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Fresh off two weeks of scouting players at the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, Bucs general manager Jason Licht and director of college scouting Mike Biehl return to Tampa Bay to continue to formulate the Bucs’ 2016 draft board. It’s no surprise that Licht and the Bucs will focus heavily on the defensive side of the ball in the 2016 NFL Draft after using all but one pick on offensive players over the last two years. There are needs to be addressed along the defensive line, especially at defensive end, and in the secondary.

Holliday square newArmed with the ninth overall pick – Tampa Bay’s fourth top 10 pick in the last five years – Licht will likely use it on an edge rusher or a top-flight cover cornerback. New Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter will also want to add some depth at offensive tackle and perhaps add a speedy, explosive player at wide receiver, too, although the need at receiver is not as pressing as once thought with Vincent Jackson expected to return to Tampa Bay for the final year of his contract.

PewterReport.com offers up it’s second Bucs’ round-by-round draft projection in 2016, focusing mostly on improving Tampa Bay’s defense. PewterReport.com’s 2016 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft is sponsored by Holliday Karatinos Law Firm. Call attorney Jim Holliday for a free consultation at (813) 868-1887 or visit them on the web at HelpingInjuredPeople.com

ROUND 1 – Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence – 6-3, 254 – Junior
For the second straight mock draft, PewterReport.com has the Bucs taking a defensive end in the first round. Breaking the news on the Pat and Aaron Show on 620 WDAE on Sunday, Spence was revealed to be Tampa Bay’s pick with the ninth overall selection, replacing Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah, who appeared in PewterReport.com’s first Bucs’ mock draft in early January.

Tampa Bay needs a premier defensive end and a shutdown cornerback, but with Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey likely to be off the board and Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III and Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander not deemed to be worth the ninth overall pick, the Bucs will likely have to wait until the second round to address their secondary and go after a pass rusher in the first round. Spence comes with some off-field baggage, but as Licht has shown with the selection of Pro Bowl quarterback Jameis Winston last year, he’s not afraid to make a bold move and gamble on an ultra-talented player.

Spence was a blue-chip recruit who spent two years at Ohio State where he notched 50 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes broken up in 2013 as a sophomore. He was suspended during the 2014 season for failing drug tests and testing positive for ecstasy. Spence was kicked off the team due to his addiction, but went to rehab to get clean. Spence comes from a good family, made a foolish mistake at a party by trying ecstasy and got hooked on a dangerous drug. This FoxSports.com article is required reading for those wanting to know more about Spence’s battle back from drug addiction.

Spence transferred to Eastern Kentucky where he had a big junior season, notching 63 tackles, 11.5 sacks – including 1.5 sacks vs. Kentucky, and one vs. North Carolina State – 22.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He had four multi-sack games for the Colonels. Between Eastern Kentucky, where Spence was named the Ohio Valley Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and Ohio State, he recorded 125 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss, 20 sacks and forced four fumbles in three years of football.

Spence, who has 4.6 speed, had a dominant week of practice at the Senior Bowl and finished the Senior Bowl game with a pair of tackles, a sack and several quarterback hurries. That performance along with great interviews with teams, including Tampa Bay, in which Spence was forthcoming about his prior drug use and a public intoxication arrest in May, has sent him skyrocketing up draft boards in the first round. Spence has a rare skill set with an uncanny ability to slip blocks with quick feet, great lateral movement and lightning fast hands, including a tremendous swim move. Spence needs to show more determination against the run, but he could be the best pure pass rushing defensive end in the 2016 NFL Draft and would be an ideal fit in red and pewter.
Previous Pick: Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah

ROUND 2 – Houston CB William Jackson III – 6-1, 195 – Senior
For the second straight mock draft, Jackson finds his way to Tampa Bay as the Bucs address another need by drafting the playmaking cornerback out of Houston. Jackson is a big cornerback, who plays big in pass coverage, notching eight interceptions and 40 pass breakups in his three years with the Cougars. As a senior, Jackson was instrumental in leading Houston to the All-American Conference championship and a Peach Bowl win over Florida State where he had a career-high 10 tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed.

Jackson had two pick-sixes during his senior season, and also had three games in which he had three pass breakups or more. In the AAC Championship Game against Temple, Jackson set a new school record with seven pass breakups in a single game. Jackson also recorded a 96-yard touchdown on his first career interception, which came against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore in 2013.

New defensive coordinator Mike Smith likes big, physical cornerbacks that can cover from a match-up perspective, and Jackson has gone against some of the better receivers in the country, including Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo, Louisville’s DaVante Parker, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Tulsa’s Keyarris Garrett and UCF’s Breshard Perriman over the past two years, especially. While he is not a track star, Jackson is full of confidence and ball skills and figures to be a solid second-round pick.
Previous Pick: Houston CB William Jackson III

ROUND 3 – Boise State DE Kamalei Correa – 6-3, 248 – Junior
The Bucs continue to bolster their pass rush with Correa, a junior entry, who is a relentless quarterback hunter. Correa amassed 20 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss and 110 tackles in three years at Boise State. The Honolulu, Hawaii native burst onto the scene as a full-time starter during his sophomore season in 2014, recording 59 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and a team-leading 12 sacks and two forced fumbles. Correa was more of a marked man last year as a junior, but he still came through with 39 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, seven sacks and a career-high three forced fumbles.

At 6-foot-3, 248 pounds, Correa has good size and the frame to put on more weight to hold up better against the run at the next level. Correa plays with reckless abandon and has the juice to be a very good edge rusher in the NFL. He has a suddenness that catches offensive linemen off guard and the timing to get them off balance. Adept at using his hands, Correa does a good job of shedding blocks and tackles ballcarriers and sacks quarterbacks with violent hits.

Correa seemed to play his best when it mattered most in Boise State’s bowl games, recording 10 tackles and two sacks two years ago in a 38-30 win over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, and four tackles and two sacks in a 55-7 win over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl. Correa would be a good fit along Smith’s defensive line.
Previous Pick: West Virginia SS Karl Joseph

ROUND 4 – South Carolina State DT Javon Hargrave – 6-1, 315 – Senior
With Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel slated for free agency and nose tackle Akeem Spence entering a contract year, Tampa Bay could use some young blood at defensive tackle, and it’s a position that is loaded with talent this year. Smith likes big defensive tackles, and Hargrave is a bit short at 6-foot-1, 315 pounds. But his body type is similar to that of former Bucs defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Booger McFarland, and Hargrave has a quick, explosive first step that reminds some scouts of those two players.

Hargrave is coming off a senior season in which he had 59 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, including five multi-sack games, and two forced fumbles. After recording 8.5 sacks his first two years for the Bulldogs, Hargrave had a breakout season in 2014, recording 16 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a junior. Against Bethune Cookman last year, Hargrave took over the game, recording 11 tackles and a school-record six sacks.

Hargrave was dominant and unblockable during the one-on-ones and in scrimmages at the East-West Shrine Game where he routinely gave Michigan center Graham Glasgow, who had a great week, fits during practice. Capable of playing either the nose tackle or under tackle positions due to his extremely quick get-off and power, Hargrave is an ideal fit in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 defense.
Previous Pick: Colorado State WR Rashad Higgins

ROUND 5 – Texas Tech OT LeRaven Clark – 6-6, 312 – Senior
With Demar Dotson and Gosder Cherilus in their 30s, the Bucs would like to invest a draft pick into a developmental offensive tackle sooner rather than later. Clark was invited to the Senior Bowl where he had a good showing in practice, especially against Spence. He was a four-year starter at Texas Tech where he logged 47 starts.

Clark is battle-tested having played against the likes of Oklahoma State’s Ogbah and Jimmy Bean and Baylor’s Shawn Oakman during his career. He has the size and quick feet to play right tackle in addition to left tackle, although all of his experience has come on the left side in college. Clark has Day 2 athleticism, but Day 3 consistency at this point in his career.

Clark is not a perfect tackle candidate and will give up some sacks, in addition to miss some targets downfield on screen passes. But his mix of size, athleticism, quickness and long arms makes him an intriguing prospect that George Warhop can develop over time.
Previous Pick: Penn State DE Anthony Zettel

ROUND 6 – West Virginia SS K.J. Dillon – 6-0, 208 – Senior
Dillon made the most of his Senior Bowl experience as a consistent performer in practice and finished the game with five tackles, a tackle for loss and a blocked field goal. Dillon was often overshadowed by Karl Joseph, another hard-hitting safety at West Virginia, but is a very good defensive back in his own right.

Dillon is a good athlete with the ability to cover receivers and tight ends in coverage and he also saw a good deal of time playing near the line of scrimmage in run support as a quasi-linebacker in West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense. Dillon, who is a bone-crushing hitter, finished his Mountaineers career with 165 tackles (18 tackles for loss), six pass breakups, five interceptions, including a pick-six, and two forced fumbles.

The Bucs will want their Day 3 picks to contribute on special teams, and Dillon could become a special teams demon in Tampa Bay. He is a high-energy, high-motor player that fits in well with the Bucs’ philosophy of wanting to draft guys with a winning attitude. Dillon could be a real steal for the Buccaneers in the sixth round.
Previous Pick: Alabama CB Cyrus Jones

ROUND 6 (from Washington) – Texas Tech WR Jakeem Grant – 5-6, 168 – Senior
Grant is a holdover from the last PewterReport.com mock draft. Licht steals a page out of the playbook of his good friends – Arizona G.M. Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians – and drafts a small, shifty speed receiver to bring explosive plays to both the Bucs’ offense and special teams in Grant. Most NFL teams would overlook Grant’s diminutive frame, but the Cardinals drafted 5-foot-10, 160-pound wide receiver J.J. Nelson out of UAB last year and he has a pair of touchdowns during his rookie season.

Grant, who could be the next Darren Sproles in the NFL, was an ultra-productive receiver at Texas Tech where he caught 254 passes for 3,286 yards and 27 touchdowns, including 90 catches for 1,268 yards and 10 scores as a senior. Grant resembled St. Louis’ Tavon Austin by routinely made defenders look silly with his ability to start and stop on a dime. He has the speed to go deep and the shiftiness to work inside at the slot receiver position and pick up first downs on wide receiver screens.

Grant is also an electrifying kick returner with four touchdowns in his college career – two as a freshman and two as a senior. He may seem like a luxury pick and an NFL long shot given his lack of ideal size, but the same thing was said about Sproles, who has mad the Pro Bowl in each of his last two years. Koetter is still calling plays in Tampa Bay in 2016 and he new offensive coordinator Todd Monken could have a lot of fun with the explosive Grant on offense.
Previous Pick: WR Jakeem Grant

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
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macabee
macabee
5 years ago

I am beginning to believe that the Bucs taking Noah Spence at 9 may be more of a possibility than I thought. Matt Miller, a respected draft guru, says that Spence is now a legitimate top ten candidate. This morning I see where Luke Easterling of B/R is slotting Spence at 9 to the Bucs. Now Scott Reynolds has joined the bandwagon. Looking further, I see a B/R mock with the Dolphins taking him at 8. I always do a mock for fun this time of year and while I picked Spence as the Bucs 1st pick, I thought trading… Read more »

grafikdetail
grafikdetail
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

same “respected guru” that said cam newton was gonna be a bust? LOL

macabee
macabee
Reply to  grafikdetail
5 years ago

grafik,
What’s your opinion of Spence? Would you draft him in the 1st round?

georgehicks
georgehicks
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

I agree with macbee- in spence he reminds myself of another Warren Sapp. If he is not there than I would
think about another DL player like De Shaq Lawson, DT Shelton Rankins,Edga Leonard Floyd,Dt Kenny Clark,DL Jonathan Bullard or Dt Jarred Reed. That is what I would do. Go Bucs

SCLOBERNOCKER
SCLOBERNOCKER
5 years ago

Love this draft. Would be very happy. Very trench oriented which is where I think Smith will likely go. Tripple dipping on the D line could address alot of our ineptitude, especially if Smith really feels Banks and Verner are better than their play last year suggests.

e
e
5 years ago

I really like the Spence pick in the first round… Hargreave III as alternate. Would like to see S Jeremy Cash as the second round pick.

georgehicks
georgehicks
Reply to  e
5 years ago

I agree with draft selection Spence reminds me of warren sapp. I t would be great to see if these players to fall into the bucs lap-Go Bucs

macabee
macabee
5 years ago

Draft Strategy: The Rams are QB needy and have 2 2nd round picks. Attempt to trade down in the first round and pick up another 2nd round pick. If the Bucs trade with the Rams, they would pick 15. Get 1 proven DE pass rusher, an outside cover CB, a backup Offensive Tackle and a rangy FS in FA. Next year target DEs Myles Garrett/TexA&M and Devonte Fields/Louisville in the draft! RD1 DE Noah Spence/Eastern Kentucky 6-3 254 4.68 Spence’s talent as a pass rusher is unquestioned, but his judgment off the field will be foremost on the minds of… Read more »

bollocks
bollocks
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

I’m right along with you Mac on the trade with the Rams but I bet we can squeeze both 2nd rounders out of the Rams. I believe Goff and Wentz go 2 and 4, leaving Paxton as the only QB with enough upside anyone should be willing to gamble with. For Snead and Fisher it’s a must that they get a QB or they will be looking for jobs this time next year. So…back to us getting their 2nd rounders…With the pick at…
15.DE Emmanuel Ogbah
39.CB Kendall Fuller
43.OT Jason Spriggs
45.DT Vernon Butler or S Darian Thompson

Architek79
Architek79
5 years ago

PR-
This would be a helluva draft if it happened. I think Grant from Texas Tech is gonna be a little ball of fire once he gets acclimated to the NFL game. When I say once I mean as in training camp – there’s something about that kid that just jumps off the screen when he’s playing even when he doesn’t have the ball.

I hope this draft is close to reality because I love the Bucs drafting trenches and not the fancy picks on the outside. I like the 2nd round pick as well.

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

too risky for my bllod to take Spence at the 9th spot. I would be more incline to do a BPA or trade down. I’m not in love with Spence size either. Only one guy made it with us at at 6′ 3″ and that was LeeRoy Selmon. I don’t like most of the draft picks at all; you’re assuming we need a lot of help on Defense, but the scheme was more of the problem than the players.

BucWild02
BucWild02
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

I agree with you Horse. I think the secondary will be better with Maxie reuniting with Verner and I like Banks who I think will be better in the more aggressive scheme. The Bucs need a playmaker at #9. Spence seems risky at #9. Bucs should take BPA and not reach on Spence at 9.

jme0151
jme0151
Reply to  BucWild02
5 years ago

Horse….I am feeling the sameas you. No way I pick Spence with his backround. DL and OL need more help. I think FA will remove some of these picks from consideration.

Entre
Entre
5 years ago

I like many of the picks. Although the secondary was the worst part of our defense, adding D-line help will have an impact on the secondary. I do not watch a lot of college football, so I usually don’t have much of a true opinion on players to draft. Mainly just go off what I read. Based on my reading, the DT that is really standing out is Shelden Rankins form Lousiville. Many people are comparing him to Aaron Donald and Kawan Short. Also, he hurt his knee and had to leave the senior bowl early, so he may slip… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
5 years ago

I haven’t evaluated any of the guys in this mock in a game so I don’t have an opinion on this one. I had at least seen Ogbah play once and that’s not enough to make a real evaluation. I did see N. Spence play in the Senior Bowl on Saturday and although the schemes and familiarity with teammates are scaled down he did look good out there. I read elsewhere however that Spence did not interview well, but it seems to be agreed upon by all that he practiced well last week.

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

Horse, no matter what scheme this team has played for the last seven years they haven’t had a solid consistent pass rush.
There wasn’t one under Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano or Lovie Smith.
in fact, the whole defensive line was beginning to wane under Jon Gruden or do you forget the way the Bucs defense folded in the last four games under Gruden.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

drdneast; I’m not disagreeing with you because we need a DE; I just don’t like Spence size especially at the 9th Spot. I would perfer to trade down similiar to Macabee’s thoughts.

scubog
scubog
5 years ago

I just love the off-season Draft debates. Thank goodness we are finished with the one involving the two QB’s last off season that dominated the discussions.

Did you folks see the piece about Mariotta being in the Pro Bowl like our Jameis? Yes, he too was there as the drum major, leading his HS band onto the field.

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

Scubog- I love how you keep putting Mariota down to make Winston somehow better, yr one we are declaring ourselves the winner? ok, hope your right, but when evaluating qb’s its a marathon race not a sprint, Mariota had a similar yr as Winston with 5 less games played, yes he had a knee injury so it has nothing to do with his size, lol Jared Goff might be a top ten pick but he is smaller than Mariota so I would pass on him ha

scubog
scubog
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

I said nothing bad about Mariota. I merely pointed out the fact that he, in fact, did participate in the Pro Bowl exhibition. I didn’t make it up. If you give MM a pass for being injured and unable to play, perhaps ASJ could be given the same pardon for his time in the infirmary.

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

NO, What I said was “Mariota had similar stats and that’s after missing 5 games” To deny Mariota had a good rookie season would be either stupid on your part or bias, in fact earlier this yr you already said “Mariota has surprised you and he is better than you thought” don’t recant now, ha

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

FYI Mariota 19tds, 10 int’s 91 QBR 10 games played Winston 22 td’s 15 int’s 84 QBR

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

Let’s not forget mariota had 6 fumbles lost to winstons 2 and for some reason that doesn’t count against a qbr so I say those stats are squewed.

WVBucFan
WVBucFan
5 years ago

I really hope the Bucs get Dillon… He makes play after play and is great in Run defense…

dmajik85
dmajik85
5 years ago

On the surface I could get behind Spence. But two things: it’s not fair to compare Jameis’ baggage and a guy like Spence, and while he’s a machine he’d enter the league in the substance abuse program. So unless Licht is extremely comfortable with his background, it’s risky as hell with dude being one nights mistake away from a suspension.

jongruden
jongruden
5 years ago

I would draft the highest rated corner with 1st round pick then Carl Nassib the DE from Penn St who won the Nagurski Award for best defensive player led FBS with 15.5 sacks, he stands at 6’7 270 and has tremendous speed for a big man

Ronald
Ronald
5 years ago

You may have something there jongruden.

georgehicks
georgehicks
5 years ago

This is george hicks again. I think this is a great draft lineup if Tampa can get them. But I believe that if Tampa looks at the other players Tampa is looking at. I think Tampa could swing a deal in trading doen for a lower Rd-1 pick-Then get another 2nd or 3rd rd. Tampa may get a couple of steels.Go Bucs

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