The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic related to the Tampa Bay Bucs each week.

This week’s topic: Favorite Bucs’ Day 2 or Day 3 pick

Scott Reynolds: Kentucky SS Mike Edwards
The more research I do on Edwards the more I like him, and I think his versatility has Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles awfully excited. Edwards was a box safety at Kentucky, in addition to playing nickel cornerback in the slot. He’s solid in press-man coverage and is aggressive in coverage.

Edwards, who ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, supports the run in a hurry and has done everything from setting the edge as an overhang defender, to blitzing from the slot. He had one of his best games as a sophomore against Louisville’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, recording six tackles, half a sack and two interceptions, including the game-clincher.

Kentucky S Mike Edwards
Kentucky S Mike Edwards – Photo by: Getty Images

Edwards recorded 317 tackles, 23 passes defensed, 21 tackles for loss, 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery as a four-year starter for the Wildcats. Edwards is a fearless tackler and is willing to take on blockers to free up other defenders to make the tackle, too. He has tremendous heart and leadership ability, and along with outside linebacker Josh Allen, played a big role in Kentucky’s 10-3 season that was capped off with a bowl win over Penn State.

Edwards never missed a start at Kentucky once he became a starter as a freshman with 44 consecutive starts. The Bucs need a vocal leader in the secondary, and the guess here is that Edwards has the maturity and football I.Q. to start as a rookie opposite free safety Justin Evans. In a Tampa Bay defensive backfield that lacks playmakers, Bucs general manager Jason Licht found a ball-hawking safety in the third round that should help create more takeaways.

Mark Cook: Iowa DE/OLB Anthony Nelson
Most of the Bucs’ picks seem to fill a need and have the potential to help this football team – particularly on defense – get better. Cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean, and safety Mike Edwards were all drafted to compete for starting spots in Todd Bowles’ defense, and of course, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, Devin White, will be handed the keys to the defense right out of the gate.

Nelson is a little different, as he isn’t expected to line up as a start right away or carry high expectations. But don’t sleep on the former Hawkeyes standout. Despite not having the quickest burst, and not being the most flexible pass rusher on the roster, his motor is wide open 100 percent of the time and his intelligence and football awareness can help overcome the few deficiencies he has from a pure athletic standpoint.

Iowa DE Anthony Nelson
Iowa DE Anthony Nelson – Photo courtesy of Iowa

Nelson can play with his hand in the dirt, but the Bucs also think he can stand up as an edge linebacker in a 3-4 look a well. As Scott Reynolds and I said during the draft, he isn’t as fast or loose as Carl Nassib, or as big as Will Gholston, but is kind of a mix of the two. Nelson could probably add some weight to his frame to be more of an edge-setting run-stuffer, or could drop a few pounds and thrive as a linebacker. Either way, pre-draft, many scouts believe he still had some untapped potential as a pass rusher after getting a career-high 9.5 sacks last year.

The one thing that hasn’t been debated is his character. Nelson will also work as hard as anyone who Tampa Bay selected this season, and as mentioned, will have his motor revved from the first snap to the last snap in a game. It will be interesting to see how the coaches decide to utilize Nelson in their new defense, but regardless where he settles in at, he is a solid bet to make the team and contribute this year, and looks to have been a great value in the fourth round. And Tampa Bay might have found their replacement for Nassib in 2020 if the former Penn State pass rusher, who is on the last year of his contract, isn’t re-signed for some reason next offseason.

Taylor Jenkins: Auburn CB Jamel Dean
It’s been a long road for Jamel Dean. From three major knee surgeries and being deemed medically ineligible to play at Ohio State to two healthy years at Auburn before being drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by Tampa Bay.

The pick comes with obvious risk, but Dean had begun to sneak up some cornerback rankings before the draft and landed in a scheme with Tampa Bay where he will be at his best. Dean will likely need some time to adjust at the NFL level but he’s shown some solid play on tape, and his size, athleticism and speed fit the bill for what Todd Bowles wants in his defensive backs. At 6-foot-1 and over 200 pounds, Dean plays huge for a cornerback, and with all the physicality in the world while excelling in man coverage at the college level, still runs a legit sub-4.4 40-yard dash. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Dean clocked in with an unofficial 4.30.

Auburn CB Jamel Dean
Auburn CB Jamel Dean – Photo courtesy of Auburn

It’s going to be fun to see what happens with the competition at cornerback in Tampa Bay’s training camp where two separate practices will allow Dean to get plenty of reps without the added pressure that his former teammate at Auburn, Carlton Davis, dealt with as he was thrown into the fire as a nearly immediate starter across from Brent Grimes last year as a second-round pick. Obviously that’s accounting for a healthy secondary by the time the season rolls around.

Dean’s biggest adjustments will lie in the things that you can teach, which is huge for his impact moving forward as a pro. He needs to improve his ball skills as he has just two career interceptions and both of them came last year while breaking up 17 passes over the last two seasons. Speed and athleticism can’t be taught, but Dean can continue to develop his play in press coverage. And he can learn how to use his hands more effectively at the line of scrimmage and can learn how to put his nose in the play, get off of downfield blocks and use his plus-tackling ability to be a consistent factor in taking down the ball-carrier.

Matt Matera: Central Michigan CB Sean Bunting
The Bucs secondary struggled mightily last year and was the weakest part of the defensive unit. This defense has been starving for turnovers, particularly for interceptions from their defensive backs, and that’s where Bunting fits in, he’s a ball-hawking corner. As he has described himself, Bunting is a “receiving” defensive back.

Even after selecting two corners in the second round of the 2018 draft, the Bucs felt they still needed to address this area in 2019, especially with M.J. Stewart really struggling last year. The lack of turnovers needs to change, as their top two corners, Vernon Hargreaves and Carlton Davis has a combined one career interception. Bunting had nine interceptions, 15 pass breakups, and four forced fumbles in three years at Central Michigan, showing that one way or another, he’s always around the football.

The Bucs had only nine interceptions last season, and almost half of them came from one bad Cam Newton game where Andrew Adams had three and Javien Elliott added another. Bunting can help Tampa Bay increase those numbers right away.

Central Michigan CB Sean Bunting
Central Michigan CB Sean Bunting – Photo courtesy of CMU

While many were clamoring for the Bucs to select LSU cornerback Greedy Williams with their second-round pick, Bunting is a proper fit for Todd Bowles’ scheme. Outside of his turnover-making ability, he’s got good size as a 6-foot, lanky corner, along with very good speed. Bunting ran a 4.42 at the Combine, and had a 41.5-inch vertical jump, which was fourth best among all defensive backs. He excels at finding the ball in the air, using his vertical leaping ability and size to take the ball before his opponent can.

He may not have played against best of competition at Central Michigan, but Bunting did playing against current NFL talents Corey Davis and Kenny Golladay, holding his own against each player. That should prepare him well for going against the Julio Joneses of the world. Bunting has a chance to have an important role as the slot corner for the Bucs. His size, speed, and physicality makes him a good fit at that position in this defense.

 

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Next articleRapone Talks Stewart At Nickel, Importance Of Safeties In Bowles’ Defense
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

16 COMMENTS

  1. What about our new kicker? With all seriousness, if that works out, it could turn out to be the most impactful pick of day three. One reason the Pats have been so successful is that they locked up the best kicker in the league many years ago. Good kickers win two to three games a year.
    And, on a side note, when are y’all going to offer Macabee a job?

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    Rating: +20. From 26 votes.
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    • Thanks for the plug Pete, but no thanks. PR is my website of choice and love the company of posters like you who frequent the site. I am happy to offer my opinion and I read all others. I sometimes talk too much but it is never meant to mislead but to inform. I read everything and follow the experts who report on the Bucs. Most of what I say is not original, but found interesting and wanted to share with my fellow PR brethren.

      I keep lists of everything. My goal is to complement, not dispute or condemn. I love PR, the oldtimers like me, and the PR subjects offered for our digestion. Couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. The only thing that would make me happier is to see the Bucs win. Lol. Go Bucs

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  2. What I take from this story – there are things to like about all these picks. Now we as fans have to hope it all it works out on the pro level. I am going to think positive and hope that it does.

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  3. I am going with WR/KR Scott Miller.

    Amazing straight line speed, fluid making his breaks, crazy productive and looks like he can run all the routes. Arians loves speed guys like Miller for passing packages. Miller making the team would add an extra dimension offense that teams have to account for. Not bad at all for a 6th round pick IMO.

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    Rating: +18. From 20 votes.
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  4. SMH, what’s sad is we drafted a box safety that is slower but the same as Chauncey Gardner Johnson & Johnson was still on the board. Same as the Dean and Greedy Williams pick

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  5. I say it every year
    But i think this finally is the draft that gets Jason sacked

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  6. @Pete Wood

    I agree that if Gay pans out this will help the offense and defense. The offense will not feel forced to put up points or go through the air if scores are closer. And the defense can be more aggressive and not play so passively trying to stop the big play while giving up huge chunks of yards underneath which burns the clock.

    Someone else said it is best recently. This draft was a draft to help bring better balance on offense to shore up deficiencies on defense and special teams. Bucs are now a more balanced team on paper or so it seems from the draft.

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  7. Because Richard Sherman was a 5th round pick in 2011, I will hold out hope for these guys even though Mel Kiper thought everyone else was better.

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    • @bucianco I would’ve preferred the Bucs target offensive line and defensive line in the draft. However, don’t worry about what Mel Kiper says. He is not very good at analyzing drafts.

      Regarding Ryan Leaf: “His attitude will be an asset in the NFL…”
      Regarding Bust WR Mike Williams drafted by the Lions: “I’ll see you at his Hall of Fame induction.”
      Regarding Jimmy Clausen: “If he (Clausen) is not a successful starting quarterback in the NFL, I’m done. That’s it. I’m out.”
      Regarding QB Dan McGwire: “Dan McGwire and Brett Favre are rated even”
      Regarding Ladainian Tomlinson: “LaDainian Tomlinson is rated behind Deuce McAllister and Michael Bennett at the running back position”

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      Rating: +18. From 20 votes.
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  8. There’s much to like about each of these guys, rooting for them all.

    I love Auburn guys and would like to see Dean and Davis line up as outside CB’s. If Bunting can nail down the slot that gives us three press coverage guys 6 foot and above that can cover in a division with a bunch of big tough WR’s. Will be interesting to see how Heargraves plays.

    I like the kid from KY, but I also like Jordan Whitehead from last year’s class. The guy tackles like a heat-seeking missile.

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  9. I think Nelson might be the best value of all our picks. I would have preferred more DL and OL in this draft. All that being said, bunting seems to have been a bit under the radar, but has a great skill-set so he gets my vote as best pick but wasn’t a great value where we got him. While this draft was a bit unsettling as a fan, if these guys produce then it will be successful. There have been drafts that I felt great about that wound up sucking in the past. My biggest hope is that Licht has Arians and Bowles helping to make these decisions in the draft room.

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  10. Did I miss it, haven’t seen anything from Trevor in a while. Is he still with pewter report?

    Big names = big bust

    Maybe these guys contribute and become big names. Let’s go Bucs

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  11. @Sheldon
    Even looking at just his highlights, it’s apparent that Williams doesn’t like contact, Dean looks for it.

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  12. I’m going to have to go with the kicker, if he’s as good as Licht and Arians believe he is. So many 1-score games lost over the past 3 seasons due to missed field goals and missed extra points. If one guy can come in and fix that, he’s my favorite.

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  13. Nice to see that calm has been restored in Bucville.

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  14. I like every single secondary player we drafted the last 2 years outside MJ Stewart. Between Davis, Whitehead, Bunting, Dean, and Edwards. I think they nailed every one of those picks. Davis is gonna be a stud, I liked Whiteheads play last year. Loves contact and loves to tackle. I think Bunting is gonna be a stud, Dean is gonna be a potential stud or a potential long term backup. He has all
    The talent to be a stud. Would have been a first rounder if it wasn’t for injuries. And Edwards is a player I loved last year. They hit on all their secondary picks. Now they have an actual proven successful DC that can get the most out of his players unlike career bum Mike Smith

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