Alabama TE OJ Howard - Photo by: Getty Images
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, director of player personnel John Spyteck and director of college scouting Mike Biehl have spent the fall and winter scouting prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft where Tampa Bay will have the 19th overall pick. The focus needs to be making Dirk Koetter’s offense more explosive and finding more weapons for quarterback Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay just returned from scouting the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl for the next group of Buccaneers.
The suspension of oft-injured starting running back Doug Martin and the injury-prone status of Charles Sims suddenly makes the running back position an area of need, in addition to wide receiver where the team lacks speed and big-play ability outside of Mike Evans and occasionally Adam Humphries.
While the offensive line is a concern for many Bucs fans, this year’s draft class is not strong at tackle, guard or center, and PewterReport.com doesn’t have Licht taking a lineman due to the fact that he’s selected four – guard Kevin Pamphile in 2014, tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet in 2015 and guard-tackle Caleb Benenoch in 2016 – in the last three drafts. That may change in future mock drafts as the Bucs need a right tackle to replace aging veteran Gosder Cherilus and eventually starter Demar Dotson, yet the team has three in-house candidates in Pamphile, Benenoch and Leonard Wester.
Tampa Bay’s defense could use help at safety, cornerback, defensive end and possibly defensive tackle, but it will be challenging to fill all of those holes in the 2017 draft given the needs on offense. Brent Grimes will be 34 next season, and the Bucs may cut overpaid cornerback Alterraun Verner. Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte, who began the 2016 season as starters, are unrestricted free agents, as is defensive end Will Gholston and defensive tackle Akeem Spence.
With the NFL Scouting Combine a few weeks away, PewterReport.com offers up its second Bucs’ round-by-round draft projection in 2017, focusing mostly on adding skill position players for Tampa Bay’s offense. PewterReport.com’s 2017 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft is sponsored by Holliday Karatinos Law Firm – the official personal injury attorney for PewterReport.com. Call attorney Jim Holliday for a free consultation at (813) 868-1887 or visit them on the web at HelpingInjuredPeople.com
Round 1: Alabama TE O.J. Howard – 6-5, 249 – 4.58 – Senior
Previous Pick: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need some athletic playmakers on offense and Howard certainly fits the bill with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. While drafting a wide receiver may be tempting in the first round, Davis and Clemson’s Mike Williams will likely be gone by the time Tampa Bay is on the clock. The same might be said for Washington speedster John Ross, who has some medical questions about his knee after having micro-fracture surgery in 2015, but his blazing 4.3 speed will attract attention.
With the wide receiver position deep this year, the Bucs can wait until later rounds and have the chance to select the first tight end off the board in Howard, who was recently selected the top practice player at the Senior Bowl. Howard, a sure-fire first-round pick, earned the praise of NFL scouts for not skipping the Senior Bowl due to his draft status and for putting on a show during the week and on game day for NFL talent evaluators, including the Buccaneers.
Howard, who had four catches for 39 yards in the Senior Bowl, including a gain of 24 yards, had just one 100-yard game in college, but it was a doozy. It was Howard’s five-catch, 208-yard performance in the 45-40 win over Clemson in the 2015 national championship game in which he had touchdowns covering 53 and 51 yards.
Howard’s Alabama Career Stats
2016: 45 catches for 595 yards (13.2 avg.) with 3 TDs and a long of 68 yards
2015: 38 catches for 602 yards (15.8 avg.) with 2 TDs and a long of 63 yards
2014: 17 catches for 260 yards (15.3 avg.) with 0 TDs and a long of 53 yards
2013: 14 catches for 269 yards (19.2 avg.) with 2 TDs and a long of 52 yards
At just under 6-foot-6, and weighing 249 pounds, Howard used his size and speed to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties to make big plays downfield. Howard had 14 catches of 30 yards or more at Alabama, which shows his explosiveness, but was incredibly under-utilized in his four-year Crimson Tide career.
Consider that his 208-yard effort against Clemson accounted for one-third of Howard’s production during the entire 2015 season and both of his touchdowns that year. And his production didn’t rise much the following year with just seven more catches for seven fewer yards and one more score. Howard didn’t know why he didn’t have a bigger role in 2016.
“I have no idea, honestly man,” said Howard at the Senior Bowl. “It was kind of a question mark my whole career about that, but I’ve never been able to give an answer to this day.”
The Bucs could use another tight end to team with Cameron Brate in 2017 and allow Dirk Koetter to go back to his original plan of using both Brate and Austin Seferian-Jenkins together in 2016 before a DUI prior to Week 3 prompted ASJ’s release. While Brate enjoyed a breakout season with 57 catches for 660 yards eight touchdowns, which tied for the NFL lead among tight ends, his presence as sorely missed in the final two games of the season when he suffered a back injury at New Orleans and Tampa Bay’s passing game nearly ground to a halt.
With only Luke Stocker and Brandon Myers behind Brate on the depth chart, and neither is much of a receiving threat, Tampa Bay wants another tight end that can work the seam and make big plays in the passing game. But given the fact that the Bucs struggled to run the ball well last year, and that Brate is not an exceptional in-line blocker, Tampa Bay is looking for a tight end that can block and catch. And there aren’t too many complete tight ends coming out of college these days.
After facing Jimmy Graham in New Orleans, Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta and Greg Olsen in Carolina for years in the NFC South, the Bucs finally have not just one, but two tight ends to threaten their division rivals with Brate and Howard as head coach and playcaller Dirk Koetter incorporates more two tight end sets in 2017 the way New England does with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.
“I think he had two goals, one, show he can separate against man-to-man coverage, and two, confirm that he is a much better blocker than he was a couple years ago. Both goals were accomplished,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of Howard at the Senior Bowl. “In my opinion, he’s a top-20 pick and my NFL comp for him will be Greg Olsen. He can block, he can be in-line, and he can beat you downfield vertically.”
Click below to view Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in 2017.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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
MACABEE’S 2017 MOCK DRAFT V1
Draft Strategy – Weapons for Winston and aggression for the Defense
RD1 – TE O.J. Howard/Bama 6-6, 249, 4.57
*My first choice for round 1 was WR Corey Davis – just didn’t think he would be there at 19. John Ross was considered but watched how he was defensed in the Bama/Washington game and decided against him. But his down field speed was tempting. If both Davis and Howard are gone my choice is TE David Njoku/Miami.
RD2 – SS Obi Melifonwu/UConn 6-4, 205, 4.58
*If Obi Melifonwu has a good combine he could solidify a 2nd round grade. I need to be cautious here because I remember highly rated freak FS Javon Kearse/Clemson from 2016 – he eventually went in the 6th round. My second choice would be FS Marcus Williams/Utah.
RD3 – DE Tanoh Kpassagnon/Villanova 6-7, 280, 4.89
*I’m beginning to think Kpassagnon (K) could have the biggest impact of any Buc draftee. His body was sculpted by the Greek gods, but he is really a work in progress. NFLDraftScout/Matt Miller has given him a 4th round grade, but I think he’s going to be drafted higher. Licht has already started talks with Gholston. If K is the real deal, Smith could move these guys anywhere on the line and be disruptive – an OCs nightmare. Noah Spence becomes a pro bowler as a stand-up pass rushing OLB. My second choice would be Tarrell Basham/Ohio
RD4 – WR Josh Reynolds/TexasA&M 6-3, 187, 4.52
*I have WR Josh Reynolds in the 4th round because his size at 6-3, 187 is a mild concern (weight) for the NFL. I really liked Zay Jones/ECU but I think he will go 2nd or 3rd round – only got so many draft picks. If Reynolds is not there, my second choice is WR Kenny Golladay 6-4, 213 No. Illinois.
RD5 – DT Nazair Jones/UNC 6-5, 295, 5.07
*Nazair is a pass rushing DT with good speed for a nearly 300lb guy. He is relatively unknown, but not for long – models his play after Terrell Suggs.
RD6 – FS David Jones/Richmond 6-2, 210, 4.53
*David Jones is a local kid graduating from St. Pete High School. He is a ball hawk and a hitter. Injured for most of 2016, in 2015 he led the FCS with nine interceptions (his four interceptions against Albany tied the NCAA record) He finished second on the team with 97 total tackles and would be a higher draft pick but for his choice of small school Richmond.
RD7 – RB/KR/PR Tarik Cohen/N. Carolina A&T 5-6, 178, 4.39
*Cohen is one of my favorite players in the draft. This little tough Tasmanian devil-like player is also known as “The Human Joystick”. He finished with 5,169 yards rushing at NCA&T. He was 5th in the voting for the Walter Payton Award for the top FCS player in the country. In addition to his KR/PR duties, he could be another Darren Sproles for the offense.
*Sorry, no bell cow RB drafted this year. Holding out for RBs Saquon Barkley/Penn State or Derrius Guice/LSU in 2018. May have to change my mind about this after FA and before the draft, but not yet.
*Feel free to Youtube any player for highlights. You will not be disappointed.
Mac I like your draft ALOT:
If we can get Howard and Tanoh I see 1 starter in OJH and at worst Tanoh great backup for now, maybe he can start but next year for sure.
That’s a good mock draft, macabee. The Bucs do like Miami’s David Njoku, too. If Will Gholston gets re-signed as I think he does, I’m not sure they go with Tanoh Kpassagnon as they are the same type player. Kpassagnon may eventually be the better pass rusher of the two in time, but he’s pretty raw right now. I think you’re right that he’s a third-rounder now.
Tarik Cohen is one of my favorite players in the draft. He reminds me of Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant from a year ago. I think Nazair Jones goes undrafted due to his medical history, but he would be a good undrafted free agent.
I like that draft, although 3 pass catchers and an RB in the first 5 picks seems like a lot. I would take out Gibson in the 5th for best defensive player available. Thanks Scott, great work.
Thank you, SaskBucs.
Glad to see PR getting on board with the OJ Howard selection. The talk of him being a receiving threat only was nonsense considering how much Bama runs the ball.
That’s true. We’ll have more on O.J. Howard in this week’s SR’s Fab 5, too.
Chris Burke at SI.com this week mocked John Ross to the Bucs at 19 but said it would also be a tossup with OJ Howard. Either would be a strong upgrade for our offense.
Mock 2.0 is good and is always fun. Makes the dead time interesting. I like the pick in Howard if he is still there at 19. I admit I am not as sourced as Mac, but players I would like to see on the roster that fit in 1 – 4:
1. TE Hoaward/Bama or CB Wilson/FL
2. RB Mixon/Oklahoma (provided he is vetted ok) or S Baker/Washington
3. C Pocic/LSU or DE Kpassagnon/Villanova
4. WR Reynolds/Texas A&M or WR Dupre/LSU
I would love to match Reynolds & Dupre as 2 WR picks in 2017. Maybe 1 falls to round 5 or maybe we trade up to get both. Now Howard, Mixon, Reynolds, and Dupre are 4 AWESOME offensive weapons for Winston/Koetter. If you throw in Pocic…BAM!
Just my 2 cents
I Like your mock. It has as much chance of being on the mark as any. I’m not that well-sourced, perhaps well-sauced at times. lol. No, I’m just well-opinionated. I like your choice of RB Mixon – didn’t have nerve enough to say it myself, but wouldn’t be upset with that at all. Good luck. I hope you get what you think will make us better.
I love Joe Mixon and if he gets the green light from the Bucs’ scouts (and the Glazers) I would take him in a heartbeat in the second round. He has first-round talent and I think he’s a Le’Veon Bell-type player.
I’m not that high on Ethan Pocic. I don’t like 6-foot-6 centers at all. They have a natural disadvantage when it comes to leverage and being that tall hinders a QB’s vision in the pocket. Also not a fan of Malachi Dupre. I think there are better receivers in this draft class, but I really like your selection of Howard and Mixon in rounds 1-2.
I hate the idea of drafting a RB in the 2nd round of an incredibly deep RB draft just on principal. It’s a virtual certainty that there will be players available in round 3 and maybe even round 4 that are capable of starting from day one in the NFL.
I get your concern with Pocic, Scott. I have talked with plenty of Bucs fans who have hopes we take him in the FIRST round, which I think is just nuts. The height bothers me too. That said, it should be pointed out – he consistently plays with really good knee bend, which helps mitigate the potential negative effects of his height. Mike Pouncey is 6’5″, and his brother Maurkice is 6’4″. Alex Mack is 6’4″. Max Unger is 6’5″. Eric Wood is 6’4″. Nick mangold is 6’4″. I’m not saying Pocic will be any of these guys, but I won’t dismiss him just because he’s taller than an ideal center….not when a ton of guys who are within just an inch or two of his height have dominated the position at different times over the years.
I have watched a good bit of highlights on Pocic that I can find on youtube. He plays with a nasty streak but I do think that his style may attract penalties. That is something Tampa definitely needs to avoid. Pocic regularly holds and pushes players when he can read the last name on the jersey.
I like TACO Charlton first round and BUDDA Baker 2nd round. Great players with great names!
I am just not a fan of this draft at all, which is such a rare thing for me to say when it comes to Pewter Report. Bad teams do what the Bucs would be doing here. One of the biggest red flags in drafting is when teams take guys who flash big-time potential but who do not have the production to back it up. Howard terrifies me when it comes to this. He was not a big part of the Tide gameplan this season and Clemson was ALWAYS vulnerable to the TE seams this season, so to look at that game as the reason he should be a top 20 pick is dangerous.
Not taking a WR until the 4th round is what is truly the biggest problem with this draft. After so many years of reading how this 4th or 5th round guy the Bucs have selected (PR loved them some Kenny Bell, remember?) is going to shock the world and be the next big thing for the Bucs – and it never panning out – the Bucs have to be truly smart about this.
Koetter has never had a hugely successful two TE offense. In my opinion he was bringing that up last season because the Bucs did have Brate and ASJ (another TE who flashed big time potential without the production to really back it up).
The smart teams in this league continuously build depth on the two lines and then focus on stud positions like WR and CB. You can find RB, safety, and TE depth later. I really hope the Bucs do not go this route in the draft.
OJ Howard is going to be a great TE at the next level don’t even think twice about his production. He is explosive and will be a great threat in the passing game but the thing I like most about him is that he is a good blocker. His production wasn’t great because Alabama is a run heavy offense that Howard helped pave the way for with his blocking.
I appreciate your opinion, FilmBuc, but you can’t fault O.J. Howard for being underutilized at Alabama. He’s not calling the plays. When he was given the opportunity to catch passes he showed what he could do as a downfield threat, and he’s an accomplished blocker because the Crimson Tide ran the ball so much.
And Dirk Koetter truly hasn’t been able to fully utilize two tight ends because of ASJ’s injured shoulder in 2015 and he was cut after the second game this past season.
I like like Howard and and Reynolds in RD1 and RD4. Mac knows I am big on DE Tanoh Kpassagnon in RD3. I also like SS Obi Melifonwu in RD2. I agree we are not going to get Corey Davis in RD1. I actually saw one site that had Michael Williams dropping to Buc’s at 19. For the last week I have been researching John Ross (4.35) because everyone is talking about Koetter’s need for speed. Wish we could work RB DOnata Foreman into mix. I think for his size , speed and durability he would be a real asset. Finally as much as I was against short DB’s I guess Grimes and Hargreaves proved me wrong, However Budda Baker just gives me heartburn.
Scott I think we need DL help in second or third Round.
If we get OJH in first.
That very well could be the case. However, if the Bucs re-sign DE Will Gholston and DT Akeem Spence that may push the need for D-line down the draft a bit.
Let’s just draft the best players we can. Needs change constantly. You can’t make decisions on selecting guys you’re hoping are here for 10+ years because of what we need right NOW. Not when literally one season later, a former weakness can be a strength and vice versa. It happens all the time.
Even if we were drafting based on need, I’d say D line is clearly below WR, S, OL, TE, and RB on any needs list right now. We don’t have any true studs at DE yet, but we’re at least 4 deep in good players at that position, assuming we resign Gholston and Jac comes back healthy. McCoy should still have a few years left at this dominant level, and we don’t need a star next to him. Rarely if ever is a 1 technique DT remotely featured. His job is primarily to eat up blockers in the running game. Lots of guys can do that. Spending a day two pick on that kind of role would be a pure waste.
I would be fine with us taking a DE at any point in the draft if the board lines up that way. But we shouldn’t force it.
My sentiments exactly Too.
No more shrimpy defenders! Jeezus, we need some people to bring the wood! A safety should be at least 6’0″ and 210+. A 2nd round pick on an undersized safety? No thanks.
I’m with you , we need some size in our secondary or Julio and the boys will continue to light us up.
Budda Baker can bring the wood, buccaneerNW. And yes, he’s shorter than ideal. I too prefer size in the secondary, but I have to admit that Vernon Hargreaves showed real promise during his rookie season, Brent Grimes still has it and Keith Tandy was the best safety on the team and proved to be a real ballhawk with 5 takeaways. All of those guys are 5-foot-10. The best DB in Bucs history is Ronde Barber and he was 5-10. Sabby Piscitelli looked the part at 6-3, 225, but didn’t have the instincts or the ability – just the athleticism and the size – to play in the NFL.
Agreed, Scott … the mental capacity of the player, along with his athletic ability to jump at the right time is more important than height.
Note that not only does VHIII have those capabilities, but he was also no. 3 on the team in tackles last season as a rookie.
Hmm, not so sure about this one, just my personal taste. In the first, I’ll agree with most that Mike Williams and Davis will be gone. I just don’t like a TE in the 1st round, no matter how athletic he is. No I know Bama’s QB situation sucks, but his lack of production outside of one game is a little eye opening. If you really want a pass catching TE, you can get one of those in the second or even 3rd round. This all of course depends on who goes where.
My first round selection would be in this order. Dalvin Cook, Mike WIlliams, Corey Davis who now won’t be doing the combine due to an ankle injury, Jalen Adams, Malik Hooker, who might drop now as he is having surgery, or Solomon Thomas. Of course they could all be gone, in which case, I’m all for trading back a few picks. If you still want a TE, you could probably get the guy from Miami. I am definitely against Ross, once I saw him get shut out against Bama, I was done with him, not to mention the 2 knee surgeries.
I really do like Reynolds, especially in the 4th here. I do think the bucs take a defensive player before the 5th round and I’m not big on the 2 receivers in a row selection. We still need some secondary help. But hey, it’s all a crap shoot and relay tough before free agency as it is. But it’s great debate fodder.
The problem is that there just aren’t many complete tight ends that can catch AND block. I mean there are probably 3-4 guys in this draft that can do both effectively. That’s it. And that’s not just me talking, that’s from NFL scouts. I’ll have more on O.J. Howard in this week’s SR’s Fab 5. Stay tuned.
You are right about Dalvin Cook. He would be hard to pass up at No. 19, and John Ross certainly has some medical concerns after having microfracture knee surgery at UW.
You beat me to it, Scott. It’s not just about getting a pass catching TE. It’s about seizing an opportunity to grab a guy who can be a dominant force in both phases of the offensive attack. Especially for a team that like to run the ball as much as we do, if Howard is as good of a blocker as many seem to think he is, then it needs to be emphasized just how much value that adds to the offense.
You say there are 3-4 guys in this draft who can both block and catch passes at a high level. I’d argue that the list of guys who can do both at the level Howard is reported to be able to do them is exactly ONE player long. Not just talking about doing them “effectively” – talking about a TE who’s a force in both the running and passing attack. Nobody fits that bill in this draft except for maybe Howard.
Gee, Too, that’s two comments of yours for which I’m in total agreement. If O.J. Howard grades out better than any of the available players at # 19 then he has to be the choice. He looks to me to be superior, albeit underutilized, at his position than the likely WR candidates. Plus there are sufficient numbers of WR’s and maybe RB’s for us to upgrade the positions in the later rounds. I do like Dalvin Cook, and like some, not sure if taking a RB too high in round 1 is the best long term option.
So, we’re throwing away a 7th rounder on a FB. The only defenders we select are undersized. And we don’t draft a WR until the 4th round. Awful draft. I thought the first mock was a lot more interesting.
I like the Kareem Hunt and Josh Reynolds picks. If the hype I’m reading about Reynolds is correct, how does he last until the 4th round?
Top of your head, how many productive DE, OL, CB, WR, S, or DT make a significant contribution or even make an NFL team? Freddie is a great FB that would instantly help our running game. As Scott states, he’s also versatile. Bucs could do a lot worse with their 7th round pick.
Licht has developed a habit of burning late round picks on hyper specific role players – KR Kaelin Clay, FB Joey Iosefa, FB Dan Vitale. Meanwhile, other teams are targeting players who either have some upside and fell due to injury concerns, or who look like guys that are likely to at least be able to contribute covering kicks and being developmental depth. They find roles like FBs and kick returners where they can, and they do more than fine that way. I’d prefer we stop drafting freaking fullbacks. It’s not a tough job to do. We should be able to find a decent one in a UDFA or a veteran looking to stick on a roster somewhere. Let’s spend our valuable draft picks elsewhere.
So I’ll ask again, how many productive 7th round draft picks can you find on rosters? It’s the 7th round for a reason. It’s basically the same as getting lucky with an UDFA. Practice squad type players. And to your point about covering kicks, as the article states, plays ST. He would improve our run blocking and ultimately our run game. You know, what we struggled with all season. Freddie could contribute immediately next season. Even as a 7th rounder.
A FB does you no good in the running game when the line isn’t creating space for your ball carrier. Most backs actually prefer to run out of singleback formations these days. Fullbacks get in the way and draw an extra defender into the box as often as they do anything else. There’s a reason something like half the teams (maybe more?) in the league don’t even roster a full time fullback.
Yes, very few 6th and 7th rounders are ever starters, much less stars. But plenty add value in other ways.
Josh Reynolds might move up to the third round – perhaps the second – if he blazes at the Combine. If he’s a 4.50-4.57 guy he’s likely a fourth-rounder.
Have to agree with Roots as a Noles fan, i know I”m a homer, I get it, this guy is a legitimate FB. Not a hybrid guy. He didn’t carry ,much as FSU, but showed he could do that as well as catch if you’re trying to catch a defense off guard. But as a blocking FB, he has blocked for 1000 rushers every year he was there. It all depends if Koetter wants a more traditional FB in his roster. If he does, Freddie would be a great pick in the 7th.
I like the entire draft, but I gotta think we go after more DL and Secondary help in a draft so deep in both.
As Phillip Rivers might say, “Gee whilikers, who put this dadburn draft together, Mark Dominick.”
How many teams do we have to see go to the Super Bowl ehose main strength is on the offensive or defensive line.
Falcons: O line. Whole unit has started all 18 hames.
Pats: O line has given Brady plenty of time thid year to carve up defensez.
Broncos: Defense caused all QB’s in playoffs last year nothing but headaches.
Panthers: if not for friont seven, Cam would never hald gotten to pout and sulk in the SB.
Build from the front to back.
We have been trying to do it the other way for the past seven years and the best we have done is 9-7.
The definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
You don’t have thr Bucs picking a DL until the 6th round when u have them selecting a LB sized DE.
I agree, But offensive line in this Draft is not that deep. Especially at the positions we need. On the other side of the ball we could get lots of DL help early and late. Bucs need to go after the strengths of this draft. Receiver, running back, TE, DE, CB.
Let’s look at the Bucs’ depth chart at D-line where they will likely only keep 9-10 players:
DE Robert Ayers – high-priced FA
DE Will Gholston – soon to be high-priced FA
DE Noah Spence – 2nd round pick
DE Jacquies Smith – 2nd leading sacker in 2014-15
DT Gerald McCoy – Pro Bowl 3-tech
DT Clinton McDonald – solid run stuffer that can also play 3-tech
DT Akeem Spence – soon to be re-signed DT
DT Sealver Siliga – designated run stuffer
As of right now I think these 8 make the team. The Bucs also have DE Ryan Russell, DE Howard Jones, DT-DE Davonte Lambert that they like, in addition to DT John Hughes, DE Channing Ward and DE George Johnson.
I’m not saying they don’t draft a DT or DE (I have them taking Javancy Jones), but the Bucs don’t think the cupboard is as bare along the D-line as some fans might think. The Bucs have some young talent along the D-line and sometimes you just have to let those guys develop for a year or two rather than keep churning your roster.
Love the first two picks but you completely lost me after that SR. We need some talent up front. The 3rd and 4th round picks should be used on beef IMO. Hunt in the 3rd is reminiscent of the Sims pick. Not a fan. But I have to give you credit for the effort. We all have our favorites.
Trust me, Kareem Hunt is a much better running back than Charles Sims was in college or is in the pros. Sims is exclusively a third-down back.
The only OL position we don’t need help at is Guard. While his game needs to continue improving (see the Times’ comparison of JW and MM), without a healthy Winston healthy we are virtually guaranteed a losing record. Not upgrading the OL is shortsighted at the least and negligent at the worst. We need to draft a T this year and another next, between skill and age and experience we have zero starting caliber Tackles on this team.
I respect your opinion, matador, but the Bucs think otherwise. They believe Demar Dotson is perhaps the 10th best RT in the league (upper one-third) and they remain high on Donovan Smith, who has yet to realize his full potential.
It’s funny to hear some fans – and I’m not calling you out, matador – opine about missing Donald Penn and how the Bucs should have never cut him. There are a lot of similarities between Penn and Smith. Penn didn’t make the Pro Bowl until his fifth year, and he didn’t make it back to the Pro Bowl until this year – at age 33. Smith is only 23. Still has plenty of years to grow, develop and improve.
The most shortsighted thing a team can do is to force itself to make a draft pick based mostly on need. I agree we could really use an upgrade at tackle, but the harsh reality is that this is a truly terrible draft for tackles. You know what happens if you suck at OT, and you draft a crappy OT? You still suck at OT, and now you are short a draft pick that could have been better spent on a much better player.
I don’t disagree, toof. If this year’s class of OL is really that weak (you and others would know better than me) it makes the reach for Smith and the failure to solidify the line earlier more problematic. Still and almost regardless of how the board sets up we had better get better on OL or it will put our ability to pass, run and play defense (in that order) into question.
Smith was in no way a reach. Had he stayed in school he would likely have been a first rounder. I pay no attention to football focus stats. I watch the game. I know what I see from a second year player who came out early. Can we let the guy learn his craft a bit before running him off because of folks false perspective? Many of the pressures on Winston were due to the opponents complete disregard for the running game, a revolving door at LG, mediocre center play, inconsistency at RT and WR’s who struggled to get separation quickly enough for a pass to be delivered.
I think the simplest and best path to upgrading the OL would be by adding one of the handful of GOOD starting guards available in free agency. It’s pretty clear that we don’t plan to do that, but man, I sure wish we would. Sign a LG, i.e. Kevin Zeitler, move Sweezy to his natural position of RG, and slide Marpet over to center, where his skills should translate seamlessly, and we could very suddenly go from having one good player on the interior to having three.
I have no faith in Sweezy’s ability to play LG at a remotely high level. He’s too much of a liability as a pass blocker. That’s less of a problem at RG, where he belongs.
I just don’t think TE in the first round makes sense unless there are no WRs there that justify a selection, or DE, or S. Yes, a dominant TE can be a real matchup problem for a defense, but we’ve got more important needs to address. Remember, in addition to ZERO decent #2 wideout candidates on the roster and none likely to come from free agency, we have only 1 (yes, ONE) decent every-down DE – Ayers. Spence may improve against the run, but we’ll see. Now, maybe there’s somebody else on the roster (don’t give me Jacq Smith either – dude is always hurt)… but I don’t see it… Safety? Tandy and McDougald are competent at best. Conte’s a goner. So we draft a tiny safety in round 2… Foeking bring the wood! We need size!
Bottom line, I just don’t see how TE in round 1 is a big enough upgrade to our team unless he’s the original Kellen Winslow or Jimmy Graham.
You know when it makes sense? When he’s the best player available when we’re on the clock. Forget Jimmy Graham, by the way. I’d much rather have the next Greg Olsen than the next Graham. I’ll bet you Koetter would, too.
Wow, that’s three in a row where we’re on the same page.
Why so surprised? Do you usually hate my views? lol
I’ve seen a lot of people confused about taking O.J. Howard in the 1st round. His production at Bama is not indicative of his skill set. He really can do it all on the field. He should have come out in last years draft, but Saban is the devil and somehow convinced him to come back for another season. Dirk likes to use two TE sets to create mismatches against the defense. O.J. combined with Brate/Evans/Hump and a true WR2 would give us the offense we saw in week one vs ATL. Y’all remember that 31 point explosion? O.J. is worth a 1st round pick. TE, DE, or CB will work at #19.
You’re right, roots. Correct me if I’m wrong, but college offenses typically do not feature tight ends as their go-to receivers anyway, regardless of the skill set of a particular player. Yet we’ve seen several high performing NFL offenses every season where the go-to receiver (in yards, receptions, and/or TDs) was their TE .. particularly if that player is also a quality blocker making him an every-down player.
So therefore college offenses are only a dim window through which to view quality tight end talents and Alabama is Exhibit A. A Gronk, Olsen, or Graham or Gonzalez isn’t always a top performer on their college teams. Gronk was only the third most productive receiver on his 2010 Arizona team, producing only about half (yards, receptions, and TDs) that of the leading WR … yet, in the NFL he became the go-to guy for Brady (as least as long as he was healthy), an extremely productive passing-catching duo the last 6 years.
Yep. You’re right about Gronk, Olsen, & Graham. And they played football when Pro Style offenses still were the norm. The TE started to disappear in college with more teams scrapping Pro Style offenses, for the easier “level the playing field” RPO/Spread. TE is not featured greatly in those type of offenses. Lane Kiffin never used Howard’s skill set correctly. The kid can do it all. If he’s available, and WR isn’t, it’s a no brainer to draft him.
Whoa nelly! Hold your horses. TE OJ Howard is impressive. In fact, I have him as the Bucs 1st pick for the simple reason that I don’t think WR Corey Davis will be there at 19.
But I’m already seeing mocks with Howard going before 19 also. I am not alarmed by this because this draft is loaded with weapons for Winston. Everybody just witnessed the Senior Bowl and came away with the idea that we must draft Howard. Fact is most of the very best players did not even show up.
There’s a reason Howard showed up perhaps even risking injury is because his agent knows about David Njoku, Bucky Hodges, Jordan Leggett and others that are talented TEs. A first impression can be a lasting impression and Howard made money at the Senior Bowl.
But he’s not the only potential monster down the seam. Get a load of this guy who BTW has better numbers than Howard and is a former track star who is 6-4, 245, and runs a 4.52/40 – WR speed.
When Howard took the stage at the weigh-in, folks oohed and aahed at the physical specimen. Well this guy is no slouch either. My first preference is still Howard, but would not complain one bit if Njoku was the Bucs pick. May even be able to trade down with a QB hungry team and pick up another draft pick.
Here’s Njoku’s intro:
Here’s Njoku’s highlight tape:
I haven’t seen enough of the top WR’s, but I have seen enough of O.J. Howard to see he’s the real deal and clearly the # 1 TE. WR’s are always plentiful and we can easily find one better than our collection (other than ME13). On the other hand, TE’s who have Howard’s traits, are much rarer. It’s for that reason I would be inclined to take the best TE over the third ranked WR at #19.
I still believe in taking the BPA and consider drafting for perceived needs, that can change in an instant, a pathway for weakening the roster.
Amen, Scubog. Talented WR draft this year. We can find WR value in 2nd and 3rd round. We won’t find the same value at TE if we draft one later.
I think this is a good mock draft. Not because I’m crazy about all the players that were selected (I only know O.J. Howard and Josh Reynolds well) but because all of the players have a realistic chance of being there when we pick at the projected spots. The players selected also fit the types of players Licht likes to draft. Personally I’m not too crazy about the idea of drafting O.J. Howard since I can’t remember a TE drafted in the 1st round ever having a significant impact on a team’s chances of winning a Super Bowl, but I do think Licht will like him and he’ll be there if we stay at that draft spot in the 1st round, which is all that matters in a mock draft.
After I said in the PR Mock Draft 1.0, I do like Josh Reynolds and even after moving him up to the 4th round from the 5th round in version 2.0, I still like the pick.
Are the Pundits right and games are won in the trenches and great defenses beat great offenses (Bucs/Raiders and Broncos/Panthers)?
If they are, what about Malik McDowell or Taco Charlton in the first round?
Are you saying GMC does not need help to thin out the double teams because his current help is enough?
I like Budda Baker in the second.
Best receiver available in the 3rd.
Free agency can change things.
Free agency can change things. How right you are! What if this happened? Mock draft are fun, but they’re called mocks because they’re not real.
I’m not a big draftnik, so can anyone tell me who the last TE was that was drafted in the first round and when it was?
Why not just draft a kicker in the second round, too. Oh, I forgot, we did that last year.
Robert Ayres is on his last legs and Gerald McCoy isn’t to far behind. We haven’t had a double digit sack guy in over a decade and in a 4-3 it is almost imperative you have one if you want the system to work.
So you are right, lets use that No. 1 on a TE.
There haven’t been many Dr.D. Mostly because they are so underutilized in college and somewhat underutilized in the pros. Macabee can probably do a little research. I wouldn’t be in favor of drafting a TE or Safety (see Mark Barron) high in round one unless the player was an absolute blue chip prospect. At #19 I’ll defer to Licht’s evaluation. The great Jimmie Giles was drafted (by Houston) in the 3rd round out of Alcorn State. O.J. Howard has similar traits and is maybe a bit bigger and faster than #88.
Google is my best friend! lol.
I like the OJ pick, and Reynolds in the forth, other then that ehh. Tight ends have changed offenses in the NFL, if this guy is anything like Olsen I’m on board. My biggest hope is somehow Cook slips to us. I know, draft is loaded with RB’s, but special backs like Cook are one of a kind. A TE, or WR might get 5 touches a game compared to a bell cow back who might get over twenty touches, not to mention a back can catch the ball also. One thing for sure, if Cook is available, Winston will be all over Bucs brass to pick him. Try saying no to the franchise.
The draft time is my personal favorite time of the NFL offseason and for us Bucs fans has been the only positive to look forward to the last decade….lol. Good mock draft, I enjoyed reading your insight. I, like a few others, like the Reynolds and Hunt picks. I do wonder what happened to the Trey Hendrickson pick for the DE, he had a good week at the Senior Bowl and think he would be a good fit and available in the 4-6 rounds. Would like to here your thoughts on why you changed gears to a different DE. First round is a crap shoot never know how the board will fall and could see a lot of those playmakers going before pick 19. Also personally not high on Budda, think he is overrated. I would prefer the going after the CB from USC in the 2nd round. I am not a fan of the FB pick either, we drafted Vital last yr and he was also supposed to be a great player and he didn’t even make the team. Would prefer to use that on anything else. For all my fellow mock drafters there is a pretty cool website that lets you choose a team and go through a mock draft and pick your players it’s …… http://fanspeak.com/ontheclock/ ….. enjoy
Kevin: The Draft has often been the only positive for a lot longer than the past decade. Try four decades! And even then it’s been more encouraging looking forward to the Draft than the postmortem that followed. Even the great 1995 Draft that brought us two Hall of Fame players was graded a mere ‘C’ at the time. Couldn’t even feel encouraged at our high water mark.
Thanks for reminding me how long it’s been Scu, I’ve been on board since 78, time flies. Speaking of which, I became a grandfather last week, what fun. It’s been awhile since we drafted coming off a winning season, picking 19 is a little more relaxing then top five.
Hey Scott I like this mock draft as it makes sense but I have to believe it’s off in a sense of how each position should be of value to the team. For instance a tight end in the 1st. I love the pick and quite honestly OJ Howard may be worth this pick due to his talent level and the lack of talent that can be acquired in both the draft and in the league right now. But in 2nd Budda Baker, there are plenty of safeties that can fill the position and we don’t need a multi million dollar player back there. I think if we don’t it through the draft Marcus Maye in the 3rd or 4th is a better value pick or even take a shot on Eddie Jackson who could be a super steal. Even if it requires us signing one of McDougald to another one year deal just to make sure Jackson is ready to play Bradley as a back up is value at the 800k-1mil value.
In the 2nd I would like to see us nab a defensive lineman from this draft in the shape of Demarcus Walker.
Interesting mock Scott.
I’m onboard with OJ Howard if he can block. Essentially getting 2 birds with one stone.
I look at some of the leagues tight ends and wonder, who taught this guy his position. Seems like blocking has become an afterthought to these TE’s.
Your second pick is a head scratcher to me. I know Buddha Baker is a good player, but don’t you think we should invest in a lineman?
There are some decent guards in free agency, why not nab one and move Marpet to center.
I would stay away from Podic though, can’t see his upside.
Maybe the Glazers are serious this season and go all out for Eric Berry. Or Kwan Short. Or Donteri Poe. It’s time to pull out the stops on a big name FA.
That might give them a chance to draft BPA.
I can actually envision Hunt and Jaquizz in the same back field. That might be a good combo.
I’ll say this though, if Williams, Cook, Cam Robinson or Corey Davis are there at 19 take one of them. In that order.
But alas they will be all gone by 19. So I would not gripe about OJ Howard too much.
Just for giggles I’ll throw out the name of Ruben Foster. I got a feeling that he will be the next great LB.
What position do you think needs the most help this offseason?
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