Round 3: San Diego State CB Damontae Kazee – 5-10, 190 – 4.50 – Senior
After drafting a pair of offensive weapons with the first two picks, Bucs general manager Jason Licht addresses the defense with the selection of Kazee. Cornerback Brent Grimes was a huge addition last year and earned Pro Bowl alternate honors with a team-high four interceptions, including a pick-six, and an incredible 24 passes defensed. But Grimes will be 34 in 2017 and is entering the final year of his contract. The Bucs will need to look at finding a replacement to start at cornerback opposite Vernon Hargreaves, who was last year’s first-round pick.
Kazee is a special talent due to his ball-hawking ability, racking up 17 career interceptions and 29 passes defensed as a four-year starter for the Aztecs. Kazee led college football with eight picks in 2015, returning one interception for a touchdown, before finishing his San Diego State career with seven INTs as a senior, including another pick-six.
Snaring interceptions isn’t his only means of creating takeaways on defense. Kazee has also forced six fumbles in his career and recovered one fumble. The San Bernadino, Ca. native is good in run defense, registering 240 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in his four-year career.
“They’ve got great ball skills, they’ve got speed and the thing about Kazee, and not just him but all those guys, is he’s very physical,” Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo told BSN Denver. “He will come up and strike you in the run game.”
Kazee’s San Diego State Career Stats
2016: 67 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 7 INTs, 1 TD, 8 PBUs, 1 forced fumble
2015: 75 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 8 INTs, 1 TD, 7 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles
2014: 58 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 12 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery
2013: 40 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 2 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles
What is most appealing about Kazee, the two-time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, from a film stand point is how smooth he is in his backpedal and how fluid his hips are. That style of play makes him an ideal fit in Mike Smith’s style of defense, which is predicated on backpedaling off the snap.
Kazee’s first career interception came against Ohio State in his second game at San Diego State, while his first pick-six came against Colorado State in 2015. Kazee also recorded a career-high three interceptions against San Diego in 2015, while recording a pair of picks last year against Hawai’i and against Wyoming in a 27-24 win in the Mountain West championship game. His interception against Cal on the last play of the game sealed a 45-40 upset of the Pac-12 school.
The Bucs could use Kazee in the slot or on the outside to be groomed as a potential replacement for Grimes. He can also contribute early on special teams, too. Kazee blocked a kick as a freshman.
Click below to view Tampa Bay’s fourth-round pick in 2017.