The Buccaneers have concluded the 2015 NFL Draft with the selection of six offensive players and the first defensive player selected by general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay after the team spent all six of last year’s picks on offensive players. Now it’s time for PewterReport.com to dish out the grades for Tampa Bay’s 2015 draft class.
ROUND 1 – Florida State QB Jameis Winston – Redshirt Sophomore
The Buccaneers finally have their franchise quarterback in Winston, who was 26-1 as a starter at Florida State where he won a national championship and a Heisman Trophy in 2013 as a redshirt freshman. Winston has the arm, pocket awareness, football I.Q. and work ethic to be a phenomenal pro quarterback. He also has the charisma and the leadership traits to take the Buccaneers and the city of Tampa by storm if his maturity level continues to improve and Winston doesn’t have any hiccups along the way. Winston will be the Bucs’ opening day starter as a rookie after having immediate success in his first season at Florida State. The season ticket sales have seen a surge since Friday and the phones have been ringing in the ticket office with the excitement the former Seminole brings to Tampa Bay. GRADE = A+
ROUND 2 – Penn State LT Donovan Smith – Junior
At 6-foot-6, 335 pounds, Smith is a massive left tackle that brings great quickness and agility to Tampa Bay. He ran a 4.98 in the 40-yard dash and was called a “dancing bear” by Penn State head coach James Franklin. Smith graduated after his junior season and had a great showing in the Senior Bowl where he improved his stock to the second round. Smith has the potential to play left tackle or right tackle, but will start off on the left side, which will mean Demar Dotson can return to right tackle. Had Smith stayed for his senior campaign he would undoubtedly have carried a first-round grade in the 2016 NFL Draft, so the Bucs could be getting a franchise-type left tackle in the second round. GRADE = A-
ROUND 2 – Hobart College G Ali Marpet – Senior
The Bucs traded up in the second round to get Marpet, who was one of Licht and Smith’s favorite players. Marpet proved to be one of the more athletic guards at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.98 in the 40-yard dash with a 7.33 in the 3-cone drill and 4.47 in the 20-yard shuttle. He makes up for short arms and legs with quickness and a feisty, competitive demeanor. Marpet started 37 of the 43 games he played in, but against an inferior level of competition as a Division III player. Marpet is a smart, tough, scrappy player that will get the chance to compete at right guard after playing left tackle in college. GRADE = B+
ROUND 4 – LSU OLB Kwon Alexander – Senior
Alexander is a fast, athletic linebacker that ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Bucs like speedy linebackers and Alexander has the chance to back up Lavonte David on the weak side or compete with Danny Lansanah on the strong side. Alexander notched 167 tackles as a two-year starter at LSU, including 90 last year, in addition to 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles as a senior. The question is how he’ll fare in pass coverage, which is a vital trait linebackers must have in the Tampa Bay. Alexander had zero interceptions and only had six pass breakups at LSU, including one last year. He’ll undoubtedly be a special teams contributor as a rookie. GRADE = C+
ROUND 5 – Nebraska WR Kenny Bell – Senior
Bell caught 181 passes for 2,689 yards (14.9 avg.) and 21 touchdowns during his Cornhuskers career. He also had 51 kick returns for 1,277 yards and one touchdown at Nebraska. With the ability to play inside at the slot and outside as a wide receiver at the next level, in addition to being an immediate special teams contributor, Bell brings a lot to Tampa Bay. He’s also one of the best run-blocking receivers in this year’s draft, which the Bucs see a lot of value in. GRADE = B
ROUND 6 – Utah KR-PR Kaelin Clay – Senior
Clay only played one year at Utah, but had a monster year as a kick and punt returner. He returned 23 punts for 346 yards (15.0 avg.) with three touchdowns in 2014, while also returning 22 kicks for 548 yards (24.9 avg.) and one TD. Clay also used his 4.45 speed to catch 43 passes for 523 yards (12.2 avg.) with four touchdowns. Clay spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Mt. San Antonio College where he caught 90 passes for 1,654 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also averaged 34.5 yards per kick return in his two seasons with five touchdowns, and led Mt. SAC in punt returns in 2013 with 17 for 245 yards (14.4 average) and one TD. Bucs special teams coordinator Kevin O’Dea worked out Clay at Utah in March and the return specialist job is his to lose and this is a great late-round pick. GRADE = A-
ROUND 7 – Hawaii FB Joey Iosefa – Senior
Seventh-round picks are essentially priority undrafted free agents that teams like the Bucs would rather take than have to recruit following the draft. Iosefa carried an undraftable grade by many, but it’s hard to knock the Bucs over this selection given the fact it’s the seventh round. Yet the selection of a fullback is a curious one. Iosefa isn’t particularly fast, but he does run with power and could be transformed into a blocking back or he could be a short-yardage and goal line specialist. He finished his Hawaii career rushing for 2,218 yards and 21 touchdowns and catching 60 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns. GRADE = C-
Bucs’ Initial Overall Draft Grade = B+
The 2015 Tampa Bay draft class gets a high grade for several reasons. The first of which is finding a franchise quarterback and drafting the highest-ranked player on the Bucs’ draft board in Winston. He fills the team’s most pressing need.
The second reason is the fact that this draft class will produce at least four new opening-day starters and as many as six, which would be sensational. Winston will be the team’s starting quarterback. Smith will start at left tackle and Marpet figures to start at right guard. Clay will step in and be the team’s return specialist. It’s not out of the question that Bell could be in the mix with Louis Murphy for the slot receiver position, and that Alexander will give Lansanah a run for his money at the Sam linebacker spot. It’s also possible that Iosefa could take over at fullback if Jorvorskie Lane does not make a complete recovery from his broken leg last November.
And finally, this draft class increases the speed and athleticism on Tampa Bay’s roster at several positions. The Bucs became a faster team at linebacker and wide receiver, and on special teams. And Tampa Bay’s offensive line got bigger and more athletic, too.
The only position that was a need that wasn’t addressed in this draft was defensive end. That’s what keeps Tampa Bay from earning an “A” grade for this draft. Yet after selecting Winston with the top pick, it was wise for the Bucs to shore up the offensive line and address the needs at left tackle and right guard the way they did to protect their big investment.
After Licht selected Marpet, the talent at the defensive end position dried up. Licht said he plans to use Tampa Bay’s first pick on the waiver wire to address the defensive end position and hopefully find a gem like they did last year with Jacquies Smith, who finished second on the team with 6.5 sacks.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope that the Bucs pursue La’el Collins IF he is cleared of any wrongdoing by Louisiana police. He’s a top-15 LT talent free agent that would most likely start at LT for the Bucs this year if he was signed. Many GMs will be calling him if he clears… The Bucs should have Winston recruit him.
I say pursue him now. The police haven’t charged him with anything and if they do we don’t have a high draft pick invested in him. We wouldn’t have to invest any pick at all in him and I think he’ll make a great LG.
Agreed pink… It’s all up to him as far as what team he’d want to play for.
You’re a clever guy. You know the Bucs are not going to pursue this guy until he is fully cleared. Once he’s signed, he’s a Buc. If he’s later charged, the headline will read “Tampa Bay Buccaneer Charged with murder.
Now I know you would never do this, but there are those who would love to say that the Bucs have no moral compass after they signed Winston if this were to happen.
No team is going to sign him until he is fully cleared and for good reason. But thanks for looking out for the home team!!!
add in, if you chase him now and sign him to a small contract and later he is found to be involved, the bucs just basically paid for his bail…that’s not cool. Whatever the case, collins needs a new agent. his draft strategy was terrible. It’s clear his agent was looking for $$$$$ and not his best interest
I think a B with room for improvement is a more fitting grade…our first 3 picks have a lot of work to do and must prove they are worth the picks-still I see our OL as a project…
We look to be going forward with very little in the way of a pass rush, hopefully someone cuts a few decent players( usually means an upgrade in Tampa)- or D is gonna have issues if we lose any key players…
Since this team is gonna take a few seasons of growth to solidify or return to s**t, these picks are a good start but far from solving all our woes…I still expect us to be drafting in the top ten, even with improvement and our pick panning out…
Looking forward to watching the season unfold…go Bucs
Tampa Bay Buccaneer Draft Grades
Sport Illustrated – B
CBSSports – B+
Sporting News – C-
YahooSports – B
CFB 24/7 – B+
B/R – B-
SB Nation – B+
ESPN – B
RotoWorld – B
NFL.com – B+
WalterFootball – B+
Macabee – A (biased)
Sporting News has been clueless for some time now.
B+ For the Division 3 Player? and we traded up for him which I was pissed to do so in the first place, Aj Cann a mauler from S Carolina available and we trade up for Marpet? nope, not buying it, he dominated junior college talent in divsion 3 and faired well in a week at the senior bowl and boom everyone is sold, not me, I think its a huge gamble on a kid who is unproven and we don;t have that luxory. D grade for me on that selection
part of me agree’s with you…high risk picks may have been better off if we had a more stabilized line…must have been a poor grade on Cann, or at least a low ceiling being that he’s been running the same pro style offense for the last three years and may have been resistant to warships coaching?????
Marpet was a Division 3 player that was coveted by this staff amongst a few others…It’s rumored that New England liked him and would pick him three picks later. They settled for a free safety with a 3rd/4th round grade, probably because they were caught off guard(no pun intended). I think we finally beat those guys to a player.
Its Bucs Publication with Bucs Fans so I expect the draft grades to be great, that being said I like the Winston pick and D. Smith and then it tails off for me. The kid from Nebraska looks like the second coming of Lamar Thomas, (tooth picks in a uniform) Kwon Alexander a reach, who had a modest career in college we should have drafted Tre Jackson or some other guard Like Kounjo fro Alabama or even Jamil Douglas in the later rounds, we are desperate for line help and we put all of chips on a division 3 player
keep in mind we tried this approach where we draft rookies to compete against rookies for the same position (williams vs benn, bowers vs clay born). ultimately these guys are too immature and making them compete may stun their development…
jongruden, did you see Bell’s highlight reel?? He looks way better than L. Thomas coming out of college. I remember Thomas looking good, but he had no strength to break tackles. I remember all of his highlights were in the open and not many contested balls. He did make good catches with the DB in his face, but went down quickly. Bell is breaking tackles in most of his highlights and has a great stiff-arm. He is also a punt returner with good wiggle and field vision with the ball in his hands. Can’t believe he lasted until the 5th round. Even played in the big 10, so there is no small school worries. He did it week in and week out in a power conference. He is also very good on end arounds and I think that D. Koetter will have a lot of fun calling plays this year. I would be a little more concerned with Marpet if he had an average to solid week at the Senior Bowl. But, by all accounts, he was very good and very consistent. I love the fact that he was actually one of the better O-linemen there and did not seem intimidated by the rise in competition. He will be fine and may even turn into a better pro than Cann, only time will tell.
As for Collins~ Can we contact him or make any play for him at this point? Im sure he has already been approached by clubs(if allowed or not)~just wonder if we can get on the list so to speak…If he is free of guilt it would be nice if Tampa could scoop him~ would give us an ‘A’ for the draft…this is under the presumption that he is innocent of any crime…
I’m sure GMs are flooding his agent’s phone… It would be interesting to have Winston recruit him directly. I bet he could flip ’em!
not so sure about that…matias didn’t sign with the bucs as a priority guard, he went to the “enemy” titans…
Winston is going to sell tickets. This as far as PR goes, will make the bucs successful at least at the gate. He will bring a lot of people to the Stadium. If he plays well it will go on for yrs.
I’m with jongruden on his post. We could have drafted Cann from S.C., and we moved up four slots to get a Division 3 guy. I hope I’m wrong, but picking Marpet primarily on the basis of what he did in shorts seems ludicrous. I wish we’d stop moving up four spots to overreach, resulting in far later picks in later rounds…and we did it twice! Other than that, I’m fine with the rest.
warren, no way did we pick Marpet on what he did in shorts. We picked him on what he did with the pads on. What he did in shorts just proves that he is a tremendous athlete with an NFL sized body. He didn’t allow a sack all season and was very good in the run game. Yes, it was for Hobart. Then he went to the Senior Bowl and everyone thought he would be in over his head. He was one of, if not the BEST, O-lineman all week long. He was definitely the most consistent O-lineman there all week at practice. He did an excellent job in one-on-ones, stopping all of the big school D-linemen. He then played very well in the game and did not have many breakdowns. He has been terrific with the pads on. I’ll tell you who I was scared of, Clemmings. He was VERY highly rated, but did you see him at the Senior Bowl?? He was terrible!! I would not want him on my team. Only seems to play hard when he wants to. Not a consistant motor. All the opposite of Marpet.
Great draft imo, all that’s left is to pursue Collins (barring any guilt.) Hopefully the Winston connection will score us some brownie points in getting him. We’ll hopefully pick up a good DE on the waiver wire and we’ll be set.
Didnt Smith and Marpet play along side one another in the senior bowl? I dont know sh*t from shineola when it comes to the process in which L&L make their picks but I figured the Senior Bowl played a great part and heres why~
Most Oline guys who get drafted play along the same guys often for years together and know each others strengths and weaknesses.Also when playing next to a guy all season,you know when he needs a break or might need a hand making his assignment~you got each others back all the time…
At the Senior Bowl you have a group of guys whom have never played with one another who are forced in a short period to gel and become a cohesive unit.Maybe this process shows scouts how these players react to change,their ability to adjust to the strengths and weaknesses of the guy playing next to you and who steps up and takes a leadership role…Maybe this theory is successful when trying to build a rookie line and drafting players like Smith and Marpet a better pick up in the long run than guys who have played in the same system/program for years…Seems like guys can get set in their ways and have more tendency to develop bad habits and get used to others picking up the pace when you need a blow…
Hey, these guys do this for a living. If they think Marpet is better then Cann, I’ll have to trust their judgement. I wouldn’t know who Cann was if I saw him in person, how many of you would? Lovie and Bud Lite know more then us.
TOTALLY agree surferdudes !! I was praying for Cann to fall to 2nd round, knowing Ten probably would not take him. Was soooo excited to see him fall to us! All along, I figured if Cann was gone, I would hope for Marpet. Wasn’t sure we would take him there, maybe DE or LB. When we took Marpet anyway, I was a little stunned, but still very happy. If the Bucs took him there, they obviously had a higher grade on him. They watch way more tape than me. All I can think of is that Marpet may be a better all around G than Cann. I know Cann is a mauler in the run game but haven’t herd much about his pass-pro. Plus, Marpet probably has a higher ceiling especially now that he will have better coaching at the pro level, he can only improve, Go Bucs ! ! !
One of our best drafts They all look good to me. 6-6 338 OT Wow! under a 5 in the 40, and got him in the 2nd rd. Marpet just might be the jersey to get. I think Bell is our biggest steal. Clay looks good but will carry that highlight with him along time, tied up 7 all.
I personally think grading Drafts is like judging a taste test before the first bite is taken. Looks good on the plate but makes you gag later. We’ve had a lot of those. I still laugh at the ‘C’ draft when Sam Wyche and Richie brought us two Hall of Famers.
I’m surprised that folks are hopeful of landing Collins when some here might be ready to send him to the gas chamber simply because he is being questioned. Sure would be nice if he is cleared early and the Bucs can sell him on being an immediate starter.
Can someone from PR confirm or deny if Tampa has interest in Collins, its looks like he has meetings setup with the Dolphins and Bills already not sure why we were not front and center after the police confirmed that he’s still not a suspect. Mankins and EDS need some competition in camp just like everybody else that underperformed last year. They say Marpet practiced at C all offseason so if we do acquire Collins putting him at guard and Marpet at C could be a solution but adding more talent needs to be the priority, let them figure out where they all end up playing in camp.
Good overall draft. Way too soon to grade, maybe 3yrs from now. Liked Hackett in UDFA’s. Predictions, speculation , hoorays, and disappointment behind us. Time for some football. Go Bucs
I was watching a couple of videos…wanted to share…Kenny Bell is a stud in space! what a stiff arm! Donovan smith…for anyone who is concerned with this guy, watch his full game tape against ohio state and what he does against joey bossa and michael bennet…stud
oh and by the way, bell on the outside and jackson in the slot…keep in mind that winston strength is his accuracy on the deep ball…
funkdoc19, totally agree! Bell looks like he was way undervalued. One site had him rated as the #11 WR in the draft. When I saw that, I looked a little deeper. His highlight reel is awesome!! I know it is a highlight reel, but still some really good things jump out. I agree with your points about him in space and his stiff arm. He also flashes some real good speed. Not sure I ever saw him get caught from behind. Did you see his great end around runs?? He is a real threat with the ball in his hands to score on ANY play. He must have went 80 yards on the end around and broke multiple tackles along the way, and used his stiff arm at the end to score!!! Can’t wait to see him in red and pewter!!!
Why hasn’t PR reported on any undrafted free agent signings?
Buc-Up, PR did report the signings in the blog section. Nobody has done write-ups on stats or given opinions of their chances on making the team. Probably more info after the rookie mini-camp this Friday.
Yahoo sports is reporting Jameis has reached out to Collins multiple times in the past 24 hours in attempts to get him to sign with Tampa.
Really? Interesting… This would be a good move and I don’t buy the backlash commentary above. There is no real downside to Winston trying to get this guy.
The facts are he’s been found guilty of nothing and the police confirmed after his interview that he’s still not a suspect. Getting a cheap, long term solution on the OL is far to good an opportunity to pass up bc some Buc fans wake up on wrong side of the bed, they will get over it.
RotoWorld reporting that Bucs and Bills have early lead for Collins if he’s cleared. Being heavily recruited by players, no officials from Bucs involved.
It almost seems unfair to send Winston to recruit him! I would think he would have a lot of pull with Collins… Especially if he brought the other O-line rooks to try to seal the deal.
I read somewhere (nfl.com I think) that teams are not allowed to meet with him at his home or school and that Rex Ryan’s meeting with him at Applebee’s is borderline. Maybe that’s why no other team has officially scheduled a meeting yet
So I stopped by one bud place today with my daughter. I ain’t gonna lie, I was jones’in for a Winston autograph to go with my ward and weinke autograped FSU helmet, anyways, the receptionist said jaimis has been coming in EARLY in the morning yesterday and today working hard, studying tape and the playbook and leaves late…who else has ever done that, signed a rookie contract right off the bat, and hit the study session…I am so excited.
my favorite line from the peter king article is when jaimis’ uncle told Lovie not to be like the portland trailblazers and pick sam bowe…
here’s a link of D. Smith versus OSU…
Ironically given our OC, Matt Ryan did that. Albeit, there was a lot more turmoil in the ATL at the time.
also…watch this video on Iosefa…
pay close attention to:
0:23 he literally tosses a guy off of him right up the gut
2:16 man’s up with a outside run and swipes a guy off him like sweat
2:46 knocks out two LB
goes on and on…
watching his videos I would say his biggest knock is his balance. During the combine drills for the corner backs, mayock would say the corners who would flail their arms around and not keep it close to their body were the ones with balance issues, lacking core strength…this kid’s arms are all over the place. once he’s in the weight room with Dave Kennedy and solidifies his base he’s gonna have a floor as low as Peyton Hillis, circa 2010 (I won 2 fantasy football leagues picking him up that year! Beast). I don’t wanna dare compare him to the A train, but I will say, watch some old footage of big mike, the guy’s arms were always tucked in with a centered based. I hope Iosefa’s got great character and sound work ethic, I think he could be special…something this city needs
I agree that Iosefa’s biggest challenge is keeping his balance at times, but you know who he reminds me of…just a little…some guy that wore #40. It’s WAY early for any stock to be put into that, but at times, when he’s thumping someone or trucking a backer…just brings back good memories of the A-Train!
The Bucs “Pied Piper” is trying hard to lure La’el Collins to Tampa. Nobody does it better!
Rand GetlinVerified account
Who’s recruiting La’el Collins most aggressively? #Bucs QB Jameis Winston is right up there. Pushing hard for Collins to come to Tampa Bay.
Winston has got gravity… and not because of his gut.
If Winston can recruit La’el Collins to the Bucs – I’ll be impressed. Maybe that Heisman-charisma and FL’s no state tax will help.
LT-Collins; LG-Mankins; C-Marpet or EDS; RG-Smith; RT-Dotson would be a huge OL upgrade over last year.
My main beef with the Buc’s draft is how willingly draft picks are given away. We have all these holes to fill and depth to build, why are we trading away so many picks? I think we could have traded down for extra picks and still gotten D.Smith in the 2nd (if not, take J.Fisher or another OT). Burning picks to trade up a few spots for Marpet and Kwon, and swapping our 5th rounder for Detroit’s 7th because we made a bad free agency deal – all very frustrating. That said – I like the guys we ended up with, and look forward to seeing them grow together as Buccaneers.
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