The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.

Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.

Question: I’d also like to know what your thoughts on Florida State’s Jacob Pugh calling out the void in leadership after FSU’s 2-5 start and Derwin James now being hailed as a great leader, it doesn’t add up?

Answer: The Seminoles 2017 season derailed off the tracks in the season opener against the Crimson Tide when they lost their quarterback for the season to a knee injury. And it just kept rolling downhill from that point. I don’t know if legendary WWII General Patton could have given that Seminoles squad the leadership needed to turn things around after that. There were also things going on behind the scenes, between head coach Jimbo Fisher and the administration that certainly didn’t help morale either. With that said, the Seminoles were somewhat void of the locker room leadership that players like Demarcus Walker and Dalvin Cook provided the year before.

I have heard a couple different takes on James’ leadership. One writer who covers the Noles told me at the pro day at FSU that James isn’t a “get-in-your-face” type of leader that a guy like Jalen Ramsey or Jameis Winston were. But he also told me James was well respected and did his leading in practice and throughout the week more so my example. James told me directly he can be both types. And Ramsey, who was also at the pro day to observe, said the same thing.

And we have also heard, regardless, the Bucs like what James would bring to the team in terms of leadership. The love the “alpha-male” personality that James possesses and thinks he would fit in nicely inside the Bucs locker room and also on the field. Is it enough to take him at No. 7? We will know in a couple weeks. But much depends on how the first six picks go ahead of them.

Question: When and what CB do you draft, if you were Jason Licht, as it stands with the picks we have? I like CB Mike Hughes 2nd round.

Answer: There is no definitive answer for me if I were Licht, or even for Licht at this point. The unpredictability of the draft can change your best intentions. Most would have expected the Bucs to address the pass rush early last year and also running back and cornerback. But the way things fell, they took a tight end, linebacker, safety and receiver early on. I do believe they will end up drafting at least one, if not two cornerbacks, but at what point is still up in the air and a question even the Bucs don’t have an answer for.

Scott Reynolds addressed that question in last Friday’s SR’s Fab 5, and thinks it could happen in the second round. In his article he also offered up who and also some potential later round possibilities. I will say I am not as high on Denzel Ward as some, and don’t expect the Bucs to draft him, at least not at No. 7. Perhaps if they end up trading back, and if Ward slips a little, then you could see him as a Buccaneer.

Hughes is an interesting prospect but is still raw having only played two years and starting just one. He doesn’t have ideal size but is as physical of a cornerback as there is in the draft. He also could help a team out as a return man as he develops his skills to compete in the NFL. He is projected as .a second rounder but could sneak into the late first round with the Vikings reported to be high on him.

Question: How much dead money/equity do they have in Will Gholston contract as well as Chris Conte, Jacquizz Rodger, Demar Dotson? I love Dotson but we have to pass that torch eventually to Caleb Benenoch.

Answer: Other than Gholston, very little. Gholston’s 2018 $6.5 million is fully guaranteed it appears and the only other money on that would be on the books for the players you named is $125,000 of Conte’s $3 million. With that said, I think all four are a virtual lock to make the Bucs roster in 2018. There is no way the Bucs dump Gholston, and other than an injury to the others, they all most likely start the season as Buccaneers. Dotson’s $4.6 million in 2o18 is a bargain for a starting tackle and Rodgers is a dependable backup that also isn’t breaking the bank. 2019 could be a different story, but for now I like the chances they all make the team.

Question: Why do so many mocks pair us with Minkah Fitzpatrick? Is he even a fit here?

Answer: Oh he is a fit here without question, from a talent standpoint anyway, but from what we have gathered, the Bucs see him strictly as a safety and I don’t know that they see his value being enough to draft him at No. 7. They see a first round talent for sure, just maybe not Top 10.

One person who does, and recently went to bat for Fitzpatrick is Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.

“You always see an upbeat, positive, pleasant guy to be around,” Saban said. “When you’re in a room with him, you feel upbeat, positive, pleasant. He has a wonderful personality. . . . You will not find a better person. The guy’s got tremendous character. He was never in my office once for doing the wrong thing. He’s very responsible. He’s a good citizen, a good leader.”

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

53 COMMENTS

  1. I think we’re all kind of spinning our wheels with this analysis. Great Mailbag as usual, but everybody just wants the draft to hurry up and arrive. It’s worse than waiting for Christmas when we were kids.
    This is the most up in the air draft that I can remember. We probably won’t have a clear idea of the Bucs first round until the last possible minute. I think we have a fifty fifty chance of trading down, but more than likely no offer to trade down will be communicated until after the sixth pick is done.
    Pretty fun to speculate, though.
    I really hope we trade down. Bills, Pats, Cardinals, start bidding for number seven!

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  2. Sign Eric Reid and we don’t need Derwin James or any other safety in this draft! This is an insanely good draft at Running back, Defensive Tackle, Offensive Guard, and Corner, which coincidentally happen to be our most pressing needs outside side of the obvious one, pass rusher.

    If we draft James at #7 over all while a Proven, probowl caliber safety who is every bit as Athletic as James, is just sitting out there waiting to be signed, it will be a sign of terrible things to come for this regime.

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    • On board with signing a vet S as well, whether it be Reid, Boston, Vaccaro or Branch. Seems the Bucs might be wanting to grab a young S to groom alongside Evans, so think they’ll wait until after the draft to address the position depending on how the draft goes.

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      • Reid IS young. He’s only 26.

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        • Understand, but think he’s more of a fall back option at this point. The Bucs only have $12M in salary cap space, so they’re going to be judicious in how they use it. If they get James, no need for Reid. If they grab a G in the 1st two rounds, have to think Sweezy is gone. Which frees up $6.5M, if he’s designated a post-June 1st cut, which could be used on a FA safety after the draft. Lots of moving parts at this point.

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          • I just feel we would be far better off signing a proven starter to shore up the safety position and then that frees us up to also get a top prospect at 2 additional positions with our 1st and 2nd round picks.

            My position would be different if we had signed a veteran #2 corner already, but we haven’t.

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    • I’m sorry. Eric Reid is no Derwin James. He’s not even close to being the same player. lol Don’t get me wrong, he’s a really good safety, but he can’t do the things James CAN do. Derwin James is THE prototype safety.

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      • I am interested to understand what you mean when you say they aren’t even close to being the same player, because they look pretty similar to me.

        Physically, they were very comparable coming out. This is their combine data:

        Reid: 6’1″, 213 lbs, 4.53 40 YD, 40.5″ Vert, 134.0″ Broad.
        James: 6’2″, 215 lbs, 4.47 40 YD, 40″ Vert, 132.0″ Broad.

        Both were big, physical safeties. They moved James around more at FSU, but I don’t see a lot of NFL teams do that. The Cardinals, Redskins, and Jets have played with a Safety that acts like a rover type LB in recent years, but Tampa doesn’t do that. James had more sacks (4.5 to 0 ) in college, but Reid had more picks (6 to 3, albeit in more starts). Both were high recruits who played at elite college programs. I think it is fair to say that James is a better prospect given that he is a consensus round top 10-12 pick. But Reid went 18th. Frankly, I wonder if James gets a little boost because Jalen Ramsey has turned out to be such a stud.

        Anyway, I don’t think Reid will get big money in FA b/c he is linked to the whole Kaepernick thing. But Bucs could fill SS with Reid and fill another hole through the draft, that seems like a better result than just taking James in the first.

        However, I will admit that I did not watch a ton of either player in college. I have seen Reid play for the 49ers and I thought he looked good. I am interested in what you believe James can do that Reid can’t, because as it stands, it seems like getting Reid to play SS next to Evans seems pretty good, and filling another hole at pick 7 would net a better overall team than just taking James.

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        • Physically doesn’t mean anything. Do you know the 9ers moved him to linebacker last year? His best year was his rookie year, and it’s gone down since then. Mark Barron anyone? He’s not nearly as good in coverage as James, he also doesn’t tackle as well as James either. If he was so great he wouldn’t have become a FA.

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          • Dude they played him at linebacker on certain plays and formations due to injuries to their linebacking corps. and situational football. Not because he wasn’t getting it done at his own position. Come on now you’re just making yourself look like a silly homer.

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          • OK. So your point is that James is a better tackler and better at coverage? I will say this–James is touted in party because of his “versatility” and the fact that he played both LB and Nickle in college.

            You knock Reid, which may be fair, and compare him to Barron (who physically was pretty darn comparable to both of these guys coming out as well). Is there a chance that James is really just as likely to be like Reid and Barron too? All three were great prospects with impressive athleticism, who were physical in college? I am reluctant to take a safety that high, regardless of who it is. I will say if Fitzpatrick can “potentially” play outside CB that is a huge feather in his cap. From what I have read, it seems like Fitzpatrick grades a little higher in coverage than James. But I would be concerned about either that high.

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        • Yes, but James is proven to be a good cover man. Scroll down and check out the link I pasted. It’s a really good read. Barron on the other hand was indeed touted, however, his knock was that he wasn’t as good in coverage. Barron was an in-the-box safety through college, and for good reason. I guess there really isn’t any guarantee when drafting players, but it’s a risk worth taking. I mean, if you go back 10 years, 6 of our 1st round picks were either traded or cut from the team, something needs to change. I’d rather take my chances on a safety that’s made for today’s game than gambling on really no corners I like, (outside of Jackson) a really good running back that won’t help our defense, or someone else. I’m not on the Barkley train because we could get an effective running back in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. We don’t need Chris Conte as a starter either. I mean, that’s the whole reason why we signed TJ Ward in the first place. Well I guess it was?

          We need a game changer. We need a LEADER back there, because this team needs that. When shit wasn’t going right no one stepped up, there was no accountability, I wanted Koetter gone for that. Especially the whole Lattimore clean-out, in which Koetter was seen just trotting along not giving two shits it happened. But whatever, he’s our coach still and I hope he turns it around.

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    • The FSU bias is strong on this site I see.

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      • This is just a stupid comment. Even if the guy went to Miami, LSU, Bama, I’d still be yelling to take him.

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        • Don’t get me wrong dude, Derwin James is a good player. I objectively admit that. But what you and those who have been down voting my comments fail to admit and realize, is that by Signing Reid, we eliminate the need use a premium pick on a Safety.

          And In turn maximize the amount of improvement we can make to our team as a whole. More good players is better than less good players. Plain and simple.

          I’m waiting on a comment to be approved, but as someone else has pointed out for me, Reid and James are pretty much the exact same tier of Athlete, and Reid is already a proven commodity on the NFL level.

          Signing him is without a doubt the correct course of action.

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          • Like Reid as well, but teams won’t just overlook his protest involvement when deciding to bring him into their locker room. He stated he’s not going to kneel, but will still demonstrate in some unknown way. Believe that still scares teams, whether they admit it or not. The market for safeties as a whole has been dead this off-season, which has been really odd as well.

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          • Totally. As was Goldson. He was proven too, right? And in regards to your comment of him moving back to safety: The reason why they moved him back was because they lost Ward due to a broken arm. It should be pretty obvious if he was as good as you say, the 9ers wouldn’t have let him walk. Lynch is putting together one hell of a team. Yet, they feel better off with Ward and Tartt in the backfield. I see the games probably more than you do because I live in California. Reid is good, but he isn’t on James level. He takes bad angles and loses leverage too much. If you don’t believe me go check any 9er website. No fan over there is mad he walked. He’s not that good.

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          • We already have a player that does what Reid does. His name is Chris Conte.

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          • You continue to show your ignorance. Conte is strictly a free safety. Reid plays strong safety.

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          • Um no. Conte played Strong Safety next to Tandy and Evans. WTF are you talking about? He split time with TJ Ward

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          • *ehnt* wrong. Conte is a free safety. Literally the only time he lined up as an in the box strong safety last season was in week 5 when both Ward and Tandy were injured.

            Mike Smith constantly shuffles the safeties based on what he feels the offense will do, and when he had the whole group healthy, Conte was used alongside Evans on passing downs.
            Conte, being 6’2 203 is most certainly a free safety.

            Do you even watch Bucs games?

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          • Chris played along side Evans who is our FREE SAFETY.

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          • You clearly do not understand how Mike Smith uses safeties.

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      • No actually I do understand how he uses safeties. Chris conte came into the league as a free safety and he played it in 16 with McDougall at Strong. He played strong safety the majority of the time this year.

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        • You’re completely incorrect but At this point I don’t really care to argue with you anymore. Enjoy living in your own little world where Chris Conte is a strong safety.

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          • Watch tape from this year you tool. You’ll see he’s playing strong safety. But believe whatever you want dumbass, I could care less.

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          • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ijlme4Sj0M

            There you go. Since you’re probably too stupid to search.

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          • Again, like I already told your delusional ass, Week 5 was the only week he played SS because BOTH Ward and Tandy were injured.

            Don’t reply to me again peasant.

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          • Rigght. But before you said he was a free safety. Now it’s only week 5. Weird. He’s also listed on depth as a strong safety. LMAO

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          • Schwifty9
            Apr 10, 18 at 9:51 pm
            *ehnt* wrong. Conte is a free safety. Literally the only time he lined up as an in the box strong safety last season was in week 5 when both Ward and Tandy were injured.

            ———————————-

            Maybe work on your reading/ comprehension skills.

            Like I said, Don’t reply to me again peasant.

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          • You’re such a clown. He started at strong safety 14 games this year.

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    • If the Bucs don’t like Fitzpatrick (“Oh he is a fit here without question, from a talent standpoint anyway, but from what we have gathered, the Bucs see him strictly as a safety and I don’t know that they see his value being enough to draft him at No. 7. They see a first round talent for sure, just maybe not Top 10.”) then why would they like James?

      I don’t see James anything other than a safety as well unless they think they can convert him to corner like they are trying to do with Ryan Smith.

      So if you are panning one, you pretty have to use the same argument on the other.

      JMO.

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      • Why would they want James and not Fitzpatrick? I dunno, maybe because they drafted a guy by the name of Justin Evans last year? We don’t need two free safeties on our roster, we need a real strong safety. Not this Chris Conte shit. James is the next Troy Polamalu.

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    • Here’s a link I think you guys would be interested in reading. Really good read.

      https://www.footballoutsiders.com/futures/2018/futures-derwin-james

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      • As I have said already, I like Derwin James as a player. But why should I care about his pre injury freshmen Season? And you are not giving Eric Reid any where near enough Credit as you should be.\

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e9lxWH5HD4&t=95s

        Eric Reid is a play-maker as well. And as much as I like James, he is an unproven commodity on the pro level. Tons of players show off great stuff and college and fail to perform to those heights in the NFL. Eric Reid is a proven starter.

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        • I hear what you’re saying. I’m just not as high on Reid as you are. I don’t see someone who is much better than any other safety on our roster. He would be the best, but not by a whole lot. What’s the best way to help out a poor secondary? By getting a really good center-fielder. A chess piece to do with what you want. I’m still not convinced getting all the lineman we just got fixes all our issues. It goes a looong way, but you don’t fix last in total yards, last on third downs, last in sacks, and whatever other category we sucked in by putting in a few new pieces on a dline. JPP was a good pickup, but we basically traded our best lineman not named McCoy (McDonald) for three d lineman. Two of which weren’t even starters last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the pickups, as I was screaming for trench work in the offseason, but it didn’t fix everything. The only real corner I like is Jackson, but what does 1 corner do? A really good safety can make up for a struggling corner, not the other way around.

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    • Besides the obvious protest thing, I think it comes down to cap space for us now. Like FLBoy said, if we get a solid guard and cut Sweezy, it’ll free up more space to grab a vet safety. For now we have the time to wait and see what happens as safeties aren’t exactly flying off the shelves this year.

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      • not sure how this ended up down here, was trying to reply to Schwifty

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      • I think that Sweezy should be cut regardless. Nothing that prohibits us from signing Reid now and cutting sweezy later. And the Protest bs is a non issue for me. We are not in the position to abstain from signing good players. And he what he said was that he will no longer kneel during the anthem but will still be active in trying to make a difference. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

        Isn’t that the only problem people had was that it was during the anthem?

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        • I honestly think Sweezy is our starter come season opener. I think maybe he does a bit better with more talent on the line. If anything, we need a LT. Demar Dotson was one of the best RT’s in the league last year. I think it works best with Smith, Marpet, Jensen, Sweezey, and Dotson. Next year we are going to have to sign our OWN players to contracts.

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          • So a player who has yet to even be medically cleared to practice is our starter? Thank god you’re just a PR commenter and not our GM.

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        • I agree, the protest SHOULDN’T matter to us at this point…but we all know it does

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        • I know he’s not medically cleared yet, but I thought Koetter said he would be ready for the season?

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  3. Agree the lead up to the draft is a lot like Christmas, with a similar feeling of “what now?” once the presents are opened and the food is eaten. Unfortunately, once New Year’s Eve (OTA’s and Mini-Camp) has passed, we have to wait until Easter (Training Camp in late July) to celebrate again.

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  4. I.too, think we have a 50/50 chance to trade back in the draft. It is interesting to see that only one national outlet has this as a possibility. A couple have identified trades with Chicago but not the Bucs. I think a trade back would still allow us to meet a need with bpa and get additional pic(s). Wonder why others don’t even consider this as a possibility.

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  5. Agree with other posts we should sign best available, mid 20 something FA’s at CB or safety. Draft has depth in the trenches and RB. We still have lots of needs, if we can trade down in Rd 1, still get a Pro Bowl caliber player and add a 2nd or 3rd, I’d go for it. I’ve also been pounding the drum to trade D. Jackson if we can get a 2nd or 3rd. Offense has plenty of receiving weapons without him given how Godwin came around last season.

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  6. It’s getting crazy out there! Now wouldn’t this be rich? lol.

    https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/news/2018-nfl-mock-draft-cardinals-move-up-for-josh-allen-minkah-fitzpatrick-lands-with-patriots/

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  7. Mac, that would be something, stranger things have happened. I for one would love to see us pick Barkley. I know the arguments for not drafting a R.B. that high, save your fingers. Barkley could take this offense to a whole new level. I read in the Times Koetter was looking into running some RPO’s next year, especially in the red zone. Imagine how Barkley would draw in the defense opening up the run, pass option, Jamies is at his best outside the pocket. Winston needs a friend to hand the ball to, or check down to. Get a top guard in the second round, defense the rest of the way.

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  8. At this point, no sense following “what teams are saying.” It’s all fake news. Buccaneers are going to get a really good player whether at 7 or 12. Can’t see Licht trading back further than 12. That’s just not his style. One of the reasons that the draft is such a crap shoot is that comparison is apples to oranges (as they say). How do you compare a guard who every one says is a sure Pro Bowler with four quarterbacks each of which has flaws and will likely mean little to their teams in their rookie season? How do you rate a running back or safety who seem like sure bets but are supposed to be we can get a good one later in the draft kind of players. Do you rank relative value on what the player will be this year? If you do, you take the running back or the guard? If you consider long term, you take the defensive end or the quarterback? And, of course, there is the crap shoot of trying to project college stats to the NFL? These guys have never played against guys that run so fast and are so strong. I don’t get bent out of shape by all the “noise” about “the big three.” That’s a media construction. Barber was a fourth round selection, I believe.And he did little until year 3. John Lynch was round 3 or 4 and was better known as a baseball player coming out of Stanford. How do these players rank on “love for the game?” How do their measurables translate to the pro game?

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  9. I really like Fitzpatrick. I know he is more of a Safety than a Corner, but the fact that he can play both positions is not a negative. This guy has game. And we would be a stronger team with him. That said, I still am hoping for a trade down, and pick up a Corner, safety, Running back and Guard. We need em all and that doesn’t even fill every hole on the team.

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  10. Draft DT Vita Vea. will make secondary better. I think under rated rare talent.

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  11. IMO both James and Fitzpatrick would be good players.

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  12. Minkah Fitzpatrick or Roquan Smith will be left Bucs will not draft James because he has already made it clear he does not want to be a Buc. The best running Back in 20 years will be gone with Barkley, however, Rosen will be left and Bucs will not draft a QB and for years a common trivia question will be what team passed on Josh Rosen and people will laugh saying Bucs.

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