Over the three days of the draft, the Bucs selected eight players. They followed that up by signing 13 undrafted free agents. After not drafting players at linebacker or wide receiver, the Bucs made it a priority to sign multiple undrafted free agents at those positions. The team signed four linebackers and three wide receivers.
Tampa Bay bucked its usual trend at wide receiver. Forgoing their prototypical preferences, bringing in three players 5-foot-9 and under. However, the linebackers the Bucs brought in did fit their typical mold, while they also made it a point to bring in versatile defensive backs. We’ll take a look at each players scouting report below.
Geiger projects as a slot receiver in the NFL. He’s a polished route runner, with excellent short area quickness and displays the ability to separate on shorter and deeper routes. Can track the ball well and is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He is an accomplished return man as well. The biggest knock on Geiger is his size, which could inhibit his ability to get off the line in press coverage. However, besides size, Geiger has all the tools teams look for at the slot position. He finished his 2021 season with 43 receptions for 553 yards and one touchdown.
Sterns was uber-productive at Western Kentucky. He became just the third receiver since 2000 to achieve the triple crown in the FBS. That means leading the nation in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Another receiver that projects to play out of the slot, Sterns is as pure of a pass catcher as they come. He’s a savvy route runner that will get good separation despite top end speed. He can track the ball well and isn’t afraid to make catches over the middle in traffic. However, Sterns will need to get stronger and isn’t much of a blocker because of his size and lack of strength. Contact balance is an issue but he secures the ball well with zero fumbles over his career. He also provides experience as a returner. Sterns churned out an astounding 150 receptions for 1,902 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2021.
Thompkins displays impressive straight line speed to take the top off of defenses, leading the nation in both deep receptions and yards. He can create separation over the middle and despite his size can make contested catches as well. Thompkins has good ball-tracking skill and can be a weapon in the screen game. He’s also returned kicks and punts. Given his size and stature he’s not going to break many tackles, has a limited catch radius and could struggle in press coverage. Though despite his measurables the tape shows he plays much bigger than he looks and can be a dynamic player utilized properly. He finished last season racking up 102 receptions for 1,704 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Wisconsin-River Falls TE Ben Beise – RS Senior – 6-5, 255, 4.72
Beise started his career as a quarterback before making the switch to tight end. He shows good contact balance often taking more than just the first tackler to go down. Beise displays good awareness and keeps working when plays break down. He also provides some ability as a runner, especially in short yardage situations. However, he is still raw and needs to hone his skills to win consistently. Beise was an AFCA All-American finished his 2021 season with 38 receptions, 358 yards, and one touchdown. While compiling 93 rushing yards and four scores. He was one of four Bucs undrafted free agents to get a signing bonus, receiving $4,000.
Ball State OL Curtis Blackwell – RS Senior – 6-5, 302, 5.29
A tackle in college, Blackwell could also play guard at the next level. He displays a strong anchor and can climb to the second level well. Blackwell mirrors interior rushers well and has good awareness. However he’s not incredibly athletic and his technique is very raw. He’ll also need to show better consistency in hand placement.
A former quarterback, Cook bulked up and finished his career as a tackle. He displays excellent athleticism and has a nasty demeanor. He’s a strong run blocker, but will need to refine his technique as a pass protector. He’ll need to get stronger and will benefit from an NFL strength and conditioning program. A jump in competition could be an issue as well. Cook made 23 starts at tackle during his time at Montana.
Memphis LB JJ Russell – Senior – 6-0, 227, 4.70
Bucs LB J.J. Russell – Photo by: USA Today
Russell has a good motor and strong play recognition skills. He’s good in zone coverage and aggressive run defender. However, He’ll struggle to get off blocks and will take bad angles to the ball carrier. He also lacks ideal NFL speed. Russell racked up an AAC-leading 123 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and five sacks last season.
Olakunle displays excellent read and reaction skills and plays faster than his timed speed. He can shed blocks, is a sound tackler, and has good awareness. He was a team captain at Rutgers under former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano. However, Olakunle doesn’t have the most fluid hips in coverage and can be over-aggressive and out run plays. He can be caught looking in the backfield, thus is susceptible to being moved out of position. Lack of athleticism and speed are concerns to his success as well. Olakunle finished his senior year with 85 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.
Old Dominion LB Jordan Young – RS Senior – 6-1, 238, 4.83
Young is a disciplined linebacker and doesn’t usually get moved out of position easily by the quarterbacks eyes. He has a high football IQ and displays good read and react skills. Young has just average speed and can be out-positioned by blockers. He’ll need to use better technique and work on fundamentals to have a chance to succeed at the next level. Young racked up 104 tackles, two forced fumbles and four sacks last season for the Monarchs.
Arkansas State OLB Joe “JoJo” Ozougwu – RS Senior – 6-1, 228, 4.82
Ogzougwu has an explosive first step and utilizes an array of rush moves to get to the quarterback. He locates the ball well and displays good ability to get off blocks to make the tackles. However he is undersized as an every down edge defender, and will need to get stronger. He can get tied up by bigger blockers but uses active hands to try and break free. Ozougwu played three season with Bucs receiver Jaelon Darden at North Texas before transferring his final season to Arkansas State. Ozougwu ended last season with 56 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble. He was also named the team’s MVP.
UNC CB Kyler McMichael – Junior – 6-0, 202, 4.48
A college corner, McMichael could also play safety for the Bucs, and has experience in both man and zone coverage schemes. He closes to the action quick and is aggressive in the run game, especially in the box. The former Tar Heel has plenty of upside to work with and displays good coverage awareness and instincts. McMichael will need to improve his decision making as a tackler, often going for a big hit instead of wrapping up. He shows inconsistency getting off blocks and will open his hips early allowing him to get turned around in coverage. McMichael finished his career with 44 tackles, seven pass deflections, and one interception. McMichael received the highest guaranteed money of any of the Bucs undrafted free agents. He received $130,000 in guaranteed money – $100,000 of his base salary guaranteed with a $30,000 signing bonus.
South Dakota State CB Don Gardner – RS Senior- 6-0, 189, 4.46
Gardner is another physical corner that plays downhill in run support and enjoys playing in the box. He’s got good size and speed and tackling ability. Gardner will need to get stronger and will face a much better level of competition. He’ll need to show out on special teams to have a chance to crack the Bucs roster. Gardner was an All-American in 2021 and closed out his career with 133 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions and 20 pass deflections. The Bucs gave Gardner a $10,000 signing bonus.
Nolan displays excellent athleticism and and has versatility to play multiple positions in the defensive backfield. He’s a strong finisher and is aggressive in the run game with his physicality and hit power. He shows good ball skills, technique, and awareness. Nolan tends to play a bit high in his back pedal and can be inconsistent getting off blocks. He will need to get stronger and can get pushed around in the traffic. A two-year captain, Turner racked up 259 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, 27 pass deflections and seven interceptions over his career. He’ll also be an immediate factor on special teams, where he logged over 700 snaps in college. The Bucs are high on Turner’s potential and he received a $15,000 signing bonus from the Bucs.
J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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