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In the March 2008 issue of Pewter Report, Scott Reynolds debuts his first Buccaneers 5-round mock draft in the article called “Speed Kills – Buccaneers Can Find Fast Playmakers In 2008 Draft.”
This issue was literally at the printer when the Bucs signed running back Warrick Dunn and wide receiver Antonio Bryant, which is why neither player is mentioned in the mock draft. The same could be said of defensive end Marques Douglas and cornerback Eugene Wilson, who were signed last week. However, their addition to the Buccaneers does not change Pewter Report’s current projection for Tampa Bay.
ROUND 1 – CB DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE – TENNESSEE STATE Other than re-signing Sammy Davis, Tampa Bay failed to address its needs at cornerback in free agency. In fact, the Bucs went backwards at the position in free agency due to losing long-time starter Brian Kelly, who bought his way out of the final year of his contract. That means the Bucs need to turn to the 2008 NFL Draft for help at corner and Pewter Report projects that the Bucs will do just that in the first round with Rodgers-Cromartie, who went by the nickname “DRC” in college.
He finished his career with 158 tackles (121 solo), 26 pass deflections, 11 INTs for 314 yards (28.5-yard average) in returns with four TDs, eight blocked kicks and four fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown.
He’s not the toughest player in run support, which is a concern. However, a year under the tutelage of defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and a year’s worth of exposure to tough guy Ronde Barber could certainly change that. His play is reminiscent of that of former NFL star Dale Carter and Rodgers-Cromartie’s own cousin, San Diego’s Pro Bowler, Antonio Cromartie. The 6-foot-2, 182-pound DRC is an incredible athlete with 4.33 speed.
ROUND 2 – WR DONNIE AVERY – HOUSTON If Indiana receiver James Hardy or East Carolina halfback Chris Johnson is still on the board, this could be a very difficult decision for Tampa Bay, but Pewter Report has them taking Avery, who is one of the fastest, most explosive receivers in the draft.
Avery, who has 4.4 speed, caught 210 passes for 3,289 yards (15.6 avg.) and 19 TDs at Houston, including 91 balls for 1,456 yards and seven scores as a senior. He has posted 14 games of 96 receiving yards or more in his career, including a school-record 13-catch, 346-yard performance against Rice in 2007 in which Avery scored twice.
Avery also has kick return ability, evidenced by his 100-yard TD against East Carolina last year. Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden wants playmakers and game-breakers to juice up his offense. That’s what the sure-handed Avery will bring to the Bucs.
ROUND 3 – RB STEVE SLATON – WEST VIRGINIA The 5-foot-9, 197-pound Slaton was a scoring machine at West Virginia, rushing for 50 touchdowns in three years and catching five TD passes, too. Slaton has scored 17, 16 and 17 rushing TDs in each of his three years with the Mountaineers.
He left school after his junior season due to the emergence of Noel Devine and an assortment of injuries despite managing to rush for 1,051 yards, but that was after rushing for 1,744 yards as a sophomore.
Slaton lacks toughness to run between the tackles on an every down basis, but has 4.44 speed and tremendous acceleration, cutting ability and vision in the open field. He needs work in pass protection, but has great hands to excel in the passing game.
ROUND 4 – CB DWIGHT LOWERY – SAN JOSE STATE With Rodgers-Cromartie expected to be a future starter at one of the cornerback positions, the Bucs come back in the fourth round and select another one in Lowery, who recorded 13 interceptions in his two years at San Jose State, including nine as a junior.
The 5-foot-11, 201-pound corner reminds some of Kelly with his physical presence and instincts to find the football. Lowery can also be a contributor on special teams as he has scored touchdowns on a punt return, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal in college.
Lowery slips into the fourth round due to 4.54 in the 40-yard dash.
ROUND 5 – WR DEXTER JACKSON – APPALACHIAN STATE Jackson has 4.37 speed in the 40-yard dash and could go higher based on a great showing at the NFL Combine. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound Jackson caught 110 passes for 1,846 yards (16.8 avg.) and 17 TDs, in addition to two rushing scores.
As a senior, he had 30 catches for 688 yards (22.9 avg.) and eight TDs, but has inconsistent hands, which hurt his production. Jackson has never caught more than 33 passes in any season, and has only one year in which he had more than 500 receiving yards.
He can return kicks, which helps his stock, but Jackson is a raw, developmental prospect.
DRAFT NOTES: WHAT’S MISSING? The Bucs are without picks in rounds 6-7 (trades for Michael Bennett and Jake Plummer, respectively).
And while they would like to add help on the D-line, the Bucs have sufficient, young talent there for 2008 with Chris Hovan, Jovan Haye, Gaines Adams, Greg White, Greg Peterson, Ryan Sims, Jimmy Wilkerson and Patrick Chukwurah. The hope is that they continue to improve.
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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: email@example.com