After spending all but one pick on the offensive side of the ball over the past years, Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows he must address the defensive side where the secondary needs to be overhauled and a couple of pass-rushing defensive linemen are needed. Armed 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.

What makes this initial mock draft difficult is that Lovie Smith was fired after a disappointing 6-10 season that capped off a dismal two-year stint in which Smith went 8-24. Licht is heading up the head-coaching search for the Glazers with Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as the leading candidates. Goodwin and McDermott have already interviewed, and Koetter has reportedly interviewed with the San Francisco 49ers for their vacant head-coaching position.

Holliday square newWith a defensive-laden draft class coming within the next few months, it will be interesting to see who exactly will be running the Bucs defense as Smith and Leslie Frazier, who was also dismissed, coordinated that side of the ball in Tampa Bay the past two years. If the Bucs stay with a 4-3 defensive scheme, the players listed in PewterReport.com’s first mock draft of the year will fit. However, if a new coach comes in wanting to run a 3-4 scheme, expect some wholesale changes in PewterReport.com’s next mock draft, which will be following the Senior Bowl later in January.

Here is PewterReport.com’s initial round-by-round draft projection in 2016 that focuses 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

PEWTERREPORT.COM’S 2016 BUCS’ 7-ROUND MOCK DRAFT
ROUND 1 – Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah – 6-3, 275 – Junior

Tampa Bay needs a premier defensive end and a shutdown cornerback, but with Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey and Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III likely off the board before 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. Ogbah is a strong, quick, athletic defensive end, whose best years may be in front of him in the NFL.

Ogbah has improved every year and has worked hard to become a first-rounder. After notching four sacks as a freshman, Ogbah burst onto the national scene in the 2014 season opening loss to Florida State, sacking Jameis Winston twice and notching six tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups. He went on to record 49 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and a forced fumble during his sophomore year.

As a junior, Ogbah produced 13 sacks and recorded at least half a sack in every game except for two in 2015. He also amassed 64 tackles, which shows his strength against the run, in addition to 17.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Ogbah’s 28 sacks over the past three years make him one of the most productive junior pass rushers in college football and he had six multiple-sack games for the Cowboys.

Ogbah isn’t the svelte, track star-style defensive end like former Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice. Instead, his game and body type are more like NFC South rivals Charles Johnson (Carolina) and Cameron Jordan (New Orleans), who each have multiple double-digit sack seasons in their respective careers. Ogbah has experience playing from both the left and right defensive end positions, and he’s also been an interior nickel rusher for Oklahoma State. He’s probably best suited to start off at right defensive end, but has the ability and flexibility to play either side. It might take a year or two, but Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen can get Ogbah to become the long-awaited double-digit sacker Tampa Bay has been searching for.

ROUND 2 – Houston CB William Jackson III – 6-1, 195 – Senior
The Bucs address another need by drafting Jackson III, a playmaking cornerback out of Houston. Jackson III 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.

Tampa Bay will have a new defensive play-caller, who might have a preference for a certain type of cornerback. Yet big cornerbacks that can cover are all the rage in the NFL these days 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.

ROUND 3 – West Virginia SS Karl Joseph – 5-11, 197 – Senior
The Bucs continue to upgrade the talent in their secondary in the third round with Joseph, who was a four-year starter for the Mountaineers until suffering a season-ending knee injury in October during a non-contract drill in practice. Joseph had notched 15 tackles and five interceptions in the first five games of the 2015 season before the injury, which required surgery and will likely keep him out of action until his pro day before the 2016 NFL Draft.

Before the injury, Joseph was one of the most intimidating, hard-hitting, playmaking safeties in the country, notching nine interceptions, forcing eight fumbles and scoring two defensive touchdowns for West Virginia. The Orlando native’s size resembles that of Pro Bowlers’ Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, but he hits like a heat-seeking missile. It will be interesting to see where his draft stock is coming off knee surgery, as he has not yet been cleared to workout. Presently, there is no indication whether or not any portion of his rookie season would be in jeopardy.

Tampa Bay’s safeties have only notched six interceptions over the past two years, which isn’t good enough. The Bucs secondary needs another playmaker with good ball skills and Joseph is that guy if he can return to his pre-injury form. He showed at West Virginia that he could step in and start right away, and if he’s healthy enough during training camp there’s no reason to believe he isn’t capable of starting as a rookie in the NFL, either.

ROUND 4 – Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins – 6-2, 188 – Junior
The Buccaneers like Notre Dame speedy wide receiver Will Fuller, who is a real vertical threat, but with pressing needs at defensive end and in the secondary, burning a second-round pick on a wide receiver is something general manager Jason Licht doesn’t want to do. But the fourth round is a different story, and Higgins, whose speed and skinny frame resemble that of Fuller, might be a good option.

Higgins had a great freshman season, catching 68 passes for 837 yards and six touchdowns before a breakout year as a sophomore with 96 catches for 1,750 yards, 17 touchdowns and an 18.2-yards per catch average. Higgins and Garrett Grayson, who was a mid-round by the New Orleans Saints in 2015, had a great connection, and Higgins’ production declined when Grayson graduated. Higgins caught 75 passes for 1,062 yards and eight scores in 2015, but is leaving school early with 18 games of 100 yards or more.

Higgins is a proven depth threat, proving he could get behind the defense with seven catches of 50 yards or more as a sophomore, but didn’t have the opportunity to have any last year without Grayson throwing him the ball. Higgins is also adept at catching crossing routes and getting yards after catch on bubble screens. His speed make a nice complement to Mike Evans’ size in Tampa Bay, and the Bucs will need an eventual replacement for Vincent Jackson in the starting lineup.

ROUND 5 – Penn State DL Anthony Zettel – 6-4, 278 – Senior
Zettel is a tremendously quick athletic with a great get off that would fit nicely on Joe Cullen’s defensive line in Tampa Bay. Zettel played nose tackle, three technique and defensive end at Penn State and is capable of playing inside or outside for the Buccaneers due to his lightning-fast first step and ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage.

Zettel had 19 career sacks for the Nittany Lions, including eight in a breakout year in 2014. Zettel used ultra-quick hands that he developed from years of martial arts training to sack the likes of Michigan’s Connor Cook and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett among others. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and picked off four passes at Penn State, including three as a junior – one of which was returned for a touchdown. Although he didn’t record an INT in 2015, he did have six pass breakups at the line of scrimmage.

Zettel may not be fast enough to start at defensive end for Tampa Bay, but he could get a look there to prove whether he could. At the very least, he could be a very productive swing defensive lineman playing inside and out like the kind the Bucs have had in the past with Tyoka Jackson, Ellis Wyms and Will Gholston. Getting a productive player with Zettel’s motor in the fifth round would be a quite a steal.

ROUND 6 – Alabama CB Cyrus Jones – 5-10, 195 – Senior
The Bucs come back and address the cornerback position once again in the 2016 NFL Draft, this time on Day 3 with Jones, who is a developmental prospect on defense and an instant force on special teams in the return game. Jones became a starter for the Crimson Tide defense during his sophomore season where he recorded the first two of his seven career interceptions.

As a junior, Jones notched 46 tackles, 13 passes defensed, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown before posting 32 tackles, two picks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2015 as a senior. Some of Jones’ interceptions have come in big games, including one in the 2014 college playoffs against Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and one in this year’s playoff game against Michigan State’s Connor Cook. His first pick was against Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Having to defend the likes of Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Ole Miss’ Laquan Treadwell, LSU’s Travin Durrell and other talented receivers in the SEC, Jones is quite battle-tested.

The real appeal with Jones initially would come on special teams where his four punt returns for touchdowns lead the nation. Jones has a 12.6-yard average returning punts, and the return game is one of the areas that the Buccaneers desperately want to improve this offseason. Drafting a physical, developmental cornerback with the ability to return punts makes sense in the sixth round for Tampa Bay.

ROUND 6 (from Washington) – Texas Tech WR Jakeem Grant – 5-6, 168 – Senior
Tampa Bay general manager Jason 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. If Dirk Koetter is still calling plays in Tampa Bay in 2016, he could have a lot of fun with the explosive Grant on offense.

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Jim Holliday of the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm is a huge Bucs fan and the exclusive personal injury attorney for PewterReport.com. If you have been the victim of an auto accident or a trip and fall accident, call Holliday Karatinos Law Firm for a free consultation at (813) 868-1887.

A lot of attorneys have their associates do the firm’s smaller cases and the clients never get to meet the lead attorney. That’s not the way they do business at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, which has offices in Lutz and Brooksville. Holliday is personally involved in every case, which is a refreshing change in this day and age. Visit Holliday Karatinos Law Firm online at HelpingInjuredPeople.com

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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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stone1
stone1
5 years ago

i doubt jones lasts til the sixth round

georgehicks
georgehicks
Reply to  stone1
5 years ago

I believe that pick no#9 could be a surprise espically if one or two teams screw up in their selection. I know DL is a must. But what if one of the top 3 cb’s was available then DE will be pick #8 in Rd 2. But DE Deforest Buckner is my choice if available in Rd-1-But know one knows who the buc will pick untill the draft comes on board. Iam hoping that Michael Bennett comes back through Free Agancy-GO Bucs

georgehicks
georgehicks
Reply to  stone1
5 years ago

I think that if Tampa wants another CB then make Cyrus Jones a 5th rd selection and go after DL in the 6th rd. Also if Tampa trades the b/u QB in Rd-3 or Rd-4 Then it would be remarkable that Tampa could get another CB in Rd-3 or 4 and pickup a QB to b’up winston in mid rds(3-4 or 5.I still think Tampa needsa mult ol player to fill in for backups-Go Bucs

76Buc
76Buc
5 years ago

I’ll say it again. If the Bucs wanted Koetter as there HC s they could promote him now as he is already with the team. When promoting within the Rooney rule does not apply.

FLyBoy
FLyBoy
Reply to  76Buc
5 years ago

Rooney rule does appl

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
5 years ago

Hi Scott – appreciating that it’s way too early….we have no idea about FA yet…we don’t know who our coaches will be…etc…the only thing I’ll say is what I hope we don’t do…which is take chances on slow corners and run-stopping DEs, while ignoring our OLine….which seems like your mock above does on all three counts.

I keep seeing shades of the next Daquan Bowers and Jonathan Banks…please if we’re going to gamble on some guys let’s gamble on somebody who is a fast corner and/or a pass rushing DE…or better yet, find somebody who isn’t a gamble. :-)

76Buc
76Buc
5 years ago

their.

macabee
macabee
5 years ago

Have fun guys! This is the time of year when we all get to play GM. This should be all in fun because the serious wannabe GMs usually wait until January 18 the deadline for underclassmen to apply for the draft or January 21st when the NFL sends the draft approved list to all the teams. The hardcore wannabe GMs will wait to see what UFAs make it to FA before filling out their picks. Anyway, it is always fun to see what your friends think about your picks. Just for laffs here’s what those brave enough to step up… Read more »

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

I’ll stand by my “Lockett…sure would be nice to have a real kick returner on the team”…

pinkstob
pinkstob
5 years ago

I really can’t comment much on this mock draft because the only guys I’ve seen play are E. Ogbah and C. Jones. In the case of Ogbah I only saw him play in this year’s bowl game so one game isn’t enough for me to have a strong opinion of him. I liked what I saw from a production standpoint as he was consistently disruptive against the run and pass. He has a weird body shape though as he’s unusually top heavy for a 4-3 DE, but it’s not weird enough to where I wouldn’t want to draft him at… Read more »

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  pinkstob
5 years ago

One other thing on Ogbah in that bowl game a few weeks ago they had him playing LDE against Ole Miss. I sure wish they would have started him at RDE so I could have seen him go up against LT Tunsil. I could see them wanting Ogbah to be as disruptive as possible so therefore have him avoid Tunsil but that matchup would have made for great analysis info.

Bucco63
Bucco63
5 years ago

Admitted bias as an OSU alum, but…

Ogbah is a STUD and a great guy. Graduates in May, so leaving early as a Junior but also a graduate.
He was EVEN BETTER when we (OSU) had Jimmy Bean playing with him on our DLine before he got hurt, but even after he became a solo act and was game-planned for, he performed.
Now, put him next to that Sooner McCoy and have a little Bedlam competition between the 2 to bring out the best in both to benefit the Bucs. I’m all in! Go Bucs!

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
5 years ago

A few adjustments,

Rd1) DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Rd2) LT Spencer Drango
Rd3) CB Eric Murray
Rd4) SS Tony Conner
Rd5) WR Rashard Higgins
Rd6) DT Nile Lawrence-Stample
Rd6) CB Will Redmond
Rd7) RB/WR/KR Jakeem Grant

Drango gives us a beast at LT to protect Jameis blindside,move Smith to RT.
I’d like to see Licht go after Eric Weddle or Eric Berry in FA.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
5 years ago

I totally agree with the idea of a new LT. and moving Smith to RT (or OG)…we may be able to do that in FA…otherwise a few LTs could be an improvement.

Also love the idea of getting one of those Safeties.

kegan
kegan
5 years ago

Loved the article…this is where Pewter Report shines! Great job guys!

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

At the 9th Spot I’m for either the best DL or OL. You can never have enough good linemen.
I’m not excited over any of the selections list asproposed; it’s early though.

aarex
aarex
5 years ago

I like it, but I really want Roberto Aguayo. After watching the shit show we experienced i don’t think its unreasonable to use a 4th rounder on him (if hes still available)

scubog
scubog
5 years ago

And so it begins. From now until the end of April we will all be debating the Draft. At least this time we won’t have to go on and on about about Winston and the Titans hurt QB. This time last year few would have predicted such a great draft followed by such a disappointing end of the season. The needs on this team appear all too obvious to some. But, I’m still a “best player” believer since needs can often change. On Defense; perhaps the young athletic DE’s on our roster develop and better talent evaluation and coaching improves… Read more »

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

BPA all the way! Well your not alone Scubog, I couldn’t agree more..well stated. However, BPA only works effectively if you have good coaching..

jme0151
jme0151
5 years ago

I also would like to see a LT drafted. Hopefully with so much cap room we can pick up some experienced Defensive help at corner or safety or even a speed receiver.

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

How about picking up Adam Jones in FA. The guy is a total dull tool so he might fit in here. Accused Antonio Brown of faking his injury and when asked if he should get an acting award he stated, “Yea, he should definitely get a Grammy.” Hey, Jeopardy boy, they give out Grammy’s for musical performances, not acting. Also felt the Bengals were jobbed by the refs citing the vicious hit put on Bengals running back Giovani Bernard saying it was, “the same type.” Lets see, Bernard is a running back who caught the ball on the sideline, took… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
5 years ago

It’s ashamed Alexander got injured last night as he is one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s not only damn good , but has the personality I like. Lockdown DB’s are hard to find in the NFL, and that’s not saying he’s going to be one, but based on production, this guy is a stud. Ramsey will be gone so sadly we can forget that. Love Ogbah’s production as well but haven’t seen anything from him live. We need a receiver at some point as well. What I would like us to do in free agency is go… Read more »

macabee
macabee
Reply to  cgmaster27
5 years ago

CG,
Don’t be so sure about Ramsey being gone. Long time between now and the draft. The combine is going to change a lot of draft status. IMO, the NFL is going to love Ramsey as FS, but not so much over other pure press CBs – may affect his draft position. I’m starting to see some mocks show that. Too early to know for sure but this mock would make lot of folks happy. They’re called mocks for a reason! lol.
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2607067-nfl-draft-2016-latest-mock-draft-predictions-for-top-prospects-of-round-1

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

Well I ai’n going to lie, that would be a dream scenerio for us and the first mocj I’ve seen him drop past the 5th pick. WHile I do think he isn’t a pure corner, I can only hope that will drop him a bit, and you can be damn sure the bucs would take him if he was there at 9 all day.
Personally I think Mackenzie is the best pure corner in this draft and that mock definitely fits how I see things. Although I’m not really sold on Hargreaves just yet.

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  cgmaster27
5 years ago

Cg- Don’t know why you think Ramsey is Deion Sanders good to be drafted in top 5 of the draft I mean how many corners have you seen drafted in top 5? Everything I have read have him rated between 4-5 best corners coming out. Even if you disagree top ten corners usually only have one if that in every draft, or maybe he is that guy assuming your being objective and not a homer ha

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

Well Jon he is doin good that’s why buddy. He has the versatility to play corner and safety. I also think he goes top5 because all of the teams in front of us need secondary help. I hope you’re right but I would be shocked if he wasn’t top5. You just don’t find physical 6’1″ corners who can run a 4.4 like Ramsey. And don’t be shocked if there is 3 corners taken in the top 10. If Ramsey falls to us I’ll come to Tampa next year for a game and buy you a beer!

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  cgmaster27
5 years ago

Cg- Don’t know why you think Ramsey is Deion Sanders good to be drafted in top 5 of the draft I mean how many corners have you seen drafted in top 5? Everything I have read have him rated between 4-5 best corners coming out. Even if you disagree top ten corners usually only have one if that in every draft, or maybe he is that guy assuming your being objective and not a homer ha

Horse
Horse
Reply to  cgmaster27
5 years ago

Neither team showed me a lot of good Defense. Allowing 40 points in the Championship Game speaks for itself. Clemson actually played better defense than Alabama. The Special Teams lost the game for Clemson.

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
5 years ago

The Bucs should target Travis Benjamin in FA and not use a draft pick on Higgins. Benjamin can stretch the field, make an impact in the return game and would probably be eager to jump from the Browns failing ship. Higgins is a solid pick but Benjamin brings the juice this offense is lacking.

jongruden
jongruden
5 years ago

Cg- You can some to AZ for the Bucs Vs Cards Game and buy me a beer, ha I don’t know if Ramsey is that good, I just read articles of players and draft projections and most have the corners from LSU, Florida, and Clemson higher than Ramsey, but I don’t care who we get as long as he good

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

That’s right, I forgot you live in Arizona. It should be interesting but every mock I’ve seen so far has him goin before the 6th pick. The chargers are in need of a safety after Weddle will be leaving this year. As for the corners, the only ones I’ve seen play is Alexander and Hargreave. And after watching Hargreaves get smoked the last two games of the season, I’m not so high on him. Alexander is the best of the bunch in my opinion. He’s also got thick legs, which should be right up Pinks alley for his taste inn… Read more »

jongruden
jongruden
Reply to  cgmaster27
5 years ago

Cg- Tra’Davious from LSU and King from Iowa, Fuller from Virginia Tech, Hargraves from UF are rated high at corner according to waterfootball.com scouts have said Ramsey more suited for safety due to his size and tackling and has trouble with one on one coverage like when he was smoked for a 58 yd td vs Miami, No way he drafted top 5 again only Charles Woodson and Deion Sanders come to mind as top 5 corners we he be top 10? Possibly no way top 5 I will bet $100 ha

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

Oh Jon you entice me with these bets. Well I will say for one, King isn’t even going pro so Walter football might want to check on that. As for Fuller, he’s coming off of an ACL tear so there is no way he goes in the first round unless he’s 100%. Tra’Davious I can’t say for myself as I haven’t seen him. I do think that Ramsey will be better suited for safety as you do, and he did get burned from time to time no doubt. Between him Alexander and Hargreaves, since thise are the guys I’ve seen,… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  cgmaster27
5 years ago

To add I guess my infatuation with Ramsey and Alexander is not only their skill sets, but their attitudes. Jameis said it best, we need some more why’s on this team and those two seem to get it. Just confident to the point of almost arrogance. We need more of that on the defensive side of the ball.