table of contents
- SR’s Fab 5 4-23
- Buccaneers Can’t Go Wrong At No. 5 In Draft
- Bucs Have Only Drafted One Pro Bowler In 2000s
- Pewter Report's 2012 WR Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 TE Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 G-C Draft Preview + Bucs’ Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 OT Draft Preview + Bucs’ Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 DT Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 DE Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 S Draft Preview + Bucs’ Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 QB Draft Preview + Bucs’ Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 RB Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 LB Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Report's 2012 CB Draft Preview + Bucs’ Best Bets
- Point-Counterpoint: Who Do The Bucs Need To Draft On Day 2?
- Pewter Report’s 2012 7-Round Bucs Mock Draft – 3.0
For the third straight mock draft we are projecting LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Bucs – although don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay goes with a wild card selection in the first round, such as Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly or North Carolina defensive lineman Quinton Coples. But there are changes aplenty in the next four rounds where Tampa Bay adds a linebacker, a running back, a tight end and a safety.
With the Bucs using last year to stock up on defensive linemen and this offseason to add offensive linemen, the team will forego drafting additional linemen in this mock draft and focus on rebuilding its backfield after the first two rounds. To find out which players they take, check out the third and final edition of Pewter Report’s seven-round mock draft.
ROUND 1 - LSU CB Morris Claiborne
LAST MOCK – Claiborne
FIRST MOCK – Claiborne
It is unclear whether Claiborne or Alabama running back Trent Richardson would be Tampa Bay’s number one option with the fifth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. There is a good chance we won’t find out as Cleveland may be leaning towards taking Richardson fourth overall. And there is a decent chance that Minnesota may select Claiborne over USC left tackle Matt Kalil with the third pick. But Kalil to the Vikings makes too much sense, especially since Minnesota invested a first-round pick last year in quarterback Christian Ponder, so Claiborne should still be available at number five.
If it comes down to Richardson and Claiborne, Tampa Bay’s scouting department believes the Crimson Tide rusher is the most complete running back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson in 2007. New Bucs head coach Greg Schiano has repeatedly said that he wants to run the heck out of the football on offense, so the well-built, versatile Richardson seems like a great fit.
Yet for the third straight draft, PewterReport.com has picked Claiborne and we are sticking with that pick. It’s hard to find a good shutdown cornerback outside of the first round, and the Bucs, who play in the pass-happy NFC South where they face Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton twice per season, might have the chance to get the best one in the draft in Claiborne.
Of the six cornerbacks in the most recent Pro Bowl, five out of six of them were first-round picks. Of the six running backs in the Pro Bowl last year, none of them were first-round picks, and there is good depth at the running back position in the draft this year for Tampa Bay. Picking the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award winner that ran an impressive 4.39 at his pro day makes the most sense for the Bucs.
Claiborne recently had surgery to repair a ligament in his wrist. NFL scouts aren’t concerned and said that he wisely waited until after his pro day to have surgery and should be fine by the time training camp rolls around.
In his three years at LSU, the junior cornerback picked off 11 passes, returning them for 274 yards and one touchdown, in addition to knocking down 12 passes. After notching five interceptions as a sophomore in 2010, Claiborne topped that number as a junior with six picks, including one he returned 45 yards for a touchdown against Georgia. Claiborne also starred on special teams where he returned 22 kickoffs for 552 yards and a touchdown.
The selection of cornerback fills a huge need because veteran Ronde Barber, who will be 37 in April, is only signed through 2012 and there is a chance he could be permanently moved to safety this year. Fellow starter Aqib Talib is entering a contract year and could face a league suspension depending on the outcome of his June 25 trial in Texas for aggravated assault with a firearm. Eric Wright was signed in free agency, but the Bucs will need better depth as E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis disappointed in 2011. Biggers’ contract is also up after the 2012 season.
What makes Claiborne such an intriguing pick is that he was coached by Ron Cooper, who is Tampa Bay’s new defensive backs coach, at LSU. That gives the Bucs some peace of mind as they spend a premium pick on the Tigers cornerback. Claiborne might not start in the season opener, but he has the talent to at least be the nickel cornerback as a rookie. Having his college coach tutor him in the pros will only accelerate his development because of the relationship Cooper and Claiborne fostered at LSU.
ROUND 2 – Utah State OLB Bobby Wagner
LAST MOCK – Alabama MLB Dont’a Hightower
FIRST MOCK – North Carolina OLB Zach Brown
PewterReport.com has used the team’s second round pick to select a linebacker for the Buccaneers for all three of its mock drafts. Initially, we had Brown in the mock draft because of the familiarity Bucs defensive consultant Butch Davis has having coached him at North Carolina. But sources tell PewterReport.com that Brown didn’t grade out particularly well and that the team will be going in a different direction at linebacker.
Our second mock draft had Tampa Bay taking Hightower, but it seems unlikely that he will get out of the first round with Pittsburgh and Baltimore both interested in the Alabama star. So instead of finding a middle linebacker to replace Mason Foster in this year’s draft, which is difficult because of the lack of talent at the position, the Bucs will address the vacancy created at weakside linebacker with the departure of Geno Hayes in free agency.
Wagner is a great fit in Tampa Bay because of his combination of size, speed, intelligence and production. At 6-foot, 241 pounds, he is a well-chiseled athlete that is no stranger to the weight room. That speaks volumes about Wagner’s work ethic and how serious he works to perfect his craft.
The Utah State product was among the nation’s leading tacklers with 147 stops in 2011, in addition to 11.5 tackles for a loss. Wagner has notched 445 stops and 28.5 tackles for loss as a three-year starter for the Aggies career.
Wagner’s stock is on the rise this offseason following a great week in Mobile, Ala. where he impressed scouts during the week and intercepted a pass in the Senior Bowl. Wagner has a solid skill set against the pass, evidenced by seven pass breakups, 4.5 sacks and four interceptions at Utah State.
With 4.46 speed in the 40-yard dash, Wagner can be a force against the run or the pass and could be an immediate starter at weakside linebacker for Tampa Bay.
ROUND 3 – Oregon RB LaMichael James
LAST MOCK – Utah State RB Robert Turbin
FIRST MOCK – James
A few weeks ago, LeGarrette Blount complained about the possibility of Tampa Bay drafting Alabama running back Trent Richardson to a reporter for at the unveiling of the new Nike uniforms in New York. But one player Blount wouldn’t mind sharing the backfield with is James, his former Oregon teammate. Together, LeGarrette and LaMichael could form the “Le-La Backfield” for the Buccaneers.
Pewter Report had James in its first mock draft, but replaced him with Turbin in the last mock draft. The thought was that a big back like the 220-pound Turbin would be better suited to team with Blount, who weighs 247 pounds. But Turbin hasn’t visited with the Bucs and James has, so the former Duck gets the nod near the top of the third round.
James was one of the fastest running backs at the combine, running a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. His lack of size (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) is what will likely keep him out of the first two rounds, but James’ smallish stature can help him because he can hide away from defenders behind his offensive linemen and then break out for a long run.
Tampa Bay loves James’ production, and he led the nation in rushing yards last year with 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns, in addition to catching 17 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown. In his three years at Oregon, James rushed for 5,082 yards and 53 touchdowns on 771 carries (6.6 avg.), and also had 51 receptions for 586 yards and four touchdowns. James had 28 100-yard games for the Ducks, and can also help on special teams as a rookie. He scored a touchdown on a 58-yard punt return against Nevada in 2011 and his short area quickness and ability to accelerate would make him a candidate to be Tampa Bay’s primary kickoff and punt returner.
The Bucs could use a change-of-pace back like James to pair with Blount, and the team has had success with a similar-sized runner like Warrick Dunn back in the 1990s. You can bet that general manager Mark Dominik got a lot of intel on the Ducks’ 2012 draft prospects like James when he was interviewing Oregon head coach Chip Kelly for Tampa Bay’s head coaching position in January.
ROUND 4 – Traded to Philadelphia for 2011 fourth-round pick used to move up for tight end Luke Stocker.
ROUND 5 – SMU TE Taylor Thompson
LAST MOCK – Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher
FIRST MOCK – Fresno State WR Devon Wylie
Like Claiborne, Wagner and James, the Bucs also had Thompson at One Buccaneer Place for a pre-draft visit.
Bucs head coach Greg Schiano believes that tight end is one of the hardest positions to find good talent at, and has pointed to players like Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates, who all had basketball backgrounds. Schiano believes that teams need to look outside the box to find good, athletic tight ends.
Taylor played defensive end for the Mustangs, but was a wide receiver in high school. At his SMU pro day, he showed off his athleticism by running a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, posting a 37-inch vertical leap, running a 7.40 in the three-cone drill and a 4.41 in the short shuttle, and benching 225 pounds 22 times. He also displayed great hands and caught the ball very well, according to scouts in attendance.
NFL.com’s Gil Brandt said that Thompson went from an undrafted free agent to a late third-round or early fourth-round prospect. But that’s quite a leap based upon a workout where a guy ran around in shorts, yet didn’t catch a single pass in college.
Thompson did have a pretty productive career as a defensive end at SMU, recording 139 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. In 2011, Thompson had a career-high eight sacks, six forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. His potential at tight end and the fact that he could also be a versatile performer and serve as a reserve defensive end makes him an attractive option for Tampa Bay.
ROUND 6 – Illinois FS Tavon Wilson
LAST MOCK – Florida RB Chris Rainey
FIRST MOCK – Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher
PewterReport.com originally had the Bucs doubling up at cornerback with Fletcher before having Tampa Bay double up at running back with Rainey. But the fact that the Bucs cut Tanard Jackson so abruptly in early April has created depth issues at safety. The team is so concerned about the lack of experience and potential talent that it is considering moving Ronde Barber from cornerback to safety.
The Bucs have several inexperienced, developmental safeties on the roster, including the recently signed Ron Girault, Devin Holland, Larry Asante and Ahmad Black, last year’s fifth-round pick. The addition of Wilson, who also visited team headquarters prior to the draft, gives Tampa Bay another body at the position to throw into the competitive mix.
Wilson had 214 tackles, 22 pass breakups, 12.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown, and one forced fumble. Wilson is a solid special teams player and could instantly contribute as a gunner on punt team as a rookie.
ROUND 7 – Rutgers FB Joe Martinek
LAST MOCK – Martinek
FIRST MOCK – Rutgers G Desmond Wynn
PewterReport.com has had a Rutgers player pegged for the seventh round in all three mocks and we are keeping it that way, as Martinek remains the pick. Heading into the draft, Tampa Bay needs some competition for incumbent fullback Erik Lorig, who didn’t have a stellar year in 2011 in his first year as a starter.
The selection of Martinek helps Tampa Bay rebuild its backfield and it reaffirms Schiano’s commitment to running the football on offense. Martinek, a former halfback, rushed for 1,770 yards and 17 touchdowns on 391 carries (4.5 avg.) during his collegiate career, in addition to catching 46 passes for 448 yards and one score.
Martinek’s best rushing season came in 2009 when he carried the ball 206 times for 906 yards and nine TDs. His former head coach, Greg Schiano, demonstrated his trust in Martinek by letting him carry the ball that many times. While his number of carries steadily declined over the past two years, Martinek had his best receiving season in 2011, catching 27 passes for 262 yards and one score while rushing for 123 yards on 24 carries.
He transitioned to fullback for the first time in his career last season and was the lead blocker for sophomore Jawan Jamison, who rushed for 897 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Martinek had an eye-opening 4.40 in the 40-yard dash at Rutgers’ pro day, which was faster than wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who ran a 4.41.