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Pewter Report has come up with its final seven-round mock draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Our Bucs’ Best Bets in Pewter Report’s Bucs Draft Preview still hold true, but this mock draft has the team missing on several players it would ideally like to get on its roster – which is closer to the reality of what takes place in the NFL Draft. You don’t always get what you want on draft day, but if Tampa Bay’s 2006 draft turns out like this general manager Bruce Allen, head coach Jon Gruden and draft honchos Ruston Webster and Dennis Hickey should be pretty pleased.

1. USC G Deuce Lutui
Lutui blasted holes open for Reggie Bush and LenDale White – two 1,000-yard rushers at USC last year. The massive, 6-foot-4, 330-pound guard could immediately challenge Sean Mahan for the starting right guard position and earn playing time as a rookie. Lutui is not only a pile-mover at the line of scrimmage, he also has the speed and ability to get downfield to the second and third levels where he could spring Cadillac Williams for extra yardage on traps and pulls. Lutui has great charisma and will fit in nicely in Tampa Bay’s locker room. While guard isn’t a flashy pick in the first round, the Bucs wouldn’t get the same early returns if they used their first-round pick on cornerback, defensive end or linebacker given the proven depth and talent Tampa Bay has at those positions.

Other considerations: The Bucs are interested in N.C. State DE Manny Lawson, South Carolina CB Jonathan Joseph, Clemson CB Tye Hill, and possibly USC OT Winston Justice and C Nick Mangold, too.

If Tampa Bay is seriously considering trading for Denver wide receiver Ashley Lelie, then it won’t spend a second-round pick on a receiver like Jennings. Although the Buccaneers would prefer to have a bigger target like the 6-foot-4 Maurice Stovall, there is a strong chance that he’ll be off the draft board by the time the Bucs pick in the second round. Jennings is a highly consistent and productive player who caught 98 passes for 1,259 yards (12.8 avg.) and 14 touchdowns as a senior, 74 balls for 1,092 (14.8 yards and 11 TDs as a junior, and 56 passes for 1,050 yards (18.8 avg.) and 14 scores as a sophomore. With a 4.46 time in the 40-yard dash and career touchdown catches of 94, 89 and 74 yards, Jennings has the speed to be a big-time playmaker. He also averaged 14.8 yards per punt return as a junior and had touchdowns covering 93 and 53 yards. At 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, Jennings is compactly built and his quickness is ideal for Jon Gruden’s West Coast offense. He is a polished route runner who shined at the East-West Shrine Game in the post-season.

Other considerations: Tampa Bay could go for an offensive tackle like Boise State’s Daryn Colledge or Auburn’s Marcus McNeill, or the Bucs could take a shot at Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano if he is still on the draft board. Should Tampa Bay want to go defense with this pick, Virginia Tech defensive end Darryl Tapp, N.C. State defensive tackle John McCargo or Fresno State cornerback Richard Marshall will be targeted.

3. PENN STATE CB Alan Zemaitis
Zemaitas is a physical, playmaking cornerback who thrives in zone coverage and would be an excellent fit in the Tampa 2. As a senior, he led the Nittany Lions with six interceptions and 10 pass breakups and two fumble recoveries for 51 yards for a pair of touchdowns. Zemaitis is a physical defender against the run and forced two fumbles while logging 51 tackles last year. Zemaitis was slowed by injuries as a junior and recorded only two picks, but he did post a career-high 71 tackles and 18 pass-breakups as a sophomore in 2003. He also returned four interceptions 207 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown. Zemaitis, who possesses great leadership ability, ran his 40-yard dash time in the 4.6s during his pro day, which will cause his draft stock to slip a bit. The Bucs have typically mined the third round for corners (Donnie Abraham, Ronde Barber and Dwight Smith) and could do the same on Saturday.

Other considerations: The Bucs would love for troubled LSU DT Claude Wroten to slide into the third round. Tampa Bay could also be interested in taking Boston College offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood, Tennessee DE Parys Haralson or even Georgia CB DeMario Minter if he is still available.

The Buccaneers brought Manning in for a workout prior to the draft because he played football at such a small school. But Manning, a junior entry, is a big-time defensive back that could play safety or cornerback and returns kicks and punts. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder is blessed with 4.48 speed. In 2005, Manning produced 49 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, one sack, one fumble recovery, and he blocked three kicks. He also returned 19 punts for 243 yards (12.8 avg.) and scored on a 59-yard return. Manning also returned 13 kick returns for 349 yards (26.8 avg.) and had a 78-yard touchdown. In 2004, Manning had 54 tackles, two INTs, two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a TD, one forced fumble, and he blocked one kick. Manning also returned 15 punt returns for 330 yards (22.0 avg.) and scored twice, including on a 73-yard return, and returned 13 kicks for 380 yards (29.2 avg.) and a 91-yard touchdown. In 2003, Manning recorded 56 tackles, six picks, forced three fumbles, had one sack and one fumble recovery on defense while returning seven kicks 251 yards (35.8 avg.), including a 97-yard touchdown. Manning also made an impact on offense with six catches for 191 yards (31.8 avg.) and two touchdowns, including a 73-yard score. In all, Manning scored 10 TDs in his three-year career, including a school-record five on special teams returns. He has scored touchdowns on kick returns, punt returns, fumble returns, interception returns and on a pass reception. Tampa Bay likes to select safeties on day two of the draft, evidenced by the selection of Dexter Jackson, Will Allen and Donte Nicholson since 1999.

5. N.C. STATE TE T.J. Williams
Tampa Bay missed out on some of the draft’s elite tight end prospects by going with players at other positions earlier in the draft, but Williams is a steal in the fifth round. With a decent frame (6-foot-2, 256 pounds) and great speed 4.63, Williams has the ability to stretch the seam and be a weapon in the short and intermediate passing game. He led the Wolfpack with 36 catches for 407 yards (11.3 avg.) and two touchdowns last year, and has 98 career receptions for 1,617 yards and five scores. He’s a solid blocker in the running game and he’s shown steady improvement in that area.

6. MIAMI (FL) OT Rashad Butler
While it is a bit surprising to see the Buccaneers wait this long to draft a tackle, Tampa Bay has been preaching continuity along the offensive line. Right tackle Kenyatta Walker was a surprise re-signing this year, but there wasn’t much talent available in free agency. Left tackle Anthony Davis was signed to a new four-year deal, and Tampa Bay is expecting him to make a quantum leap in pass protection in 2006, especially since he reported to offseason workouts 25 pounds lighter this year. The Bucs also added swing tackle Torrin Tucker in restricted free agency from Dallas to replace Todd Steussie, and expect Chris Colmer, last year’s third-round pick, to push Walker at right tackle once he gets healthy. Adding Butler would give the Bucs an athletic developmental tackle prospect to compete at left or right tackle, which is his natural position, and push Tucker and Colmer for a roster spot.

6. AKRON WR Domenik Hixon
The Bucs need to upgrade their return game, but the multi-talented Hixon can bring more than just a guy who can field punts and kicks. 6-foot-2, 200-pound Domenik Hixon. Hixon is a smooth playmaker with speed (4.36), evidenced by his sliding, 36-yard touchdown catch against Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game with sealed the Zips’ win with 13 seconds left in regulation and send his school to its first bowl game. Hixon set Akron receiving records in 2005 with 75 catches for 1,210 yards (16.1 avg.) and eight touchdowns. This came after a junior campaign in which he posted 66 catches for 882 yards and six touchdowns. But the interesting aspect about Hixon was that he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons on the defensive side of the ball as a starting safety. In fact, Hixon led the Zips in tackles with 111 (78 solo) in 2003 with a fumble recovery and an interception. Remember that one of the qualities Jon Gruden admired in Michael Clayton was toughness and the fact that he also played some safety. Aside from the ability to play offense and defense, Hixon is also an exceptional return man, averaging 24.9 yards on kick returns and scoring a touchdown as a junior, and 23.5 yards per kick return as a senior. He also averaged 17.2 yards per punt return and scored a TD as a junior before averaging 7.7 yards returning punts in 2005.

7. USC DE Frostee Rucker
Tampa Bay has liked Rucker for some time now and has been following him since he started his college career at Colorado State where he played with Monte Kiffin’s son Chris, who was a defensive tackle, before transferring to USC. During his first two years with the Trojans, Rucker totaled 51 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks playing behind Kenechi Udeze and Shaun Cody. In 2005, Rucker emerged as a dominant force on the USC defensive line and recorded 56 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks under first-year D-line coach Jethro Franklin, who is now Tampa Bay’s defensive line coach. Rucker supposedly has great character and brings great locker room intangibles that help bolster camaraderie and team unity. Although his upside is somewhat limited, he’s a steal in the seventh round.

7. MIAMI (OH) C Todd Londot
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Londot is an athletic center that also has experience playing some right tackle. He’s a smart, heady performer who has a great wingspan and an aggressive streak. Londot, who started for 3.5 years, is probably a better pass protector than he is a run blocker because of the scheme he played in at Miami. Londot snapped for former first-round quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in college and anchored an offensive line that ranked first in the nation in scoring offense.

7. GRAMBLING QB Bruce Eugene
Eugene, who checked in at 6-foot, 257 pounds at his pro day, which was attended by Buccaneers scout and former Grambling head coach Doug Williams, who happened to recruit him, was a big-time player in the SWAC where he won Offensive Player of the Year honors, the SWAC Championship Player of the Game, the Bayou Classic MVP award, and Grambling’s Doug Williams Award. Although at first glance, Eugene might seem a bit portly at 257 pounds, but know that he has already dropped close to 40 pounds during the offseason to get into better shape for the NFL. That’s right, Eugene’s playing weight hovered close to 300 pounds last year, which earned the New Orleans native the nickname “Big Easy” and the “Round Mound of Touchdown.” He was 11-1 as a starter in 2005 with his only loss (48-7) coming to Washington State, a Pac 10 team. His overall record at Grambling was 30-8 and he threw for 13,530 yards with 133 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. The compassionate duo of Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden draft Eugene instead of signing him as a free agent because his family’s home was lost in Hurricane Katrina. The extra signing bonus money will go a long way to help Eugene’s family.

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.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for 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:
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