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.
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.
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.
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