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. Copyright 2008
Straight from the pages of the Pewter Report Draft Preview, which was mailed to subscribers and posted in PDF format on PewterReport.com this week, Pewter Report publisher Scott Reynolds unveils the latest five-round mock draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A year after drafting a defensive player in every round the Bucs address the offensive side of the ball on the first day of the 2008 NFL Draft, which will be held April 26-27.
ROUND 1 WR DONNIE AVERY HOUSTON There will be some discussion in Tampa Bay's war room if a top-flight cornerback is on the board at number 20. But the 2008 NFL Draft is loaded with talented cornerbacks into the fourth round and there just aren't as many wide receivers with the speed and playmaking ability that Avery possesses. The Bucs were breathing a sigh of relief when Avery, whose stock is on the rise, ran a 4.40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. That kept him out of the top 15 picks of the first round, even though he has clocked in the high 4.2's prior to the Combine. The Bucs might consider taking Indiana wide receiver James Hardy, who has 4.5 speed and is considerably bigger at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, but Avery's acceleration and explosiveness are rare. If Tampa Bay is looking to find an heir apparent to Joey Galloway, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound Avery is an ideal candidate. Avery had 210 receptions for 3,289 yards (15.6 avg.) and 19 touchdowns in his college career at Houston, including 91 catches for 1,456 yards and seven TDs as a senior. Avery has posted 14 games of 96 receiving yards or more for the Cougars, including a school-record 13-catch, 346-yard performance against Rice in 2007 in which he scored twice. The speedy Avery also has kick return ability, evidenced by his 100-yard TD against East Carolina last year. With clutch hands, good body control and plenty of speed, Avery is the playmaking wide receiver Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden is looking for.
ROUND 2 RB CHRIS JOHNSON EAST CAROLINA If Avery has a counterpart at another position in this draft, it is Johnson, who blazed a 4.24 time at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Johnson has all the skills Gruden is looking for in a running back, including the ability to catch the ball, which is a vital component of the West Coast offense. Johnson has 125 career catches for 1,296 yards (10.3 avg.) and 10 touchdowns, including 37 receptions for 528 yards (14.3 avg.) and six scores as a senior. But Johnson is no slouch as a running back with 2,982 yards (4.7 avg.) and 32 scores in his Pirates career running behind a mediocre offensive line. Johnson shook off a 2006 neck injury to turn in a monster season with 1,423 yards and 17 TDs on 236 carries. The 5-foot-10, 194-pound runner only fumbled once, too, and ripped off 301 yards and four touchdowns against Memphis and 223 yards and one touchdown against Boise State. Johnson is also a dangerous kick returner and has had two 100-yard touchdowns in his career. With Warrick Dunn turning 33, Michael Bennett turning 29, Earnest Graham in the final year of his deal and looking for a big contract extension and Cadillac Williams' return in question after a torn patellar tendon, drafting a playmaking running back like Johnson makes sense for the long haul and he can help out on special teams while he learns from the veterans. The Orlando, Fla. product grew up a Buccaneers fan and would love to play in Tampa Bay. The Bucs grant his wish in round two.
ROUND 3 DT DRE` MOORE MARYLAND Tampa Bay could use another young defensive tackle to develop and Moore has the quickness and power off the snap that the Bucs covet. Moore is a late bloomer who only started 13 games in his first three seasons, recording 77 tackles (nine for loss) and 4.5 sacks. The light came on during his senior season as he recorded 63 tackles (8.5 for loss), six sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception while starting every game. If Moore continues to work hard and overcome his immaturity issues, he could be a heck of an NFL player. He dominated at the Senior Bowl by bull-rushing centers and guards into the backfield. Listed at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, Moore ran a sub 5.0 40-yard dash that opened the eyes of NFL scouts. He has played in a 3-4 and a 4-3 defensive scheme and could play either under tackle due to his quickness or nose tackle due to his bulk and strength. Chris Hovan would be an ideal mentor for Moore in Tampa Bay.
ROUND 4 CB JACK WILLIAMS KENT STATE Williams has third round ability, but may slip into the fourth round due to concerns about his size (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) and durability (injured both ankles during his senior season). Yet, he is a great athlete and has NFL scouts buzzing with a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash and a 41-inch vertical jump. Williams was the Golden Flashes' second-leading tackler in 2007 with a career-high 93 stops (70 solo), 6.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Williams is always around the ball, evidenced by 25 pass breakups, 13 career interceptions (including two for touchdowns), seven forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, three sacks and one blocked punt. Williams would be an instant asset on special teams and has already proven that he can cover kicks and punts. He also has kick and punt return experience. Despite his smallish frame, Williams is big-time hitter and his play is reminiscent of former Bucs great Donnie Abraham.
ROUND 5 CB TRAE WILLIAMS SOUTH FLORIDA Tampa Bay comes back and drafts another cornerback named Williams in the fifth round. This time it's local product Trae Williams, who recorded 16 interceptions (four for touchdowns) in his USF career. Over the past two years, Williams broke up 25 passes and has excelled on special teams. At 5-foot-9, 193 pounds, Williams is big enough to defend NFL wide receivers, but there are some concerns about his lack of foot speed (4.52) that may prevent him from developing into a starter down the road. He could become a better tackler, but is physical enough for the Bucs.
*Note: Tampa Bay currently does not have a draft selection in the sixth or seventh rounds, respectively.
Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft this year? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.
LISTEN to Pewter Report's Jim Flynn each Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. on the Pewter Pulse with Dan Sileo on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal, and catch Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds each Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. on the PewterReport.com Buccaneer Blitz with Steve Duemig on WDAE 620 AM The Sports Animal
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org