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This is not necessarily a list of who the best players were at the Senior Bowl, rather a list of players the Bucs scouts and coaches appeared to be very interested in according to Pewter Report’s observations. The players are grouped by position and are in no particular order. With the Bucs staff in charge of coaching the South squad, naturally there are more South players on this list than there are North players.
SOUTH QB JASON CAMPBELL (Auburn) Played in a West Coast offense at Auburn, so he was a natural fit in Jon Gruden’s system this week. Was clearly the best of all the quarterbacks in Mobile, although Purdue’s Kyle Orton has the chance to be drafted ahead of him. He has a great, calm demeanor, good accuracy and pocket awareness. If Tampa Bay was going to draft a signal caller from this game, Campbell would be the one.
SOUTH RB CARNELL “CADILLAC” WILLIAMS (Auburn) Williams had a great week of practice in Mobile, although he hardly played in the Senior Bowl game due to back spasms. He showed the ability to catch the ball, which was a question mark, and thoroughly impressed the Buccaneers. But with so much hype and publicity regarding Tampa Bay’s public love for Williams, is it a pre-draft smokescreen? Williams is a good player, but is he the fifth-best player in the draft?
NORTH WR MARK CLAYTON (Oklahoma) Was the best wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. Had a sensational week in Mobile and solidified his first-round status. Didn’t drop a catchable pass this week and ran crisp routes. Was a real playmaker with a variety of moves. Is a very polished receiver who dazzled the Bucs coaches and scouts who interviewed him and watched the North practice. If Tampa Bay were to trade down in the first round, Clayton could be a target.
SOUTH WR REGGIE BROWN (Georgia) Was consistent and had a good week for the Bucs coaching staff. Brown likes to pluck the ball out the air away from his body. He has good acceleration off the line and can create separation. If there was a “sleeper” wide receiver in Mobile, it may have been Brown.
SOUTH WR FRED GIBSON (Georgia) Gibson answered questions about his lack of focus and somewhat shaky hands by having a great week in Mobile. The 6-foot-4 Gibson displayed great concentration and a knack for making extra yardage after the catch. He showed a lot of desire during practices and really improved his stock. Both Georgia wide receivers impressed the Bucs.
SOUTH WR MATT JONES (Arkansas) Jones showed he can catch the ball and displayed amazing athletic ability all week, which is critical for his NFL chances. While he lacks acceleration off the line of scrimmage, at 6-foot-6 and 237 pounds he is a force to be reckoned with outside, although his true calling may be at tight end at the next level. Jones, a former QB, needs to learn how to block and be physical. He really impressed the Bucs, but he’s a bit of a project.
NORTH WR CRAIG BRAGG (UCLA) Bragg showed his smooth, fast ways in Mobile and upped his stock. He consistently got open and made some big catches. His route-running needs some work, but he has the acceleration and quickness necessary to create some separation. The fact that Bragg can also be a return man improves his draft status, according to Bucs scouts.
NORTH WR VINCENT JACKSON (Northern Colorado) Is an intriguing prospect due to his mix of size and speed. At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, he presents big-time matchup problems for cornerbacks. He dominated Division I-AA and showed he could compete against Division I-A, NFL-caliber talent. Jackson had a good interview with the Bucs and may be even more of a threat at tight end at the next level.
NORTH TE ALEX SMITH (Stanford) He was the best tight end at the Senior Bowl. Smith has good size, great hands and superb athletic ability. He is a fluid playmaker who was consistent all week in practice. Smith can really get downfield and be a vertical threat down the seam. His blocking has improved since his junior season and he seems more passionate about it. He also played well on special teams.
SOUTH TE CODY McCARTY (TCU) McCarty was a bit of a sleeper this week. He didn’t get much publicity or attention, but made the most of his opportunities. All he did was produce when called upon. McCarty is a good blocker who showed the ability to get out in routes and catch the ball, too. He also showed he has decent hands.
SOUTH G LOGAN MANKINS (Fresno State) Mankins is a versatile offensive lineman who played left tackle in college, but is better suited for left guard at the next level. The Bucs love his toughness and his attitude. He is a cross between a mauler and technician. If he’s still around in the fourth round, he could very well be a Buccaneer.
SOUTH G MARCUS JOHNSON (Ole Miss) This versatile offensive lineman made a smooth transition from tackle to guard at the Senior Bowl. He showed off his athleticism in pass protection and his physical nature and strength in run blocking drills. While he only had a fair Senior Bowl game, he did practice well during the week and earned a lot of praise from the Bucs coaches.
SOUTH G EVAN MATHIS (Alabama) Was a bit of an afterthought initially, but really showed the Bucs that he could play. Has good toughness and tenacity and surprised some scouts with his effectiveness. Mathis has a tenacious style and anchors well in pass protection.
NORTH DE MATT ROTH (Iowa) Tampa Bay loves Roth, who figures to be a mid- to late first-round pick due to a great Senior Bowl week. Roth plays with a high motor and has great instincts and quickness. He packs a good punch and can really get a right tackle moving backward before he gets into his pass pro set. The key to Roth’s game is that plays with tremendous pad level.
SOUTH DE MARCUS SPEARS (LSU) He had a great week and really impressed the Bucs coaches with his maturity, quickness, athleticism and work ethic. Tampa Bay defensive line coach Monte Kiffin wanted to see him play inside in pass rushing situations and he excelled in those drills. He rushes hard and strong off the left side on every down. If Tampa Bay trades down in the first round, or up from the second round, Spears could be a target. He would be an ideal replacement for Greg Spires should Spires leave via free agency. The only knock on him is his short arms.
SOUTH DT MIKE PATTERSON (USC) Patterson dominated virtually every snap at the Senior Bowl with his exceptional quickness and agility. Although he is short, 5-foot-11, he uses his lack of height as an advantage because he plays with great pad level. Patterson uses his hands well and would be an ideal player at the three-technique or the one-technique, although he is better suited at the one (nose tackle). Defensive line coach Monte Kiffin fell in love with Patterson in Mobile and, as Pewter Report has been saying for months, he is on the Bucs’ target list.
SOUTH DT SHAUN CODY (USC) Cody doesn’t look overly athletic, but he is and made a good impression in Mobile. While he didn’t dominate like Patterson, his college teammate at USC, Cody had a good week and solidified his status as a late first-round pick. The Bucs coaches came away from the Senior Bowl admiring him even more.
NORTH DT JONATHAN BABINEAUX (Iowa) Behind Patterson, Babineaux was probably the second-best three-technique under tackle in Mobile. He has great quickness and tenacity and flourishes as a pass rusher. Is sound against the run, but at 276 pounds got overpowered on double teams at times. Still, he has a high motor and can be very disruptive. If Tampa Bay misses out on Patterson in the second round, Babineaux may be targeted.
SOUTH LB LeROY HILL (Clemson) If the Bucs draft a linebacker in April, and it is Pewter Report’s opinion that they will, Hill may very well be that player. Bucs coaches fell hard for Hill who has tremendous instincts and is a solid tackler. He also showed that he could drop into coverage and make plays downfield. Remember Hill’s name come draft day.
NORTH LB KIRK MORRISON (San Diego State) The knock on him was lateral movement coming into the Senior Bowl, but he showed some good agility and the ability to play in space. Morrison had a great game in the actual Senior Bowl contest, where he played outside linebacker and showed a nose for the ball. The Bucs will likely take note of that.
SOUTH LB CORNELIUS WORTHAM (Alabama) Like Hill, Wortham is a bit of a “sleeper” and definitely a name to remember come April 24, which is the second day of the draft. Wortham showed the ability to play pass coverage as well as be a force against the run. He took to Joe Barry’s coaching extremely well and drew a lot of praise. By the end of the week, his name was buzzing amongst the Bucs.
SOUTH DB TRAVIS DANIELS (LSU) Opened some eyes with his ability to play cornerback and safety. His versatility reminded some Bucs coaches of Dwight Smith in that regard. Daniels had a good week and drew some high praise from Tampa Bay’s coaches on occasion during the Senior Bowl practices.
SOUTH CB BRYANT McFADDEN (Florida State) Madden is a physical corner in the mold of a Buccaneer. He played in a similar scheme at Florida State and has the ability to support the run with his big-hitting style. His hands need some work, but he excels in zone coverage schemes and can make plays on the ball with his good anticipation.
SOUTH S JUNIOR ROSEGREEN (Auburn) Some NFL scouts have questioned his intelligence and he may not score well on his Wonderlic, but he has football smarts and good instincts. Rosegreen had some monster practices and the Bucs coaches really fell in love with this big-time hitter, whose game resembles Dexter Jackson’s – only more physical. Tampa Bay will be waiting for him on the second day of the draft.
NORTH K MIKE NUGENT (Ohio State) He had a great week in Mobile to cap off a fantastic career for the Buckeyes. Nugent is a confident kicker with great accuracy on field goals and great depth on his kickoffs. The Bucs absolutely love this kid, but they are not alone. The problem with Tampa Bay is that he probably isn’t worth the Bucs’ 36th overall pick, but he definitely is a second-rounder. He won’t be there at the top of the third round when the Bucs select again. If Tampa Bay wants Nugent they’ll have to do some maneuvering to get him.
SOUTH P DUSTIN COLQUITT (Tennessee) We heard this week that the Bucs fell in love with Colquitt, but he is slated to be drafted in the second or third round. If the Bucs trade down in the first or second round and pick up another third-rounder, they could snag Colquitt, who has a booming leg and great hang time. The Tennessee product had a tremendous week at the Senior Bowl and really wowed the scouts.
Alabama left tackle Wesley Britt and UAB wide receiver Roddy White were impressive and it appeared as if the Bucs coaches and scouts were paying extra attention to these players before they got hurt in practice. Britt fractured a fibula and White pulled a hamstring. This story is intended to be read by Pewter Insider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. Be sure to read the latest issue of Pewter Report on-line in PDF format on PewterReport.com. Buccaneers merchandise in the world.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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 protected]
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