As if the East-West Shrine Game isn’t enough of an indicator that draft season has officially begun, Mel Kiper J.r’s first mock draft, which typically releases right around this time, is another give away.

In his first mock, Kiper has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting Quenton Nelson, the offensive guard out of Notre Dame.

“The Bucs couldn’t run the ball in 2017, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry and 90.6 yards per game. Was it the running backs, the offensive line or both? Nelson is a plug-and-play starter who would be an upgrade for almost every team. He’s a dominant run-blocker at 6-5, 330, who causes destruction at the point of attack. If Barkley falls a little bit, could the Bucs snag him at No. 7?”

Pass rusher Bradley Chubb, whom most Bucs fans would love to see in red and pewter, was not available for selection by the time the Bucs pick rolled round. Chubb was selected at No. 3 by the Indianapolis Colts.

“Indianapolis is in a good spot to take the best non-quarterback available, and the No. 1 pass-rusher in this class is Chubb. He has a tremendous motor and has been unblockable for two straight years. He has 46.5 tackles for loss since the beginning of the 2016 season. Chubb was the tone-setter for the Wolfpack, and coaches raved about him as a leader. The Colts ranked 31st in the league in sacks (25) this season, and Chubb is a great fit.”

Here’s how Kiper’s Top 10 looked:

1. Cleveland Browns Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

2. New York Giants Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

3. Indianapolis Colts Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

5. Denver Broncos Sam Darnold, QB, USC

6. New York Jets Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

8. Chicago Bears Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

9. San Francisco 49ers Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

10. Oakland Raiders Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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Pete Wood
3 years ago

From what I can tell the Bucs are in a great slot to grab a top three pick. The QBs snagged ahead of them are ranked so much lower than many of the available players. Chubb, Nelson, Barkley and others. This draft has so much potential. With all those QB picks in the first, I wouldn’t be surprised if a first round caliber player is still hanging around for the Bucs in the second round selection.

martinii
3 years ago

While I am a strong supporter of selecting a pass rusher at 7, Nelson would be a solid addition to our OL and run game. Certainly not a sexy pick but one that many predict will be a long term upgrade to any teams OL. Would definitely be “Best Available” at 7.

martinii
3 years ago

He would be a “Makes Sense,” pick which unfortunately the Buc’s historically avoid.

Naplesfan
3 years ago

Beefing up both lines should be the biggest focus this offseason. A great guard, a great defensive end … either is fine at no. 7. And with the depth of defensive linemen this year, the Bucs should also be able to find good line talent at pick no. 38 too.

e
e
3 years ago

The #3 spot is going to become a hot commodity for teams that need a QB. The Colts will most likely be offered a generous trade package for that position. I expect that Chubb would then drop in this mock.

nitey
Reply to  e
3 years ago

I agree, both the Colts at #3 and Cleveland at #4 will be high possibilities for a trade down if someone wants to get ahead of Denver . However, that just means that Denver will now pick someone else and I could see them taking either Chubb or even Nelson if their QB is gone. So even Nelson at #7 isn’t a sure thing. About all I can say is it’s pretty likely that 3 quarterbacks will go in the first 6 picks. What will be left is anyone’s guess.

Naplesfan
Reply to  e
3 years ago

As has been usual the last half decade or longer, there will be a mad rush to lock up first round quarterback talent by the teams who desperately need one. Which is at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the league’s teams in any given season. QB-needy teams will trade up and overpay to get the QB they think will be their savior.

Garv
3 years ago

As good a guess as any. A lot can happen between now and April 26 but one thing is pretty much guaranteed. The Buccaneers will get both a need and a BPA at their position at 7.

No downside to drafting all the non QB’s that may fall to the Bucs. Nelson would be a great addition, no doubt!

Darin
3 years ago

Definitely in a great position to trade down if someone wants a qb and theres is still there at 7. Alot of talented qbs coming out. I just hope licht stops trading up and wasting picks. Also as some stated, at 7, theyll be the top guys still there because of the run on qbs. Gota get the right guys Licht. Very curious to see how they approach free agency. Man would I love Dion Lewis and say Ziggy, maybe a guard. That would change the draft up quite a bit. This Nelson guy sure looks like the real deal… Read more »

Pete Wood
Reply to  Darin
3 years ago

Lewis would be nice. I want Isiah Crowell if the price is right.

Darin
Reply to  Pete Wood
3 years ago

Ive always been a crowell fan too. I wouldnt have a problem with his signing. I would like lewis receiving ability and speed a bit more, although theres not much reason to believe he would be used properly. I do hope they address the position one way or another before the draft

macabee
3 years ago

I will be perfectly happy with OG Quenton Nelson if DE Bradley Chubb is off the board. I’ve yet to see a mock where Nelson is taken before Chubb. If both Chubb and Nelson are both there at #7, I would take Chubb because we have been so desperate for a pass rush. I know that’s drafting for a need which everybody says you shouldn’t do, but it is such a glaring need, it deserves to be considered. Last year the Bucs had the worst defense in the NFL, the worst third down percentage, worst sack total and the worst… Read more »

Darin
Reply to  macabee
3 years ago

No doubt defense should be the first priority mac. Just tired of the “reaching”, trading picks to move up as if theyre one player away. A good ground game sure would help the defense too. Im good with either Oline or Dline, but anything else would be far fetched if u ask me. Especially with the same staff coming back. Also, we shouldnt get locked in on one guy, like chubb. Great player and motor but theres a few others who could have better careers. Could being keyword. Thats why licht n his boys get the big bucks, theyd better… Read more »

macabee
Reply to  Darin
3 years ago

I agree Darin. Myles Garrett was hampered by injuries his first year and we all know how long it took Clowney to get going. We haven’t had the Senior Bowl (if they play) or the Combine yet. Teams have to have private meetings and workouts. Everything can change. Like you said, best to let the FO guys figure it out. Careers are riding on this year’s decisions and performance.

Tighe Fighter
3 years ago

My personal opinion, Chubb may not be there at 7. But the Colts really need to address their offensive line at #3 or their franchise quarterback is going to be on IR again.

Horse
3 years ago

I just don’t see the importance of an offensive guard being picked at spot 7. If we were just one need away that would be great, but we aren’t. Again Licht told us the team greatest needs, DE RB. Where has the GM or the Head Coach stated would pick an offensive guard at spot 7? All I heard before was Licht said our needs are defensive end and running back.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

Horse – with all due respect, the team ranked 27th in the league in rushing, and 19th in the league in sacks allowed. There’s serious need for improvement on the offensive line.

It takes effective line play on both sides of the ball to win. The ultimate bottom line for both offenses and defenses is points for and against. The Bucs in 2017 had the 22 ranked defense in points allowed, and the 18th ranked offense in points scored. Neither is good enough to make a playoff run.

Garv
3 years ago

Don’t forget, there are plenty who mock Kiper as well.

surferdudes
3 years ago

Can’t go wrong with Chubb, or Nelson, we’re in a good spot. Nelson would help our defense. If you can run the ball, you keep the ball away from the other teams offense. Running the ball keeps your D fresh. Keys to winning football. Get to the other teams passer, protect your own Q.B., stop the run, be able to run the ball. Both players would be a step in the right direction.

Horse
Reply to  surferdudes
3 years ago

surferdudes, I don’t think that works when you are last in a pass rush.

Bucsfan1983
3 years ago

If Chubb is off the board at 7, I’m hoping Barkley or Fitzpatrick fell. If all 3 off the board at 7, I’m taking Derwin James.

matador
3 years ago

You’re both right because this is not a one (more) year turnaround. Licht neglected the lines long enough that it’ll take a couple of years and drafts to really fix them. Maybe we get lucky with a FA or two but for the most part teams are too smart to part with top flight lineman.

Pit of misery
3 years ago

Hopefully there’s not a kicker they like it 7 LOL

GoldsonAges
3 years ago

It would be extremely rare that a guard would be worthy of a top-10 pick, especially a “phone booth player” such as Nelson.

Connor Williams OT Texas is the only OL I would look at with our 1st pick. Sign Andrew Norwell in free agency. He is physically gifted unlike Nelson and is already a top-5 guard. Nelson doesnt have the athleticism to EVER be that good.

You can get a “phone booth guard” in round 3. Nelson is the best of the physically limited guards, and NOT worth drafting at No.7. This is truly a misguided idea

Bucsfan1983
Reply to  GoldsonAges
3 years ago

IDK, I’m going to have to see Williams weight at the Combine. I have seen different weight listed for him, some at 300, some at 305 and have even seen some mocks listing him at 290, 295. I don’t want a Tackle under 300, especially with a 1st round pick.

I think their are two O Lineman worthy of a 1st round pick, but not in top 10-15, both out of Notre Dame Nelson and McClinchey.

Darin
Reply to  GoldsonAges
3 years ago

Phone booth player? Daniel Jeremiah whom I respect quite a bit says he is the best interior lineman to come out in many years. He has him going before the bucs pick at 7, and Ive seen him go as high as 3. Of course its way too early to put stock in mock but the guy is a stud. If he came in and changed the whole attitude of the line and was a pro bowler every year Id say thats a great pick. Not a misguided idea at all. 9 of the top 10 rushing teams in the… Read more »

David DeLeon
3 years ago

I wouldn’t mind jumping up to #4 pick from Cleveland to get Barkley, then OT 2 nd round, DE FA.