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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, Oklahoma G Duke Robinson and Ohio State OLB James Laurinaitis. 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, Zuttah or Johnson? We’ll all find out in April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
MISSISSIPPI WIDE RECEIVER MIKE WALLACE VITAL STATS: Ole Miss wide receiver Mike Wallace checks in at 6-foot, 189-pounds. He is extremely fast, and plans on clocking well under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine later this month. Wallace is an explosive playmaker that is a threat to score every time he touches the football. He also is a skilled kick returner that returned to kicks for touchdowns in his college career.
CREDENTIALS Wallace totaled 101 catches for 1,910 yards and an average of 18.9 yards per catch with 15 touchdowns in his college career. He averaged 23 yards per kick return for Ole Miss. Wallace is a durable player that never missed a game due to injury after becoming a starter in his junior season. In his senior year, Wallace was Ole Miss quarterback Jevon Snead’s deep threat receiver averaging 20 yards per catch. He caught 39 passes for 784 yards and seven touchdowns.
RECORDS AND SUPERLATIVES Wallace holds Ole Miss records for single-game, season and career kickoff return yards. In his collegiate career Wallace ranks second all-time in all-purpose yards for Mississippi. Wallace is third all-time in touchdown receptions and is fifth in receiving yards.
HIS BIGGEST GAMES 9/8/07 Missouri seven catches for 136 yards and one touchdown 9/15/07 at Vanderbilt four catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns 9/20/08 Vanderbilt three catches for 36 yards, 6 kick returns for 202 yards, 1 touchdown 9/6/08 at Arkansas five catches for 120 yards and one touchdown 11/22/08 Louisiana-Monroe 2 catches for 111 yards and one touchdown
WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter free agency with their two starting wide receivers hitting the open market in free agency. There is a very good chance that wide receiver Antonio Bryant will be back as Buc next season, either through a contract extension or signing a one-year tender due to being placed with the franchise tag. The starting flanker in 2008 was Michael Clayton and he will be testing the market in free agency.
Behind the starters, question marks reside with the rest of the players in the receiving corps. Do Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard have much to contribute as they advance in their 30’s? Can Maurice Stovall adapt to a new offense and breakout as a wide receiver? Will Dexter Jackson come in hungry and be able to play in the new offense?
There are only three positions that a rookie draft pick could come in and start at: quarterback, defensive line, and wide receiver. Additions to the wide outs are third in priority to the other two, but it is a critical need on the Bucs roster.
At the Senior Bowl, Wallace told Pewter Report that the three teams that have shown the most interest in him were the Bucs, the Saints, and the 49ers. That was before the Buccaneers hired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, and that move should only enhance the Bucs interest in drafting him.
Wallace has great speed and would be a perfect fit in Jagodzinski’s vertical passing attack. The New Orleans, Louisiana product had a fabulous week of practice at Mobile. Going up against future NFL cornerbacks, Wallace showed the ability to gain separation from his defender, and do it in a hurry. Those were the same traits that Wallace put on display for the SEC the past two seasons. Having a receiver with Wallace’s speed on the other side from Bryant would make it hard for defenses to play eight defenders near the line of scrimmage as either receiver could take advantage of single coverage to break a play for a touchdown in a hurry.
Wallace does have good hands and is considered to be a hard worker. He also has an engaging personality and is very high energy. Spending time with Wallace at the Senior Bowl was reminiscent of speaking with Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. Wallace also has a swagger to him, and believes that no defender can stay with him in coverage. While Wallace is a burner, he is not undersized and has had no issues with taking hits or getting injured. TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY Wallace is somewhat raw. He needs to improve his route running. At Mobile he seemed to have more difficulty with crossing routes and catching the ball while running laterally. Fortunately for Wallace and the Buccaneers, that will not be the issue that it was in previous seasons, as the Bucs no longer are running a West Coast offense.
SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR Wallace would give the Buccaneers good depth at kick returner. Tampa Bay already has Pro Bowler Clifton Smith, but if Smith were to get injured Wallace could fill in by returning kicks. DRAFT PROJECTION Wallace is slated to be a mid-round pick at this time. His strong Senior Bowl performance elevated him into the third- or fourth-round range. If he runs as fast as he anticipates at the scouting combine and in the pre-draft workouts, his stock could continue to rise. THE QUOTE “I think I’ve been doing a real good job of running my routes, showing my speed, and catching the ball,” said Wallace of his week at the Senior Bowl.