Before we get to the final PewterReport.com mock draft for the Buccaneers, here are some thoughts on the teams selecting ahead of Tampa Bay – Houston, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland at Atlanta.
The five players I don’t see the Buccaneers having a chance to draft with the seventh overall pick are South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews, outside linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. In this scenario, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, the top-rated quarterback, is primed to go in the top 5 and there are four QB-needy teams in Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland. Atlanta, which picks sixth overall, does not need a quarterback.
There is talk that the Bucs could trade up to No. 2 with St. Louis for Manziel or Watkins. Whether that's a smoke-filled rumor or a real plan has yet to be determined. But if the team has to stay at No. 7 and make a pick there will be several good players available, including Fresno State’s Derek Carr or UCF's Blake Bortles, Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald or Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans. Ideally, Bucs general manager Jason Licht would love to trade down in the first round and acquire more picks in a draft that is deep with talent.
With the Buccaneers bringing in several quarterbacks for pre-draft visits, including Manziel, Carr, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo, SMU’s Garrett Gilbert and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, and the signing of journeyman Josh McCown, who will turn 35 this summer, PewterReport.com is convinced that Tampa Bay will select a quarterback of the future in the 2014 NFL Draft. In fact, it’s the first round – and we’re keeping Carr as the player.
In keeping with the sort of fantasy football theme that often surrounds mock drafts, PewterReport.com is also forecasting two trades that allow the Bucs to pick up two extra players.
*ROUND 1 (10th overall) – Fresno State QB Derek Carr – 6-2, 214
Previous selection: Fresno State QB Derek Carr
Detroit is said to covet Evans and will want to ensure that no team leapfrogs them at No. 10 to take the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Aggies receiver. Licht, Smith and former Buccaneers cornerback Martin Mayhew, who is the Lions general manager, agree to a trade that moves the Bucs down three spots to No. 10 and sends Detroit’s third-round pick to Tampa Bay as a result.
In PewterReport.com’s first mock draft of 2014 back in January, we forecasted the Buccaneers drafting Carr. After a couple of mock drafts that have featured Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins in Tampa Bay’s top spot, we’ve come full circle back to Carr, who is the most ideal fit for Jeff Tedford’s quarterback-driven offense. Although the Bucs may have Manziel rated higher, Carr was the first-round pick in last month’s mock draft and that remains unchanged in PewterReport.com’s final edition because he will most likely be there at No. 7 whereas Manziel may not.
Tedford coached Carr’s brother, David, at Fresno State, and tutored Derek after the season shortly before taking the offensive coordinator job in Tampa Bay. Tedford, a former Fresno State quarterback and keeps tabs on his alma mater and saw Carr break virtually every Bulldogs record set by himself, Trent Dilfer and his brother, David, passing for 5,082 yards in 2013, which was 420 more yards than any other quarterback at the FBS level last year. Carr threw 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. In his four years at Fresno State, Carr threw for 12,842 yards, 113 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions, while completing an average 68 percent of his passes during his final two seasons.
Carr, a great leader and competitor, has a great 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 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 Johnny Manziel (276). Carr has incredibly high character and is married with a young son. His high degree of maturity may vault him ahead of Manziel on the team’s draft boards at the quarterback position.
Carr, who visited the Bucs last month, also brings the mobility to Tampa Bay’s offense that Mike Glennon lacks. Carr ran a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash, and 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. Here is a new highlight video of Carr’s Fresno State days.ROUND 2 (38th overall) – Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief – 6-2, 221
Previous selection: Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Tampa Bay needs to pick up a starting-caliber receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft and wastes no time in getting one of the players it covets in Moncrief, a big-bodied pass catcher with great run-after-catch ability due to his 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash. Despite suspect quarterback play, Moncrief starred at Ole Miss, catching 59 passes for 938 yards and six touchdowns. He totaled 156 receptions for 2,371 yards and 20 touchdowns in his Rebels career.
The Bucs also like Clemson’s Martavis Bryant and Colorado’s Paul Richardson, who could be options in the third round, but will take Moncrief in the second round because wide receiver is Tampa Bay’s biggest need. Moncrief was one of several receivers to visit One Buccaneer Place prior to the draft.
The Raleigh, Miss. native has produced 100-yard games against some top competition, including LSU (twice), Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia Tech and Texas. Moncrief gave Mississippi State cornerbacks Johnthan Banks, who is now a Buccaneer, and Darius Slay fits two years ago in the Rebels’ 41-24 win over the Bulldogs in the Egg Bowl with a seven-catch, 173-yard, three-touchdown performance.
Moncrief, a junior, has the initial quickness to make defenders miss after the catch and that’s an important element in Tedford’s offense, which gets the balls into the receivers’ hands quickly on bubble screens, middle screens, curls and slants. With a 6-foot-2, NFL-sized frame and a 39.5-inch vertical, Moncrief can win jump balls and a red zone threat for Tampa Bay. Moncrief’s early success at Ole Miss could allow him to have a quick transition to the pro game and make an impact as a rookie.Here is a highlight video of Moncrief’s Mississippi career.ROUND 3 (69th overall) – Wisconsin MLB Chris Borland – 6-0, 248
Previous selection: North Dakota State OL Billy Turner
With Mason Foster entering a contract year, the Bucs get some competition and insurance at the middle linebacker position in Borland. As a four-year starter at Wisconsin, Borland was ultra-productive, racking up 420 tackles (233 solo), 50 tackles for loss, 18 pass breakups, 17 sacks, an astounding 14 forced fumbles and three interceptions. Borland had a breakthrough freshman season in which he totaled 54 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, five forced fumbles, three passes defensed and an interceptions.
After missing much of 2010 with an early-season shoulder injury, Borland returned in 2011 to record a career-best 143 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, five forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions. Over the next two seasons Borland would total 215 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, eight pass breakups and four forced fumbles. Borland has had three shoulder surgeries in his career, including two torn labrums and that does concern some NFL teams and will likely push his draft stock down as a result. But outside of the 2010 campaign, Borland has not missed time due to injury.
Another concern is his 4.83 time in the 40-yard dash. The Bucs love to draft fast linebackers, but Borland’s intelligence and instincts make up for his slower-than-ideal speed. He gets to the ball just as fast as a player who runs a 4.6 because he knows where the ball is going and takes the proper angle.
Borland’s intanglibles are similar to those of two other undersized linebackers – Zach Thomas and Chris Spielman – who had a lot of success in the NFL. The fact that he’s only 6-feet tall actually helps him get leverage against running backs, evidenced by these two wicked stops against Ohio State
that were part of his 16-tackle effort against the Buckeyes. His ability to rush the passer and create takeaways also appeals to the Bucs as head coach Lovie Smith wants to lead the NFL in turnovers created.Take a look at these Borland highlights.*ROUND 3 (76th overall from Detroit) – Colorado WR Paul Richardson
If the Bucs pull of the trade with the Lions and get an extra third-round pick they could use it on North Dakota State offensive lineman Billy Turner, LSU guard Trai Turner, Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant or Florida State outside linebacker Telvin Smith, who reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. But one of the receivers the Bucs covet is Richardson, who was coached by Tampa Bay tight ends coach Jon Embree when he was the head coach at Colorado.
Richardson, a junior, burst onto the scene as a freshman, catching 34 passes for 514 yards (15.1 avg.) and six touchdowns, and followed that up with 39 receptions for 555 yards (14.2 avg.) and five scores in 2011 as a sophomore. A torn ACL robbed Richardson of the 2012 campaign, but he made a full recovery and had a monster season last year, catching 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 scores.
Richardson has had 12 catches covering 50 yards or more, including four receptions of 70 yards or longer in his career. Eight of those catches of 50 yards or more came as a junior while playing in an offense that ranked 88th in the nation.
The big concern about Richardson is his slight frame. Although he’s 6-foot-1, he’s been allergic to the weight room, weighing 159 pounds at the start of the 2013 season. However, he’s bulked up to 172 pounds and appears to be headed in the right direction. But blessed with 4.40 speed and the ability to break off long plays, he would be a real asset to Tedford’s offense.Here are some highlights from Richardson’s junior season in 2013.*ROUND 4 (130th overall from New England) – Rice CB Phillip Gaines – 6-0, 193
With Carr in the fold, the Bucs trade last year’s third-round pick, quarterback Mike Glennon, to New England for the Patriots’ fourth-round pick. Bill Belichick makes this move due to his relationship with former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, who raves about Glennon, and the fact that the Patriots have a fourth-round compensatory pick nine spots later at the end of the fourth round.
The Bucs use that pick to select Gaines, who has great size at 6-foot, 193 pounds and runs a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash. Gaines’ ball awareness and knack for breaking up passes makes him an ideal fit for Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme. The Rice star had 175 tackles (134 solo) in college with 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries for touchdowns and a forced fumble. But he’s way better in pass coverage than he is attacking the line of scrimmage, evidenced by his 38 pass breakups and four interceptions.
As a junior, Gaines led the nation with 18 pass breakups and also returned a fumble 12 yards for a touchdown. He didn’t record a single interception until his senior campaign, but picked off all four of his career INTs in 2013, in addition to nine more pass breakups.
Gaines has some character concerns that need to be looked into as he was cited for marijuana possession in 2011. He also has dealt with foot and wrist injuries in his career, but if he’s healthy and has matured, he would be a great fit in the Tampa 2 defense.Here are Gaines’ highlights from the 2012 season.ROUND 4 Traded to New York Jets for CB Darrelle RevisROUND 5 (143rd overall) – Pittsburg State WR John Brown – 5-10, 179
Previous selection: LSU MLB Lamin Barrow
Although the Buccaneers selected two wide receivers in the first two days of the draft, the team cannot afford to pass up on Brown, a small school star, who can serve as Tampa Bay’s punt and kick returner. Smith had Pro Bowler Devin Hester at Chicago for many years and wants an impact return specialist in red and pewter.
Brown took a punt back 84 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball as a freshman at Pittsburg State, and finished his career with three punt return touchdowns and two kick return scores. With his speed that was measured at 4.34 at the NFL Scouting Combine, he averaged 13.6 yards per punt return and 26.9 yards per kick return in college.
Brown, a three-year captain, brings added value as a speed receiver in the slot. He left the Gorillas as the career leader with 185 catches for 3,300 yards and 32 receiving touchdowns, in addition to six rushing touchdowns. Brown, who has a 34.5-inch vertical leap, plays bigger than his 5-foot-10 frame would indicate.Here is a highlight video of some of Brown’s big plays at Pittsburg State.ROUND 6 – Traded to Chicago for OT Gabe CarimiROUND 6 (185th overall from Buffalo) – Purdue OT Kevin Pamphile – 6-5, 310
Previous selection: Bloomsburg DE Larry Webster
The Bucs acquired a sixth-round pick by trading wide receiver Mike Williams to Buffalo. Pamphile had a solid, yet unheralded career at Purdue where he played left tackle. He has a chance to play that position at the next level, but could also be moved inside to guard and that has some appeal to Tampa Bay.
Pamphile was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but showed off his athleticism at the Purdue pro day where he ran a 4.92 and a 4.94 in the 40-yard dash and a 32-inch vertical leap. He also had a 9-foot broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times, which is good for a player with over 34-inch arms.
The Buccaneers could use more competition at the guard position with the offseason release of veteran Davin Joseph and with Carl Nicks still recovering from toe surgery. Pamphile can help out inside and also give Tampa Bay some position flexibility by operating as a reserve swing tackle. Here are Pamphile’s 2013 highlights from the Ohio State game.ROUND 7 (221st overall) – Bloomsburg DE Larry Webster – 6-6, 252
Previous selection: Bowling Green TE Alex Bayer
Webster, the son of Miami Dolphins defensive end Larry Webster, Jr., played four years of basketball at Bloomsburg before using his final two years of collegiate eligibility to play football. Webster set the Bloomsburg record for sacks in a season with 13.5 as a junior in 2012 along with 16 tackles for loss before finishing his brief, two-year football career with 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss as a senior.
Webster’s 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash was second only to Clowney’s and his 36.5-inch vertical jump was among the best for defensive ends at the NFL Scouting Combine. With his large, 6-foot-6, 252-pound frame, Webster has ideal size to become a 4-3 defensive end in the Tampa 2 scheme over time as he learns how to play the position with more consistency. With Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers both in a contract year, the Bucs could use another defensive end to develop.
The Bucs have already brought him in for a personal workout. But some teams, perhaps Tampa Bay among them, are intrigued by the thought of Webster playing tight end due to his size, leaping ability and natural pass-catching hands. Webster caught two touchdown passes as a tight end in goal line situations as a junior. Here is a highlight video of Webster’s plays against Shippenburg.
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