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: Who is your favorite underclassman for the Bucs?
Scott Reynolds: Memphis RB Darrell Henderson
Holy smokes what a topic. There are a record number of underclassmen entering the draft this year with over 100 juniors and redshirt sophomores forgoing their remaining eligibility to make the leap to the NFL. This only helps the Bucs, who have positions of need at guard, offensive tackle, cornerback, running back and I’m guessing defensive tackle will emerge as a need, too. There is an extraordinary amount of underclassmen defensive linemen, cornerbacks and running backs, as well as wide receivers and tight ends – which aren’t pressing needs.
There are an awful lot of underclassmen I like in this year’s class, including Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary, Memphis all-purpose player Tony Pollard, Texas A&M Trayveon Williams, Utah State running back Darwin Thompson, Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler, Wisconsin right tackle David Edwards, Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Mississippi Jeffrey Simmons, LSU cornerback Greedy Williams, Washington cornerback Byron Murphy. There is just so much talent in this year’s mega group of underclassmen. But if I had to pick a favorite, it’s Memphis running back Darrell Henderson.
I think Henderson is the best running back in this class and I would grade him as a first-round pick. He rushed for 3,545 yards and 36 touchdowns on 431 carries (8.2 avg.) and was one of the top rushers in college football last year with 1,909 yards and 22 TDs on 214 carries (8.9 avg) for the Tigers. Henderson also is a great receiver, catching 63 passes for 758 yards (12 avg.) with eight touchdowns. New Bucs head coach Bruce Arians would love to find a David Johnson-like versatility, and although he’s not as big at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Henderson has is a do-it-all back that would look great in red and pewter.
Henderson’s running style is similar to that of Kareem Hunt and Sony Michel in that he can break tackles and slip tackles with great contact balance and footwork. Henderson is a home-run hitter with breakaway speed and great acceleration that allowed him to post 16 100-yard games for the Tigers. I think Henderson will get drafted in the second round, and the Bucs have more pressing needs than drafting another running back in the second round after selecting Ronald Jones II last year. But the thought of this Memphis star paired with Peyton Barber would bolster the Bucs’ ground game and provide some insurance in case Jones doesn’t pan out.
Mark Cook: LSU CB Greedy Williams
Obviously, if I could have my choice of any underclassmen it would be Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa. To have a premium edge rusher than will most likely be an impact player right out the gate would be a dream for any general manager. Unfortunately Bosa will likely be off the boards prior to the Bucs picking at No. 5, and the price to move up would simply be too high for a team like Tampa Bay that only has six draft picks this year.
LSU CB Greedy Williams – Photo by: Getty Images
There are a number of other underclassmen I like a lot that could help Tampa Bay immediately like LSU linebacker Devin White, who was featured in PewterReport.com’s initial 2019 Bucs’ 6-Round Mock Draft, and I also think Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams is a plug-and-play guy. Chances are Williams will also be gone, but a player who has a good chance of being available with the fifth pick is LSU’s redshirt sophomore cornerback, Greedy Williams. First of all, is there a better name for a cornerback? I want a cornerback who is greedy when it comes to the ball. But more important that his name is his tape, and Williams has a ton of good film.
When you watch Williams play you see some of that freakish athleticism you saw in veteran cornerback Brent Grimes, but with a lot bigger size (6-foot-2) and more importantly, a player who does shy away from contact. Even when Williams gets beat off the ball, which is a rare occurrence, I love his ability to make up ground quickly. And one of the most impressive skills he has is his impeccable timing. Even with his back to the ball, he is able to not panic, but instead watches the receiver’s body and eyes to time his jump and break up the pass.
Williams had six interceptions as a freshman last year along with 10 passes defensed to go along with 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Last year, opposing quarterbacks stayed away from Williams, and he had just nine passes defensed and two interceptions with 33 tackles.
A cornerback group of Williams, Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves in Tampa Bay could develop into one of the best units in the NFC South, and playing against the likes of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Carolina’s Cam Newton and New Orleans’ Drew Brees, you can’t have enough talented cornerbacks. Despite investing a first-round pick in Hargreaves in 2016 and second-rounders in cornerbacks Davis and M.J. Stewart last year, if I am the Bucs I am getting “Greedy” again, and taking another cornerback early.
Trevor Sikkema: I Can’t Pick Just One
Oh man, what a question.
*smacks hands together and rubs them up and down*
First and foremost, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams needs to be a Buccaneer if he is on the board at No. 5 overall. Simply put, Williams was the best player in college football this season, and the fact that he declared after just one season as a starter at 20 years old proves that. Williams is as dominant as they come when it comes to interior pressure from a defensive tackle spot. If the Buccaneers are truly thinking about moving on from Gerald McCoy, who will turn 31 in February – and even if they aren’t – Williams should be their top guy in this entire class.
Alabama LT Jonah Williams – Photo by: Getty Images
Next, I think Jonah Williams is the guy to get on the offensive side when it comes to pick No. 5. While at Alabama, Williams has been one of the most consistent offensive tackles for three seasons, two at left tackle and one at right tackle. Williams could even play guard in his first season, then take over at one of the tackle spots in year two or three when Tampa Bay moves on from either Demar Dotson or Donovan Smith – maybe even both.
My last underclassmen pick would be Oklahoma junior running back Rodney Anderson. Anderson has some less-than-ideal injury history on him, including currently coming off a torn ACL at the start of this season, but when he’s been healthy, he’s been one of the best backs in college football. He would have likely been a late-first or early-second round pick without the recent injury, and perhaps the Bucs can take him in the third or fourth round because of it. He’s a bit of a risk, but he’s a potential home run if Tampa Bay can get him at the end of Day 2 or early Day 3 due to his injury and his recovery timetable, which may cause him to miss training camp and the preseason during his rookie year.
If the Bucs don’t draft Anderson, then running back Benny Snell, Jr. from Kentucky is very intriguing for me, too.
(Sorry for naming four guys. I like the draft, okay?)
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@example.com