Before we get to the latest PewterReport.com mock draft for the Buccaneers, here are some thoughts on the teams selecting ahead of Tampa Bay. Houston will either take South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or a quarterback. Assuming they keep they keep the second overall pick, St. Louis will either take Clowney or an offensive tackle. The Jaguars and Browns will likely take quarterbacks, and the Raiders, who pick fifth overall, will take one of the top three quarterbacks if there is one left over, or could take an offensive player like Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Atlanta will probably take a pass rusher like Buffalo’s Khalil Mack with the sixth overall pick as it appears the team may be switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme in 2014.
With the signing of journeyman Josh McCown, who will turn 35 this summer, PewterReport.com is convinced that the Bucs will select a quarterback of the future in the 2014 NFL Draft, and one of the players on Tampa Bay’s radar is Fresno State’s Derek Carr, who debuted with the Bucs’ first overall pick in PewterReport.com’s initial mock draft in January.
While he’s had a good offseason in terms of competing well at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine where he showed off above average athleticism that rivals that of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Carr’s stock never rose to Top 10 status.
Tampa Bay currently has the No. 7 overall selection, and a scenario in which trading down into the teens in the first round to draft Carr and acquire up extra picks in this year’s draft seems likely. It’s a scenario PewterReport.com has floated before and one that Luke Easterling of NFLDraftReport.com has occurring in his latest Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.
Because most trades in mock drafts are wishful thinking, hard to accurately project and pull off in real life, PewterReport.com does not typically engage in them in its mock drafts. But it’s worth noting that trading down a few spots in the first round to get Carr features a great degree of plausibility.
ROUND 1 – Clemson WR Sammy Watkins – 6-1, 215Previous selection: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson turned 31 in January and is scheduled to make $10 million this season. Next year, Jackson will be 32 and is slated to make $9,777,777 in 2015. As good as Jackson is, producing 150 catches for and 2,608 yards and 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, he has to be nervous seeing 31-year old veterans Donald Penn and Davin Joseph become salary cap casualties the second their play slipped, which happened in 2013. Heck, cornerback Darrelle Revis was even deemed to be too expensive at $16 million per season despite having a Pro Bowl season and still being in his prime. Jackson needs to be more sure-handed in 2014 than he was last year if he wants to remain in red and pewter.
The league’s worst-ranked offense resided in Tampa Bay last year and needs wide receivers in a big way to help put more points on the scoreboard. While the Bucs offense gets the return of Mike Williams from a torn hamstring that cost him much of the 2013 campaign, Williams is in the doghouse with new head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht over character concerns for his hard-partying ways and his tenure in Tampa Bay could be coming to an abrupt end. To say that wide receiver is a position of need for the Bucs heading into the 2014 NFL Draft is an understatement.
Watkins is the clear-cut number one wide receiver in this draft and remains in the top spot for the PewterReport.com 2014 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior from Clemson has blazing, 4.4 speed and athleticism that allowed him to catch 101 passes for 1,464 yards (14.5 avg.) and 12 touchdowns, including a Clemson- and Orange Bowl-record 16 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-35 victory over Ohio State. Smith began to see the importance of having premier receivers in Chicago at the end of his tenure with the Bears after the team traded for Brandon Marshall and selected Alshon Jeffrey in the second round of the 2012 draft. Adding a dynamic playmaker like Watkins gives the Bucs another weapon and a future No. 1 wide receiver when Jackson’s time in Tampa Bay is up.Here’s a highlight video of Watkins’ big-play ability at Clemson.
ROUND 2 – Stanford G David Yankey – 6-5, 315
Previous selection: Stanford DE Trent Murphy
The release of Davin Joseph, and the uncertainty surrounding the health of Carl Nicks, leaves the Bucs’ guard position in flux. So drafting a starting-caliber player like Yankey, who can step in as a rookie makes an awful lot of sense. If Nicks can’t recover from two toe surgeries and a bout with MRSA, the Bucs may have to turn to Jamon Meredith, Oneil Cousins or Jeremy Zuttah – if he’s still on the roster – to start.
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Yankey is incredibly versatile and has the ability and frame to start at guard, which he played in 2013, or left tackle, which he played in 2012 following the departure of Jonathan Martin. Yankey’s ability to pull from left guard helped power Stanford’s power running game as Stepfan Taylor rushed for 1,530 yards in 2012 and Tyler Gaffney rushed for 1,709 yards in 2013. The two-time All-American is a physical player with the quickness to block downfield on screens and on lead running plays.
Yankey, who is the top-rated guard of NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, has played four out of the five positions on the line, and has also lined up at tight end. Smith said he wants athletes at all positions, and Yankey, a team captain at Stanford, is a better athlete than he showed at the NFL Scouting Combine where he ran a 5.48 in the 40-yard dash and only benched 22 reps of 225 pounds. He will get another chance to better those numbers at his pro day, but an average showing in Indianapolis likely kept Yankey, who only allowed one sack last year and graded out at 86 percent of his blocking assignments, out of the first round, which is good news for Tampa Bay.Here are some of Yankey's highlights from Stanford.ROUND 3 – Oregon State CB Rashaad Reynolds – 5-10, 189
Previous selection: Oregon State CB Rashaad Reynolds (4th round)
The Buccaneers released Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, who refused a pay cut from his $16 million per year salary, and replaced him with another Pro Bowler, Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner, who will pair with second-year starter Johnthan Banks. The Bucs need a versatile, playmaking nickel cornerback and Reynolds, who was in last month’s PewterReport.com 2014 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft, is the answer in the third round. A solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine where he ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash, had a 37.5-inch vertical leap and repped 225 pounds 20 times likely boosted his draft stock from the fourth to the third round.
There is a certain criterion that Smith is looking for in a nickel cornerback, including fluid hips to cover slot receivers, a nose for the football and good tackling ability to stop the run. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound Reynolds would be an ideal fit in Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme that will be deployed by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Cornerbacks in the Tampa 2 scheme have to be great tacklers and not afraid of contact. Reynolds has a strong, compact build and relishes big hits. He has the skills to press at the line of scrimmage and re-route receivers, as well as playing off in zone coverage.
Reynolds has great ball skills, evidenced by six interceptions and four pass breakups in 2013, including a pick of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. In his Beavers career, Reynolds amassed 170 tackles, 25 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Both of Reynolds’ fumble recoveries went for touchdowns and proved to be the difference against Boise State in Oregon State’s 38-23 win in the Hawaii Bowl. In a 52-24 win over bowl-bound Washington State last year, Reynolds dominated with six tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup. This is a hightlight reel of Reynolds' play during his sophomore year in 2012.ROUND 4 – Traded to New York Jets for CB Darrelle RevisROUND 5 – South Carolina QB Connor Shaw 6-0, 206
Previous selection: California DT DeAndre Coleman
Licht believes there are franchise quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft, but insinuated that they’re not just limited to the first round, telling 98.7 The Fan in an interview last week, “I see franchise quarterbacks in this draft, but likely not the ones you’re thinking of.” That means there are other QBs capable of leading the Buccaneers other than Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Fresno State’s Derek Carr – all of whom are regarded as first-round picks.
Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garappolo, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and or even Georgia’s Aaron Murray are also possibilities in the early-to-mid rounds, but so is Shaw, who could be had in the fifth round, as he checks off a lot of the boxes that Smith and Bucs are looking for. Shaw is a winner, posting a 27-5 record as a starter at South Carolina and leading the team to three straight top 10 finishes in the Associated Press poll, including an undefeated mark against rival Clemson and in bowl games. He is a fierce competitor with the grit and determination that rivals the likes of former Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia, current NFL starter Russell Wilson and an NFL Draft prospect like Manziel. In fact, he’s just as athletic as Manziel and comparable to him and Wilson from a size standpoint as he’s 6-foot, 206 pounds and runs a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash.
Shaw, who recently got engaged to his high school sweetheart, is a mature man of high character and shares the same beliefs as Smith does from a spiritual and football standpoint. He puts a premium on taking care of the football, evidenced by the fact that he threw 24 touchdown passes and just one interception last year, while completing 64 percent of his passes. In 2012, Shaw completed 67.5 percent of his passes, which set a South Carolina record. The Flowery Branch, Ga. native has a great blend of speed, athleticism, accuracy, integrity, intangibles, football I.Q. and leadership qualities to be a steal in the fifth round, which is a round higher than most draft pundits expect him to go due to his lack of ideal size and injury history. Shaw could learn Tedford’s system for a year or two on the bench behind McCown and then compete to start in 2015 or 2016.Here is a highlight video showing Shaw's accuracy, touch and athleticism.ROUND 6 – Traded to Chicago for OT Gabe CarimiROUND 7 – Baylor WR Tevin Reese – 5-10, 170
Previous selection: California TE Richard Rodgers
With the Bucs receiving corps facing an overhaul in the next year or two as Jackson ages and Williams is purged from the roster unless he makes the necessary character adjustments set forth by Smith and Licht, Tampa Bay will need to stockpile and upgrade the competition at wide receiver. Tedford puts a premium on speed, and that’s where a player like Reese comes into play as he makes his way back into PewterReport.com’s 2014 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.
While Reese timed in the 4.46-range at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine, he’s been timed faster in the 4.31 range in the 40-yard dash. Reese was the fastest playmaker at Baylor and is among the fastest wide receivers 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, who led all draft prospects at the Combine with a 41-inch vertical leap, 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 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 offenseHere is a highlight reel of some of Reese's big plays.
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