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All right, draftniks. You know that Pewter Report is the undisputed king of Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft coverage. We’ve listed players, such as defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), linebacker Quincy Black (2007), wide receiver Maurice Stovall (2006), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (2006), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (2005), cornerback Torrie Cox (2003) – among others, at their respective positions in the Bucs’ Best Bets sections of Pewter Report’s annual Bucs Draft Preview.
As the 2008 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report’s resident draft expert, Scott Reynolds, has spent countless hours watching over 12 college games per week and scouting which prospects would look good wearing red and pewter next year. With over 500 college games to review dating back over the last four years and countless scouting contacts throughout the NFL, Reynolds is armed with the inside scoop needed to put together these scouting reports on players who might fit Tampa Bay’s schemes on offense and defense.
The casual football fan already has a good deal of knowledge on likely first-round draft prospects, such as LSU defensive tackle Glen Dorsey, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and Virginia defensive end Chris Long. The goal of these regular Pewter Insider features on PewterReport.com is to inform you about players that will likely go in rounds 2-7 that might help the Buccaneers.
Will one of these players wind up being the next Ruud, Stovall or Gradkowski? We’ll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
MICHIGAN STATE TE KELLEN DAVIS VITAL STATS: Michigan State tight end Kellen Davis is 6-foot-6, 255 pounds and is one of the most physically gifted tight ends in the 2008 NFL Draft. Davis is a long athlete with impressive agility and leaping ability. He’s been timed in the 4.7-4.8 range in the 40-yard dash. Davis also lined up and played some defensive end as a senior year, recording two sacks.
CREDENTIALS Davis only logged one catch for 29 yards as a freshman in 2004. He played in all 11 games as a sophomore with 15 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
In 2006 during his junior year, Davis was suspended four games for his role in a campus fight. Davis was given probation over the incident and wound up catching 12 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown in eight games.
As a senior, Davis had a breakout season with 32 catches for 513 yards (16.1 avg.) and six touchdown receptions. He also got to play on defense as a situational pass rusher and recorded six tackles and a pair of sacks.
RECORDS AND SUPERLATIVES Davis only recorded one 100-yard game at Michigan State and didn’t set any records.
HIS BIGGEST GAMES 9/22/07 at Notre Dame 2 rec., 33 yards, 2 TDs 11/17/07 vs. Penn State 4 rec., 106 yards 9/8/07 vs. Bowling Green 3 rec., 23 yards, 1 TD, 1 sack 11/10/07 at Purdue 3 rec., 47 yards, 1 TD, 1 carr. 7 yards 11/3/07 Michigan 4 rec., 47 yards, 1 TD
WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden loves big, athletic tight ends. At 6-foot-6, 256 pounds, is just that. Davis, who was one of the top 10 tight ends in the nation coming out of high school, lacked maturity and production early in his career, but his demeanor and work ethic changed after his suspension. Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen aren’t afraid of taking chances on players with spotty pasts.
Davis’ best football might be ahead of him. His 16.1-yard average has to be appealing to Gruden. Michigan State coaches have stated how much Davis’ blocking has improved and much stronger he has gotten in the weight room. If he can continue to add size and strength and develop into a receiver, the sky is the limit for Davis.
Alex Smith is the starting tight end in Tampa Bay and Jerramy Stevens will likely be re-signed this offseason to be Smith’s backup. Davis, who is built like Stevens, would be an ideal third-string tight end to develop behind those two. Free agent tight end Anthony Becht does not figure to return to Tampa Bay.
TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY Davis’ biggest challenge in the NFL may be handling his business and proving that he is mature and ready for a career as a professional athlete. He says that he’s a changed man after his four-game suspension during his junior season. Davis had a solid senior season and showed improvement, but he will still have to impress NFL scouts, coaches and general managers who may be skeptical.
Davis doesn’t have a whole lot of experience catching the ball except for this past season. He has a good set of hands, but will need work on running routes and refining his game. He’s a gifted athlete, but he needs to sharpen his technique at the next level, especially his run blocking.
SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR Although he didn’t record a blocked kick in college, Michigan State used Davis on field goal and PAT block teams because of his size and leaping ability. The Bucs utilize their tight ends in different areas of special teams, including kick return as the lead-blocking wall for Tampa Bay’s return men. Should Davis be drafted by the Buccaneers, he would not sit idle on the sidelines as a rookie. He could and would play a role on special teams.
DRAFT PROJECTION Davis was invited to the Senior Bowl as opposed to the East-West Shrine Game, so NFL scouts believe he has the measurables to excel at the next level. How Davis fares against the likes of Missouri tight end Martin Rucker in Mobile, Ala. will determine how high he will go, along with a good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February and his pro day in March.
The talented tight end figures to be a sixth-round draft choice as it stands right now and that could change with a great Senior Bowl, which could move his stock up to the fourth- or fifth-round if he catches the ball cleanly, shows good concentration and top-end athleticism.
THE QUOTE “All the stuff that happened to me last year was a big wake-up call to me,” said Davis. “Sometimes you take things for granted. You get your head in the wrong place, and bad things can happen.”
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: email@example.com
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