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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. Combine Freaks Of The Week

The on-field performance of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine starts on Friday morning and I’ve polled some of my scouting sources around the league for some of the players they think will light it up athletically in Indianapolis over the next five days. I asked my sources for just the names of the players they are expecting to really impress with drills – not necessarily which ones would be ideal fits in Tampa Bay.

But what I have done is trim the list of names down to positions of need for the Bucs so the list becomes more relatable to you. I’m not suggesting Tampa Bay likes the following players (they do like some of them) nor am I endorsing them as potential Bucs draft picks, but as you watch the NFL Scouting Combine on TV or follow our coverage on Twitter @PewterReport with Trevor Sikkema reporting live from Indianapolis.

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
Barkley will cement himself as a Top 5 pick when he runs a 4.4 or under during the 40-yard dash at 230 pounds. Not only is he a top producer as a runner and receiver on the field, he will dazzle in the short shuttle, vertical leap, broad jump and bench press (29 reps), too. Barkley also had a 600-pound squat at Penn State. If Barkley somehow makes it to No. 7, the Bucs will have to be interested coming out of Indianapolis.

LSU RB Derrius Guice
As one of only four SEC running backs with multiple 250-yard rushing games, joining Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson in that distinction, Guice is a powerhouse. He made waves on Twitter as video of his 650-pound squat went viral, but it was surprising that he only did 15 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press in Indy. Look for that number to climb at his pro day at LSU.

Arizona State RB Kallen Ballage
The 6-foot-1, 227-pound muscle-bound Ballage looks the part of an NFL running back and will undoubtedly test well with a sub-4.55 40-yard dash time, a 4.03 20-yard short shuttle time and other physical marvels in Indy. He’ll display great hands, which makes him worthy in today’s NFL, but Ballage was never good enough to do anything other than split carries at Arizona State and he’s not elusive enough to be drafted earlier than Day 3. But he’ll put on a show at the Scouting Combine.

North Carolina State RB Nyheim Hines
The 5-foot-8, 197-pound Hines is expected to be one of the fastest running backs at the Scouting Combine, likely with a 40-yard dash time in the 4.4 range due to his days as a Wolfpack All-American sprinter. Hines’ agility will also shine in Indy as he was used as a running back, slot receiver and kick returner at North Carolina State. Hines’ draft stock should receive a boost into the fourth or fifth round after this weekend.

Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson
Already regarded as the best offensive lineman in the 2018 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-5, 329-pound Nelson will pass the eyeball test because he has very little fat on his body as it is mostly muscle. Nelson should shine in the bench press drill and put up in excess of 30 reps, while running close to a five-second time in the 40-yard dash. Nelson will solidify his top 10 draft ranking in Indy.

Auburn G Braden Smith
Smith already looks like an NFL guard with a double-barrel chest and big arms. Auburn strength coach Ryan Russell told SI.com’s Bruce Feldman that Smith runs a 4.94 in the 40-yard dash at 6-foot-6, 303 pounds and bench presses close to 500 pounds. But it’s his broad jump, which is nearly 10 feet, that is expected to turn heads at the Scouting Combine. Smith is expected to be selected in the third or fourth round.

Washington DT Vita Vea
At 6-foot-4, 345 pounds Vea is supposed to run between 4.9-5.0 in the 40-yard dash, which would be freakish. Some scouts are suggesting that he will be as athletic or more athletic than Dontari Poe, a former first-round draft pick, whose draft stock skyrocketed from his performance in Indianapolis. Expect Vea’s to do the same as he could rise into the Top 10.

Washington DT Vita Vea - Photo by: Getty Images
Washington DT Vita Vea – Photo by: Getty Images

Florida DT Taven Bryan
Bryan, who is expected to be a second-round pick, is 6-foot-3, 295 pounds of sheer athleticism. He squats over 600 pounds, has a 40-inch vertical leap and is expected to run a sub 4.8 in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. Bryan has it all – strength, speed and quickness – and he’s a heck of a penetrating defensive tackle, too.

North Carolina State DE Kentavius Street
The chiseled Street certainly passes the eyeball test at 6-foot-2, 285 pounds. At his junior pro day, Street reportedly ran a 4.58, had a 40-inch vertical jump, benched 475 pounds and squatted 700 pounds. He had 1.5 sacks in his bowl game and 1.5 sacks in the East-West Shrine Game, which has boosted his draft stock. His performance in Indy should push him into the third or fourth round, too.

Fort Hays State DT Nathan Shepherd
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Shepherd dominated two practices at the Senior Bowl before leaving due to a broken hand. It’s a shame he didn’t get to play in the game because he could have been a Day 2 pick with a dominant performance. Instead, he’ll have to rely on a great showing in Indy to make up some ground. Shepherd might not bench press due to his hand injury, but watch out for some good numbers in the broad jump, vertical jump and 40-yard dash.

LSU CB Donte Jackson
Jackson may be the fastest man in Indianapolis over the next five days as he was on the LSU track team and ran a 10.22 100 meters in 2017, and supposedly has run as fast as 4.24 in the 40-yard dash. John Ross set the Scouting Combine record last year with a 4.22 time. Jackson’s speed would cement his status as a potential first- or second-round draft pick.

Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
Ward isn’t the biggest cornerback at 5-foot-10, 191 pounds, but he is expected to be one of the faster and more athletic ones in Indianapolis. Ward has the chance to become the second defensive back off the draft board following Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick with a great showing at the Scouting Combine.

UCF CB Mike Hughes
Hughes spent just one year at UCF after transferring from North Carolina, but had a pick-six, two kickoff returns for touchdown and a punt return touchdown that showcased his blazing speed. Don’t be surprised if Hughes blazes a sub-4.4 time in the 40-yard dash. A great showing at Lucas Oil Stadium could put him in contention for first round consideration despite the fact that he only started one year of college football.

Auburn CB Carlton Davis
Davis has great size at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and possesses very good athleticism Expect a good vertical leap number – perhaps 40 inches – for Davis and a sub-4.5 time in the 40-yard dash. Davis is projected to be a late-first-, early second-round pick.

Florida State S Derwin James - Photo by: Getty Images
Florida State S Derwin James – Photo by: Getty Images

Boston College CB Issac Yiadom
At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Yiadom isn’t getting a lot of pre-Combine hype, but he could pleasantly surprise scouts with a good 40-time and vertical jump. Yiadom is a mid-round prospect coming off a good showing at the Senior Bowl, which has boosted his draft stock. It could go higher with a better-than-expected showing in Indy.

Florida State S Derwin James
James can bench press 400 pounds and jump out of the gym. The question for scouts about the first-round pick is whether or not he can regain his pre-injury form. Perhaps the most important test for James in Indy will be the medical evaluation of the knee he injured in 2016. That could determine if he’s a top 15 pick or a late first-rounder.

Virginia Tech S Terrell Edmunds
Edmunds is the brother of star Hokies linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, a likely first-round pick who is supposed to light it up at the Combine. For Terrell Edmunds, he’ll need a good outing in Indy to go from a Day 3 prospect to a Day 2 safety. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Edmunds has better than ideal size and if he can run in the 4.5-range it will significantly boost his draft stock.

With a stable full of wide receivers, including last year’s third-round pick, Chris Godwin, it’s doubtful that Tampa Bay will spend another draft pick on receiver, but Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk and Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown are expected to put on an athletic show in Indy. The same holds true at linebacker where the Bucs are flush with three starters in Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Kendell Beckwith, a third-round pick from a year ago. Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, Ohio State’s Jerome Baker, Clemson’s Dorian O’Daniel and Texas’ Malik Jefferson are expected to dominate during drills at the Scouting Combine.

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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: sr@pewterreport.com
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Bucsfan1983

Good Fab 5 SR!

Sign me up for signing Ryan Jensen and Kyle Fuller!!

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Ken Grant

“Anytime you force a pick – anytime you force a pick – because of a need, you run a greater risk of it not working out. I’ve seen that happen a lot of times.”

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS

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slaythembucs

Yet we may end up doing a the same thing!

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macabee

Free Agency Strategy *Bucs projected cap space for 2018 per OverTheCap (OTC) is 70.5mil. Additional Buc veterans expected to be cut – Ayers 6.0mil, Sweezy 5.2mil and Hawley 2.5mil = savings of 13.7mil + 70.5mil = approx. 84.2mil cap. This will change every time a player is cut, added, extended, or restructured. I believe this is the year the Bucs must make most of their team improvements through free agency. This administration does not have the time to develop drafted players that will make an immediate difference. I estimate they will spend 40 to 45mil of a projected cap more… Read more »

MudManVA

Mac-

I agree Marpet should go back to guard, and the highest priorities should he Norwell & Jensen. That would shore up the interior of the OL.

Target 1 top CB & 1 RB.

I would also look at a trade for Bennett from Seattle (which should be a lower middle round pick).

focus on Defense & 1 top RB in the draft.

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MudManVA

INDIANAPOLIS — The Seattle Seahawks are shopping Pro Bowl defensive lineman Michael Bennett in trade talks, a source tells ESPN.

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Freeman Strickland

It is a shame that the Bucs left cap money in the bank last year that would have bought more than it will this year. The Bucs had the money to go after LT Andrew Whitworth and DE Calaiis Campbell. They “pinched pennies” and passed on two Pro Bowl players. It is hard to see who is worth spending the money on this year who will have Pro Bowl impact.

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Will Moffatt

Big question I have is Fab 2. “head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t convinced that he was a top-flight cornerback and instead of signing him to a long-term contract extension, the Patriots signed free agent Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal. New England tendered Butler, who was a restricted free agent, a one-year deal with first-round draft compensation, and there was even talk about New Orleans either signing him to an offer sheet or trading for him prior to the 2017 season. The fact that Belichick considered that spoke volumes” Could you not say the same thing about Norwell?… Read more »

Pete Wood

Most of the Bucs misses in free agency were due to character flaws and a lack of work ethic. I don’t care how talented a player is. I don’t want to sign him if there are any red flags in either of those areas.

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matador

That applies in part to draft picks as well in cases like ASJ and Donovan Smith and Martin (not to mention Freeman and Talib and others in years past).

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Jonathan Goodfellow

If Chubb or Barkley are available at #4, would the Bucs consider a trade with Cleveland?

Potentially giving up a 3rd and a 5th (according to the draft chart I used this looks right). These two players are legit and I think the drop off is significant after them.

Yes I know the Bucs got holes to fill, but with the right pieces added in FA. I think I would consider this.

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Pete Wood

I hear you, but I’d rather trade down with the Bills. The Bucs have more needs than picks as it is. A trade with Buffalo could net us two more bites at the apple.

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FLBoy84

It’s a tough choice. Two more bites at the apple, but they aren’t the same quality apples that are at #7.

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Jonathan Goodfellow

I am not too sure where I stand, I think either would be good. I do not like the thought of us staying put at 7 though if Barkely, Chubb, and Nelson are gone. I dont think Vea is worth a top 10 pick. and I dont really think Minkah is a scheme fit/positional need (unless Bucs brass is 100% confident he can play outside CB) So for me the 3 best options are (in no particular order): Trade up to secure Barkely or Chubb. Stay put and grab Nelson Trade down Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes… Read more »

MudManVA

This draft should be focused on defense as the Bucs have huge holes on the line & secondary. The only exception pick should be RB in the 2nd or 3rd round. (Praying for Sony) Don’t reach just maneuver to set the picks up. The Bucs are drafts (yes drafts-plural) away from really filling holes with young talent, and unfortunately time is not on Koetter & Licht’s side. PR points that out every year. I’m a Licht guy and truly believe he’ll get the talent where it needs to be, but this team needs play makers on defense (outside of its… Read more »

matador

Licht has had four drafts already yet as you note we are multiple drafts away. That timeline is exactly re reason we should be overemphasizing the lines (OL as well as DL) this draft and potentially the next one. Winston is young build the team for the long term. The team and owners and fans have time, it’s not our fault if the GM sealed his own fate with poor, sometimes idiotic draft day moves and bad free agent shopping habits. Build from the inside out this is not fantasy football. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

Bucsfan1983

* Correction SR, Derwin James can bench press 450

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surferdudes

Fab 2, yes stay away from free agents who are let go from their teams for any reason other then becoming a cap casualty. Stay away from players that are over 30 just for a quick fix unless they’re willing to play for vet minimum on a one year deal. I can’t believe Seattle is looking for someone to trade for Bennett, and more stunned fans want him back. I hope Licht isn’t stupid enough to trade for a player he let go of years ago. Fab 3, as for saying the Bucs have had more luck with small school… Read more »

athans5

I normally love your Fab 5s SR, but this one was painful to read. Your mentality is the same reason the Bucs have been mediocre for so long. Why are you holding Talibs troubled past against him, has he been in any trouble since the Bucs days? He learned how to study film and is actually one of the best route recognition corners in the nfl, right up there with Sherman. He could teach our youth how to study film and anticipate routes. Remember after he picked Winston twice, he said he knew what routes were coming, that is film… Read more »

XpfcWintergreen2

Let’s see! Aqib Talib played for five years with the Bucs, two years with the Pats and four years with the Broncos. Outside troubles behind him. (?) He had 31 TKL, 7 PDEF and 1 INT for the 2017 season.

How much would he co$t the Bucs for one year? Why not ?

https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/aqib-talib-player-stats
_____________
Go Bucs!!!!

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vtrantb

I’ve been advocating for the Bucs to consider drafting UCF CB Mike Hughes in the 2nd round. He might not make it out of the first round. The guy is a lock down corner, runs sub 4.4, and is probably the best returner in college.

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vtrantb

Hughes had a 95 yard kickoff return in the last minute of the game to beat USF in that classic game last year

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cgmaster27

Bucs looking for right fit in free agency? Apparently a 27 year old DE that would fill a need isn’t the right fit for the Bucs. And Quinn was gone for a mid round pick. I”m a big Licht fan, but this is inexcusable.

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macabee

cg, the Bucs are 70mil over the cap, the Dolphins are 8mil under the cap. Be interesting to see how they handle this and get over the cap by the 12th of March – gotta be some massive cuts coming. If the Bucs were not aware (friend called a friend), I understand. But if they had the chance and walked away, that would be inexcusable. #JMO.

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cgmaster27

Got a good point Mac as maybe this trade was predicated on Quin going to an AFC team. We don’t know, but gees, I would hope that this is one Licht didn’t pass up on.

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Alldaway 2.0

This is concerning. The last time there was talk about the right fit of players there was a mass exodus of talent during the Schiano era. For example, Bucs went from a young WR corps with promise pre-Schiano to nothing and a cloud of dust outside of Vincent Jackson. Also like the Schiano era, there was an overemphasis of building the defense from the back to the front and too much stunting. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since Gruden was coach because of a lack of talent. Even in the playoff loss against the Giants the… Read more »

ehinote

Sony Michel will have the best draft value as a running back after all is said and done. The Bucs should draft the Notre Dame guard or the Washington DT in the 1st round and then grab Michel in the 2nd. He can do it all and has shown to be very durable.

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jshea7

Living in Ohio, ive been listening to a lot of fox sports radio, and i’ve heard multiple times from multiple hosts that this is going to be one of the worst free agencies as far as talent goes! I hope the bucs do not waste a lot of money on free agents. Play low ball and do not give too much money to a guy that is good but not GREAT just to fill a need! DE is not deep this year in free agency.. Build within the draft, pay the core players we have on the roster, and let… Read more »