it seems as if everyone thinks with what he had to work with he should have been the second coming of Joe Montana anyways. I can't see the Bucs really getting into the playoffs next year and making noise without first fixing the offense. Lovie will fix the defense in FA while fixing the offense in the draft. My proposal... 1. Release or trade Davin Joseph to free up cap space and any other overpaid under performing players. 2. Sign Jared Allen, Peanut Tillman and Alex Mack in FA. 3..Pray Carl Nicks gets back to at least 80% of what he was 3 years ago. 4.Draft Sammy Watkins at 7. 5. Draft Austin Seferian-Jenkins or BAGuard in the second rd. 6. Rest of the draft BPA including a QB with upside. If we go defense in the first round unless it is Clowney I see us going nowhere next year because if Williams or Vjac goes down we are pretty much SOL.
  • avatar

    MC- Mike Glennon in 3 fewer games with much less talent around him on both sides of the ball (and defense on your team affects offense on your team) threw for 2600 yards (200/game) vs 3,300 for Wilson . Glennon with 19 TDs ( vs 26 in 16 games for Wilson) and 9 interception (vs 9 in 16). Russell Wilson ran for more yards. ///// Except for a few more interceptions and runs Glennon's stats when prorated for 16 games (3200 yds- 23TDs-11 INTs) are not that much different from Wilson. Put Glennon on the Seahawks and his stats are much better. Put Wilson on the Bucs and I believe his stats except runs are worse. I like both, but Seattle's defense was the reason for the season
  • avatar

    MC- Mike Glennon in 3 fewer games with much less talent around him on both sides of the ball (and defense on your team affects offense on your team) threw for 2600 yards (200/game) vs 3,300 for Wilson . Glennon with 19 TDs ( vs 26 in 16 games for Wilson) and 9 interception (vs 9 in 16). Russell Wilson ran for more yards. ///// Except for a few more interceptions and runs Glennon's stats when prorated for 16 games (3200 yds- 23TDs-11 INTs) are not that much different from Wilson. Put Glennon on the Seahawks and his stats are much better. Put Wilson on the Bucs and I believe his stats except runs are worse. I like both, but Seattle's defense was the reason for the season
  • avatar

    Why does everyone think the Bucs have "so many holes" to fill? The team is a DE or two away from being a force. I agree the health and availability of Martin, Williams, Barth, Revis, Nicks, James, Goldson, and Spence is a concern. If all return and contribute as planned, the team is pretty good even if it is helmed by a 2nd year QB who set franchise records for awkwardness amongst others.
  • avatar

    Horse, I agree with you on the premise that Manziel is a true boom or bust pick, but our conclusions are a bit different. I don't necessarily want him, but if he's there at 7 and a few other players I love are off the board (a distinct possibility), including Bridgewater, I think it might be a gamble worth taking. Nothing has the ability to catapult a team like a top level QB. There is definitely great risk in selecting Manziel, but the potential reward is equally great. And for a team like us, that has the aging core talent to really heavily compete and maybe even contend, now might be the time for us to take our shot if he's there at 7. And with the new CBA, missing on a QB in the top 10 doesn't crush you like it used to. With low salary cap hits, if we figure out Manziel isn't the guy, we could move on without it destroying the cap in the relatively near future. No matter what any of us thinks of Glennon, it's undeniable that there are huge holes in his game that are preventing him from being a particularly good NFL QB. If we could upgrade there to a guy who is a borderline top 10 guy, I think that with the rest of this team and our coaching staff, we can contend. QB is the big painful question mark right now. Maybe it's time to take our shot to catch lightning in a bottle and make a run.
  • avatar

    The Bucs already have Marqise Lee on the roster. His name is Mike Williams.
  • avatar

    JackinJersey, I am not a big fan of drafting Lee number seven overall and think defense should be addressed at seven. But the comparison to Williams and Lee is a bad one. Lee runs a lot faster then Williams and is also a lot more elusive.
  • avatar

    Regarding Ealy, I have questions...9.5 sacks is good, but he had 3 multi sack games....what was the competition in the multi sack games...if they were pushover teams, then the 9.5 sacks does not mean much to me.
  • avatar

    I am still surprised that some of the posters are still in love with Manziel; for me he is a big risk to take at spot 7. He could be a good QB in the NFL or be a bust. I see no in between with him.
  • avatar

    When I watched Clowney his sophomore season I thought he was the best defensive player in college football. But watching him this past season, I saw a player who at times appeared disinterested. Our own Adrian Claiborne had a drop off in production while at Iowa and his projected draft position slid. Likewise our own Da'Quan Bowers worried GM's because of injury and free-fell to round 2. Of course we all remember the drug rumors (no doubt spread by Richie McKay) causing Sapp to fall to us. Pass rushers are always a hot commodity but I'm just a little skeptical of Clowney. I haven't done a lot of study yet on the Draft prospects, but I'm leaning toward taking Horse's philosophy and trading down unless Johnny Manziel or maybe his teammate Jake Matthews is there at # 7.
  • avatar

    When a 3rd rd. pick just won the SB, how can everyone say we have to pick one in the first at 7 or even 2 !?!
  • avatar

    we have no shot at Clowney unless he just completely blows the combine. I agree that if the right QB is there we take him, but it has to be the right one. Picking the wrong QB this high can set the franchise back years. I personally hope we can trade down, get another pick or two. we have a lot of holes to fill. we should give Glennon one more year to see what he can do, as long as we bring in some actual competition. I think our first pick needs to be defense, if there is value when we pick, with DE the biggest need. in our division, we will never be more than 8-8 if we cant pressure the QB any better than we did last year. But if Tedfords offense requires a mobile QB, then we might have no choice but to look elsewhere, Glennon is anything but mobile.
  • avatar

    Our Defense is far from being dominate; would Coach Smith reach for any player on offense or defense? If I had to guess right now, I would say we pick a DE, LB, or OT with our spot 7 pick.
  • avatar

    My choice would be Watkins or Evans at wide receiver.
  • avatar

    The Seahawks and the Bucs won super bowls with great, overwhelming defenses, not top tier QBs -ask Peyton Manning (Russel Wilson did not have a great season overall). Brad Johnson was not mobile. ///// Buc football was a killer defense. Pass rush DE, CB, MLB, & DT. And Left OT. Trade, Free agent , Draft.
  • avatar

    Wilson didn't have a great season overall? 257-for- 407(63.1%) for 3,357 yards and 26 TDs and 9 INTs and another 539 yards on the ground and another score? 9th best QB rating(101)? Maybe he didn't have an MVP year, but accounted for 27 total TDs and nearly 4,000 yards. Certainly the Seattle defense was the key to the Lombardi, but Wilson certainly played a hand in it. And that isn't factoring his leadership and handling a tremendous amount of pressure a second-year player. I really believe he is being slighted.
  • avatar

    MC- Mike Glennon in 3 fewer games with much less talent around him on both sides of the ball (and defense on your team affects offense on your team) threw for 2600 yards (200/game) vs 3,300 for Wilson . Glennon with 19 TDs ( vs 26 in 16 games for Wilson) and 9 interception (vs 9 in 16). Russell Wilson ran for more yards. ///// except for a few more interceptions and runs Glennon's stats when prorated for 16 games are not that much different from Wilson. Put Glennon on the Seahawks and his stats are much better. Put Wilson on the Bucs and I believe his stats except runs are worse. I like both, but Seattle's defense was the reason for the season
  • avatar

    SR- would you really use the 7th overall pick if you thought he (Greg Robinson) could end up being your right tackle?
  • avatar

    I have to say that after watching videos of Watkins and Lee, Watkins is far more explosive than Lee. Still feel the BUCs need a QB with some mobility and can buy some time. That would also allow the BUCs to not use a high pick on an OT for at least another season.
  • avatar

    If Lovie refuses to take a mobile QB in the first round then it is clear he has learned nothing from History and is Doomed to Repeat It! Why did he lose the Super Bowl? Because he foolishly stuck with a mediocre QB instead of getting himself a Franchise QB. Tedford can't be blamed because he has never been an NFL Coach, but Lovie has and needs to tell Tedford to pick the Mobile QB he wants and they will get him in the first round. Lovie said he wants speed in space--that's definitely not Turtle Glennon! Bring in a proven NFL DE who can start us off with a good pass rush while we develop the future stars we will have at that position. Gholston is going to be great with experience. As for Watkins, we don't need a player who likes drugs--that has already cost us some good players. As well he does not have blazing speed to stretch the field. And please no more Clemson players--they have produced too many busts when they become Bucs. If you take a Tackle, get one who is very athletic and can block too. As the Super Bowl proved, road grader big tackles just hold and cost penalties as the athletic DEs run rings around them!
  • avatar

    owlykat, just because former Clemson players didnt pan out doesnt mean we should over look all Clemson players. Watkins is a freak athlete and is the very definition of a number one wide receiver in the NFL. Watkins is listed at 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, and according to Tigernet.com he ran an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.27 in June of 2013. He has great hands and can break tackles down field. Julio Jones 40-yard time was 4.39 and he spreads the field nicely. What do you consider blazing speed? A franchise Qb doesnt have to be mobile. I would take Brees, Manning, Brady, Rivers, Ryan, Luck, or Stafford in thier prime over Wilson, Newton, RG3, or Kaepernick any day of the week. The top 6 QB's last year were all pocket passers. Who was it that beat Lovie in the Super Bowl. Was it a mobile QB? Oh ya thats right it was Payton Manning. For getting thrown under the bus and operating in Schiano's system, Glennon didnt do bad. Yes his production dipped at the end of the season but look at what he was working with. He had a 3rd and 4th string RB, only 1 true WR and a make shift O-line. Give the guy some talent on offense besides VJ and see what he can do.
  • avatar

    I think that all 5 of these players could fit tampa bay neeeds.But if exampe could drop down to 12-18 picks plus pick up a couple more draft picks then I would select the top wr,OT or DE or DT available. I think tampa could also select a qb in mid 1st rd or rd-2.GO BUCS
  • avatar

    I love all 5 of these guys. Love 'em. I just hope our new GM Licht feels the same way about them because one of them will definitely be there if we have to pick at #7. The only other guys that I love that are projected to the 1st round are Dennard, Manziel, Bridgewater, Mosley and Donald.
  • avatar

    Bite the bullet now sitting at 7 will cost a lot less to trade up to 2 to get a qb then it will be in the future with lovie's coaching. We need a qb before any other position period. Don't waste more seasons trying to get cute and get more value. Identify the best qb for the new system and do what it takes to get him now. We've been stuck in the same pattern for too long now, no other position is going to get us wins. If we are going to keep saying there are better qbs next year and all of those tired arguments again, since we are too low for clowney I hope the go for Watkins. He is the second most dynamic player behind clowney. But I hope we go QB!!!
  • avatar

    I agree, it will cost less now. Do it. That being said they will likely get a tackle.
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