SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:
FAB 1. CLAYBORN HAS PERSEVERED THROUGH ACL INJURY, ERB’S PALSYBuccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was in a quandary about what to do with defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2011 struggled with playing multiple techniques as the right defensive end in Schiano’s complex defense during the preseason and the first three games of the 2012 season. Coming off a rookie season in 2011 that saw him post 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, Clayborn posted just six tackles in three games before suffering a torn ACL that would sideline him for the remaining 13 games.
So the decision was made to make Clayborn the weakside defense, which lessened his load from a mental standpoint as it reduced the number of techniques he was responsible for playing. Instead of strictly lining up at right defensive end, Clayborn would always line up away from the tight end in 2013. But the position switch opened up another set of challenges in Schiano’s mind as Clayborn would be forced to play both right and left defensive end.
Schiano was concerned that Clayborn’s Erb’s Palsy, which is a condition that Clayborn has had since birth, would negatively impact his play at left end where he would be forced to use his right arm, which is weak arm, to first engage right tackles. By playing the right defensive end position at Iowa and his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, Clayborn would first engage left tackles with his left arm, which is his strong arm.
While Schiano believed that Clayborn’s Erb’s Palsy is a big deal and came with some limitations, the defensive end has always downplayed his condition.
“Basically, it doesn’t affect me on the field,” Clayborn said shortly after he was drafted in April of 2011. “You can see that by the way I play if you watch the film. Certain things in the weight room I don’t do, but if Mel Kiper and those guys wouldn’t have pulled it up nobody would have known about it. It’s not a big deal.”
Playing left defensive end at times in Schiano’s tweaked scheme would cause Clayborn to engage right tackles with his right arm, which is shorter than his left, and that would put him at a severe disadvantage. So to compensate, Clayborn and the coaches had him stand up in a two-point stance when playing left end like a “Jack” linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. That allowed Clayborn the space and leverage to get his left hand on the right tackle and use his strong arm for the initial punch.
“It got better as the season went along,” Clayborn said of his new technique. “It was definitely a new thing kind of standing up and being an outside linebacker – kind of a hybrid. It was a change, but I think I kind of adapted well and grew as the season went on.”
Clayborn finished the 2013 campaign with 64 tackles, a career-best 19 tackles for loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles. He ended the year with a bang at New Orleans with the best game of his career, notching a career-high 10 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack. Four of Clayborn’s sacks actually came from the left side of the defense.
“Standing up helped him out because he got some sacks this year,” Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward said. “We had to re-learn some things because things changed, but once we get it down we’ll be awesome.”
With the head-coaching change in Tampa Bay, Schiano’s defense is now long gone. Although Clayborn wasn’t opposed to playing in Schiano’s modified scheme, he’s ready to play right defensive end on a full-time basis once more, which will take away any concerns about his Erb’s Palsy again – although he was able to admirably battle through that condition in 2013.
“Can’t wait to put my hand in the dirt full time again,” Clayborn said on Twitter on January 1 when Lovie Smith was hired.
New Buccaneers defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier had some positive comments about Clayborn’s abilities at his initial press conference in Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
“I want to continue to study him a little bit, he’s one of those guys who, along with the rest of our roster, we are going to spend a lot of time evaluate and get a good feel for and make sure we do the right thing by him,” Frazier said. “I remember him coming out of college when we were scouting him and had a lot of respect for his play at the University of Iowa, and I want to get a better feel for him as an NFL player, so we will continue to go through the tape and get an evaluation on him.”
While much was made of the knee injuries that Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and right guard Davin Joseph were coming off heading into the 2013 season, the way Clayborn rebounded from his torn ACL made it look like he was never injured at all.
“It wasn’t the season I wanted,” Clayborn said. “Every defensive end strives for that goal of being at the top of the league as a pass rusher. I didn’t make that goal, but I think I had a pretty good season in terms of coming off an ACL.”
Clayborn was limited with what he could do physically during the 2013 offseason, which was filled with rehab and learning how to play both left and right defensive end for Schiano. Now that he’s fully healthy, Clayborn is looking forward to improving as a player and spending time working on his techniques and fundamentals for the 2014 season.
“With the offseason to be able to train and not worry about my knee and get better, it’s going to be better than last offseason where I was more cautious and wasn’t able to get much better,” Clayborn said. “I didn’t play too bad this year. Hopefully I can get a little better and get to where I want to be. I would say it’s 100 percent, but I was doing the offseason work last year without focusing on getting better [just getting healthy]. It will be different this year.”
FAB 2. THERE WILL BE PASS RUSHERS GALORE IN 2014 REESE’S SENIOR BOWLNew Buccaneers defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier spoke of the importance of four key components to the Tampa 2 defense during his press conference on Wednesday. Frazier said Tampa Bay already had two key components in place with All-Pros Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David manning the three-technique tackle and weakside linebacker positions, respectively.
The other two components were cornerback and a pass-rushing defensive end. The Bucs have one stud cornerback in Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis, and like the promise of Johnthan Banks, last year’s second-round pick. Tampa Bay is expected to make a run at Chicago’s Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman in free agency to give the team more experience and talent.
At defensive end, Frazier and defensive-minded head coach Lovie Smith inherit two solid players in starter Adrian Clayborn, who had six sacks and 19 tackles for loss coming off a torn ACL in 2012, and reserve Will Gholston, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound physical specimen that really came on strong during the second half of his rookie season and finished with a pair of sacks. Da’Quan Bowers, a second-round pick in 2011, has not lived up to expectations and the team has soured on him due to his work ethic.
Both Clayborn and Bowers are entering contract years, and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim likely won’t return after a bad year, which means the Bucs will likely acquire a proven playmaking defensive end such as Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson or Minnesota’s Jared Allen in free agency, or use a high draft pick on an impact edge rusher. Frazier spoken about the importance of finding an impact pass-rushing defensive end that could team would Clayborn and Gholston in Tampa Bay.
“It’s extremely important in our league today, with the way the league has really become a pass-happy league, for the most part, and the numbers when it comes to offensive statistics are off the charts,” Frazier said. “So, you need someone who can rush the passer without always having to bring an extra guy. You need that guy who can beat the offensive tackle, or if they want to chip with a back you can find a way to get to the quarterback if you want to have a great defense.
“And in this system, you need that one guy, if you can find him. And they’re sometimes rare to find, but we had one in Jared Allen. Lovie had one with [Julius] Peppers in Chicago, and it really makes a difference in our league if you find a guy that can rush the pass without blitzing all of the time.”
If the Bucs don’t pursue a proven, starting-caliber defensive end in free agency, the team may use its first- or second-round pick on an edge rusher in the draft. Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack was thought of highly by the previous Bucs regime and is a popular pick in some recent mock drafts, including Mel Kiper’s.
Mack would have to convert to defensive end to play in the Tampa 2 scheme, which doesn’t value the strongside linebacker position much as the Bucs will be in nickel defense about 40 percent of the snaps, especially in the pass-happy NFC South division. At 6-foot-3, 247 pounds, the explosive Mack has the frame to add a few more pounds and play right end for the Buccaneers, as Tampa Bay legend Simeon Rice often played at 250-255 pounds in red and pewter.
While Mack, who played with Bucs defensive end Steven Means in college, has opted not to attend the Reese’s Senior Bowl, there will be several prominent pass rushers that will participate, and PewterReport.com will be there to scout them next week in Mobile, Ala. Here’s a look at the top 5 defensive end prospects for Tampa Bay that will showcase themselves in front of NFL scouts at the Reese’s Senior Bowl:
Stanford DE Trent MurphyThe 6-foot-6, 261-pound Stanford defender lived in opposing backfields in 2013 with 21.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks, which led the nation, in addition to 58 tackles. That earned Murphy All-American and first-team All-Pac 12 accolades, but was somehow snubbed for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, which went to Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton. Murphy is a long, angular pass rusher with a nasty streak and unheralded athleticism that saw him record 52.5 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks, including 10 as a junior, three forced fumbles and a pair of interception returns for touchdowns in his Cardinal career. Here is Murphy’s highlight video.
Missouri DE-LB Michael SamAt 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, Sam has the size and ability to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or a weakside defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Sam became an All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He ended his college career with a big sack and a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown against Oklahoma State in Missouri’s Cotton Bowl win. Sam had 26 tackles for loss, 18.5 career sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, including two for touchdowns, and two interceptions in his Tigers career. Here is Sam’s highlight video.
Arkansas DE Chris SmithPlaying in a conference with the likes of Sam and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Smith was overshadowed a bit, but had a fantastic career at Arkansas. Smith recorded 116 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks and a forced fumble. In 2012, Smith had 52 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The 6-foot-2, 268-pound Smith has a wide array of pass rush moves, but has trouble re-directing and finishing at times. Here is Smith’s highlight video.
Louisville LB-DE Marcus SmithLike Sam, Smith has the frame to add a little more size to become a 4-3 edge rusher but he is perfectly built to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, which is what he played last year. In 2013, the Louisville star was an All-American Conference performer and recorded 16.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks, which was the second-highest total in the nation. Smith is a long, lean athlete with good speed and resembles UCLA’s Anthony Barr in terms of size and playing style, although Smith might have a higher motor. He notched 31 tackles for loss, 22 sacks, eight forced fumbles and one interception in his Cardinals career. Here is Smith’s highlight video.
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Martin is a very good athlete with NFL size. He had 78 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as he really came on as a senior, and finished his Tar Heels career with 174 stops, 44 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. A three-year starter, Martin won’t be overwhelmed with the Senior Bowl atmosphere and really has a chance to increase his draft stock, which is at the third-round level right now. Here is Martin’s highlight video.
FAB 3. BUCCANEERS MAY TAKE CARR FOR A SPIN IN ROUND ONEDerek Carr was six years old when his older brother, David, began working with Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who had that role at Fresno State University. Sixteen years later, Tedford has the chance to coach Derek, who shattered all of David’s records, Trent Dilfer’s records – and yes, even Tedford’s recor at Fresno State – if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the best quarterback in the Bulldogs’ history the team’s first-round pick.
Carr, whose skills will be on display next week at the Senior Bowl, is expected to be the fourth quarterback selected in the first round behind Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, and could be available when Tampa Bay picks with the seventh overall selection. But that could change with an impressive week in front of NFL scouts in Mobile, Ala. Carr will have the chance to elevate his draft stock from the top 10 to the top 5 by competing in practice and in next week’s Senior Bowl game. The Senior Bowl could provide Carr with an advantage over juniors like Manziel and Bortles, who are fighting to be the second quarterback prospect behind Bridgewater and have played their final down of college football prior to the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Buccaneers already have a young quarterback on the roster in Mike Glennon, who broke several franchise records in 2013, including passing yards (2,608) and touchdowns (19), in addition to setting the NFL record for most pass attempts in his first four starts (181). But there are some concerns about his lack of mobility and his play in the month of December when his completion percentage, yardage and touchdown passes took a nosedive to end the season.
Glennon was drafted by former head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, both of whom were fired at the conclusion of Tampa Bay’s 2013 season in which the team finished with a disappointing 4-12 record. With Lovie Smith taking over as head coach and a new general manager coming soon, Glennon’s number of allies at One Buccaneer Place has greatly diminished, and the new regime may want to draft their own quarterback.
Tedford’s familiarity with Carr may be the key to him becoming a Buccaneer.
“I know one thing having coached David, his brother,” Tedford said in 2011. “I know the passion that Derek has for football. He’s grown up in a family of football, around a guy like David Carr, who’s had a great career. So I know he has a great deal of passion for the game. He’s a great competitor and he has a lot of skill.”
When he was still the head coach at the University of California, Tedford beat Carr in the 2011 season opener of Carr’s sophomore campaign. Carr completed 21-of-33 passes (63.6 percent) for 150 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Bulldogs’ 36-21 defeat at the hands of the Golden Bears. He would finish the 2011 season completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 3,544 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The next year, Carr improved and completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 4,104 yards with 37 touchdowns and seven picks. In 2013, Carr capped off a record-setting senior season at Fresno State, completing 453-of-659 passes for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He finished his Bulldogs career as the school’s most prolific passer with 12,842 yards, 113 touchdowns and only 24 interceptions.
There are plenty of quarterbacks each year from Hawaii and Texas Tech that put up gaudy passing statistics that aren’t good pro prospects. But what makes Carr special is a unique skill set that is found in another former Tedford pupil, Aaron Rodgers, who played at Cal from 2003-04. Like Rodgers, Carr has a slight build, but a big arm, a great football intellect, good mobility and an incredible amount of savvy.
The potential good news for Buccaneers fans is that Carr had one of his worst games in his final bowl game, a 45-20 loss to a star-studded USC team in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. Carr threw for just 217 yards, his second-lowest output of the season, with two touchdowns and one interception while completing 29-of-54 passes.
That game somewhat tempered NFL scouts’ enthusiasm for him. Carr is still regarded as a first-rounder and a potential top 10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, better bowl performances by Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles currently have those quarterbacks rated ahead of Carr and viewed as potential Top 5 players.
After the bowl game, Carr displayed great leadership when he took the blame for Fresno State’s loss to USC.
“Blame me,” Carr said after the loss. “Blame me always. Don’t blame anybody else. I’ve got to do a better job leading. I’ve got to do a better job of getting our guys in better spots. That’s my fault. Blame me.”
Carr will get one more shot at a bowl game in one week as he is expected to be the starting quarterback for the South team in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. A good showing at the Senior Bowl could put him in position to pass Bortles and possibly become the third quarterback off the board on May 8.
Carr leaves college with 25 Fresno State and 21 Mountain West Conference records. Prior to the Bulldogs’ loss to the Trojans, Fresno State ripped off 10 straight wins to start the season, including a 41-40 victory over Boise State, the school’s first win over the Broncos in eight years, and a Mountain West Conference championship with a 24-17 win over Utah State.
“Anytime you go up against an athlete like Carr it is a great challenge,” Utah State defensive back Brian Suite said. “He can stretch the field with his arm, and I believe people do not give him enough credit for being a great athlete in the pocket. His best weapon is his head.”
Carr has been a great leader for the Bulldogs and a fine role model in the Fresno State community due to his impeccable character. He’s mature for his age and is already married and has a son, Dallas, who was born with twisted intestines and had to have multiple surgeries as a newborn. Here’s a touching video report that gives some insight into Carr’s family life and maturity.
Carr is a devout Christian, and that aspect cannot be overlooked, as Bucs head coach Lovie Smith is also a strong man of faith, even though he may not be as publicly vocal as his mentor, Tony Dungy, is about his religious views.
“The reason I do what I do is because of the Lord my God,” Carr said at the National Football Foundation awards ceremony. “I want to continue to reach out to young kids about the mistakes I’ve made. That’s the main reason I play football.”
Carr’s familiarity with Tedford, his experience playing in a pro-style offense, his character, mobility, big arm and football I.Q. are all the main reasons why the Buccaneers will be excited to scout and interview the Fresno State star in Mobile, Ala. and perhaps consider making him the team’s first-round pick. Here’s a highlight video of Carr’s 2013 season, and an incredible trick shot video that is worth checking out, too.
FAB 4. REESE BRINGS THE SPEED TEFORD WANTS ON OFFENSENew Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford used the term “speed in space” three times during his initial press conference in Tampa Bay, and it’s clear that the team needs to get faster on offense.
“When I say speed in space, to get outflanked and get guys in the open field that can make guys miss and be explosive with big plays,” Tedford said when describing the type of speed he wants in his skill position players.
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson was the Bucs’ leading receiver in 2013 with a career-high 78 receptions for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns, but his yards per catch average of 15.7 was down from 19.2 in 2012. Tiquan Underwood actually led the Bucs in yards per catch average with 18.3 yards, which was a product of his 24 catches for 440 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, including a personal-best 85-yard touchdown at Detroit. Underwood, an unrestricted free agent in 2014, is the Bucs’ fastest receiver, but has some limitations to his game from a physical and route-running standpoint, and may not return to Tampa Bay.
The Bucs missed Mike Williams for most of the year as the receiver suffered a torn hamstring that forced him to the injured reserve list shortly after the bye week. Williams is set to return in 2014, but like Jackson, he’s not a burner and makes most of his big plays downfield by out-leaping defenders for the ball in jump ball situations.
With Jackson and Williams the only sure things at wide receiver in Tampa Bay, the Bucs need an infusion talent and speed to give Mike Glennon – or whoever the quarterback is in 2014 – some big-play weapons to throw the ball to. One player the Buccaneers should be scouting hard at the Senior Bowl is Baylor wide receiver Tevin Reese.
While Tedford had success with bigger wide receivers at California like Marvin Jones, who is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, and Keenan Allen, who is 6-foot-2, 211 pounds, Reese is only 5-foot-10, 170 pounds. But Tedford’s best receiver for the Golden Bears was DeSean Jackson, who stood just 5-foot-10, and weighed 170 pounds, too.
Reese does not have Jackson’s suddenness, short-area quickness or clutch hands, but he has pure speed and has been electronically timed as low as 4.31 at Baylor, and is believed to be the Bears’ fastest player. Reese’s speed is evident in his gaudy statistics.
Overshadowed a bit by junior Antwan Goodley, who led the Bears with 71 catches for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013, Kendall Wright, a first-round pick by Tennessee in 2011, and Terrance Williams, a third-round draft pick in 2012 by Dallas, Reese still made a huge impact at Baylor and saw his yards per catch climb each year. As a freshman, he caught 45 passes for 401 yards (8.9 avg.) and two touchdowns before having a breakout sophomore year with 51 receptions for 877 yards (17.2 avg.) and seven scores.
Reese nearly had a 1,000-yard season in 2012 with a career-high 53 catches for 957 yards (18.1 avg.) and nine touchdowns before averaging 22.8 yards per catch on 38 receptions for 867 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. Reese missed the final five games of the 2013 regular season with a wrist injury. Reese returned for the Fiesta Bowl where he caught five passes for 43 yards against UCF in Baylor’s 52-42 loss.
Projecting Reese’s totals had he not missed five games due to a broken wrist, he was on pace to record 61 receptions for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns. The speedster, who mostly lined up in the slot prior to his senior year where he split time as a wide receiver, finished his collegiate career with 187 catches for 3,102 yards and 24 touchdowns. With an amazing 23 catches of 40 yards or more in his Baylor career, including 10 from 60 yards, Reese has the speed and big-play ability the Bucs are craving in Tedford’s offense.
“He’s a freak athletically,” Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar said. “He’s the freakiest freak we have. I’ll be training with him and Michael Johnson in Dallas. If you don’t get a hand on him he’ll run by you so easily. I don’t think there are many people in the league as fast as he is, and he might be the fastest player in the draft. He’ll run by you and he’ll break you down with his cuts. Whoever gets him is going to be lucky. He can make plays and he doesn’t let his size get to him. He plays like he’s 6-foot-4, 220 (pounds).
Not only is Reese fast, he can jump, too. The athletic freak’s personal best in the vertical jump was 45 inches, which is also the best at Baylor. If Reese can do a better job of catching the ball cleanly and really work the route tree in Mobile, proving that he is more than a receiver that can run go routes and bubble screens, he’ll improve his draft stock from the sixth or seventh round to the middle rounds.
Here are two Reese highlight videos, one of him in action as a slot receiver against Missouri and Kansas State in 2011, and lighting up K-State’s defense in 2013 with five catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns, including a 93-yard score.FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:
• Don’t be surprised if the new Bucs regime puts the full court press on signing Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen in the offseason. Allen is just three years removed from his 22-sack season, and posted 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last year. Tampa Bay’s defense desperately needs a proven pass rusher in the Tampa 2 scheme that Leslie Frazier and Lovie Smith with use.
Frazier was Allen’s defensive coordinator and head coach in Minnesota, and that connection could pay off in the Bucs’ favor. Throw in the fact that Allen’s agent, Ken Harris, is based in Tampa, and it only increases the odds of Allen considering suiting up in red and pewter.
“We have a great relationship; I have a lot of respect for Jared as a player, and as a man,” Frazier said when asked about Allen in his initial press conference in Tampa Bay. “He did a lot to help me when I was a defensive coordinator, without question. I have a lot of respect for him and we will see what happens with his future.
“That will be something for our GM and our head coach to decide, I share whatever input I can, but they will have to make those decisions regarding our personnel.”
• New Tampa Bay strength coach Dave Kennedy should be able to give the Buccaneers plenty of insight into Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans, as he was the Aggies’ strength and conditioning coach from 2008-13. Kennedy has a sterling resume with 13 years as Ohio State’s strength and conditioning coach from 1989-2001 where he helped produce 17 NFL first-round picks. New Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith was the Buckeyes linebackers coach in 1995 and met Kennedy at Ohio State. After his stint with the Buckeyes, Kennedy spent two years at Pittsburgh (2002-03) and then four seasons at Nebraska from 2004-07 running their strength and conditioning programs.
• Although new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has a previous relationship with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr through coaching his brother, David, at Fresno State, Tedford also a connection with a current Tampa Bay quarterback. Jordan Rodgers is the brother of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, who was coached by Tedford at California in 2003-04. Rodgers spent most of the 2013 season on the Bucs practice squad and was re-signed to a future contract for 2014 in the first week of January. It will be interesting to see how Tedford and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo develop the athletic and intelligent Rodgers this offseason.
• Bucs nose tackle Akeem Spence certainly did not help himself by getting arrested for speeding and marijuana possession. While he will likely get a second chance by new head coach Lovie Smith and won’t be released, the buzz at One Buccaneer Place is that the Bucs want to get more of a pass-rushing nose tackle like they had back in the day with Brad Culpepper and Anthony “Booger” McFarland playing next to Warren Sapp. Culpepper had 33 sacks in Tampa Bay, including 8.5 sacks in 1997 and a team-high nine sacks in 1998. McFarland had 22 sacks in eight seasons in Tampa Bay, including 6.5 in 2000 and 3.5 in 2001 while playing nose tackle. Spence had just one sack during his rookie season after recording just 3.5 sacks in three years at Illinois, and may be viewed as a two-down, run-stuffing nose tackle by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and the front office.
One player the Bucs may be targeting in the second round is Pittsburgh All-American Aaron Donald, who notched 29.5 sacks and an astounding 66 tackles for loss in four year with the Panthers. While he played the three technique tackle at Pitt, the 6-foot, 285-pound Donald is cat-like quick and could be used as a pass-rushing nose tackle next to Gerald McCoy on obvious pass-rushing downs to bolster Tampa Bay’s pressure up front.
With the three technique defensive tackle position so vital to the Tampa 2 scheme, and the cupboard bare behind McCoy, who is entering a contract year in 2014, targeting Donald in the second round would make a lot of sense. Donald, who is long arms and an enormous wingspan, is the closest thing I have seen to Sapp in terms of quickness. Check out the highlight video of the Bronko Nagurski Award winner.• One of the players that I’ll be scouting with great interest at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. next week is Baylor guard Cyril Richardson. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound road-grader, who was an All-American, the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and an Outland Trophy finalist, conjures up images of Bucs left guard Carl Nicks in his prime.
“He’s a freak,” Baylor tight end Jordan Najvar said. “I’ve never seen the guy get beat. If you are in a one-on-one with him I feel sorry for you. He’s played left tackle and left guard. He’s a mauler. He can play a lot of positions. He’s going to be a great pick up for whoever gets him. The guy just wins and he’s a freak athlete. I think he’s the best offensive lineman in the nation. He has great feet. He’s fast and quick, especially for a guy his size. The film speaks for itself.”
Richardson is currently viewed as the best guard in the 2014 NFL Draft and could likely be a late first- or early second-round pick. With a great week in Mobile, his stock could rise into the top 15. Here is a video of Richardson against Texas in 2012.
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]
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