SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL:
FAB 1. ALEXANDER WILL BE A NIGHTMARE FOR BUCS’ FOES
What a difference a year has made for Buccaneers middle linebacker Kwon Alexander.
Last April, he was on the verge of being disappointed by falling to the third day of the 2015 NFL Draft where Alexander would be scooped up by Tampa Bay in the fourth round after a savvy trade by general manager Jason Licht.
This April, Alexander is coming off a rookie season in which he started the first 12 games before being stung with a four-game suspension for a banned substance found in an energy drink he consumed. Not only did he beat out veteran Bruce Carter for the starting Mike linebacker job, Alexander still finished as the Bucs’ second-leading tackler with 93 stops despite missing the final four contests.
Alexander is far from being satisfied. While he accomplished a lot during his rookie season, the fact that the Bucs were 6-6 with him in the lineup and 0-4 without him left him with a bitter taste in his mouth heading into 2016.
“I take all the heat for that,” Alexander said. “I was supposed to have been there; that’s my fault. But it won’t happen again, though. That’s one thing, it won’t happen again. I’ve never been in trouble [before] or anything, so that surprised me when that happened and it hurt me so bad, to the point like, every game I was still there, watching it and calling plays so I was making sure that I stayed on my game regardless. That’s why I just can’t wait to get back to the field and let everything out.”
Alexander’s Twitter handle is @Showtime17Kwon under the moniker Alexander the Great. He’s often tweeting his feelings out on social media, including how anxious he is to get the Bucs offseason program going.
On April 9, Alexander tweeted out:
“Can we start the season already!”
“Currently watching @DBrooks55 highlights!”
“Gotta get up with @DBrooks55 to pick his brain!”
“Man all I think about is ball!”
Alexander is always talking. In just his second NFL season, Alexander has become the fiery defensive leader that the Bucs defense has been missing for quite some time. While Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Pro Bowl linebacker Lavonte David have lots of talent and wear C’s on their chests as team captains, they lead in a different way. They often lead by example.
What Alexander brings is a different kind of leadership. He brings a spark to the defense with his brash talk and his swagger and backs it up with blazing speed and big-time hitting ability that helped him register nine passes defensed, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a rookie.
“He is ultra-passionate,” Licht said of Alexander on the Move The Sticks podcast with NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. “He’s a lot like Jameis [Winston] in a lot of ways. They want to win at all costs. It means everything to them. It’s team-first. Leadership – he happens to be a very explosive athlete as well. As you can tell by the way I’m talking right now, I hold him in very high regard and his future is very bright.”
Licht not only drafted the quarterback for the offense last year in Winston, but he also found the quarterback for Tampa Bay’s defense in the same draft class. Alexander has a real edginess about him and has become the vocal leader of the Bucs defense the way that Hardy Nickerson and Warren Sapp were back in the day.
“There’s no question,” Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “I would agree with that 100 percent. He wasn’t the type of leader that wasn’t just yelling in people’s faces or anything. It was his play – his play was so energetic. You can obviously tell how much we missed him in the last four games. Would we have won those games if he were playing? Hopefully we would have if Kwon were playing. I think you saw the difference in our defense when Kwon plays and when he doesn’t. To me, that speaks volumes about his energy and what he means to us.
“With me being the nickel I was probably more involved with him than I was when I was a corner. He and I and Lavonte would talk constantly about ways we could try to make plays in this defense and get things going. We had a lot of dialogue. He was very detailed in his craft and he really wants to win. When we lose, you don’t talk to Kwon. That’s how much he can’t stand losing. He wants to win so bad. When you go to LSU and some of those big-time programs you aren’t used to losing. That’s just how Kwon is.”
Somebody must have pissed in Alexander’s bowl of Cheerios on April 19 because he took to Twitter with a furious rant after his daily workout. He clearly was motivated by a lack of respect from somebody.
“I love all my doubters!!”
“I think about my doubters every time I work out and run sprints! Just add fuel to my fire!”
“Call me nightmare from now on! Lol!”
“I will be your biggest nightmare!!”
“I’m tryna be the best within myself!”
At a recent press conference, Alexander was asked about the workouts he rants about on Twitter.
“That’s just how I work, period,” Alexander said. “I’m really just kicking it in an extra gear this year. I’ve just been doing extra workouts. I’ve been trying to get my teammates involved, too. Most of them have been coming in working out with me, trying to get better. I’m trying to make this defense the No. 1 defense in the league, so I’ve got big expectations and how I work, everybody is going to work like me. I like to bring excitement, have fun, and that’s how it’s going to be around here.”
Alexander plans on making the 2016 season fun if you’re a Buccaneer, and a nightmare if you’re wearing a different jersey.
“There are a lot of young guys who are working out every day, battling their butts off, trying to learn as much as they can to get us to that level, so it’s very important,” David said. “[Kwon] is the main one. You can’t even get him to shut up. He’s talking all day, all day. We’re always around each other so I have to hear him talk all day and sometimes I tell him, ‘You have to chill. I’m tired of you talking, you talk too much!’ But that’s just how he is. That’s the excitement that we have. I’m sure he’s probably the same way about me, but that’s the excitement we have. The sky is the limit for us this year.”
Bring on the doubters. Alexander has been using them as fuel for his fire since he entered the league this time last year as a fourth-round pick.
“I don’t even worry about the draft anymore,” Alexander said. “I’m way past that. To tell you the truth, I don’t know why I fell that far down, but whoever missed me, that’s their fault and they’ve got to see me every game, so I can’t wait to play again.”
Licht believes Alexander’s lack of ideal size was partly to blame for him sliding into Day 3 last year. The LSU product is 6-foot-1, 227 pounds.
“Maybe a little,” Licht said. “We took Kwon last year. Although we took him in the fourth round, we feel like he’s a first-round type of player. He’s an undersized guy, but it’s more about the physicality and the ability to make tackles and the ability to run and play good football than it is size.”
Alexander proved last year that he’s certainly big enough to be an impact player in the NFL. Yet the doubters are still out there, doubting him and the Buccaneers. No one has yet to predict a winning record for Tampa Bay this year, in part due to a much more challenging schedule.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, it’s all about heart,” Alexander said. “That’s why I don’t get into all the how big [talk]. You can be 235, but you can be slow and not get to where you need to be. So it doesn’t matter. I’m an athletic guy and I might look small, but I will hit you.”
Pro Football Focus is one of his biggest doubters and had Alexander rated as one of the worst linebackers in the NFL last year for the tackles he missed and his lapses in pass coverage. The Bucs’ brass laughs at that notion and recognizes that Alexander is in fact one of the building blocks of Tampa Bay’s defense.
“I saw those guys [on defense] every day in practice, so it’s not like I never looked at them before, but you know we had two players in the Pro Bowl, Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and of course Kwon Alexander – the outstanding rookie linebacker that we had, middle linebacker,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said. “Those will be the guys that we build around.”
Alexander shares David’s physical skill set in terms of speed, athleticism and striking ability. Perhaps more importantly, Alexander shares Winston’s ultra-competitive nature and inner drive to be the best.
“Kwon is just a football player,” Bucs nose tackle Akeem Spence said. “You can tell that God gave him the ability to play football. His speed and the way he covers ground, the way he hits and the way he studies the game is special. He’s learning from one of the best in the game in Lavonte David. I think he’s got a bright future. He’s just scratching the surface. He missed those four games and we missed him down the stretch. We couldn’t really fill that void and we needed him. Our defense will be real special when we have all the pieces in place.
“You could see the burning desire he has in the Atlanta game up there. I don’t think anybody could have played a better game, especially dealing with what he had to deal with after losing his brother. That was very hard to do. He came up with stops and he came up with turnovers. He came up with some big hits and he just took over. It was definitely something special to see and be a part of. I think after that game he meant something more to us. Our leaders on defense are Gerald and Lavonte, but Kwon is our heartbeat. Definitely our heartbeat.”
Alexander is on the road to joining McCoy and David as a Pro Bowl-caliber player. In time I believe Alexander has the ability to surpass Shelton Quarles and even Nickerson to become the greatest middle linebacker in Tampa Bay history.
That’s really saying something as I hold Nickerson in the highest of regards as one of the franchise’s all-time greats. Yet I have no doubt that Alexander is destined for greatness.
But go ahead and doubt Alexander if you want to. Just do so at your own peril because he’s ready to become your nightmare if you do.
FAB 2. IT’S TIME FOR BUCS TO GET MAXIMUM VALUE FOR GLENNON
It’s time to deal Mike Glennon.
I’ve bought into Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht’s line of thinking, but it’s time for the Buccaneers to get the maximum value for the team’s backup quarterback, who enters a contract year and is poised to hit free agency next winter. I understand that Licht has seen Arizona lose Carson Palmer in 2014 and have their Super Bowl dreams dashed, and seen Dallas lose Tony Romo last year and have their playoff aspirations crushed.
I understand that there is a value to having a quality backup quarterback in the NFL. I understand that nothing can derail an NFL season like a team losing its starting quarterback to a significant or season-ending injury.
I also understand that Glennon’s value will likely never be higher than it is right now. Letting him walk in free agency will fetch a compensatory pick for Tampa Bay, but not until the 2018 NFL Draft.
Licht shouldn’t give Glennon away, but he should do whatever he can to convince Cleveland or the New York Jets that Glennon could contend to be that team’s quarterback of the future. That may mean asking for the Jets’ second-round pick, which is the 51st overall selection, or asking for Cleveland’s third- and fourth-round picks, especially since the Browns have two picks in the third round and two in the fourth after Wednesday’s mega-trade with Philadelphia that moved the Eagles up to the second overall spot and the Browns down to the eighth selection – right ahead of Tampa Bay.
The Jets have yet to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, who apparently wants more money than he’s worth because he’s unsigned. New York has Geno Smith and Bryce Petty on the roster, but doesn’t appear to be enamored with either given the fact that Fitzpatrick was chosen as the starter last year. Smith, a two-year starter in New York, has completed 57.9 percent of his passes with 27 touchdowns and 35 interceptions and a 72.3 QB rating.
In 19 NFL starts, Glennon has completed 58.8 percent of his throws with 29 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions and has a QB rating of 83.7. He’s the same type of pocket passer that likes to throw downfield that the Jets had last year with Fitzpatrick.
In Cleveland, the Browns obviously didn’t see the value of landing a top quarterback in this year’s draft after trading out of the No. 2 spot. Cleveland has four quarterbacks on the roster in veteran Josh McCown, the newly acquired Robert Griffin III, in addition to Austin Davis and Connor Shaw after releasing Johnny Manziel this offseason. Davis is a journeyman, Shaw is a long shot to make the roster, McCown is 36 years old and RGIII is still a project that is trying to resuscitate his NFL career.
New Browns head coach Hue Jackson had a great deal of success in Cincinnati with Andy Dalton, a pocket passer. Trading for Glennon would give the Browns two options for the future in case RGIII doesn’t pan out.
If Licht could fetch a second-round pick from the Jets for Glennon that could land the Buccaneers another potential starter on defense. The Jets’ 51st overall pick, which is valued at 390 points on the draft trade chart, could be used to select a safety like West Virginia’s Karl Joseph or Ohio State’s Vonn Bell, a defensive end like Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun, a cornerback like Miami’s Artie Burns, or a speedy slot receiver like Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard.
Instead of having four picks inside the top 75 selections, it might be even more advantageous for Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter to have the Browns’ third- and fourth-round picks in what is considered to be a deep defensive draft. Licht would be smart to ask for the 65th and 99th overall picks, which add up to 369 points on the draft trade chart.
Having an extra third-round pick would allow the Bucs to select Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard, Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller, Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib, South Carolina State defensive tackle Javon Hargrave or Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day. Tampa Bay could even use it to draft a future starting offensive tackle like Texas Tech’s Le’Raven Clark, or take a chance on injured Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.
With an extra fourth-round pick from the Browns, the Bucs could grab a safety like Southern Utah’s Miles Killebrew, a cornerback and return specialist like Alabama’s Cyrus Jones or a defensive end like Grand Valley State’s Matt Judon or Maryland’s Yannick Ngakoue.
Keeping Glennon wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as he gives Tampa Bay a reliable, experienced and talented backup quarterback that has been battle-tested. But with the addition of Ryan Griffin last year and Dan LeFevour this week, Licht and the personnel staff have created a favorable environment for Glennon to be traded.
Griffin spent the 2015 season learning Koetter’s offense after being acquired last September from New Orleans and will have the entire OTAs, mini-camp and training camp to execute the plays after being a scout team quarterback. LeFevour was coached by Bucs quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian at Central Michigan, and also spent a year with Koetter in Jacksonville in 2011.
Neither may be as good or as talented as Glennon, but then again, Jameis Winston was able to take every snap from center during his rookie season, so the Bucs may not have to worry about it. Tampa Bay could always use a fifth- or a sixth-round pick on Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan or Arkansas’s Brandon Allen if the team feels like Griffin or LeFevour are ideally No. 3 quarterbacks in the NFL.
Glennon is a No. 2 QB who aspires to be a No. 1 for another team. The time is now to have him realize his NFL dream, and for Licht to add another starter on defense by trading away a backup quarterback. Licht told PewterReport.com at the Senior Bowl that Glennon was too valuable to trade, but has since changed his mind and is listening to offers.
The mega-trades by Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and the tens of millions Houston paid to Brock Osweiler, who has just seven NFL starts, illustrate just how crazy NFL teams that don’t have quarterbacks can get. Licht needs to find the next desperate team and coerce them into making a sensible trade for an up-and-comer like Glennon.
FAB 3. SR’s PERSONAL PEWTER MOCK DRAFT
The 2016 NFL Draft is less than a week away and my final 2016 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft will arrive on PewterReport.com on Monday. These selections represent the players I believe Tampa Bay will draft based on information PewterReport.com has gathered and evaluations I’ve made.
Seven-round mock drafts are extremely difficult to forecast because of the domino effect that always happens. If the Bucs draft a cornerback in the first round like Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves or Ohio State’s Eli Apple and I forecast general manager Jason Licht drafting a defensive tackle like Louisville’s Sheldon Rankins instead, that could mean that the Bucs won’t draft a cornerback later and instead will draft a defensive tackle in the second, third or fourth rounds. Not nailing the right position in the right round can really wreck a seven-round mock draft.
That’s why PewterReport.com also puts out its Bucs’ Best Bets for every position in our draft previews each year. What these Bucs’ Best Bets represent is if Tampa Bay were to select a cornerback early (rounds 1-4) in the draft or late (rounds 5-7) in the draft the players we list at that position would be the likeliest candidates. Even forecasting these Bucs’ Best Bets can be challenging because we’re limited to just two selections per position.
PewterReport.com has had a tremendous track record with our Bucs’ Best Bets over the years, accurately forecasting more players to Tampa Bay than any other media outlet, including the likes of quarterbacks Jameis Winston (2015), Mike Glennon (2013), Josh Johnson (2008) and Bruce Gradkowski (2006), running back Charles Sims (2014), safety Ahmad Black (2011), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (2010), defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), wide receivers Arrelious Benn, Mike Williams (2010), wide receiver Dexter Jackson (2008) and Maurice Stovall (2006), offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (2008) and linebackers Quincy Black (2007) and Barrett Ruud (2005) among others.
While it’s our job at PewterReport.com to inform Bucs fans about the players the team is very interested in, I also have some draft prospects that I’ve followed and studied that may not wind up in Tampa Bay because the team may not see a prospect the same way I do. In 2014, I absolutely loved Aaron Donald and would have drafted him in the first round instead of wide receiver Mike Evans.
That’s not a knock on Evans, who has turned out to be a fine receiver, but finding ultra-talented, quick, athletic, one-gap penetrating Pro Bowl defensive tackles like Donald is extremely difficult. Finding wide receivers – even big ones like Evans – is an easier task. Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns, an 6-foot-3 undrafted free agent, is a prime example.
Sometimes the players I really like, such as Kansas State wide receiver and return specialist Tyler Lockett, are the some ones the Bucs like, too. If right guard Ali Marpet wasn’t available in the second round after left tackle Donovan Smith was selected, Tampa Bay would have tried to trade up to get Lockett. So I’ve decided to share with you some of the players that I would personally like the Buccaneers to draft this year at some positions of need for Tampa Bay – regardless of whether the team actually likes the prospect or not.
I’ve coached defensive line on my boys’ Pop Warner for the past five years, so I’m a big believer in winning the line of scrimmage. It starts up front on defense, and that is a philosophy that new Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith shares as well. Having said that, I’m going to break the golden rule of football and address Tampa Bay’s defense from back to front in this mock draft.
Maybe it was all the years spent being around former defensive backs coaches Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay. Or maybe it’s my belief in current defensive tackles Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence, defensive ends Jacquies Smith and Will Gholston as well as defensive line coaches Jay Hayes and Paul Spicer, combined with the knowledge that this draft is deep along the defensive line.
Without further adieu, here are the seven players I would like to see in pewter and red.
ROUND 1 (9) – Houston CB William Jackson – 6-0, 189 – Senior
I’ve had Rankins going to Tampa Bay in the last two PewterReport.com 2016 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Drafts. Will it be a third? Wait and see on Monday. But it won’t be Jackson, as I’ve heard the organization is much higher on Hargreaves and Apple. I prefer Jackson due to his size, length and ability to get his hands on the football.
Jackson, who was in our first two Bucs mock drafts as a second-round pick, is going in the first round after running a blazing 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. He is a big cornerback, who plays big in pass coverage, notching eight interceptions and 40 pass breakups in his three years with the Cougars. As a senior, Jackson was instrumental in leading Houston to the All-American Conference championship and a Peach Bowl win over Florida State where he had a career-high 10 tackles, two interceptions and two passes defensed.
Jackson had two pick-sixes during his senior season, and also had three games in which he had three pass breakups or more. In the AAC Championship Game against Temple, Jackson set a new school record with seven pass breakups in a single game. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by a cornerback. Jackson also recorded a 96-yard touchdown on his first career interception, which came against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore in 2013. He hasn’t worked out for the Bucs or visited them to my knowledge, but I think he’s going to be a damn good pro. I’d pick him in the top 10.
ROUND 2 (39) – West Virginia SS Karl Joseph – 5-10, 205 – Senior
Joseph was in PewterReport.com’s first Bucs mock draft as a fourth-round pick. Like Jackson, Joseph hasn’t visited with Tampa Bay or worked out for the team to my knowledge. After drafting a cornerback in the first round, the Bucs come back and address safety with a four-year starter for the Mountaineers who was having a fantastic start to his senior season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in October during a non-contract drill in practice. Joseph had notched 15 tackles and five interceptions in the first five games of the 2015 season before the season-ending injury.
Before the injury, Joseph was one of the most intimidating, hard-hitting, playmaking safeties in the country, notching nine interceptions, forcing eight fumbles and scoring two defensive touchdowns for West Virginia. The Orlando native’s size resembles that of Pro Bowlers’ Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, but he hits like a heat-seeking missile. The word is that his recovery has gone well and he should be ready to play during his rookie season.
Tampa Bay’s safeties have only notched six interceptions over the past two years, which isn’t good enough. The Bucs secondary needs another playmaker with good ball skills and Joseph is that guy if he can return to his pre-injury form. He showed at West Virginia that he could step in and start right away, and if he’s healthy enough during training camp there’s no reason to believe he isn’t capable of starting as a rookie in the NFL, either. I think the Bucs like Ohio State’s Vonn Bell and Southern Utah’s Miles Killebrew better, but I would take Joseph.
ROUND 3 (74) – South Carolina State DT Javon Hargrave – 6-1, 309 – Senior
Hargraves has been a mid-round pick in two of PewterReport.com’s earlier mock drafts in February and March. I got my first look at Hargrave at the East-West Shrine practices where he was dominant and unblockable during the one-on-ones and in scrimmages. The Bucs have visited with and worked out a lot of defensive tackles this year, but I haven’t heard if Hargrave was one of them.
Capable of playing either the nose tackle or under tackle positions due to his extremely quick get-off and power, Hargave is an ideal fit for the Bucs defense as Mike Smith likes big defensive tackles. While Hargrave is a bit short at 6-foot-1, he weighs 315 pounds and is a load. But his body type is similar to that of former Bucs defensive tackles Warren Sapp and Booger McFarland, and Hargrave has a quick, explosive first step that reminds some scouts of those two players.
Hargrave is coming off a senior season in which he had 59 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, including five multi-sack games, and two forced fumbles. After recording 8.5 sacks his first two years for the Bulldogs, Hargrave had a breakout season in 2014, recording 16 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a junior. Against Bethune Cookman last year, Hargrave took over the game, recording 11 tackles and a school-record six sacks.
ROUND 4 (108) – Grand Valley State DE Matt Judon – 6-3, 275 – Senior
The Buccaneers have worked out Judon, so he’s the first draft prospect in my personal mock that it appears the team has had some public interest in. I’m a late-comer to Judon because he played at a small school and missed the East-West Shrine Game with an injury, but his film, his body type and his athleticism is impressive.
Judon had an incredibly productive college career, dominating smaller school competition with 20 sacks in 2015 to lead all of college football in addition to 23.5 tackles for loss and 81 tackles and three forced fumbles. He had 34 career sacks at Grand Valley State, including 8.5 as a junior with four forced fumbles. Judon, who overcame a torn ACL injury in 2013, ran a blazing fast 4.73 in the 40-yard dash, in addition to a 35-inch vertical. Judon showed off his strength with 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.
Buccaneers defensive line coach Jay Hayes was at Grand Valley State for Judon’s pro day. While Judon needs to refine his technique, but he has a high motor, great size and speed, and tremendous body lean in getting around offensive tackles as an edge rusher. Judon might need some time to adjust to the NFL, but I think he’s a player that can be groomed behind Robert Ayers and Jacquies Smith.
ROUND 5 (148) – North Carolina State OT Joe Thuney – 6-5, 304 – Senior
Thuney is the second player in my mock that has met with the Buccaneers and has the distinction of being one of the highest-graded offensive linemen in 2015 by Pro Football Focus. Capable of playing multiple positions, Thuney has been the Wolfpack’s left tackle for two out of the last three years. Although he doesn’t overwhelm opponents with his size or power, Thuney has surprising strength with 28 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine. He was one of the most athletic linemen in Indianapolis, running a blazing fast 4.95 in the 40-yard dash with an impressive 1.70 split.
Thuney, who was in PewterReport.com’s mock in March, has short arms at 32 1/4, and that may prompt NFL teams to move inside to guard where he does have experience. In fact, Thuney has experience at all five positions and his versatility is a plus for NFL teams like Tampa Bay. Thuney is incredibly bright and graduated from N.C. State after just three years with a degree in accounting and he is pursuing Master’s degree in international studies.
He’ll need some time to hit the weight room and add some bulk, but Thuney’s size and athleticism compares favorably to a poor man’s Logan Mankins and his NFL future may ultimately be at guard or center depending on his development. Thuney’s athleticism is just a small step below that of Indiana’s Jason Spriggs, who has an outside chance of being a late first-rounder. Thuney is smart, tough and athletic. Those are three traits the Bucs like in offensive linemen.
ROUND 6 (183) – East Carolina OLB Montese Overton – 6-2, 223 – Senior
The Buccaneers haven’t shown any interest in Overton to my knowledge, and he’s regarded as a seventh-round pick on some of the draft websites I’ve seen. Overton was one of the most athletic linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.61 with a 1.59, which was the second-fastest time in his position group.
Overton was a two-year starter for the Pirates that saw heavy action for three years at East Carolina as a strongside linebacker. He could be groomed as an eventual replacement for Daryl Smith, who signed a one-year deal, while starring on special teams.
Overton, who had 217 tackles at East Carolina, was used in space as a coverage linebacker where his athleticism was often matched up against slot receivers. He had 14 pass breakups in college, including seven as a senior. The Pirates also used Overton as a blitzer off the edge, evidenced by his 17.5 career sacks, including 7.5 as a senior. The Bucs like fast, athletic linebackers with juice. I would think Overton would be a natural fit in Tampa Bay.
ROUND 6 (197 from Washington) – Texas Tech WR Jakeem Grant – 5-6, 165 – Senior
My final pick for Tampa Bay is Grant, yet another player that the Bucs haven’t expressed any public interest in. I would think that Licht would want to steal a page out of the playbook of his good friends – Arizona G.M. Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians – and draft a small, shifty speed receiver like Grant to bring explosive plays to both the Bucs’ offense and special teams.
Most NFL teams would overlook Grant’s diminutive frame, but the Cardinals drafted 5-foot-10, 160-pound wide receiver J.J. Nelson out of UAB last year and he had a pair of touchdowns dur