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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. It’s Alexander’s Defense Now

I credit Tampa Bay’s middle linebacker Kwon Alexander for saying what needed to be said during his press conference on Thursday.

“Yeah, I am a leader of this defense,” Alexander said. “I am the middle linebacker. I speak my mind regardless of what it is, and I feel like I should open my mouth more, so I have been doing that more since I got here(for voluntary workouts) and that is what I am going to keep doing.”

Alexander, a team captain who is entering his fourth season in the league after his first Pro Bowl selection, is taking over the Bucs defense. That’s not to say that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy still won’t be a leader or that fellow team captain Lavonte David will step into the shadows of leadership by any means. But it means that Alexander, who is tied with David with the most tackles in Tampa Bay with 335 over the past three years, is taking ownership of the defense.

Accountability was a big problem last year on Tampa Bay’s defense, and it was something I addressed in an SR’s Fab 5 column back in January when I called for McCoy to step up or step aside as the leader of the Bucs defense and let Alexander take over.

“So what I’m suggesting is McCoy do one of two things – radically change his leadership style or step aside and turn the defense over to Alexander, who seems ready to take on more of a leadership role entering his fourth season with Pro Bowl credentials. Alexander is more of a gritty bad ass, and his brand of vocal leadership and fiery demeanor is more reminiscent of that of [Hardy] Nickerson and [Warren] Sapp than McCoy’s style is. … McCoy is a classy, tough, goofy, friendly guy in addition to being an elite football player. He’s caught some grief from fans for not being angry or mean (i.e. not being Sapp) and for helping opponents up after plays and for smiling and shaking hands with them after games – otherwise known as sportsmanship. But what I don’t know – because I’m not in the locker room more than an hour or two each week nor am I on the practice field – is if McCoy is willing to speak out and get in a guy’s face, ruffle some feathers, step on some toes to hold someone accountable.”

McCoy admitted he failed in that area last year in a radio interview on 620 WDAE.

“I think myself and Lavonte, we take a lot of blame for that,” McCoy said. “Not doing enough in the room or at practice. If this thing is going to change, we need to take this thing over and make sure it changes.”

McCoy didn’t particularly care for me using his own words, and the tough love that I offered up in that column. He took to Twitter to call me out without mentioning me by name, and blocked @PewterReport from following him on Twitter for what was the first, or perhaps second, critical column I’ve ever written about him after eight years of pretty positive coverage since he’s been in Tampa Bay where I’ve often defended him against harsher critics.

Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander and DT Gerald McCoy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander and DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

That’s McCoy’s prerogative, and I take no offense to it and hold no ill will towards him. If he’s taking that column personally and it’s helping to light his fire for 2018, then so be it. It’s my job as a reporter to hold the people on this football team and in this organization accountable for their actions for my readers – you, the fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Regardless, the message was sent – and apparently Alexander heard it loud and clear. He’s ready to step up and be the leader on Tampa Bay’s defense and hold his teammates accountable from Day One of the offseason program. But I suspect this was Alexander’s plan all along and he didn’t need any column from me to know that he was ready take over, especially coming off his first Pro Bowl.

“Yeah, that’s the first thing that we talked about as soon as we got back in the building is holding everybody accountable,” Alexander said. “Everybody needs to know what they are doing and being on the same page and like I said, communication. That is one of the biggest things for us, so we are going to do that. As long as we do that, like I said, we are going to be hard to beat.

Alexander has made his presence felt as the team leader in the offseason conditioning program this week in McCoy’s absence. These workouts are voluntary, and McCoy, who is a workout machine, typically does some training on his own in San Diego with New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and Philadelphia running back Darren Sproles among other NFL players.

McCoy is expected to show up at One Buc Place in the next week or two to join his teammates. When he returns, Alexander said he’s going to try to get McCoy to up his intensity even more.

“Gerald and Sapp are two different people,” Alexander said. “Sapp is more of a trash talker and he’s going to get in your face. Gerald is more of a guy who is going to dog you and he doesn’t have to be mean. He’s going to hit you. He might help you up because he’s just Gerald, he’s a great person. I feel like this year he’s going to put a lot more dog into it. I already talked about it. I said, ‘Hey I need you to have a little more dog,’ but he’s going to get to it. He’s a great player, as you all know. He’s All-Pro, always going to the [Pro Bowl] so, he’s going to do a great job. Just wait and see, you’re going to see him.

Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs MLB Kwon Alexander – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“He’s already a dog, but he’s just not a talker. I’m a talker. I’ll talk trash every play. That’s what I’m built off of. I’ve been doing that since little league. So, everybody is different, everybody plays the game different. He’s just a different guy, man. You can’t just change somebody because you want them to change. He’s still going to get at the quarterback and make big plays. I’m just going to try to get him to talk more smack. Do a little something. He’s a great player, man. He’s going to do an awesome job this year.”

McCoy, who is a tremendous lead-by-example kind of player, has said repeatedly that he’s not a big rah-rah, pre-game speech guy. He’s done it on occasion when the team has needed him to do it, but that’s a role that Alexander is better suited for and will likely take on in 2018.

“I will do it more if I have to,” Alexander said. “Obviously I don’t’ think we’re going to need that this year. Like I said, everyone is being held accountable for what they need to be doing. So if they’re not doing it, then I’m going to get on their butt regardless of whoever it is.

“I’m going to be a leader of this team and I’m going to let people know I’m a leader of this team. I feel like everybody is behind me 100 percent and I’m going to be behind them 100 percent, too. As long as we’re on the same page, and if I have to get on somebody’s butt, I ‘m going to say it in a respectful way, not in a disrespectful way. I don’t want it to be anything else. I’m a man, he’s a man too, so as long as we’re cool, everything will be smooth.”

You heard the man. It’s Alexander’s defense now.

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40 COMMENTS

  1. I hope we get Nelson. If Denver is shopping around the number five pick, I just don’t see the Bucs trading down. Could happen, but unlikely.
    I like James and Vea. Hope Bucs pick James. Most of the mocks I’ve seen show Vea going a bit later and I really don’t want to overpay for him. Still, if he’s the best player, what choice do Bucs have? He sure won’t be around in the second. I wish we got change when we overpaid. If
    Vea is really a fourteen pick, the NFL should give us an extra mid round pick. 🙂
    I think Bucs will top off maybe at eight wins this year. I was a little bit too generous in my prediction last year.
    Prove me wrong, Bucs

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    • I think we should draft Nelson if he’s there at no. 7, but I would feel better about trading down a few spots to 12, if Buffalo’s game for a trade. We’ve got some glaring holes to fill on defense, as well as drafting a RB for the offense. The question in my mind comes down to this – does the offense get better by adding a potential All-Pro guard at no. 7, or drafting a really good RB at either 7 or later in the first or up high in the 2nd? Adding Quenton does make Tampa’s offensive line an NFL top 10, maybe a top 5 OL, but a pick like Saquon would make the existing line look better than they really are.

      I think Doug Martin has just left too much of a bad taste in my mouth. I say Quenton or James at no. 7

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  2. It seems like the Bucs have interviewed a ton of candidates pegged as mid to late 1st rounders for them not considering a trade back.

    If the big 3 / 3 QBs go top 6; we could easily drop to 12 and land a Vea/James/Ward/Fitzpatrick considering Roquan Smith and/or Edmunds are extremely likely matches to the teams picking 8-10.

    Not as high on Fitzpatrick but I’d imagine he’s a great fit for a lot of teams picking 8-11. I’d expect him and at least 1 LB to go there; meaning we’d have a pick of Vea/James/Ward.

    Derwin James + a 2nd and 3rd rounder sounds a lot better than Derwin James

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    • I agree, but I think James is gone before 12. Also, based on what I keep reading and hearing about Mike Smith’s defense, we would probably be better off drafting Josh Jackson than Ward for a bigger body that would probably play zone D better. If going man-to-man more often, then yeah Ward all the way.

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  3. Watch what you wish for Kwon. If we get Nelson I hear that dog gets to the second level, and mauls linebackers! You might have to run from that dog in practice! I see the Giants drafting Josh Rosen, here’s why. Eli isn’t getting any younger, and hasn’t done much for the Giants since they won their last S.B.. Couple that with the fact, the Giants won’t be picking that high next year, and the Q.B. class is weak. They can still get one of the top guards, running backs, or others at the top of the second round. Why josh Rosen? He’s the most pro ready, can handle the N.Y. crowd which by the way comprises a large amount of Jewish season ticket holders, don’t think that wouldn’t play into their decision. So if four Q.B.’s go like I think they will, the Bucs stay at seven and get a great player. Just wish I knew who that will be.

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    • Agree Giants take a QB for exactly the reasons you lay out. This is a QB league and if Rosen is there they’d be crazy not to take him. Ely’s has a good run.

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  4. Great stuff Scott. As far as the draft coverage will you guys be tipping picks before they happen? I want to watch but I genuinely want to be surprised when Goodell announces the pick, that’s why I stay off Twitter during the draft haha. Thanks!

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  5. Another great Fab 5! My two cents on our selection at number 7. I think Barkley is one of those special guys that only come around once a decade or more so if he is there you can’t pass on him….he won’t be there. With that being said, I have always maintained football games are won and loss in the trenches. If we take James, I believe he will be the pro bowl player you want with a high draft pick like this but I truly think the team will be better served with Nelson or Vea.

    One last thing…..loved this week’s podcast with Ian Beckles. How 620 could let Ian go for the on air comments he made just blows me away. They were not that controversial and it was his damn opinion. I would boycott 620 if they weren’t the only show in town. Pewter Report would be doing themselves a favor if they could find a way to get Ian on the payroll. I know….too much man love for Ian. Hey, I’m from Indiana…can’t help myself.

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    • I like the idea of picking a mauler, for either the OL or DL, at no.7. We had problems all season long at the goal line, and if either or both are addressed adequately next week, it could make all the difference in close games.

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  6. Thought?
    https://247sports.com/college/florida-state/Bolt/Florida-State-Seminoles-football-safety-Derwin-James-reportedly-declines-personal-workout-Tampa-Bay-Buccaneers-117517644?utm_source=247Sports%20Newsletter&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=180420_091504_Florida%20State%20Seminoles&utm_content=Link&liveconnect=91-AA-5D-31-27-A9-31-D5-98-0A-2B-87-FB-46-21-2C180420_091504FloridaStateSeminoles

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    • Saw that, too, only on the NBC PFT page. Personally, I don’t want anyone on my team that refuses to work out for me, and I can’t imagine for a second Licht is all too happy about such a selfish attitude. I would be incredibly disappointed if we took James at 7, and I felt that way BEFORE I heard about this.

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      • You can’t be disappointed in a player when it was his agent who told him not to. He wanted to, but given that a player already blew out his knee at a private workout already why take the chance. His athletic ability isn’t in question anyway, it’s his mental part. He’s an athletic freak we just need to see if he can handle the metal aspect of the game.

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        • Sure I can. Why take the chance? Okay… For that you would need some background (I’ll try to keep it short, I promise). I’m retired military who served with some elite units where you had to try out for those units (go through “selection”). People have DIED during these “try outs” (so to speak, of course). People have certainly gotten badly hurt and had their careers end. Still, if you really WANT to be part of that unit, it’s a risk you have to take, because they’re looking for team players–people focused SOLELY on being part of an elite team.

          This is how I see the NFL as well (only with a much more limited risk of dying 😉 ). There are people who will tell you left and right, especially in flight careers where any major injury could get you booted for life, NOT to even try to go to these selection courses. If you REALLY want to be part of that unit, though, again, you just have to risk it.

          James would “just have to risk it” if he REALLY wanted to be a Buc. My belief is he just doesn’t care. He is a ‘me first’ player at this point, and I don’t want any of them on my team (errr… the Bucs 😉 ), just like I don’t want any of the kneelers on my team. I want “team first”, “yes sir, I’ll run through that wall for you” guys on my team, ESPECIALLY if I’m taking them with the #7 pick.

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    • Yes he didnt work out. Its the same thing christian McCaffrey did last year. It was James’ agents recommendation after two players blew out their knees this year in private workouts. Just stood on his combine numbers.

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      • And McCaffrey turned out to be a pretty terrible #8 overall pick. I don’t care who recommends it. If you’re THAT fragile, you’re an injury waiting to happen.

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        • And as i respect you for your service,and thank you for it, this isnt the military. If im an athlete who could gt injured and lose millions for what,a few shuttle drills? Your comparison isnt even renotely the same. One is fighting for your country, the other is playing a sport. And it has nothing to do with fragile, its called protecting an investment. Tell that to the two kids who lost millions because they blew their knees out. While mccaffery is an example,him doing bad last year had nothing to do with him skipping workouts so not sure how you make that connection, so well have to disagree.

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          • Losing your life is worth a HELL of a lot more than a million dollars, and people DO die during selection (in fact, I believe it’s more common to die during selection than it is to be critically injured during a 2 or 3 hour pre-draft workout). They are both about trying out for teams–NFL teams for one, elite fighting units for the other. You can point out differences in any analogy. In this case it’s like saying the “men are like dogs in that they’ll screw anything” analogy is invalid because dogs have 4 legs and men only 2. It’s called a difference without a distinction. The point stands. REAL TEAM players who WANT to be part of a certain team will risk minor injury for certain, and even death in the military, in order to be part of that team. James does not have this (even if it’s because he listened to his agent who said that, then he was too weak to stand up to his agent and say “HEY! I WANT to work out for them. I want to show them what I have!). James, by all accounts is a “me first” player. Reports I’ve heard say Licht did NOT come away very impressed with James even WITHOUT a workout.

            To boot, teams have been known to NOT draft players because they didn’t work out for them. Dropping 10 slots will make you lose those few million MUCH faster, now, won’t they? Hey, there’s a reason only 15% (as of now) of Pewter Report readers think drafting James is a good idea. There’s a REASON the overwhelming majority of Bucs fans DO NOT WANT JAMES at 7.

            Now, trade down to 12 or 15 and take him? I’m okay with that, but absolutely NOT at 7.

            P.S. though I did bring up my military service, and I appreciate the sentiment of the appreciation, I did NOT bring it up because I wanted any of that. Truth be told, I joined for me…. for the free million dollar flight education, and I loved every second of it. I merely wanted to explain myself and my experiences with people who refused to do anything where they could get hurt in a profession where getting hurt IS a reality. If you’re that fragile that you can’t workout for a team, then chances are you’re WAY too worried about getting hurt to give it your all in the NFL (or an elite fighting unit), and then I don’t want you for THAT reason.

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          • Like McCaffrey James sat out his bowl game too. Dalvin Cook “risked it” and played in his bowl game. When both were on the field last year it was no question who the better player was.

            Give me the player, not the playa’.

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  7. I’ve got a different opinion about all 3 QB’s going before Spot 7 because some aren’t worthy of being picked in the Top 10 of the draft. We still have a chance to trade down. I really have no clue who we will actually draft at spot 7. Right now I’m more concerned as to back up since we don’t know when Spence, Beckwith, Swazzy, Dotson, playing status. Might have to consider trading down in second round pick for another draft pick. Our schedule looks tough. Have we ever had a Bye in the 2nd half of the season?

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    • Had a Wk14 Bye when they first started in 1990, as well as Wk10 Bye’s in 1995, 2002, 2007 and 2008. Other than that it’s always been between Wks 2-8.

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  8. Looking towards the next 2 years of drafting, only a few high quality QB’s will emerge IMO. This really is the year of the QB. 2019 is full of quality OT and DE’s. I would not be surprised if NYG takes a QB as they don’t expect to be drafting this high again (Gettlemen arrogance).

    I could see 4 or 5 in the top 10. Not that the value is necessarily there – but I’d project that at least 1 team is coming up into the top 10 to select a QB on draft night.

    Bucs should be good – regardless. Doesn’t sound like they will need to reach for anyone.

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  9. There’s going to be some draft night top ten trades. The Colts GM Ballard and the Broncos GM Elway have openly announced their pick is for sale. I agree that the Bucs will not trade down. Will not have to – the goods are likely to be there at #7.

    It is a QB seller’s market – high demand chasing too few goods. QB needy teams have seen the QB outlook for 2019 and it’s bleak. The Bucs just need to be patient and occupy the cat bird seat. At his pre-draft presser, GM Jason Licht said “There are enough players there that if no QB was taken above us, we would be very excited about it if we stayed put”. That’s enough for me!

    The mock drafts are crazy now. I saw one (NJ.com) a few days back where the Bucs traded up one with the Colts for DE Bradley Chubb for a 2019 2nd round pick. I saw a B/R mock today where Chubb falls to the Bucs. Some have the Bucs passing on OG Quenton Nelson and taking SS Derwin James. Six days before the draft I take them all with a grain of salt.

    I’m done watching mocks with one exception, that being PR’s mock draft Sunday. Lol. But even then, I will not be commenting – nothing left to say! The Bucs are going to get a very good player at #7 – a starter no matter the choice. That’s really all that matters. Go Bucs!

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2771485-2018-nfl-mock-draft-predictions-for-prospects-vaulting-into-opening-round

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    • Totally agree with you my friend. Like every year, I’m over the endless Mock Drafts that mean absolutely nothing. As you said, if we stick at # 7 we’ll get a good player who will also fill a need. I’m more interested in what we do on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Might be in a position to trade down that high second rounder to recoup the third rounder. Always fun.

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  10. Scott, I don’t believe that you can definitively state that the Bucs won’t trade back from #7. We’ll have to see how everything plays out. Would love to see Nelson there at 7. I wonder if Meathead is going to be scouring LSU’s LBs this year with Beckwith’s injury? Finally, I haven’t seen anyone around here that the Bucs have a chance to make the playoffs, after the schedule release. C’mon, man! This is the NFL; anything can happen. Finally, I’m good with Kwon is King; Somebody needs to step.

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  11. Great Fab 5 Scott, as usual.

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  12. Good Fab Five, Scott.

    Hey, what happened to “Thumbs Up”, “Thumbs Down”?

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  13. Vea would be devastating. He’s massively overrated and not at an immediate impact position. Honestly, Mo Hurst is going to be a much, much better NFL DL. He’s a better pass rusher by a mile and was PFF’s top graded run stopper as a DL. Look at the best defensive tackles in the league, Atkins and Donald. Both “undersized” short, quick twitch disruptive DTs dominate the league today. Not arguing to draft him at 7, but taking the draft’s second best DT at 7 would be awful. Derwin James would be a little disappointing too. There have been 3 Safeties taken top 10 in the past 15 years, Eric Berry, Mark Barron & Jamal Adams. Why would we overdraft James, who’s not really considered on that Berry/Adams tier? Should be Chubb/Nelson/Barkley at 7, trade down if not. I don’t know enough about Ward to speculate but if Licht has him in that tier, I’d be fine with him there too. Even Roquan Smith would be fine with me, esp with Beckwith injured. Don’t reach for James or Vea, please. (Honestly, wouldn’t want Barkley bc of positional value either, but that’s a whole nother argument.)

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  14. This really seems to be one of the more unpredictable drafts in recent memory, which makes it all the more interesting imo. Whether the Bucs stay at #7 or trade up/down, confident we’ll come out of the draft with solid picks from this draft class. Wouldn’t be surprised if Licht uses a 2019 pick or two to maneuver around the board as well.

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  15. Also, while I wholeheartedly agree with Kwon’s take that player accountability has to be a focus this year (should have already been imo), can’t fathom why this staff hasn’t already had that in place. Understand Koetter seems to more of a player’s coach than a disciplinarian, but believe you need to have a disciplined squad that does their job to have long-term success. Hopefully Koetter is able to find that balance.

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  16. If the Bucs stay at #7 I would be happy with either Derwin James or Quenton Nelson.

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  17. Earlier i saw Ward as early as 5 to the Broncos…Would we really take Ward with the problems we have at corner?

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  18. Even if Buffalo trades up above us, there may still be an opportunity for a QB to slip to us allowing for a possible trade with either Miami or Arizona…but only make the deal for an additional 2nd and 3rd rounder.

    1st – CB Jaire Alexander
    2nd – RB Ronald Jones
    2nd – S Kyzir Whte
    3rd – EDGE Josh Sweat
    4th – CB Holton Hill
    5th – DT Deadrin Senat
    6th – RB Jordan Wilkins
    6th – G Cole Madison
    7th – OT Greg Senat

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    • I agree with the trade rationale and possibly the first pick but I don’t think they take Jones and I don’t think Sweat makes it to the 3rd round.

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      • What about Kerryon Johnson? He’s a guy I’ve been very high on. I have him below Barkley, Guice, and slightly below Jones, but slightly above Chubb, and have dropped Michel and Penny further down due to Pass-Pro/Ball Security issues. Would love to get Kerryon with the second 2nd round pick we get in a trade down. Would be a great 3 down back and would compliment Barber’s game as well. Having a third COP/Receiving guy like Ito Smith [6th round?] (who ran a 4.45 – 40, slower than only Hines and Saquon) would be very good.

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  19. Ive gone back and looked at all Lichts drafts. I was never expecting him to trade back. He might try to trade up. He doesnt value each draft slot like he should. He needs some cold ones or some sedatives during the draft. Id love for him to actually get more lottery tickets not less one of these years. Lets not think they wont trade back just because Elway came out and said that tho. Id bet every gm in every draft picking top 5 has said that. Denver might be taking a qb for all we know. If someone offers the ranch then you opt out. Licht should have trade back options available draft night. Will he do it is the question. Highly doubtful if you go by history

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  20. I like Quenton @ 7 all day for years to come.

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  21. Just saw Brian Billick’s Mock for Bucs, Tremaine Edwards! Like it if Big 3 not dropping to #7. He passed on Nelson to pick Edwards, not sure would agree, but good football mind, makes u think about Edwards as real option to be a Buc at 7. Don’t think most would pic a LB with our current group, but LB is QB of the Defense, and think of him as hybrid/edge rusher, and may force more of a 3-4 base defense, rather than current 4-3. Edwards, David on edge with Beckwith and Alexander in middle, aint a bad group! Maybe fronts of JPP, McCoy, Curry, with 2nd group Golston, Allen, Unrein, and that doesnt even consider if Spence healthy yet?! Sack situation seems much improved with those combos? And that leaves Scott correct, Bucs stay at #7 and pick Tremaine Edwards?!!! Kinda of like it! Go Bucs!

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  22. If Barkley or B Chubb are not there at 7, it has to be Derwin James as the pick. It’s all about fixing the defense. We need a defensive player who will make an impact from day one, and someone who has Pro Bowl potential.
    I’m drooling about having two vocal leaders on the defense like Alexander and James. They will be the most vocal players on the defense and both will not only hold themselves accountable, but also their teammates. Both those guys are straight dogs.

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  23. Trade down no matter what. unless Barkley falls. I think he is the only player that can make the bucs a playoff team this year. Otherwise we need more picks, the seventh best player does not make us a playoff team, like barkley could. we have to many holes. Even if a QB does not fall. somebody is going to fall even if Denver trades down some top five pick will fall. We have to adjust our asking price as the top 6 picks play out. Now is the time to make the playoffs. Or we go thru another coaching change & possibly GM. which means no playoffs for another 2 years. We are in a good position if we play it right. and do all our homework. most pro bowlers are drafted on day 2 & 3. Redskin Bobby Bethard anybody. LOL

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  24. “I hate to lose more than I love to win” is a Jimmy Conners quote who was one of the greatest tennis players of all-time.

    That said, I’m sure Roberto Aguayo hated to lose and miss kicks as well. It takes a little more than just a dislike of losing, but I agree you want someone with that ‘Warren Sapp’ mentality on your team.

    Give me the guy who not only gives it his all, is willing to play anyone anywhere. Don’t give me the player that takes his agents advice and sits out as many bowl games, drills or workouts as he can so he can wait for his payday. That doesn’t sound to me like something Warren Sapp would’ve done.

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