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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 wide receiver Dexter Jackson (2008), offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (2008), quarterback Josh Johnson (2008), 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 2009 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report's resident draft experts, Scott Reynolds and Charlie Campbell, have 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 and Campbell are 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 USC MLB Rey Mauluga, Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, and Ohio State OLB James Laurinaitis. These regular Pewter Insider features on PewterReport.com will scout out players that are candidates for the Buccaneers to select in April's draft.
Will one of these players wind up being the next Ruud, Zuttah or Johnson? We'll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
OREGON STATE CORNERBACK KEENAN LEWIS
VITAL STATS: Oregon State cornerback Keenan Lewis checks in at 6-foot, 208-pounds. Lewis has good size, quickness, and flexibility. With a lanky build, Lewis has the frame to add more muscle at the NFL level to be an even more physical corner that suits man coverage and zone schemes.
Lewis started 45 games in his college career for Oregon State. The Pac-10 is a pass happy conference, and Lewis is battle tested. Many teams threw away from Lewis after proving the ability to blanket receivers. Lewis does not have big interception totals, but is a solid cover corner that should contribute as nickel back or starter early in his NFL career. He very easily could be a better pro than many corners that will be drafted ahead of him.
RECORDS AND SUPERLATIVES
Lewis was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention in 2008 when he had 35 tackles, two tackles for a loss, four interceptions, and nine passes defensed.
HIS BIGGEST GAMES
9/15/07 Idaho State 1 interception returned 16 yards, 1 pass defensed
9/22/07 at Arizona State 1 interception returned 27 yards, 4 tackles
11/24/07 at Washington 1 interception, 2 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss
9/13/08 Hawaii 1 interception, 1 tackle
11/15/08 California 1interception returned 25 yards for a touchdown, 1 pass defensed
WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER
The Buccaneers have a void at cornerback, and that was one of the positions head coach Raheem Morris identified as a need heading into the NFL Draft. Starting right cornerback Ronde Barber is 33 years old and will not play forever. Last season's first-round pick Aqib Talib takes over the left cornerback spot from Phillip Buchanon, and second-year pro Elbert Mack is in the driver's seat for the nickel cornerback position right now. After those three the Buccaneers have practice squad players Greg Fassitt and Kyle Arrington.
Tampa Bay could definitely use a third cornerback to pair with Talib and Mack for seasons to come. There is a chance the Bucs could use their first-round pick on a cornerback for the second straight season, but they are most likely to select a pass rusher with that pick. That leaves the middle rounds of the draft for the team to find a cornerback that can come in and provide depth if one of top three corners is hurt, and push Mack for the nickel corner spot.
A player that is on the Bucs' draft radar is Lewis. Lewis started in the same secondary as Bucs starting strong safety Sabby Piscitelli in 2005 and 2006, and is a definite possibility for the Buccaneers third-round pick. Tampa Bay really likes the style of play that Oregon State employs in the secondary. The Beavers are a physical, man-to-man coverage team that plays a lot of bump-and-run. The Bucs have changed their secondary to playing that scheme under new defensive coordinator Jim Bates, so Lewis is a perfect fit for the new defense.
Lewis was a four-year starter that is battle-tested, and his game should translate well to continue to do what he did in college. Lewis locks down one side of the field, and is great in press and man coverage. He has a good punch at the line of scrimmage, and does a fantastic job of jamming receivers, throwing off the timing of the play, and re-routing receivers. Lewis also has good hips that he can flip quickly and turn and run downfield with receivers.
The closing speed that Lewis displays also indicates that he could make the transition to zone coverage in the NFL. Lewis is solid in run defense, and is a contact player like Talib and Mack. At the Senior Bowl, Lewis had a good week of practice and looks like a cornerback that will be able to see the field on defense very early in his NFL career.
Intangibles are another asset to Lewis. He is a three-year All-Academic selection for the Pac-10. Lewis and his family had to relocate from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and he has the reputation of being a good teammate. The Bucs will surely get a good recommendation from Piscitelli. Both Lewis and teammate Brandon Hughes have fans at One Buc Place, and it would not be surprising at all if Tampa Bay comes away with one of them on draft weekend.
TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY
His straight-line speed was under question, but Lewis had a good 40-yard dash at the NFL combine of 4.47 seconds. The Buccaneers are now playing man-to-man coverage schemes and Lewis is a perfect fit for it, but he will have to adjust to the speed of NFL receivers. Lewis will also need to work on his ballskills. He is adept at breaking passes up, but the Bucs would want him to intercept more throws.
SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR
Lewis did not return kicks or punts at Oregon State. He could be used on coverage units and as a blocker on kick and punt returns.
Lewis is projected to be drafted in the third round, which could be ideal for Tampa Bay.
In speaking to draftseason.com, Lewis was asked what he likes to do when he is off the field.
"I try to find a way to get better as a person and get ready for the next level," said Lewis.
Here is a highlight reel of Lewis during his time at Oregon State.
OTHER PROSPECT PROFILES