Round 1: Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson
6-4, 330 – 5.23– Junior

The first question Buccaneers fans might have is, “Can Nelson rush the passer?”

No. In PewterReport.com’s initial 2018 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft, the Bucs don’t draft a defensive end in the first round. Keep in mind that we have four more mock drafts to go before the 2018 NFL Draft arrives and a lot can – and will – change between now and then.

Because this is not a great draft for 4-3 defensive ends that can rush the passer, North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb likely won’t get past Indianapolis at No. 3 and make it to Tampa Bay at No. 7. With 2018 being a make-or-break year for both head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht, I also don’t see the team using a lot of draft capital to move up to get Chubb because this Bucs team is not a player away from making the playoffs. It could very well take three or four players from this draft class being starters in 2018 to achieve that.

I almost put University of Texas San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport in at No. 7 for Tampa Bay. There is a lot to like about the 6-foot-7, 255-pound defensive end, including his 21.5 career sacks, 37.5 career tackles for loss, eight career passes defensed and six career forced fumbles, but the level of competition he faced in producing those great statistics is a concern.

Davenport will be at the Senior Bowl later this month, and if he showcases his talent in Mobile, Ala. and makes a splash like former defensive linemen, including Ziggy Ansah, Aaron Donald and Tampa Bay’s own Noah Spence, have in the past, his draft stock could rise into the top 10. He’s not there yet, but don’t be surprised if Davenport is the Bucs’ first-round pick in our next PewterReport.com 2018 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft if that’s indeed the case. I wrote about Davenport being on the rise back in October in a previous SR’s Fab 5 column.

Instead, the Bucs reap the benefits of teams in front of Tampa Bay taking several quarterbacks and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, letting the best lineman and perhaps the best overall prospect in Nelson slide to them at No. 7. Believe it or not, but guard is a huge need for Tampa Bay with right guard J.R. Sweezy underperforming in his return to football after missing 2016 due to back surgery, and Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith underwhelming at left guard. The scary thing is that both Pamphile and Smith were in contract years.

Drafting the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Nelson, whom I featured in my most recent SR’s Fab 5 column, immediately helps the Bucs’ ground game as he paved the way for Josh Adams to run for 3,201 yards and 20 touchdowns at Notre Dame, including 1,430 yards and nine touchdowns on 206 carries (6.9 avg.). Putting Nelson in at left guard and moving Ali Marpet back to right guard could solidify the interior running game, as long as the team finds a good center in free agency like Baltimore’s Ryan Jensen.

“He’s a plug-and-play NFL starter and should have a long, successful pro career,” NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Nelson.

The goal of any general manager drafting in the top 10 is drafting a Pro Bowl-caliber player. In my research about guards for the latest SR’s Fab 5 column, eight of the last 15 guards that were first-rounders in 10 drafts over a 13-year span dating back to 2005 became Pro Bowlers. That’s an incredibly high hit rate.

Nelson, who declared for the 2018 NFL Draft after his junior season, has been a three-year starter for the Fighting Irish, which was a goal of his coming out of high school, according to an article on NDInsider.com.

“I told him, ‘There’s eight upperclassmen you have to beat out. You may be sitting an awfully long time at Notre Dame,’” Craig Nelson told his son before he committed to the Fighting Irish. “He said, ‘Dad, if I can’t start there, then my dream for the NFL is moot.’”

Quenton Nelson pinned a promise to the back of his bedroom door that said, “I’m going to start as a redshirt freshman at Notre Dame.”

“He did it,” Craig Nelson said, “and that was that.”

Part of the reason he was able to start as a redshirt freshman was because of his size and strength. Nelson bench-pressed 26 repetitions of 225 pounds in high school, while at the NFL Scouting Combine that year, future first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney could only muster 21 reps.

Nelson gets his quick feet, hip flexion, leverage and mental discipline from years studying Taekwondo. For a guard, he has a devastating highlight reel. Imagine the opponents Nelson can devastate at the next level as a Buccaneer.

Click below to view Tampa Bay’s second-round pick in 2018.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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gafikdetail

sad reality of being a Bucs fan: mock drafts the 1st week of January 🙁

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Jake from state farm

I have a hard time thinking Indy would go pass rusher considering their QB has Swiss cheese for an OLine. That’s just dumb. He’s their highest paid player, why wouldn’t they draft someone who is going to help protect that asset? Especially, when he just came off an injury that kept him off the field for an entire year?

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cgmaster27

I’ve been saying the same thing since these mocks started. You have your franchise QB coming off of multiple surgeries, and you draft a defensive lineman?

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matador

I agree completely with Jake. Underinvesting in our OL got us where we are today. Drafting one OL ain’t gonna get it done. OL can play for 10 years sometimes more. That’s one of the reasons you are *supposed to* draft them early in a turnaround. What do we have? Right now we have one OL capable of playing at a very high level, of course that’s Marpet who for whatever reason is playing out of position but maybe year 2 of the experiment will be better. Or maybe not. Beyond that we have one old RT who probably has… Read more »

e

I still see Lars Tate flipping over the pile and running it in for a touchdown… Barring a trade down scenario, it’s tough to see the Bucs addressing the pass rush that late? I like the idea of both the DL & OL addressed early and often. I’ll say it again; Billy Price / C – Ohio State.

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wnb0395

I really like this draft but don’t think Michel will be there 2nd round. I think he will have a huge game tonight and his draft stock will sore up into the late 1st round. Also would like to see more than 1 offensive lineman drafted. Our Oline was horrible and needs to be addressed with more than 1 draft pick.

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cheveliar

Always loves homegrown talent. The South Florida kid caught my eye. He’s small at 6’1 but he’s got a motor. I liked him a lot. Jumped off the screen watching USF football.

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macabee

Bucs 2018 Mock Draft V2 Draft Strategy With the Bucs fantastic win over the Saints in the last game of the season, I’m moved to update my Version 1 mock draft. The focus is still on fixing the neglected D-Line. We are now picking 7th in round 1. RD1 DE Bradley Chubb/ NC State 6-4 275 4.80 *This game wrecker needs no introduction. Chubb can play either side and is an excellent run stopper. He is the #1 DE in the draft. Because of his strength and motor, I see Chubb as a LDE. RD2 DE Marcus Davenport/UT San Antonio… Read more »

buddah

Overall well done. Love the Penny pick. Must get a defensive end in the first round. Those available in Free Agency aren’t worth the cash. The Notre Dame guard is a great player , but if Chubb isn’t there, I’d trade down and take Landry, Key, or Wilkins.

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JustaBuc

This draft is a heck of a lot better than the PR 1.0 Mock imo. Wp.

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cgmaster27

Great mock there Mac, youre research is good as always. I love this mock, if we could add maybe Lawrence from Dallas or Ziggy Ansah that would give us one damn good defensive line. Those two guys will be expensive but we A- have the space and B- Licht and Koetter are basically on one year deals here. I don’t see them being cheap. Good mock again there Mac.

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SO CAL BUC FAN

I like it overall though Davenport is a little high he’s athletic enough! But, tends to get swallowed up in the run game is projected to be a 3rd rounder and Penny from SDST can be had in the 4th or early 5th round also…. 1. Chubb DE NCST or Key DE LSU 2. Tavern Bryan DT/DE Florida 3. Iman Marshall CB USC 4. Isaiah Wynn OG Georgia 5. Bo Scarborough RB, Alabama 6. Jamarco Jones OT, Ohio State 6. Myles Gaskin RB, Washington 7. Demetrious Cox S, Michigan State My FA wants: DE: Ziggy (would like Lawrence think he… Read more »

Wadeless

Not sure Bryan will be available in R2 from everything I’m reading.

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martinii

Looks good Mac. I really think between the QB Needy teams and the hope that Saquan Barkley or a top OL will attract the Colts that we have a shot at Chubb. Wish we could get the other Chubb RB out of Georgia but I have a feeling all said and done he may wind up a first rounder. Thought PR mock was rough, we have to focus on Pass rush First. as far as FA I am lost, it has become nothing but a crap shoot in recent years. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

Trevor Sikkema

Look at Mac holdin’ it down! I love it!

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plopes808

Well done sire #slowclap

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Wausa

Scott: Love your analysis, but I am not a huge fan of your first mock for the Bucs. Here is my mock for the Bucs with some alternate selections if the pick is not available: Round 1: Bradley Chubb DE NC State or Derwin James DB Florida State or Christian Wilkens DT Clemson Round 2: Bryce Love RB Stanford or Duke Ejiofor DE Wake Forest or Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State Round 3: Chad Thomas DE Miami(FL) or Mark Walton RB Miami(FL) or Jerry Tillery DT Notre Dame Round 4: Kyzir White SS West Virginia or Zachary Crabtree OT Oklahoma… Read more »

e

Mark Walton would be a good, under the radar pick at RB.

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chefboho

Agreed. Mark Walton was money before he got hurt this year. Plus he is really good at catching the ball out of the backfield. Depending on if he’s recovered fully to do the combine, I see a third round spot for him just because there are so many talented ones coming out this year.

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Horse

Scott, thanks for the effort. I totally disagree with your Mock. The real serious need is THE PASS RUSH RUSH! How does this draft help the elephant in the room? I can understand taking the best rated player at No. 7 spot, but not this year. At this point I would trade down if Chubb is not there which I believe he won’t be. Also your small CB selection is a big issue for me; same for a RB over a DE. Haven’t we learned our lesson yet about the Defensive side of Free Agency? They usally don’t work out… Read more »

tomcin

Sorry Scott but I totally disagree with your mock draft. DE definitely has to be # 1. Second if Marpet is moved back to guard I would go with Price C Ohio State.

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stlbucsfan

Drafting a DE or CB that needs developed in the first 2 rounds does not help a defense with a 35 year old CB or an aging GMC. Solidifying the run game HAS to be our priority heading the draft. Getting an All-Pro guard would change our offense immensely, especially if coupled with a starting C via FA or the draft to move ALi back to the other guard spot. I’m all for us selecting a RB in round 2 because it’s important we get OUR guy and not just the guy left on the board with a draftable grade.… Read more »

surferdudes

If you can get a sure fire pro ball caliber guard, you take it. Of course assuming B.Chubb is gone. In case none of you noticed, left guard was a big problem last year. Smith, and Pamp were barely serviceable, so if I can fill that need for the next four years on a rookie deal, I’m taking the sure thing over reaching for a D end. Now that all depends on F.A.’s we may target for all our needs. This mock also assumes things we take for obvious like not resigning Sims. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No… Read more »

Horse

How soon we forget the Defense was the problem.

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Buc 1976

Yep!!

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Wausa

Love the thought of drafting Nelson, but the problem with the Bucs is they have put themselves in such a horrendous position at DE and RB. The Bucs can get by with pedestrian guard play but not with having a pathetic defensive line The Bucs have the worst rated defense in the NFL and the worst group of running backs in the NFL. Unless the Bucs sign Leveon Bell and Ezekial Ansah in free agency then those two positions must be addressed very early in the draft. Looks like this will be a good crop of free agent DB’s this… Read more »

macabee

There is nothing bad to say about LG Quenton Nelson as the Bucs pick at #7. I’ve said this before and I will say again that would be happy with that pick. Of course I’m biased toward a #1 DE as our defense literally had no pass rush last year. I try to look at all the mocks and there are several with the same opinion as Scott. The Bucs have lots of needs and all will not be filled in one draft.

https://www.sbnation.com/nfl-mock-draft/2018/1/8/16858456/2018-nfl-mock-draft-sam-darnold-cleveland-browns-saquon-barkley-josh-rosen

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gibsonmx

I am with you Macabee, I also want a true #1 DE because we have missed on so many over the last several years(Gaines Adams in 2007, Clayborn and Bowers in 2011, Gholston and Means in 2013, Noah Spence in 2016 which the jury is still out). But if Chubb is not there, I am not sure we can try and reach for one. So I would not mind at all to get the best OL in the draft to help protect our QB and help us establish a running game. I love that video of him taking that defender… Read more »

vtrantb

Scott,
What about Paul Hughes UCF CB and returner in the 4th rnd instead of DJ Reed? He is a special returner who had that 95 yard kickoff return to beat USF.

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vtrantb

Actually it is Mike not Paul. First team all conference.

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Trevor Sikkema

Mike Hughes is really underrated right now. I think he’ll jump up boards by the time we get to the draft.

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gibsonmx

I have no problem with going guard if Chubb is not there. Bad Franchises tend to always draft “need: instead of best player available”. Again if Chubb is there at 7 you take him, but if not, why reach for the next guy that might not even be rated a top 20 pick. It is easy to say, “trade back”, but you have to have someone willing to want to trade up and give you fair value for doing that. So that may not even be an option. Our o-line is horrible and needs some upgrades, so why not get… Read more »

buddah

There will be at least 3 defensive ends taken in the top 20 picks. Many teams have needs.

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gibsonmx

These are the other 3 that are rated right now to be top 20 picks. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson Marcus Davenport, DE Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU Ferrell has the size to play both the run and pass but I am scared to Death of any DE coming out of Clemson( we have missed on the last 2 from there) Davenport looks the part but he is coming from a small school and has not gone up against good talent on a week to week basis, so that is a concern(And I am not saying that small school prospects cant do… Read more »

tnew

I always choose BPA over need in the first (see VH3), Quinton Nelson represents the confluence of that. The Bucs could very well loose every player that played at Guard this season other than Benenoch Nelson would make Donovan Smith and whoever plays center play better. DE do not typically produce first year. Unless Chubb is there or Arden Key has a Myles Garrett type combine I would love picking the next Logan Mankins type player at 7. As far as Davenport goes its all on the Senior Bowl. The competition he played against did not require a ton of… Read more »

yuccaneers

SR – Based on what I’ve seen of Davenport not sure he is a top 10 caliber 43 end. From a pure athletic prowess he was dominant over the opposition. Decent get-off at the snap, overwhelms with strong initial punch with violent hands and shows quality closing speed when running north and south. However he lacks lateral agility when going east & west – flexion issues between ankle, knee and hips when he is cornering to get low and gain leverage to rip and swivel his hips through contact. Lacks secondary pass rush plan if initial contact is stalled and… Read more »

Buc 1976

All of these young men were good in college.
IMO a good guard can be available in the 2nd or 3rd round. So I am assuming Nelson must be very special! As far as another short CB no WAY.

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JustaBuc

I think this Mock Draft suffers from a very early faulty assumption that Indy won’t address OLine #1 with Luck having been out the whole year due to injury. If G Nelson really is the best this class has to offer at OLine, I don’t see why they pass. Also, all the usual complaints about how this draft seems to fail to address the biggest need of our team until round 3. It’s not often that saviors are found at round 3. Not saying it can’t happen, but just that the chances are slim. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00… Read more »

Romy rome

Go out and get Michael Bennett
1.OG Quenton Nelson
2.DE Sam Hubbard
3.FS DeShon Elliott
4.OT Desmond Harrison
5.RB Martez Carter
6.CB Holton Hill
6.DT Kahlil McKenzie
7.CB Levi Wallace

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Romy rome

Based off of if we get Michael Bennett
1.OG Quenton Nelson/ pro bowler
2.DT Taven Bryan
3.FS DeShon Elliott
4.OT Desmond Harrison
5.RB Martez carter
6.DE Hércules mata’afa
6.DHolton Hill
7.CB Levi Wallace

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buccaneerNW

Hard to imagine passing on DE for the first 2 rounds. The guys you’ve picked are obviously guys that could help us, but can Jason Licht afford to pass on drafting pass rushers at the top of the draft when the only DE he’s picked in 4 previous drafts is the injury-limited, out-of-position LB Noah Spence. I mean, it’s a conundrum. We could use another powerful presence on the OL and we have a crying need at RB. Should be interesting. We probably need 4 new bodies on the D-line and a major pass rush upgrade. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb… Read more »

Horse

Most teams may say on the record they will pick BPA, but off thr record they still pick a position of need. Bucs picked O J Howard last draft even though the need was DE and Safety.. Most teams get better quickly if they go mostly to need as the priority. Our GM had the impression we were going to the Playoffs so we could pick BPA; how that work out?

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JustaBuc

Even with this season, still don’t regret the Howard pick. Good pick then, good pick now. We’re now looking at a draft that makes a guy like Chubb in our alley who fits both need and BPA. Awesome.

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Bucsfan1983

This is not a good mock at all, Scott. Outside of Nelson and Michel. Free Agency: Sign DE Zeke Ansah, CB Kyle Fuller, LT Nate Solder, re-sign WR Mike Evans Draft: Rd 1) DE Bradley Chubb Rd 2) CB Josh Jackson Rd 3) RB Sony Michel Rd 4) OG Braden Smith Rd 5) S Jeremy Reaves Rd 6) K Eddy Pineiro Rd 6) OT Jamarco Jones I think the Bucs need to double up at DE and CB, through FA and draft. Ansah and Chubb start at DE, Fuller and Jackson at CB. VGIII to Nickel/Slot CB. The Bucs need… Read more »

Trevor Sikkema

Jackson ain’t making it to the second round.

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Bucsfan1983

Might not. If not, I still go CB round 2. T McFadden, Carlton Davis, J Alexander

Bucs need to get taller and longer at CB. VGIII hasn’t lived up to an 11th pick. Point is to move him to Nickel/Slot

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Bucsfan1983

Making some updates to mine.

Rd 1) DE Bradley Chubb
Rd 2) RB Sony Michel
Rd 3) CB Tarvarus McFadden
Rd 4) OG Braden Smith
Rd 5) S Jeremy Reaves
Rd 6) K Eddy Pineiro
Rd 6) OT Jamarco Jones

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GoldsonAges

I like Nelson, but there is zero chance I would pick him at No.7 because he is a liability pulling and out in space on 2nd level blocks. If you do draft Nelson then Marpet is staying at center because you are going to want an athletic center next to him so Nelson can crack down on the DL. The biggest problem with Nelson is he is one dimensional and will make our blocking schemes really predictable

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seat26

Bucs have to get a DE early. And they need a Corner early. And they need a Running back early.
I have an idea:
Trade away one of our Star TEs for a 1st round pick.

Draft DE and a Running back in the 1st round.
Draft a Corner in 2nd. And draft DL and OL the rest of the draft.

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BucsJam

The defense sucked, and they didn’t can Mike Smith which means they think it’s the players—they’re going Defense in the first round.

Mark it down,

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pinkstob

Q. Nelson is going to be a great OG, but not great enough to warrant the #7 overall pick in this draft class. We’d be reaching for a position of need. Michel won’t be there in the 2nd round. I’m not familiar with the rest of the guys except DT D. Senat, who I do think would be a good pick in the 5th round and may actually last that long. It’s still a little early for me to say who I think the Bucs would take at #7 since all the players haven’t said whether they are declaring for… Read more »

XpfcWintergreen

I would be very very happy if we were to be able to get Bradley Chubb, DE, Saquon Barkley, RB, or Quenton Nelson,OG, with the 7th pick. (Who knows what is possible? Look how we were able to come up with O.J. Howard last year. Think about it. Howard and Brate could be our tight ends for years to come. It should not matter who the head coach might be in 2019.) If we don’t get one of the three named above I would hope that we could find someone to trade down with. We could possibly trader back up… Read more »

XpfcWintergreen

Typo … Clelin Ferrel should be a defensive end.

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Bucsfan1983

Please no D Lineman from Clemson. See Bowers, G Adams

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rob roy

The DE draft class and quality FA DE’s is not loaded to say the least. After Bradley Chubb you have Arden Key, then Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant (both Clemson) and Sam Hubbard. Those are the creme of the crop. All should go in round one. In the second/third round Marcus Davenport, Duke Ejiofor, Marcell Frazier, Dorance Armstrong Jr and Rasheem Green are some DE’s with promise. My sleeper is DE Breeland Speaks (6-3 285) Ole Miss in round four. In FA you have two big names in Ezekiel Ansah and DeMarcus Lawrence, who will cost between 15M and 17M a… Read more »

scubog

Another off-season and another 4 months of endless Mock Drafts and the inevitable criticism and the woulda, coulda shoulda offerings that follow. Here’s what I know. 1.) Guards and Centers aren’t typically taken in the top ten so the ND guard and the OSU center better be exceptional if we are to consider one of them. 2.) Don’t take the second best DE at the 7th pick if Chubb is gone. That’s what a “reach” is Horse. 3.) Don’t take a RB with the 7th pick. Too short-lived for the investment. 4.) Unlike past seasons and my typical philosophy, I… Read more »

Horse

Scubog, yes I agree. That would be my first option to do is to trade down and get your need at a lower spot.

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tnew

Very good points above. Arden Key is an interesting story. Nothing will be for sure on him until the combine when we see him and how he moves at whatever weight. Injury concerns, and huge weight variation. He has played between 225 and 270, looking better at 250. We’ve had great results from LSU defensive players, but at #7, he’s a HUGE risk. Yes, he’s 6’6″ and appears to have a good frame for a 4-3 DE but stop if the rest of his story sounds familiar.. Plays better at 250 which is undersized for a 4-3 DE. Coming off… Read more »

Hank Scorpio

A Guard in the top 10 is… interesting. And not in a good way. Guards can be manufactured, Tackles can’t, which is why you never see them taken in the top half of the 1st rd.

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Pete Wood

Hey, Pewter, how about giving Macabee a job? I like his mock much more than yours.

No RB in the first four rounds, please. Two words. Trent Richardson.

That is all.

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Wadeless

Man I’d be happy with those first three picks. Big time needs and all really good players. I hope Licht can pull something like that off. We need a draft like the Saints had with all those young guns injecting some life into our team. I’d take a flyer on some OL in the later rounds rather than RB especially if we can get Michel in R2. How about the FA market? Who are the key guys we need to resign?

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Bucsfan1983

Rd 1) DE Bradley Chubb
Rd 2) RB Sony Michel
Rd 3) FS DeShon Elliot
Rd 4) OG Braden Smith
Rd 5) RB Phillip Lindsey
Rd 6) DT Deadrin Senat
Rd 6) OT Jamarco Jones

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