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You’ve probably read through several mock drafts and listened to all of the pundits’ predictions as they pertain to the 2005 NFL Draft.

While Bucs general manager Bruce Allen, head coach Jon Gruden and his staff are much more qualified than I am, I’ve decided to use my on-line column this week to play general manager for a day, minus the pay, of course, and tell Tampa Bay fans which players I’d select with each of the Bucs’ 12 draft picks.

Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds got to do his own mock draft in our Bucs Draft Preview, now it’s my turn.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2005 NFL Draft

Round 1 (5th overall) WR Mike Williams – USC
While I have some concerns about the fact that Williams didn’t play football last year and played just two seasons collegiately, I can’t help but like his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame, impressive athleticism and the 30 touchdowns scored in two seasons with the Trojans. When Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen and what seemed like their entire entourage attended Williams’ private workout at USF, it was either because the team was trying to throw up one helluva smokescreen or it is extremely enamored with the possibility of drafting the Tampa native. Given the Bucs’ need for a starting-caliber receiver and compliment to Michael Clayton, I tend to believe it was the latter.

Round 2 (36) – TE Heath Miller – Virginia
This might be wishful thinking on my part, but if Miller, who is easily the top tight end prospect in this year’s draft, slips past the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late part of the first round, there’s an excellent chance he could fall to Tampa Bay in the second round. If it weren’t for Miller’s sports hernia injury, which he’s currently recovering from, he’d easily be a first-round pick. However, some believe the injury, which kept him from working out at the combine and holding a private workout, could cause him to drop, just as Oregon State running back Steven Jackson fell last year due to a knee ailment that some questioned. Some thought Jackson could go as high as the middle of the first round last year. Instead, he fell to the St. Louis Rams, who held the 24th pick in the first round. The Bucs, who desperately need to add another tight end to play behind and/or alongside Anthony Becht, are quietly hoping MIller (6-5, 255) falls to them in the second, and I can’t blame them.

Round 3 (71) – K Mike Nugent – Ohio State
Although they signed K Matt Bryant during the offseason, the Bucs would be taking a huge risk entering the 2005 training camp with Bryant, Jay Taylor and Todd France as their competing kickers. The Bucs have finished two straight seasons ranked dead last in field goal percentage. That said, spending a third-round pick on Nugent, who is easily the best kicker in this draft and was absolutely clutch for the Buckeyes, seems to make a lot of sense. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, either. Gruden and Allen are, after all, the same guys who were part of the Oakland regime that spent a first-round pick on Florida State K Sebastian Janikowski, and even the Bucs spent a third-round pick on kicker Martin Gramatica in 1999. While some probably think this is too high to take a kicker, I’m a little concerned that Nugent won’t make it to the top of the third round since teams like Atlanta and Minnesota could feel the need to take him at the end of the second.

Round 3 (91 – from San Diego) – RB Alvin Pearman – Virginia
This draft is much deeper at running back than it is wide receiver, which is why I’d pass on Cadillac Williams in the first round and take Mike Williams instead. There should be plenty of solid backs, including Pearman, in the third and fourth rounds. He lacks ideal speed, but Pearman is an all-around talented back who excels on special teams. Pearman has everything Gruden looks for in a back – he’s got great hands (138 career catches at Virginia), runs excellent routes as a receiver, he runs the ball well and can be counted on to effectively block out of the backfield. Pearman excelled in Al Groh’s West Coast offense, which would even help the 5-foot-9, 206-pound tailback make a smoother transition to Gruden’s complex version of the same type of offense. Although he’d be a late third-round pick, Pearman is the type of player who could step on the field and make a positive and immediate impact as a tailback and special teams ace for the Bucs.

Round 4 (107) – CB Antonio Perkins – Oklahoma
If Miller doesn’t fall to the Bucs in the second round, I would seriously consider using the second-round pick to address Tampa Bay’s need for a cornerback. But even if the Bucs wait until the fourth round to take a corner, they’ll still have a chance to land a good player. Just look at the team’s track record with cornerbacks. With the exception of CB Brian Kelly, who was a second-round pick, Ronde Barber, Dwight Smith and Donnie Abraham were all third-rounders and have had a tremendous amount of success in the Bucs’ system. Perkins (5-10, 190) could very well be a third-rounder since he picked off 11 passes and returned one for a touchdown and averaged 12.7 yards per attempt and scored a whopping eight touchdowns as a punt returner at Oklahoma. But some believe he could fall into the fourth round due to some durability issues and his need to improve as a cover corner and in run support. Bottom line is Perkins is a playmaker and could solidify Tampa Bay’s nickel cornerback position and eventually become Barber’s successor.

Round 5 (141) – S Kerry Rhodes – Louisville
With John Howell being a free agent, Dwight Smith gone, and Dexter Jackson under contract for just one year, Tampa Bay needs to add depth to its safety position, and Rhodes (6-2, 208) would certainly be able to do that while making an immediate impact on special teams. A starter at free safety in college, Rhodes excelled in man coverage and displayed great size, speed and athleticism. Rhodes is a playmaker, evidenced by his 11 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) during his career at Louisville. Rhodes needs to be more physical and learn to play effectively near the line of scrimmage, but that’s something I’m sure Bucs defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin would love to have the chance to work on with him.

Round 5 (144 – from San Diego) – G Doug Buckles – Ole Miss
Tampa Bay needs to add depth and competition to its guard position. Although he may not seriously contend for a starting job during his rookie season, Buckles (6-5, 311) has the potential to develop into a great player. Buckles isn’t great in run blocking or pass protection, but adding some bulk will go a long way in helping him improve in both areas. He has long arms and good instincts and quickness, which could make him very effective on pull assignments. Buckles would be worth a fifth-round pick.

Round 6 ( 178) – LB Leroy Hill – Clemson
Hill could go earlier on the second day, but his size (6-1, 229) could cause him to fall into the sixth round. A first-team All-ACC player and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Hill led the Tigers with 106 tackles (109 for loss) and was voted team captain. He’s a great blitzer, evidenced by his eight sacks last year. Hill has also displayed the ability to drop back into coverage — he had three picks as a junior. He’s a big-time hitter and special teams ace, which the Bucs will need most of their draft picks to be since they’ve lost several veterans who were valuable contributers in that area. While Hill played middle linebacker in college, he projects to be an outside linebacker in the pros. The Bucs are familiar with Hill, who was named Defensive MVP for the South team at Senior Bowl.

Round 6 (203 – from San Diego) – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Harvard
Fitzpatrick may not amount to anything more than a backup quarterback in the NFL, but his accuracy, intelligence, mobility and decision-making process make him a very intriguing prospect. A two-year starter at an Ivy League school, Fitzpatrick (6-2, 228) scored exceptionally high on his Wonderlic test, so picking up Gruden’s complex system shouldn’t be too difficult for him. In fact, many scouts believe his abilities make him a perfect fit for the West Coast offense. Sure, the Bucs could spend an early draft pick on a signal caller like Adrian McPherson, but Fitzpatrick could fill Tampa Bay’s need for a No. 3 quarterback.

Round 7 (178) – LB Cornelius Wortham – Alabama
He lacks experience and ideal size, but Wortham could be the perfect fit in Tampa Bay since he’s got speed, great pursuit and the ability to shed blocks at the point of attack. Wortham (6-0, 231) is still a bit raw in some areas, including lateral movement, but linebackers coach Joe Barry, who worked with Wortham at the Senior Bowl, could turn him into a starter.

Round 7 (225 from New York Giants) – DT Lynn McGruder – Oklahoma
McGruder (6-2, 305) has a good combination of size, quickness and athletic ability, but he lacks playing time. McGruder needs to improve his technique, but Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli could bring out the best in him and develop him into a quality player.

Round 7 – OT Amariah Farrow – Midwestern State (TX)
The Bucs have growing interest in Farrow, who projects to be a undrafted free agent or late-round pick. His 6-foot-5, 330-pound frame along with the fact that he has not allowed a sack in three years make him an intriguing prospect. Farrow is athletic and is adept at pulling from the right tackle position. He’s displayed good footwork and has shown power as a run blocker — he opened up holes Kay-Jay Harris (West Virginia) at the JUCO-level Garden City Community College in Kanas. Farrow needs to work on conditioning and add upper-body strength, but he reminds Pewter Report of T Anthony Davis, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent a few years ago and will challenge for a starting job this season. Farrow has the potential to follow in Davis’ footsteps.

This story is intended to be read by PewterInsider 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 Buccaneers merchandise in the world.

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