It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of holes to fill on their roster after a disappointing 2-14 season in 2014. The team currently has eight selections in the 2015 NFL Draft, in addition to the first overall pick for the first time since 1987 when the Bucs took Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde.
With the departure of Josh McCown after just one season, it’s no secret that the Bucs plan on drafting a quarterback with the team’s first pick. Nearly every mock draft has Florida State’s Jameis Winston, the author of a 26-1 record, going to Tampa Bay, including PewterReport.com as the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner has led off our 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft since January.
Who will block for Winston, and which skill players will he throw to in 2015? We’ll find out in less than a month, but there are other questions that need answering.
Will the Buccaneers trade quarterback Mike Glennon and/or running back Doug Martin prior to the draft or on draft day to help Tampa Bay acquire more selections? The team does not want necessarily want to dump Glennon, and won’t give him away. However, if the right team offers up a second- or third-round pick he could be dealt. Glennon’s chances of remaining with the team appear to be slightly better than 50-50.
The Bucs want to get faster at the running back position, and Martin has fallen out of favor with the organization after failing to rush for 500 yards in 2014. The team needs help at offensive tackle, defensive end and guard, and could even use a return specialist and more depth at linebacker and nickel cornerback.
Here is PewterReport.com’s latest round-by-round draft projection that focuses mostly on improving Tampa Bay’s offense. (Some highlight videos may contain songs that contain profanity)
ROUND 1 (No. 1) – Florida State QB Jameis Winston – 6-4, 230 – Redshirt Sophomore Previous Pick: Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Winston has been atop all six of PewterReport.com’s 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Drafts dating back to January. All of the signs and the scoop we’ve received from our sources at One Buccaneer Place point in that direction. The organization had Winston in the building shortly after the NFL Scouting Combine and Tampa Bay’s coaches and scouts were in full force attending his pro day at Florida State on March 31.
Winston has a track record of coming in and making an immediate impact. Just look at his redshirt freshman season at Florida State in which he completed 92 percent of his passes with five total touchdowns in his first collegiate start, won the Heisman Trophy and won a national championship. Following a disappointing 2-14 season, Licht and Smith desperately need a quick turnaround for their own job security, and Winston is further along in his development than Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is due to the fact that he has played in a pro-style offense under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Winston is regarded as the best pocket passer in the draft and would be an ideal fit for new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, whose system relies on strong QB play from the pocket for his vertical offense. Tabbed by ESPN’s Todd McShay as the second-best quarterback prospect to come out in the last decade behind Andrew Luck, Winston engineered five game-winning drives and he has a perfect 7-0 record in games decided by a touchdown or less, and games like that are typical in the NFL.
The Bessemer, Ala. native has completed over 65 percent of his passes for 7,964 yards with 65 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in two seasons at Florida State. Winston set an FBS freshman record with 40 touchdown passes in 2013 against just 10 picks. He has the intangibles, arm strength, mobility, ability to read defenses and go through progressions and a track record of having success early in his career that could make his transition to the NFL a quick and smooth one.
Winston’s background has been fully vetted by the team, and Bucs sources tell PewterReport.com that he’s been cleared. In addition to tremendous physical ability to throw the ball and make plays, Winston has an uncanny football I.Q. and that will allow him to hit the ground running as a rookie in Koetter’s offense. The buzz Winston will generate from the Seminoles fan base in the Tampa Bay area will drive ticket sales, which will appeal to the Glazers, and he will make the Buccaneers relevant again on the national landscape.
ROUND 2 (No. 34) – Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings – 6-5, 309 – Senior Previous Pick: Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings
PewterReport.com has had Clemmings going to Tampa Bay with the 34th overall pick for the second straight mock draft. It was discovered at the NFL Scouting Combine that Clemmings played with a stress fracture in his foot despite it not giving him any pain. That, and the fact that he had a sub-par outing at the Senior Bowl may cause his stock to drop slightly to the point where he slides out of the bottom of the first round.
Clemmings, a former defensive tackle at Pitt, has spent the last two seasons at right tackle where he has started 26 games. With long arms and quick feet that were on display at the NFL Scouting Combine where he posted a 4.54 in the 20-yard shuttle, Clemmings explodes into defensive linemen on running plays and drives them backwards with tenacity. His high school basketball background makes him an agile pass protector as he mirrors opposing pass rushers.
The Bucs view Clemmings, who has had a private workout with the team, as a player similar to Dallas’ Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. His size, athleticism and quickness makes Clemmings a candidate to switch from right tackle to left tackle in the pros if Tampa Bay wants him to, or stay at right tackle for a year or two while Demar Dotson mans the left tackle position. Having three players in Dotson, Clemmings and last year’s fifth-round pick, Kevin Pamphile, that can play either tackle spot is a great option for Tampa Bay to have.
ROUND 3 (No. 65) – Utah DE Nate Orchard – 6-3, 250 – Senior Previous pick: Arizona State FS Demarius Randall
Orchard was Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in the third version of PewterReport.com’s 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft. Since the NFL Scouting Combine, it’s been revealed that he’s not a quick-twitch athlete, running a 4.80 with a pedestrian 1.65 10-yard split. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Orchard has a slight build, but quickness and production is desired more than size in the Tampa 2. It was his productivity at Utah last year that made the Bucs want to bring him in for a visit this spring.
Orchard finished the 2014 season as the second-leading sacker in the FBS with a school-record 18.5 sacks, and has brought down the likes of USC’s Cody Kessler, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan (three times) and UCLA’s Brett Hundley (four times). Orchard has beaten the likes of Colorado State’s Sambrailo, Arizona State’s Jamil Douglas and Stanford’s highly regarded tackle Andrus Peat – posting five sacks over the last two years against the Cardinal.
In addition to his 25 career sacks, Orchard finished his Utah career with 186 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown against USC. Orchard dominated at the Senior Bowl and played a large part in making Clemmings look bad in practice. Tampa Bay needs a pass rusher capable of reaching double-digit sacks and the athletic Orchard, who was a former wide receiver, fills that need at the top of the third round.
ROUND 4 (No. 99 from St. Louis) – Colorado State OT Ty Sambrailo – 6-6, 313 – Senior Previous pick: Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford
Sambrailo was a former second-round pick in PewterReport.com’s 2015 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft, but he has been passed up in the draft by stronger, more athletic offensive tackles like Clemmings. Just because the Bucs drafted Clemmings in the second round doesn’t mean that they won’t draft another tackle later on, especially with Demar Dotson turning 30 this October.
The Buccaneers are considering keeping Dotson at left tackle for the 2015 season, but haven’t set those plans in stone yet. Sambrailo gives the Bucs a challenger at left tackle and right tackle along with Kevin Pamphile, last year’s fifth-round pick, and also at guard, where he could find a home as a rookie on the right side. Clemmings also has the athletic ability to play either side, which gives offensive line coach George Warhop tremendous versatility.
The 6-foot-6, 311-pound Sambrailo was a three-year starter at Colorado State and has experience playing both tackle and guard. The Bucs like that versatility and his quick feet. Sambrailo’s 7.54 time in the three-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine was one of the better times for offensive linemen. While he has above average athleticism, Sambrailo does need to hit the weight room hard in the NFL and add more size and functional strength that will help him anchor against grown men at the pro level.
ROUND 5 (No. 162) – Duke WR Jamison Crowder – 5-8, 185 – Senior Previous pick: Duke WR Jamison Crowder
The Bucs were tempted to draft Kansas State receiver and return specialist Tyler Lockett to play in the slot in the second or third round, but recover with drafting Crowder in the fifth. Crowder, a Senior Bowl participant, has had a private workout for the Bucs, who like his instant acceleration, which allows him to separate from defenders, and his big-play ability on offense as well as special teams.
Crowder’s 283 career receptions ties a Duke record and an ACC record, and his 3,641 career receiving yards is second in school history. He became just the third player in ACC history to post three 1,000-yard seasons. Crowder produced 19 catches of 40 yards or more, including a 99-yard touchdown against Miami in 2012, and 17 100-yard receiving games for the Blue Devils.
Although small at 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, Crowder is tough and was a big reason for Duke’s resurgence. Tampa Bay is in desperate need for a return specialist, and in addition to competing with Louis Murphy for the slot receiver duties, Crowder can return both kicks and punts. He had four punt returns for touchdowns over the past two years for the Blue Devils.
ROUND 6 (No. 184 from St. Louis) – Louisville FS Gerod Holliman – 6-0, 218 Previous pick: Towson DE Ryan Delaire
The Bucs had Holliman in for a pre-draft visit and are interested in his ballhawking ability. Holliman was a one-year starter at Louisville and burst onto the scene with a school-record 14 interceptions last season, which tied an NCAA record. Considering the Bucs only recorded two picks last year from the safety position, which came in the season finale against Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the team is on the hunt for some takeaway-minded defenders.
With such a gaudy interception total one would think that Holliman benefited from a lot of tipped passes, but 12 of Holliman’s picks didn’t come from deflections. Holliman has to work on his tackling technique and taking the correct angles, but his ball-hawking skills will prompt a team like Tampa Bay to still be interested in him.
Holliman is not a tremendous athlete and isn’t the fleetest of foot, running a 4.62 at his pro day. That might limit his ability to contribute on special teams. In addition to the fact that he was only a one-year starter will likely cause his stock to fall to Day 3.
ROUND 7 (No. 218) – Florida RB Matt Jones – 6-2, 231 – Senior Previous pick: Memphis CB Bobby McCain
With second-year running back Charles Sims, Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in 2014, expected to receive more playing time this season, the Bucs are looking for a big running back to help the team in short yardage and goal line situations. At 6-foot-2, 231 pounds, Jones is one of the biggest halfbacks in this year’s draft and fits the bill.
Jones, who went to high school at Armwood in Seffner, Fla., rushed for 817 yards and six touchdowns this past season at Florida, and totaled 1,431 yards and 11 scores during his career. He showed his ability to be starter by rushing for 156 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries against Kentucky, and plowing through Georgia for a career-high 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones considered one of the better pass protectors in this year’s draft, which only increases his value. While he didn’t get the chance to catch the ball much out of the backfield for the Gators, evidenced by 19 catches for 100 yards, Jones does have good hands. He was one of the local workout players the Bucs had in before the draft and would be an excellent pick-up in the seventh round if he’s still on the draft board.
ROUND 7 (No. 231 from Detroit) – Kansas State CB Randall Evans – 6-0, 195 – Senior
Snubbed by the NFL Scouting Combine, Evans impressed scouts at the K-State pro day, running a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash with a 1.57 10-yard split and posting a 38-inch vertical jump. Evans has better athleticism than he’s given credit for and has a great size-speed combination.
He was a three-year starter as the Wildcats’ nickel cornerback where he produced 210 tackles, 35 pass breakups, 10.5 tackles for loss, seven interceptions, five forced fumbles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Evans matched up against some of the best wide receivers in the Big 12, including West Virginia’s Kevin White and Mario Alford, Baylor’s Antwan Goodley and K-State’s Tyler Lockett in practice.
If Evans slips to the seventh round he’ll be a steal for Tampa Bay where he can contribute on defense and special teams. With experience at nickel cornerback, Evans can compete there, but he also has the size to play outside for the Bucs, too, which increases his versatility.
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
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