Tennessee DE Derek Barnett – Photo by: Getty Images
A couple plays here, a couple plays there. That’s how close this Tampa Bay Buccaneers team was to ending their playoff drought in the 2016 season.
Finishing the year off with a thrilling win certainly cools the burn of coming up just short, but finishing 9-7 also tells us this team isn’t far off from playing big games in January. One way they’ll surely put a heavy emphasis on in acquiring those next few key pieces is through the draft.
With the playoff picture set, here’s where every non-playoff team will be drafting.
So now we know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be drafting 19th overall. We may not know exactly who they’ll be taking, but we have a pretty good idea of what the team’s needs will be going into the draft. With those in mind, here are a handful of draft prospects Tampa should be targeting in that pick range.
Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida State
So how much will playing in a bowl game versus sitting out a bowl game really matter? We’re about to find out. Even if scouts and General Mangers thought LSU’s Leonard Fournette was the better running back prospects, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook certainly closed that gap (whatever it was) with an impressive 20-carry, 145-yard performance in the Orange Bowl.
Where these two will be drafted will set the tone for the running back class. If the tide turns and teams start taking halfbacks early this year due to the alluring talent, Cook most likely won’t be available for the Bucs. However, if a couple pass rushers and quarterbacks get over drafted, who knows?
If he’s there, it would be very hard not to take him.
Corey Davis, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
Corey Davis is a prospect that people know there’s hype around, but most likely haven’t had the chance to see for themselves. For Tampa Bay fans, that needs to change for the upcoming Cotton Bowl.
Mike Williams is my top wide receiver, but he’s a guy I don’t see slipping all the way to Tampa spot. Washington’s John Ross is also a possibility at receiver, but Alabama exposed him a bit when they finally pressed him (not many teams play press in the Pac-12, hence his big-time numbers). That leaves Davis as the obvious choice — a good choice to have. Davis is a great athlete, but it’s how he controls his athleticism that makes him worth taking. He’s a precise route runner, and an instant WR2 for this offense.
Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee
Only one player in Tennessee’s school history has ever recorded 33 sacks in a career — and no, it’s not Reggie White. It’s Derek Barnett. Barnett finished his collegiate career with one more sack than the College Football Hall of Fame — and Pro Football Hall of Fame — inductee thanks to three straight seasons with double digit sacks.
You’re going to read this a lot during draft season and beyond, but it’s a true saying: You can never have too many elite pass rushers. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith got his 4-3 defensive an edge presence it desperately needed with Noah Spence last year, but I still think the Bucs are one more pass rusher away from really taking off. A great pass rush boosts every other layer of a defense. With a plethora of talented pass rushers to chose from in this draft class, Barnett has a chance to fall to the 15-20 pick range.
Taco Charlton, Defensive End, Michigan
If they can’t get their hands on Barnett, Charlton would be my next guy in line for Tampa.
Charlton had a very nice performance in the Orange Bowl with two tackles for a loss and a sack. He’s a true 4-3 pass rushing defensive end, which bodes well for the Bucs since they don’t use the more popular stand-up pass rushers we’re seeing so much of in college football. Charlton could stand to get better in the run game, and pairing that with Spence’s struggles as a run defender could be worrisome with a first round pick. That said, if paired together, when both of those guys get the green light to collapse the pocket on both sides, well, opposing quarterbacks beware.
Ethan Pocic, C, LSU
Look, I’ve had plenty of people say this to me on Twitter, and I’m sure it’s going to continue throughout the draft process, but the Bucs just aren’t going to take an offensive tackle in the first round; they’re not. Demar Dotson and Donovan Smith are going to go into camp as the team’s tackles.
With that said, there are plenty of Bucs fan who say that offensive line help as a whole is something that still needs to be addressed. If they’re going to do that in the first round, I say it should be with LSU’s massive man in the middle, Ethan Pocic. Pocic is a 6-foot-7 center who can really move. He can pull as a lead blocker and shift anywhere in pass protection. A first round pick needs to contribute relatively soon in year one. With center Joe Hawley an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Pocic could be the day one starter in 2017.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
We absolutely need a center. Good call. We will need to move up to get Cook. Also, Walker from FSU would be a terrific pick.
Pewter Report Trevor; I think we already have one and we can use that pick for another need? Gottschalk has proven he can be the Center. He did it in Pre Season and when he filled in for Hawley in the regular season until he himself got injured. He’s quick on his feet and he has the size. What’s your thought about Gottschalk? I believe we need another DT unless Gholston isn’t resigned. I really like your Articles because we needed someone like you tossing all these thoughts out. Thank you. So glad to have you with us now.
Trevor, I like your thinking ..Ethan Pocic, C, LSU..a 6’7′ center who is an athlete…but not in round 1.
Horse: Are you aware that Gottschalk is under 300 pounds and that both Joe Hawley and Evan Smith are in the 305 range? Don’t you think if he showed he could unseat either of these two in Training Camp he would have made the 53 man roster?
Don’t know much about Pocic but a 6-7 center would be a bit odd and there’s no way we would take a center that high. I do think a more stout center is needed. Perhaps it’s Ali Marpet.
I bet he comes in heavier.
We need a S, DE, or RB.
Resign Hawley… Say what you want, but dude has a tenacity and passion that cant be coached. He will stick up for the team and throw down with any defender.
We desperately need a pass rush and some secondary that are over 5′ 10″. Did you see Benjamin just push Hargreaves out of the way on the last touchdown? We need a bigger body back there.
Having a stud center would really do wonders for this offensive line as a unit. Watching Dallas have their way with every team they face with those 5 grown men up front opened my eyes. Luckily our top needs are the strengths of this draft. Cook looks to be the next L. Bell so if he’s anywhere close you’ve got to reel him in. Center, WR, D-line after that. There’s so much talent coming back to us from the IR this off-season. So excited for what we did with so many back up players and where we’re going from here! Go Bucs!
How can you not like a guy named Taco?
As a Michigan fan, I like Charlton a lot, but I don’t think he’s quick enough to be a elite pass rusher. I’d compare him to Micheal Bennett with 6-9 sacks per year and will eventually play the run well. He WILL be a complete DE though eventually.
My first choice would be either Cook or MacCaffrey and I would still retain Martin despite his issues (but at a lessor contract value) and team them together much the way Carolina used to do with Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. You can’t have enough good running backs and having two top shelf runners should really help the offense. Then I’d go WR in the 2nd round and S/CB in the 3rd and 4th.
I’d give either Gottshalk/Josh Allen a real chance to take over C in the offseason, but still re-sign Hawley JIC.
I like the thought of McCaffery. All around back and tough. Cook will be long gone by our pick. LSU center is big and quick at 6-7. Nothing wrong with taking a starting center in first round.
The way Tandy has played I think we can take safety off the top of our need list. No one we could draft, or bring in knows this defense like Tandy. Him, and McD are more then cable back there, and their understanding of the defense has shown down the stretch. They should be better next year, don’t mess with it, draft for depth. Speaking of being prepared, Grimes was back there running routes instead of covering receivers. Dude knew what was coming every time, well done. The age less wonder comes back next year, and with Smith in the wings, Jude, and Elliott, corner isn’t such a pressing need either. If as some suggest Marpet moves to center that draft need disappears. Horse, I know you’re high on Gottchalk, I just don’t know why, think he’s a good back up at best. Sweezy the multi million dollar question mark. Should he be able to play R.G. next year Marpet to center would be possible. Running back, and wide receiver should be priorities, but I’m always for building the D line. McCoy ain’t getting any younger, and the rest of our D.T.’s, are average at best, we could use another stud up front.
In total agreement with you Surfer. Should be an interesting off-season.
Agree on al points.
Take Davis if he lasts that long if not either one will help ALOT. This draft is deep in RB’s I still think we are ok at RB if Oline improves. But Coach STOP trying to run simms up the middle!
I meant to include Taco looks long and strong.
Assuming Sweezy is healthy, why not move Marpet to Center and have Sweezy play RG? Marpet can certainly make that transition, and he’s smart enough to make the line calls.
Think about an O-Line with Marpet, Pocic and a healthy Sweezy, though. Would even boost the play of the tackles, too.
I wouldn’t even begin guessing draft choices until after the FA signing period. That will certainly affect the draft.
With Evans rookie deal over after next season, I doubt the Bucs will spend huge $$$ on a FA WR, because they’re going to have to spend it on Evans first.
Apparently the Bucs will have plenty of cap room and need to spend to at least get to the cap floor. I would think that our GM and ownership knows the team is close and might make a splash signing or two in free agency to get the team where we need to be to make a playoff push next season.
I’d lock up several Buc young guns first with that money.
I agree with Surfer, Tandy deserves a shot, and McDougle is really learning. they could be our safety tandem and reduce our need at that position. Agree defensive line must always be a priority. Read a post by macabre recently about a sleeper out of Villanova. Tanoh Kpassagnon DE. Only mac could find a stud like this. 6’6 285 and fast. Finally would like to get some poop on Sweezy. Big price, but could he be an asset in 2017. Agree it should be a fun off-season
Sorry, macabee, dam auto correct.
Pocic at center. Gottschalk as a swing center/guard, thank Hawley for his gutty performance and give Pamphile EVERY opportunity to unseat Demar “Flags” Dotson. Go Bucs!
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