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. BUCS SHOULD ATTEMPT TO TRADE BACK IN ROUND 1
Let’s get right to the point and not bury the lead.
This is the year the Bucs should trade back in the first round, and I don’t mean a couple spots as general manager Jason Licht did last year when he swapped with Chicago, moving from ninth to 11th overall, and picked up a fourth-rounder he used to package with the team’s third-rounder to move up into the second round to draft kicker Roberto Aguayo.
Tampa Bay should trade down in the first round – and possibly in the second round – because of the value of this deep draft and the amount of talent that will be available in the third and fourth rounds this year. Licht has shown he can nail a mid-round draft pick, evidenced by the selection of fourth-round middle linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015. And with the third- and fourth round full of talented players that could definitely earn a roster spot and perhaps playing time, this is the year the Bucs need to turn seven draft picks into nine.
Not only would drafting eight or nine players increase the chance that Tampa Bay would hit a few home runs with more swings, this is the year that Licht needs to lay the final pieces of the Bucs’ foundation for perennial playoff success as the Bucs did in drafts from 1995-98 with the selections of Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp (1995) and linebacker Derrick Brooks (1995), fullback Mike Alstott (1996), cornerback Donnie Abraham (1996), running back Warrick Dunn (1997), cornerback Ronde Barber (1997) and cornerback Brian Kelly (1998).
Bucs GM Jason Licht, CB Vernon Hargreaves & HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
This is Licht’s fourth season as the team’s G.M., and he has drafted what some believe are franchise cornerstones in wide receiver Mike Evans (2014), lineman Kevin Pamphile (2014), quarterback Jameis Winston (2015), tackle Donovan Smith (2015), guard Ali Marpet (2015), Alexander (2015), cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (2016) and defensive end Noah Spence (2016). One more quality draft with three or four starters and Tampa Bay should be built for the long haul.
The East-West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine have all come and gone, and the pro days of NFL draft prospects are winding down. It’s time for not only NFL teams like Tampa Bay to put the finishing touches on their draft boards and dive into doing their internal mock drafts, it’s also time for PewterReport.com to do some deep draft analysis of our own.
After looking at two scenarios that could happen, my conclusion would be for Tampa Bay to trade down – if possible – and acquire an extra mid-round pick or two in the process. To come up with these scenarios, I enlisted the help of Pewter Reporter Trevor Sikkema, who helped me compile a list of the players that will almost certainly be off the board when Tampa Bay picks with the 19th overall selection. Here’s what we came up with.
The following 12 players are widely regarded as top-12 picks and will surely be gone by No. 19. They are in no particular order.
Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett Standford DL Solomon Thomas Alabama DT Jonathan Allen LSU RB Leonard Fournette Florida State RB Dalvin Cook LSU S Jamal Adams Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore Ohio State S Malik Hooker Alabama LB Reuben Foster Clemson WR Mike Williams Alabama TE O.J. Howard North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky
What this group consists of is three defensive linemen, two running backs, two safeties, the top cornerback, the top wide receiver, the top linebacker, the top tight end and the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft – whoever that may be. If you think it’s Deshaun Watson or DeShon Kizer instead of Trubisky that’s fine. There will be a quarterback taken by No. 12 when Cleveland’s second first-round pick comes up – and certainly one taken by the time Arizona is on the clock at No. 13 if the Browns pass on a QB with either of their first-round picks. The Cardinals are looking for a long-term successor to Carson Palmer.
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey – Photo by: Getty Images
There will also be an offensive tackle somewhere in the top 15, especially this year when the talent is thin at the position. Whether that is Utah’s Garett Bolles, Alabama’s Cam Robinson or Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramcyzk will be determined on draft day. Sikkema and I also believe there will be another edge rusher chosen within the top 15 picks – likely Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. Temple linebacker Hassan Reddick and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey will also be drafted before the Bucs are on the clock, too.
So that’s 16 players that we can say with a degree of confidence that won’t be available to Tampa Bay at No. 19.
Due to lack of talent and depth at both the quarterback and offensive tackle positions – positions the Bucs are unlikely to draft – there could be another QB or tackle taken within the top 15 in addition to Trubisky and Bolles. That scenario only helps the Bucs because it drives down more talent at the positions Tampa Bay will actually consider drafting in the first round, which PewterReport.com believes to be wide receiver, tight end, defensive end or safety – with running back or cornerback being wild cards.
So which potential Bucs targets are left in this scenario? Here’s a look:
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis Washington WR John Ross Miami TE David Njoku Washington S Budda Baker Kansas State DE Jordan Willis USC CB Adoreé Jackson UConn S Obi Melifonwu
Missouri DE Charles Harris
That’s eight players that could interest the Bucs, and out of those eight, two or three could be off the board between picks 16-18 when Baltimore, Washington and Tennessee select.
The Ravens have similar needs to the Bucs, and a wide receiver, defensive end, safety or running back could be selected at 16, taking away a potential Tampa Bay target. Most mock drafts have the Redskins selecting an offensive lineman or a linebacker, and that helps the Bucs. But the Titans, who pick at No. 18, will almost assuredly draft a receiver or tight end for quarterback Marcus Mariota, and that takes away another potential target for the Bucs.
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR
Still, in this scenario, if Davis or Ross goes to the Ravens and the Titans, the Bucs will have plenty of options to choose from.
With Houston, which picks 25th and Kansas City, which has the 27th overall selection, expected to draft a quarterback in the first round, moving up to 19 makes sense to ensure either team gets its guy. If Licht is looking to trade down, the Texans and the Chiefs make the most sense.
Using the standard NFL draft trade chart, the 19th overall pick is worth 875 points. Trading down seven spots to Houston at No. 25, which is valued at 720 points, means the Bucs are entitled to at least 150 points worth of value, which would mean getting the Texans’ third-round pick (No. 89 overall worth 145), and a seventh-round pick. Or if there was a bidding war for Licht’s No. 19 position, he could ask for more.
The Bucs would still have two or three draft targets available as the Texans would be drafting a QB at No. 19, and the Broncos and New York Giants are expected to draft offensive linemen with the next two picks. An extra third-round pick could mean getting to draft a starting-caliber running back like USF’s Marlon Mack or Toledo’s Kareem Hunt and getting a starting-caliber wide receiver like Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds or Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson in the same round. Or for those wanting an offensive lineman, the Bucs could snag Bucknell tackle Julie’n Davenport or Utah guard Isaac Asiata and a skill position player in Round 3.
If the Chiefs wanted to trade up they would owe the Bucs 195 points, which would be Kansas City’s third-round pick (136 points), fourth-round pick (40 points) and fifth-rounder (19.4 points). That’s the haul Tampa Bay would be entitled to in trading down to No. 27. That would give the Bucs a total of 10 draft picks initially, and certainly plenty of ammunition for Licht to move up in any round to get a targeted player.
USC CB Adoreé Jackson – Photo by: Getty Images
Even if a scenario developed where all of the offensive weapons that might interest the Bucs – Cook, Howard, McCaffrey, Davis, Ross and Njoku – were off the board, that might prompt the team to trade down if Tampa Bay has defensive players like Jackson, Baker, Melifonwu, Harris and Willis with borderline second-round grades. In other words, if a remaining target isn’t worthy of using the 19th overall selection on then Licht might be wise to seek out a trade for a mid-round draft pick, especially this year in such a deep draft.
With Licht’s ability to find starting-caliber talent outside of the first two rounds, it would be worthwhile to pick up an extra pick or two this year. Of course it all depends on which players are on the board when pick No. 19 is up and if Licht can find any willing trading partners.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com