Bleacher Report NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller has debuted his 2018 7-Round NFL Mock Draft, and there are a couple of eye-opening picks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. PewterReport.com respects Miller’s work, but takes issue with several of his selections, including the Bucs’ first-round pick, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Here’s Miller’s analysis:

“The run on quarterbacks benefits the Buccaneers, as my No. 2-ranked player falls into their laps at pick No. 7. Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick is the versatile, attacking safety this defense so badly needs.

Fitzpatrick is one of the highest-graded players I’ve come across off the field. Coaches, teammates and even opponents rave about him. He’s as clean as they come, and he backs it up with excellent instincts and a high football IQ. He and Jamal Adams aren’t similar athletes, but off the field they’re like brothers. 

On the field, I’ve heard Fitzpatrick compared to Jalen Ramsey and Micah Hyde. He’s probably somewhere in the middle for me, but that still projects out to be a damn good player with the tools to rush the quarterback, stop the run, man up in coverage and be the leader of a squad.”

Fitzpatrick is a very questionable pick for a Tampa Bay team that needs to fortify its offensive and defensive line. Teams typically build championships from the front rather than from the back, and given the fact that the Bucs drafted a safety in the second round last year in Justin Evans makes it highly unlikely that they will spend another premium pick on a safety.

Miller has Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who was Tampa Bay’s pick in PewterReport.com’s initial Bucs’ 2018 7-Round Mock Draft, going eighth overall to Chicago, and would have been a better selection for the Bucs than Fitzpatrick. Miller has Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, who is the Bucs’ current first-round pick in PewterReport.com’s second Bucs’ 2018 7-Round Mock Draft, going 20th overall to Detroit.

In the second round, Miller has Tampa Bay taking LSU running back Darrius Guice, despite USC running back Ronald Jones III still on the board, in addition to UTEP guard Will Hernandez and LSU defensive end Arden Key. The oft-injured Guice is not as high on the Bucs’ draft boards as other backs, and to see the team go two rounds without addressing either the offensive or defensive line is quite a surprise.

Virginia Tech DT Tim Settle - Photo by: Getty Images

Virginia Tech DT Tim Settle – Photo by: Getty Images

The third round sees the Bucs draft Arkansas center Frank Ragnow over LSU guard Will Clapp, Miami defensive end Chad Thomas and Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis. The assumption is that Ali Marpet moves back to guard to make way for Ragnow. San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, who is Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in our most recent mock, goes at the bottom of the third round to Pittsburgh with the 92nd overall pick.

Miller has the Bucs drafting Virginia Tech defensive tackle Tim Settle in the fourth round, and that’s the first selection we can get on board with. Yet the big surprise is that with defensive end as perhaps the biggest need on the team, Miller has yet to give Tampa Bay an edge rusher.

The fifth round sees the Bucs address the cornerback position with Alabama’s Levi Wallace. While cornerback is a position of need in Tampa Bay, this is another surprise as Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor is still on the board in the fifth round and would be a much better selection.

Tampa Bay ends the draft with two picks in the sixth round. Miller has the Bucs taking Wake Forest safety Jessie Bates with their original pick, and finishing the draft selecting Kansas State wide receiver and kick returner Byron Pringle, who is originally from Tampa. The Bucs’ original pick in the seventh round (197) was used on Grambling State running back Martez Carter, who would be a much better fit in Tampa Bay than Pringle, given the current depth at wide receiver, and the lack of playmakers in the backfield.

So let’s see, Miller has the Bucs drafting two safeties, a cornerback, a defensive tackle, a running back, a center and a wide receiver. Yet no defensive ends or guards?

What do you think of Tampa Bay’s draft on Bleacher Report? Leave your comments below.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
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FLBoy84
3 years ago

Have to assume he has the Bucs filling their need at DE with all those amazing FA DE’s that are going to be available. ;)

Cody
Reply to  FLBoy84
3 years ago

The draft is strong at guards and running backs. So I really think they’re going to end up paying a lot of money for Julius Peppers or Ziggy Ansah. Then take the best player available or trade back at 7.

FLBoy84
Reply to  Cody
3 years ago

Really tough seeing Detroit letting Ansah go, though he has had trouble staying healthy. Even so, there just doesn’t seem to be the depth at DE in FA or the draft where they can find a plug-and-play replacement. The Franchise tag is around $17 million for DE though, so anything is possible. If TB could add him as well as Bennett, Peppers, Okafor or maybe Ealy and grab another DE to develop in the draft then we may be able to see improvement in the pass rush next year.

BTownBucFan
3 years ago

This is why I don’t read or follow Matt Miller.

Pit of misery
3 years ago

Highly unlikely

buccaneerNW
3 years ago

Mock drafts from people who don’t closely follow the team are worthless. Everyone in the NFL knows the Bucs will be looking to add to the DL if possible.

Freeman Strickland
3 years ago

Spotrac projects the Bucs to have $56 million in cap space after setting aside the draft pool money. That is enough to add a DE like DeMarcus Lawrence from Dallas, an OG like Andrew Norwell from Carolina, and a CB like Malcolm Butler from New England. With free agent signings like these, I could really like that draft. But, last year, the Bucs passed on studs like DE Calais Campbell, OT Andrew Whitworth and CB AJ Bouye despite having the money to sign them all. So, it is hard to hope for better this year.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Freeman Strickland
3 years ago

I should just keep this comment to copy and paste it as needed…. That’s really not our effective cap room, once you consider that we will soon be extending a LOT of expensive young players. Jameis ($20-25), Evans ($15-17M), Marpet ($8-10M), and Kwon ($8Mish) alone are going to take up a TON of cap room. Something in the neighborhood of $55M, maybe more. And that’s before even getting to other guys who are likely to get extensions at lower but still considerable amounts. As little as I understand it, it appears that the team continues to think that Donovan Smith… Read more »

LordCornelius
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 years ago

Those #’s by each player/position look about right but this doesn’t take into account future cuts or the future cap room. I’d also add Sweezy to that figure – which puts us at $25+ million to spend even if we signed all those young players mentioned and spent $60 million. Next year’s cap will go up about $12 million – so that’s really $37 million if we want to be aggressive this off-season. And next year we could have cap casualties in guys like Gerald McCoy ($13 mill) / Desean Jackson ($10 mill) / or Demar Dotson ($4 mill) –… Read more »

Wausa
3 years ago

Freeman I agree the Bucs have far too many holes to not address some of them in free agency: It’s almost impossible to see DeMarcus Lawrence making it to free agency. His agent has already been quoted as saying the Cowboys are going to place the franchise tag on Lawrence if they do not get a long term deal done. However, the Panthers could let Norwell test free agency. The Panthers are not in a great position cap wise right now so if he’s available the Bucs should pounce quickly. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bucs sign the following realistic… Read more »

Dman
3 years ago

I like Scott’s first round rule of thumb – the pick should be a perennial Pro-Bowler. For that reason I like the guard from ND, who should be available at #7. If Chubb falls to us there, even better. Last time we picked a safety from ‘Bama [Baron] he was off the team in a couple years. And it would be great to pick up a couple of impact players in FA – its just that we never seem to do it. Cutting the over priced, dead wood from last year that poisoned the locker room would be a good… Read more »

surferdudes
3 years ago

No his draft doesn’t make sense to me, but does it make sense to Jason Licht? I’ve had to scratch my head hard, and often with some of the Buc’s selections the last couple of years, so this mock is as good as any! I’ll keep an open mind, but there’s an old Mel Brooks song that goes,” hope for the best, expect the worst”.

tnew
3 years ago

Listing Minkah as a Safety isn’t likely. If he comes out as a safety, I don’t see him going that high. He played a hybrid, safety, linebacker, slot corner in 2017 because Bama wanted him closer to the football and they were ok at outside corner. He played outside more in 2016. Him to the Bucs at 7 is possible if, and only if, he tests out like a Jalen Ramsey type. This means sub 4.4 and clean in all of his footwork and transitions. This will only be known at the combine. On film, he looks to have great… Read more »

Cody
Reply to  tnew
3 years ago

I totally agree with you on this one. Thank you for finally being someone else who jumps on the Minkah bandwagon with me. I don’t love the Guice pick in the second round but I don’t hate it either. I’d just prefer Arden Key or one of the OSU defensive ends if I had the choice.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  tnew
3 years ago

I’m mostly with you on Minkah. His value is obviously going to be much higher for any team that projects him as an outside CB. That said, he could still go top 7 as a safety. Several safeties over recent drafts have been valued that highly. Barron (2012), Berry (2010), and Jamal Adams (2017) were all taken 7th or higher. Two of those picks look like good decisions with which their teams will be happy long term (or, in Berry’s case, already are happy with). It’s tough, because you have to be a freakishly talented monster to be worth a… Read more »

Buc 1976
3 years ago

There could be a team or 2 that move ahead of the Bucs for a QB. So hopefully Chubb last till 7. Also Indy needs O Linemen to protect Luck.

Garv
3 years ago

I HAVE to ask… how is some “experts” MOCK (fake, not real, wild guess) draft on February 6 BEFORE the start of free agency and BEFORE even the combine “eye opening?”

ALL mock drafts are ridiculous and NONE of them turn out close to being accurate after the first few picks. In fact most of the first few picks are wrong as well.

Tis the season I guess…..

scubog
Reply to  Garv
3 years ago

Totally agree with you Garv. Mock Drafts are for entertainment purposes only and not to be considered any sort of an accurate forecast of reality. Out of the top 32 choices, the “experts” will be lucky to get 10 right. Not a great percentage. Worse if the top 5 are eliminated.

SenileSenior
3 years ago

Andrew Norwell would be a great free agent acquisition at OG. I lifted the following from 247sports. Norwell was the only offensive guard in the league to not commit a single penalty from those who played more than 500 snaps this season. Norwell, who’s been in on 903 snaps including the divisional round playoff game, has yet to get called for a false start, holding, or penalty of any kind. While some luck has undoubtedly played a role in his incredible streak, Nowell has earned a reputation for relying on proper technique and fundamentals with the ability to execute play-in… Read more »

EastEndBoy
3 years ago

Just draft in the trenches for once – good gawd man, come on Licht!

gobuxfla
3 years ago

Just ugh. Not a good draft at all as a safety that high has to be better than him. His pass coverage skills are suspect, so why draft a younger Goldson? Been there, done that. We either need Davenport from UTSA or OL depth badly. In Round 2 Guice will be gone early so take Sony Michel from GA who has better pass catching skills out of the backfield PLUS can actually block blitzers unlike Guice.

surferdudes
3 years ago

Anyone who watched the super bowl should realize it’s almost impossible to cover anybody in todays NFL. The losing team threw for 500 yards, and three touchdowns! So to use the 7th pick on a safety/ corner is a waste. The biggest play of the game was a sack, fumble, and there was only one sack out of how many passing plays? This shows the best way to win is by protecting your own Q.B., and by pressuring the opposing Q.B.. Fix the trenches!!! Drafting safeties that high is ridiculous.

76Buc
3 years ago

I think we should strictly go for Clemson DEs and Alabama safeties throughout the entire draft. Oh yeah baby!