FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• October is almost here, and usually over the past decade Bucs fans have been dealing with a struggling Tampa Bay team this time of year. More times than not, the Bucs have had a losing record by now and fans have already had one eye on some very early mock drafts, anticipating Tampa Bay having a top 10 pick, as it did last year.
The good news for the Bucs is that they are off to a 2-1 start and the mock drafts have the team picking near the bottom of the first round. Let’s take a look at some of the recent early mocks.
Pro Football Focus came out with their first mock draft, and have the Bucs drafting Florida State defensive end Brian Burns with the 24th overall pick. I happen to prefer Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat, who PFF had going to the Los Angeles Rams at No. 28, instead.
PFF said “Despite the strong additions up front to the defensive line last offseason, you can never have too many pass-rushers off the edge and Burns’ continued growth makes him an intriguing option. He’s an athletic rusher who has broken out this year to grade at 77.0 as a pass-rusher.”
The Draft Network, which is a new website featuring a ton of draft gurus, including PewterReport.com’s own Trevor Sikkema, has two mock drafts up. Sikkema has the Bucs drafting Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams with the 31st pick.
“This is an odd spot for the Buccaneers. They could stand to get a safety next to Justin Evans, but Jordan Whitehead has played well enough for them not to reach for anyone not named Deionte Thompson. They could certainly use another cornerback, but with Greedy Williams and Amani Oruwariye off the board, they’re not about to draft another undersized corner in Levonta Taylor. If you assume Jameis Winston is still their guy at quarterback, I could see them taking a chance on Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams, who would have been a Top 15 pick had he not undergone back surgery this season. Back surgeries for big boys are tricky, so this all could change, but if Adams checks out, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get Demar Dotson’s replacement on the roster.”
I have to disagree with Sikkema here. I don’t think there is any way Bucs general manager Jason Licht would spend a first-round pick on a tackle with back issues after going through the J.R. Sweezy debacle over the past two seasons in Tampa Bay. Take a chance on Adams if he slides into the late second or third round? Sure, but not in the first round.
Sikkema’s cohort at The Draft Network, Jon Ledyard, has a different pick for the Bucs. He has Tampa Bay taking Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye with the 29th overall pick.
“The Bucs have made big strides early this season, but the secondary play is still a major concern. With Carlton Davis set to be the long-term starter on one side and M.J. Stewart in the slot, adding Oruwariye will give them a trio of big, physical young corners with some room to grow. Oruwariye is in his first season as a full-time starter and has shown tremendous ball skills, but his long speed will be the big question until the Combine.”
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• According to Pro Football Focus, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was nearly flawless against Tampa Bay’s blitz Monday night, completing 10-of-12 passes for 162 yards, with three touchdowns and a 158.3 rating. Tampa Bay had three sacks on Monday night – but none by blitzing linebackers.
It will be interesting to see if defensive coordinator Mike Smith blitzes second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on Sunday in Chicago, trying to force the young QB into some mistakes or getting a sack-fumble. Or perhaps Smith will only rush four and drop seven into coverage with the hope of getting an interception. The Bucs went the first two games without an interception before free safety Justin Evans picked off Roethlisberger in the first quarter.
“The saying is when they come, they come in bunches, so hopefully that can stand true,” Evans said. “We’re always looking to get picks, but as long as we’re doing our job and winning and being key on the details the picks will come when they come.”
• Bucs fans are lamenting over the fact that the team hasn’t gotten any production from its first-round pick, defensive tackle Vita Vea, or its second-round pick, running back Ronald Jones, this year. But thank goodness general manager Jason Licht invested two second-round picks in cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis and a fourth-round pick in safety Jordan Whitehead given the injuries in the secondary.
Davis, Stewart and Whitehead will take their lumps as rookies this year, but the hope is that they develop quickly as free safety Justin Evans did a year ago as a rookie while leading the team with three interceptions, and become fixtures in the secondary for years to come. Having more experienced and accomplished pass rushers up front like Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry will only help take some of the pressure off.
If Davis, Stewart and Whitehead become long-term, very good starters in Tampa Bay, the Bucs’ 2018 draft class will already be successful – regardless of what Vea or Jones end up doing in red and pewter. The expectation in any draft class for NFL teams is to find two starters. The Bucs already have three rookies starting in the secondary and are anxious to see how they develop.
• This week’s Pewter Nation Podcast is one of most bizarre – and funniest – podcasts we’ve done thus far, and we’re almost at 100 episodes. Things get heated between Trevor Sikkema, Mark Cook and I as we previewed the Bucs vs. Bears game, and argued about which quarterback should start – Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston. Friend. Click here to listen to Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 98: The Many Layers Of Fitzpatrick vs. Winston
Our post-game Pewter Nation Podcast from Monday talked about why the Bucs lost to the Steelers. Make sure you listen to it if you haven’t already. Click here to listen to Episode 98: A Bad Case Of The Mondays (Night Football) today on your drive home from work or tomorrow while doing some chores around the house or running errands this weekend. The next Pewter Nation Podcast will be taped Monday after the Bucs vs. Bears game, so stay tuned for the post-game thoughts from Sikkema, Cook and yours truly as the Bucs try to improve to 3-1 as they head into the bye week.
The popularity of the Pewter Nation Podcast continues to grow. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode.
• Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is off to a blazing start to his second year in the league. Howard has 11 catches for 222 yards and one touchdown this season, which was a 75-yarder against Philadelphia in Week 2. Howard is third on the team in yardage behind Mike Evans (367) and DeSean Jackson (312), and his 20.2 yards per catch is second behind Jackson’s 26 yards per catch this season.
“I always knew that I could be a very special after-the-catch guy at my position,” Howard said. “I try to do a good job, using my ability and speed. It’s kind of hard for them when I’m matched up with linebackers and safeties so I just try to take advantage of it. I’m just trying to take my game to the next level.”
Howard, the team’s first-round draft pick a year ago, played in 14 games last year and caught 26 passes for 432 yards (16.6 avg.) with six touchdowns as a rookie. Howard is on pace to catch 58 passes for 1,184 yards and five touchdowns. If he were to continue his hot start Howard would be destined for the Pro Bowl by season’s end.
“I’m very pleased with [my start],” Howard said. “Just working hard in training camp and all offseason, trying to get the ideal looks that we hope for in the game and then take advantage of it. So far, so good.”