SIKKEMA’S BUCCANEERS’ 2017 DRAFT PICKS
ROUND 2 – USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (via trade)
Second round, is that a typo? No it’s not; it’s a trade back. This is a deep draft, and, to be honest, Dalvin Cook, Corey Davis, Mike Williams and even O.J. Howard probably won’t be available at No. 19. So that would leave Tampa with either reaching for wide receiver John Ross (who has had serious knee issues), tight end David Njoku (who is an athletic tight end, but not the whole package) or maybe even safety Budda Baker (which wouldn’t make sense given their signings).
So instead I took a look at the top of the second round and got the brain working. Perhaps there’s a scenario where the Carolina Panthers select one of the top wide receivers or running backs at their No.8 pick, then see an offensive lineman they really want to get before the teams with luxury picks get on the clock. They trade Tampa Bay their second- and third-round picks from 2017 and maybe a fourth round pick in 2018 to jump up and get their guy – regardless of who it is, my phone would be open for a trade back if those guys are off the board.
In that scenario, the Bucs would pick at the top and bottom of both the second and third rounds, an ideal situation for such a draft class, if you ask me. My pick to start things off would be Smith-Schuster, who gets knocked for his lack of separation speed, but I still think he’s a complete wide receiver. He’s the youngest receiver in the entire draft, and player who could really blossom over the course of his rookie contract.
Oh, and when he was just 19 years old, he was doing stuff like this:
ROUND 2 – Toledo RB Kareem Hunt
You don’t have to look hard to find my love for Kareem Hunt. A good amount of national mock drafts and rankings have him going in the third or fourth round, but after the NFL Scouting Combine, you won’t see his name that low – he might even start getting second-round consideration.
In his four years as a starter, Hunt accumulated nearly 5,000 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns. But the craziest stat of them all is that Hunt had only one fumble over 856 career touches (the fumble came during his freshman year and he recovered it). He’s the complete package with both speed, power, balance and reliability and the best running back option you’re going to find outside of the first round in this class.
ROUND 3 – Florida S Marcus Maye (via trade)
With the second pick from the Panthers, I’d select a player who will go lower than his talent deserves because of both and injury and the inability to gain steam while other around him have, and that is, Florida’s Maye.
I referenced earlier that reaching for Baker – though I love him as a prospect – didn’t really make sense given the re-signing of McDougald and addition of Addae. Adding Maye at this spot, however, makes perfect sense. Drafting Maye at this spot fills out the four players for safety going into camp, and honestly, there isn’t a weak link there. Maye really came on strong as a coverage man in space before breaking his arm in 2016. Such an injury usually doesn’t have lingering or re-occurring effects and Maye should be good to go.
ROUND 3 – Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers
This is a deep and talented pass-rushing class, and because of that, there will be some solid players to pick from in the second and even third rounds. If Derek Rivers happens to fall this far due to him coming from a smaller school or whatever the reason, I’d jump on him.
At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, River has the body size you would want from someone coming off the edge. He also has consistent leverage and knows how to execute different kinds of pass rush moves such as arm rips and chest pulls. You can say whatever you want about already having Spence, Ingram, Ayers and Smith. If I see a guy with this much talent on the board, I’m taking him. You can never have too many great pass rushers. As Ayers (31) ages, Rivers comes into his own.
ROUND 4 – Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin
Going into the 2016 college football season, Jalen Reeves-Maybin was one of my favorite prospects. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch much of him at all as a shoulder injury early in the year sidelined him for his final season.
When healthy, Reeevse-Maybin is an explosive, tackling machine. He had over 100 tackles and double-digit tackles for loss during his sophomore and junior years before his senior season got cut short. He’s fantastic at shooting gaps trough the tranches and stopping plays in the backfield before they start.
He’s not a guy I would want to stick out there as a starter in the NFL right away, especially not having played even college ball in over a year. But if place behind the likes of Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander, I think JRM would be great as a back up, a SAM LB in 4-3 formations and as an ideal fill-in starter if either of the two starters were to get hurt.
ROUND 5 – Baylor WR KD Cannon
I know you were patiently waiting for me to give Tampa Bay a player who can truly stretch the field in the passing game. Well, fear not, for I have delivered.
The depth of this wide receiver class makes picking up a burner like Cannon this late a possibility. Cannon, listed at 6-foot, 180 pounds on Baylor’s website, averaged over 16 yards per catches during his collegiate career. Cannon also ran track in high school (100m, 200m, 4x100m, triple jump) at Mount Pleasant and was clocked at 10.63 in 100 meters and 21.48 in 200 meters. He’s a former Top 50 recruit who Baylor has made a top threat in their offense since his freshman season for reasons like the one below.
ROUND 6 – Utah RB Joe Williams
Williams played football for two seasons at Utah. The first was as a backup in 2015, and the second was where he rushed for over 1,400 yards in just nine games in 2016.
Williams story is a unique one. Just a few games into the 2016 season, Williams told his team he was leaving the program and quitting football entirely. After a month of not playing, Williams returned on the team and coaches’ requests due to multiple injuries to the depth chart. Williams accepted, and from that moment on rushed for more yards than any other running back in the country.
Until recently, the story had just been that Williams quit football under his own reason and was given a second chance. However, going into the NFL Combine, Williams wanted NFL teams and the world to know why he stepped away.
Williams decided to step away from football because his mind wasn’t there. Instead, it was on grieving the death of his sister, and event that happened a decade earlier. Williams’ 7-year-old sister died in her bed in the middle of the night from a disease that caused inflammation of her heart. Williams said that he spent years of his life somehow thinking he was responsible, or that he could have done something to save her – though this wasn’t true, going through that traumatized his rational thought process. It all got to a point where he could no longer focus on football, so he stepped away.
Since returning and coming to grips with reality and the truth, Williams says he is more focused than ever and in a much healthier state mentally. He’s a home run hitting running back who says he’ll run a sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash. If he does, he can play on my football team.
ROUND 7 – Baylor QB Seth Russell
This is a personal draft motto of mine that I have learned from people far smarter than me while covering the draft over the last few years: Draft a quarterback ever year. It doesn’t matter if you have a completely solidified quarterback like the Bucs do, just take one. There is no greater payoff than to have a quarterback who is either good or who you can just convince the rest of the league that they are good – look at the Patriots.
The draft is about value; it’s about risk and reward. When you weight the potential reward for hitting the jackpot on a late-round quarterback, you take one. And if you need to take one higher to start, do that. Whatever it is, take one ever year. Most of these guys don’t make the team anyways.
Now let’s see how these free agent additions and draft picks affect the Bucs’ 53-man roster and depth chart.