FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• The 2018 NFL Draft is over and it’s time to exhale. While my prediction that the Bucs wouldn’t trade down from No. 7 didn’t come true, it was based on the information that I had received at the time, which was that Tampa Bay knew that it would have a shot at drafting at least one of the two players the team coveted – Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea and Florida State strong safety Derwin James – at that spot.
I would say I’m sorry that prediction didn’t come true, but the way the Bucs moved down to get Vea and pick up two extra picks in the second round worked out exceptionally well. Having Cleveland surprise everyone and draft cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4, followed by Denver drafting defensive end Bradley Chubb instead of a quarterback changed everything, allowing the trade down opportunity to occur and the rest is history.
However, where PewterReport.com was correct was in accurately forecasting the fact that the Bucs would end up drafting a cornerback in the second round, although the two they did – North Carolina’s M.J. Stewart and Auburn’s Carlton Davis – surprised us. We also predicted that the Bucs were going to draft a wide receiver, and even forecast the selection of Penn wide receiver Justin Watson, who along with Humboldt State offensive lineman Alex Cappa, was both a Bucs’ Best Bet and a correct selection in PewterReport.com’s final Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft.
In fact, we had Watson in the last two Bucs’ mock drafts, and Cappa was featured in the final four Bucs’ mock drafts. Throw in the fact that PewterReport.com had Vea, who was featured as the first-round pick in our second and third Bucs’ mock drafts, as well as our Bucs’ Best Bet at defensive tackle and we wound up nailing three Bucs’ Best Bets this year, which is very hard to do. Of course, you, the PewterReport.com reader benefit the most from this, as it is our mission to make you the most informed Bucs fan around, especially with our NFL Draft coverage.
I’m very proud of the work and the long hours that Trevor Sikkema, Mark Cook and myself put in starting last September when college football season begins, and wanted to thank them for a job well done. We hope that you enjoyed the last four months of intense draft coverage that culminated in our Draft Streaming Videocast live from One Buccaneer Place, as we’ve done our best to educate you on the players that could wind up being the next wave of Buccaneers. Our web traffic is up 30 percent since January as a result of your patronage, and for that we thank you tremendously.
• In addition to the eight draft picks, the Bucs signed several undrafted free agents, hoping to find the next Demar Dotson, Adam Humphries or Cameron Brate. Three of the players the organization is most excited about are Northwestern safety Godwin Igewebuike, Western Michigan tight end Donnie Ernsberger and Temple offensive tackle Cole Boozer, who arrived at the Owls program as a 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end and spent the last two years putting on weight and playing right tackle.
“He’s an ‘Andre Forde special’ – Andre loves those kind of guys, tough guys,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said. “You can’t find anything bad about him from the football program, and the first word out of everybody’s mouth is ‘tough.’ He loves football and will do everything it takes to see the field. He’s not a finesse guy, he’s a tough guy.”
Boozer played last year at 275 pounds and is now up to 300 pounds as he looks to make the transition to the NFL.
“You can have some success with those guys that are former tight ends and have the frame to fill out and play tackle because of their athleticism coming from tight end to tackle,” Licht said. “You have a better chance of success if they are gritty, tough and loves to play football, and he’s wired like that.”
PewterReport.com will get the first look at Boozer and the rest of Tampa Bay’s 2018 rookie class next weekend at the rookie mini-camp. In the past the Bucs have had their rookie mini-camp the weekend after the draft, but decided to push it back a week this year.
Licht said that two of this year’s undrafted free agents had draftable grades.
“Igwebuike and Ernsberger were actually in our top 120,” Licht said. “Every year you get a couple of those guys. Last year we got Antony Auclair, who was on our draft board. He was left over. This year we got both of those guys. To us, in our minds, we got a couple of extra draft picks because if we had a couple of extra picks we would have drafted those guys.
“We have scouting reports on more guys than that, but at the end I narrow it down to 120 guys on our board to simplify it. Those are the 120 guys that we would want to draft, that we feel would make our football team. We know that by the numbers and percentages and all of the picks you are going to be able to fill out your draft class with the guys from that 120.”
• PewterReport.com is on its way to 30,000 Twitter followers! If you want updates from Bucs press conferences, rookie min-camp, Bucs OTAs and new PewterReport.com story notifications be sure to follow us on Twitter and help us grow to 30,000. To follow @PewterReport on Twitter please click here, and to follow us on Facebook please click here.
• Those of you that pay close attention to the NFL Draft know that PAC-12 schools are on a quarters system rather than a semester system like most other colleges. As a result, PAC-12 schools often don’t have graduation until June instead of May like other institutions. Where that comes into play was an NFL rule that said that rookies could not until any NFL OTAs outside of the rookie mini-camp until the final semester or quarter ends.
In the past, that meant that players like former Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and UCLA lineman Caleb Benenoch missed a couple of weeks worth of OTAs and were behind during their rookie seasons. Although the Bucs drafted defensive tackle Vita Vea from Washington and running back Ronald Jones II from USC, don’t fret.
“They changed the rule,” Licht said. “If you are not enrolled in school or if you’ve graduated that old rule is out the window. You are free to join your team.”
Vea and Jones are both juniors and were not enrolled at their respective schools for the spring, so they are eligible to attend every Bucs OTA this offseason, which is great news.
• The fact that Demar Dotson had offseason knee surgery and will miss the offseason program doesn’t necessarily mean that Caleb Benenoch, who filled in for Dotson at the end of last year, will automatically move back to right tackle. The plan is to have Benenoch compete with J.R. Sweezy and rookie Alex Cappa at right guard as Ali Marpet moves from center to left guard. Look for Leonard Wester to fill in for Dotson at right tackle this offseason.
“He’s played right tackle enough to where if we did have to play him there it doesn’t scratch our plans to play him at guard, either,” said Bucs general manager Jason Licht.
Licht revealed that Sweezy’s injury from last year was a broken leg and that his recovery is going well. He’s expected to be ready to go by training camp, but may not be a lock to make the 2018 roster with Benenoch’s move to right guard and the addition of Cappa.
“He’s going to take some time to get it healed and we’ll see how it goes,” Licht said.
• Get more analysis on the 2018 Bucs draft in the latest Pewter Nation Podcast, as Trevor Sikkema, Mark Cook and yours truly break down Tampa Bay’s draft class and offer up our expert opinion. The popularity of the Pewter Nation Podcast continues to grow, so be sure to give it a listen. You can click here to listen to Episode 71: Locked In On Licht’s Draft.
If you haven’t listened to this week’s podcast yet, it’s the perfect way to enjoy your lunch on a Friday afternoon or battle rush hour traffic on your way home from work. 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.
• Just like a quarterback gets the credit for a win and the blame for a loss, Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht gets the praise for a great draft class and takes the heat for a bad one. While Licht’s name is often mentioned in the media due to his position as the leader of the Bucs’ front office and the organization, he would be the first to tell you that his scouts do an incredible job of honing in on the players this organization needed to acquire in the NFL Draft for the 2018 season and beyond.
The tireless work that these scouts put in year round in order to find the next Mike Evans in the first round, the next Ali Marpet on Day 2 and the next Kwon Alexander on Day 3 is literally year-round. For the regional scouts who live outside the state of Florida, it often means spending a good deal of time away from their families while they are on the road at colleges during the fall and at the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine in the winter and at One Buccaneer Place in the spring finalizing the team’s draft board and finishing their scouting presentations.
Scouting is often a thankless job outside the organization as these personnel men rarely get much recognition from the fans and the media. So on the heels of what appears to be another tremendous draft class for the Bucs, I’d like to roll the credits to end this week’s post-draft edition of SR’s Fab 5 and personally recognize Licht’s scouting and personnel team and congratulate these men for a job well done.
Director of player personnel John Spytek
Director of college scouting Mike Biehl
Director of pro scouting Rob McCartney
Director of football operations Shelton Quarles
Director of player development Duke Preston
National scout Byron Kiefer
National scout Andy Speyer
College scout Donovan Cotton
College scout Andre Forde
College scout Tony Hardie
College scout Brian Hudspeth
College scout Tony Kinkela
Player personnel scout Pat Perles
Scouting assistant Josh Hinch
Scouting assistant Antwon Murray
Scouting assistant Brian McLaughlin
Pro scout Shane Scannell
Pro scout Alex Smith
• And finally, if you tuned in to PewterReport.com’s Draft Streaming Videocast live from One Buccaneer Place last week you probably know about FitnessTek, which is one of our new advertising partners and you’ve probably seen their new ads on PewterReport.com. I became a FitnessTek client months ago before owner Kevin Votta became an advertising partner and can personally recommend FitnessTek for injury recovery and helping you achieve your fitness goal.
What sets FitnessTek apart from other gyms and personal trainers is that Votta is M.A.T. certified in Muscle Activation Techniques. I had no idea what that was before my initial visit from back, neck and shoulder pain on my right side. Votta did a thorough diagnosis and found that small muscles in my back and on me left side were no longer activating from poor posture and sitting all day at a computer or behind the wheel of my SUV. That weakness was causing the right side of my body to overcompensate and knot up. Votta used M.A.T. to activate those small muscle groups to bring my body back in balance and relieve the pain and discomfort I had.
If you are middle-aged like me and sit at a desk all day you can probably relate, and would be an ideal candidate for FitnessTek’s services. Or if you have suffered an injury and need to recover strength and range of motion you could benefit from being a client at FitnessTek. With two convenient locations in Tampa and Odessa, FitnessTek can help you strengthen your body, relieve pain and stiffness, increase range of motion and help you recover from injuries. To learn more about Votta and Fitness visit Fitness-Tek.com or call (813) 406-0827 and tell them PewterReport.com sent you.