Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson - Photo by: Getty Images
The 2018 NFL Draft is upon us! Who will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select not only in the first round, but also in every round? PewterReport.com offers up its best guess in its fifth and final 2018 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.
But there are certainly more than seven options for the Bucs. Long-time PewterReport.com readers know that with our annual draft position previews comes our widely anticipated Bucs’ Best Bets.
Penn State WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Getty Images
What exactly are the Bucs’ Best Bets? PewterReport.com picks two Bucs’ Best Bets at each position – from positions of need, such as safety, cornerback, running back, defensive tackle, to positions where the needs may not be so obvious, such as wide receiver and quarterback.
The first pick is if Tampa Bay drafts a player at that position early – in Rounds 1-3. The second pick is if the Bucs instead select a player at that same position later – in Rounds 4-7.
PewterReport.com has a great track record of accurately forecasting Bucs’ Best Bets, from some easier selections like Vernon Hargreaves at cornerback in 2016 and wide receiver Chris Godwin last year. Other years were trickier with Bucs’ Best Bets at quarterback with Mike Glennon in 2013 and running back Charles Sims in 2014.
Occasionally lightning will strike and PewterReport.com nails both Bucs’ Best Bets, as was the case in 2009 with wide receivers Arrelious Benn (Round 2) and Mike Williams (Round 4).
Instead of sifting back through all 10 PewterReport.com position previews for the list of our Bucs’ Best Bets, we’ve got them all right here.
Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta – Photo courtesy of Richmond
Lauletta posted three 3,000-yard passing seasons in a row while his completion percentage improved from 61.6 percent in 2015 to 63 percent in 2016 to 64.9 percent last season. Additionally, his touchdown-to-interception ratio also improved. Lauletta threw 19 TDs and 15 INTs in his first full season as a starter and then jumped on NFL scouts’ radars with 24 scores and only eight picks as a junior. That margin held true as a senior when he tossed 28 TDs and 12 INTs. Lauletta, who was a team captain in his last two years with the Spiders, has developed into an accurate passer with good footwork and a better-than-average arm. It’s doubtful that the Bucs will spend a third-round pick or even a fourth-rounder on a quarterback, although the team is searching for a long-term answer at the backup QB spot, and it’s not Ryan Fitzpatrick, who turns 36, and likely not Ryan Griffin, either. Lauletta had an impressive Senior Bowl week and Bucs QBs coach Mike Bajakian attended his pro day at Richmond, so it’s a remote possibility.
Washington State QB Luke Falk – Photo courtesy of Washington State
Falk racked up some amazing stats playing in Washington State coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 14,481 yards with 119 touchdowns and 39 interceptions as a three-year starter — Falk finished as the most prolific passer in PAC-12 history. After his sophomore and junior seasons, in which he threw for over 4,400 yards and 38 touchdowns in each season and led the Cougars to a bowl game in 2016, Falk struggled as a senior and passed for only 3,593 yards with 30 TDs and a career-high 13 INTs. Falk took a beating behind a shabby offensive line at Washington State and broke a bone in his wrist during his senior campaign. When he’s healthy and well protected, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Falk is accurate and has an arm strong enough to hit all the throws in the NFL. From a size and arm strength standpoint, Falk checks the boxes for the Buccaneers. And in a draft that could feature as many as six quarterbacks going in the first round, Falk could slip down to fifth or sixth round where the Bucs might see value in taking him then.
N.C. State RB Nyheim Hines – Photo by: Getty Images
If Penn State running back Saquon Barkley somehow slips to No. 7 look for the Bucs to pounce on him. But if he’s not there, Tampa Bay will look for a running back later in the draft. Hines is built like former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn and has a similar running style in that he’s tougher than expected between the tackles and has the speed to rip off big runs. Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter would like to add more explosive players to his offense, and that term describes Hines. He rushed for 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns on 197 carries (5.6 avg.) last year. Another term that would describe him is “ultra-competitive,” which appeals to the Bucs. Hines could also be used as a receiver out of the backfield the way Charles Sims was. Hines had 89 catches for 933 yards (10.5 avg.) and one touchdown in his Wolfpack career. Tampa Bay currently doesn’t have a third-round pick, and appears likely to draft a cornerback in the second round. But watch general manager Jason Licht manufacture a third-round pick by making a trade during the draft. He could then use that pick on Hines, who can also provide a spark to Tampa Bay’s dormant kick return game. Hines returned two kickoffs 100 yards for touchdowns.
Fordham RB Chase Edmonds – Photo courtesy of Fordham
Edmonds was a workhorse back at Fordham, rushing for 5,862 yards and 67 touchdowns on 938 carries (6.2 avg.). Edmonds rushed for 1,838 yards and 23 TDs as a freshman, 1,648 yards and a sophomore with 20 scores, and 1,799 yards and 19 TDs as a junior. His senior season was shortened due to an ankle injury and he ran for just 577 yards and five touchdowns. Had he been healthy, Edmonds would have broken the all-time FCS rushing record with his good combination of elusiveness, burst and ability to slip tackles. Where he has appeal to the Bucs is that he can play on all three downs. Edmonds has great hands and caught 86 passes for 905 yards and seven touchdowns with an impressive 10.5-yard average. Edmonds’ ankle injury lingered into the offseason where it flared up at the East-West Shrine Game and slowed him down a bit at the NFL Scouting Combine. That dampened his draft stock, but he could prove to be a late-round steal for Tampa Bay.
Washington WR Dante Pettis – Photo by: Getty Images
Pettis could help the Bucs in several ways. He has experience in the slot and outside as an accomplished receiver with 2,256 yards and 24 touchdowns on 163 catches for the Huskies. At 6-foot, 186 pounds, Pettis isn’t the biggest receiver, but he’s plenty smooth and does an outstanding job of making adjustments on deep balls. Aside from being a receiver, Pettis used his 4.48 speed to become the best punt returner in NCAA history with a record nine career touchdowns, including four last year. With such a huge salary cap number ($10 million) in 2019, this might be DeSean Jackson’s last season in Tampa Bay, and the Bucs could draft the speedy Pettis as his eventual replacement. The Bucs wouldn’t draft a receiver earlier than the third round, but that’s right around where Pettis’ draft grade is.
Penn WR Justin Watson – Photo courtesy of Univ. of Penn
Tampa Bay likes Watson enough to bring him in for a Top 30 visit to One Buccaneer Place, which says a lot. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and running a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, Watson has been compared to Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen. Watson is a sure-handed receiver that is faster in a straight line than he is quick, and he used that speed to post three 1,000-yard seasons for the Quakers, leaving the school as Penn’s all-time leader in receiving TDs (33), receptions (286), receiving yards (3,777) and all-purpose yards (4,116). Penn would bring some needed size to Tampa Bay where there is only one receiver over 6-foot-2, and that’s 6-foot-5 Mike Evans. Watson has the blue-collar work ethic needed to play on special teams, and asked the special teams coordinator at the East-West Shrine Game if he could play on every unit. Watson has the tools to make it as a fourth or fifth wide receiver, and potentially develop into a No. 3 wideout in time.
Notre Dame LT Mike McGlinchey – Photo by: Getty Images
The recent knee surgery to right tackle Demar Dotson has put a spotlight on the team needing an offensive tackle for the future – whether that is drafting a right tackle or moving left tackle Donovan Smith to right tackle and drafting a left tackle. Dotson will be 33 in October and the team views Caleb Benenoch, who replaced Dotson last year at right tackle as a future guard. This year’s draft doesn’t feature much quality and quantity at the offensive tackle position, and may only have one first-rounder, which would be the athletic, 6-foot-7, 291-pound McGlinchey. Although the Bucs have more pressing needs than offensive tackle, general manager Jason Licht doesn’t expect to be picking in the top 10 again anytime soon, and that’s where franchise-caliber tackles are drafted. McGlinchey is a sensational run-blocker and has enough length and athleticism to be effective as a pass blocker. It’s doubtful the Bucs would select an offensive tackle early in the draft, but if they did it would be McGlinchey in the first round.
Humboldt State OT Alex Cappa – Photo courtesy of Humboldt State
Cappa was impressive at the FCS level and proved he was quite formidable at the Senior Bowl where he took snaps at left tackle, left guard and right guard. The Bucs love versatile offensive linemen, and a player like the 6-foot-7, 305-pound Cappa would bring great value to Tampa Bay. Cappa is a nasty, street-fighting lineman with a great mix of technique and sheer brute force. The Humboldt State product finishes through the whistle and treats pass pro reps like run-blocking reps, always wanting to pancake his opponent. That type of tough-guy mentality is always welcome on a Tampa Bay offensive line that just received an upgrade in the nastiness department with the addition of center Ryan Jensen. Cappa might need a year or two to get adjusted to a higher level of competition, but he could develop into a starter at right tackle or guard for the Bucs.
Notre Dame left guard Quenton Nelson – Photo by: Getty Images
If one of the big three draft targets – North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley – falls to Tampa Bay at No. 7 it very well could be Nelson. If that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine Bucs general manager Jason Licht not drafting one of the most sure-fire players in the draft in Nelson, an absolute road-grading guard. Nelson could replace J.R. Sweezy at right guard and solidify the Bucs’ interior offensive line, which now consists of center Ryan Jensen, a free agent import from Baltimore, and Ali Marpet, who will move back to guard and play on the left side next to left tackle Donovan Smith. Many draft experts believe that Nelson is a better pro prospect than former Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin was when he became an All-Pro left guard in Dallas a rookie.
Virginia Tech G Wyatt Teller – Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech
The Bucs don’t absolutely need to draft a guard, as the plan was to have Caleb Benenoch challenge J.R. Sweezy at right guard while Ali Marpet moves from center to left guard to replace Kevin Pamphile and make way for Ryan Jensen in the middle. But if the right player meeting the right criteria is available in the right round for Tampa Bay in terms of value, the Bucs just may add another guard to the mix. Teller is a player to keep an eye on for two reasons. First, because he’s a rough-and-tumble offensive lineman, and second because he has great hair. He would fit in nicely with long-haired Tampa Bay linemen like Marpet and Jensen. More importantly, Teller is a very strong, solid force up front at 6-foot-4, 314 pounds. He had tremendous tape in 2016, but his play tailed off for some reason during his senior year at left guard. Teller rebounded well at the Senior Bowl, which salvaged his draft stock. Teller would be a nice addition to the Bucs’ offensive line in the fourth round.
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 protected]
Only three more days and we get ten months without Mel Kiper! No matter who the Bucs pick, I’ll still have that.
I haven’t been this excited for a draft in a long time. This class seems custom made for our needs
Just get it right, Licht.. Don’t pass on Nelson for James..
So here we are, the dawn of Draft Day. Scubog is up early as usual. Looking forward to the next three days flipping between NFL Network and ESPN. My wife is “getting out of Dodge” so she doesn’t have to feel totally ignored. When the sun rises again on Friday morning there will surely be the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” comments from the pewternut gallery who I think the consensus is to trade down if the “big three” are gone. There’s little doubt that there will be an unexpected choice/trade to throw all of the mock drafts into a tizzy. Seems to happen every year. Those folks on Twitter will be using WTF, OMG and SMH frequently. As I’ve aged and become more apathetic regarding things I can’t control, I just like to enjoy the brief feeling of hope that somehow this draft class will improve the roster enough for the team to contend for a championship.
If we draft Nelson Scott wouldn’t it be better if he played left guard where he starred in college? Marpet played two years on the right side, why is everyone so hell bent on moving him yet again to the left side? I’m beginning to think offensive tackle is a bigger need then we’re led to believe. Dotson is done. He hasn’t been healthy the last two years, and at age 33 is currently rehabbing. What if D. Smith gets injured? Our back up tackles should be working in a lumber yard instead of the NFL. Some have said McGlinchey could go as high as 4 to the Browns so it wouldn’t be a reach drafting him at seven, or with a trade down. If we can’t protect Jameis we won’t be winning many games.
Tonight’s the night and I want to be on record before the draft. I have no intel other than my own gut intuition from reading and listening over the past 7 days. The following has helped to shape my opinion:
*Respected DraftAnalyst’s Tony Pauline reports QB Baker Mayfield being drafted by the Jets is a “done deal.”
*AdamSchefter reports that one GM estimated today that there is a “50 percent chance” that four QBs will go in first five picks Thursday night and believes that this would be a big help to top 10 teams not in the QB market.
*Ian Rapoport reports that the Arizona Cardinals may be the team to watch at this point. They certainly seem like they’re making the most phone calls about possibly moving up for a quarterback … it’s safe to assume that 5 or 6 could be potential slots to trade for a quarterback.
*CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that no one is convinced that the Bills are done wheeling and dealing. All signs point to the Bills trading up in the draft for a quarterback, and Josh Rosen is the most logical fit.
*CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco says “I have the four top quarterbacks going off the board with the first four picks — including the Buffalo Bills making a move up to the No. 4 spot to land UCLA’s Josh Rosen with a pick acquired from the Browns”.
* Daniel Jeremiah/NFL.com says “The name that I just keep hearing over and over again [with the Colts] and I am going with where-there-is-smoke-there-is-fire theory here, and that’s Roquan Smith from Georgia”.
*Ian Rapoport reports that the Broncos (Elway) and the Colts (Ballard) are both openly advertising their picks are for sale.
*Adam Schefter reports not just the Denver Broncos talking about trading back; so are the Cleveland Browns, who have shopped the No. 4 overall pick, per sources.
An old adage says if there’s enough sh!t there, there’s a pony somewhere! I believe then that there will be draft night fireworks (trades up) for a QB. Most likely candidates to move up are the Bills and the Cardinals. Teams have seen the QB market for 2019 and it’s bleak – it’s now or never! If these expert predictions are true, then do the math!
As such, I do not believe the Bucs will trade down – they will not need to. But they may be tempted to trade up one with the Colts if either DE Chubb or RB Barkley is there – giving up a 2019 2nd round pick (NJ.com mock) if the Colts are truly interested in selling the pick. My assumptions imply therefore that one of the Big 3 will be there most likely OG Quenton Nelson. Then it follows that the Bucs will not be drafting a S or CB at pick #7 however wise to advertise the possibility.
According to WalterFootball, OG Nelson had two reported private visits, the Bucs and the Bears who pick at #8. My opinion, the Bucs would not like to see the Bears trade up and grab OG Nelson if he is the last man standing of the Big 3 as the Colts who pick at #6 has openly advertised the pick for sale. Better to be sold to a QB-seeking team.
*******I predict the Bucs will pick OG Quenton Nelson at #7*******
That is unless RB Saquon Barkley is there and that is unless DE Bradley Chubb is there and so it goes. There you have it. I’m on record. One of the Big 3 will be coming to Tampa. I am prepared to eat my ration of crow or the Bucs parrot whichever you prefer if need be. Talk to me after the draft. Lol. Go Bucs!
I hope you’re right!
Just having fun, but I hope so too! This little dust up about QB Josh Allen’s tweets could affect the the number of QBs taken before we pick. But I hope not. Just a kid. I think he has grown up since high school, but it’s going to be a nailbiter until we pick. Have fun tonight!
Nice roundup Macabee. I am gonna piggyback your predictions, as I agree with everything you said. GO BUCS!!
Really, as long as we don’t trade up to select a kicker, I think we’re making progress….
…and please don’t get cute Licht, it’s not that hard.
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