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All right, draftniks. You know that Pewter Report is the undisputed king of Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft coverage. We've listed players, such as quarterback Josh Freeman (2009), wide receiver Dexter Jackson (2008), offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (2008), quarterback Josh Johnson (2008), defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), linebacker Quincy Black (2007), wide receiver Maurice Stovall (2006), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (2006), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (2005), cornerback Torrie Cox (2003) – among others, at their respective positions in the Bucs' Best Bets sections of Pewter Report's annual Bucs Draft Preview.
As the 2010 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report's resident draft experts, Scott Reynolds and Charlie Campbell, have spent countless hours watching over 12 college games per week and scouting which prospects would look good wearing red and pewter next year. With over 500 college games to review dating back over the last four years and countless scouting contacts throughout the NFL, Reynolds and Campbell are armed with the inside scoop needed to put together these scouting reports on players who might fit Tampa Bay's schemes on offense and defense.
The casual football fan already has a good deal of knowledge on likely first-round draft prospects, such as Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, USC safety Taylor Mays, and Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung. These regular Pewter Insider features on PewterReport.com will scout out players that are candidates for the Buccaneers to select in next April's draft.
Will one of these players wind up being the next Ruud, Zuttah or Johnson? We'll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
MISSISSIPPI RUNNING BACK DEXTER McCLUSTER
VITAL STATS: Rebels running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster checks in at 5-foot-9, 170-pounds. McCluster is said to run the 40-yard dash in the low 4.5 range.
McCluster is one of the most explosive players in the SEC. He is a running and receiving threat that causes mismatches for defenses. The Largo, FL product broke onto the college football landscape with a stellar junior season. In 2008 he caught 44 passes for 625 yards and a touchdown. He averaged six yards per carry on 109 rushes for 655 yards and six touchdowns. As senior, McCluster is enjoying an excellent season. Up to this point he has carried the ball 82 times for 473 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He has caught 27 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns. For the Rebels McCluster has also returned punts and kicks.
WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a real deficiency when it comes to explosive players. In the backfield and at wide receiver the Bucs really don't have any home run threats. Starting running back Carnell ‘Cadillac' Williams is in the final year of his contract with Tampa Bay, and may not be back. Derrick Ward has not had the impact the Bucs envisioned when they signed him, and Earnest Graham has been moved to fullback. The move of Graham to fullback could be permanent. Graham and Ward are 29, and Williams is 27. Most running backs have a steep drop in production as they approach and eclipse 30 years of age. All of the Buccaneers backs are bigger downhill runners, and Tampa Bay does not have a speed home run threat in the backfield.
McCluster is a dynamic player that can break off a big play with any touch of the football. The ability to rip off chunks of yards on the ground, and in the air would be a welcome addition to the Tampa Bay offense. While McCluster will be a running back in the mold of Darren Sproles in the professional ranks, he will also add greatly to the Buccaneers passing attack. The explosiveness that McCluster presents on routes out of the backfield makes him an automatic mismatch against linebackers and safeties. McCluster can run routes split out wide, and is very dangerous on outside rushes attacking the perimeter of a defense.
TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY
McCluster has proven to be pretty tough in college, but holding up to the pounding of the NFL will be a challenge. If Williams is re-signed, the Bucs will have three running backs returning next season with Ward and Clifton Smith. Tampa Bay will have two fullbacks with B.J. Askew and Graham. There may not be room on the roster for McCluster.
RECORDS AND SUPERLATIVES
For the 2008 season, McCluster was a second-team All-SEC choice by the Associated Press and a third-team selection by Phil Steele. McCluster joined former Gator Percy Harvin as the only two players to rank in the top 10 in the SEC in rushing yards, receiving yards, receptions, and all-purpose yards.
HIS BIGGEST GAMES
10/31/09 at Auburn 22 carries for 186 yards rushing, 1 TD, four catches 17 yards
10/24/09 vs. Arkansas 22 carries for 123 yards rushing, 7 catches 137 yards receiving, 1 TD
1/2/09 vs. Texas Tech 14 carries for 97 yards rushing, 1 TD, six catches for 83 yards
9/20/08 vs. Vanderbilt seven carries for 44 yards, seven catches for 132 yards
10/4/08 vs. South Carolina eight carries for 40 yards, six catches for 99 yards
The success of players like Vikings receiver Harvin, Sproles, and Tennessee running back Chris Johnson could help McCluster on draft day. Some list McCluster as a running back and others as a wide receiver. The hybrid running back and receiver is becoming more prevalent in the NFL. Plus, smaller, faster running backs are growing in popularity. Still, McCluster figures to be a mid-round pick in the 3-5 range.
You can see some of McCluster in this ESPN video of college football's fastest players.
Check out this block by McCluster.