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.

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

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.

USC RB Ronald Jones II - Photo courtesy of USC
USC RB Ronald Jones II – Photo courtesy of USC

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.

Pewter-Nation-Podcast-Pewter-ReportLicht 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.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and his scouts - Photo by: Scott Reynolds/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht and his scouts – Photo by: Scott Reynolds/PR

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.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

21 COMMENTS

  1. Great work on the Fab 5, Scott… and yes, Mark, Trev and the crew do a great job keeping all of us “football geniuses” well informed throughout the year and I certainly appreciate it. I think that the talent level is not longer the question. It’s there. The questions that I have now are… Is Koetter the coach to take this team to the next level and is Smitty’s scheme going to work now that we have the talent in place? Oh, on a side note; I’m noticing that the PR website is freezing as I scroll to the bottom of the pages?

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    • e, I can give you a possible reason why that is happening. My internet security has blocked 143 data collection attempts via this website after being on it for 25 min. This site and one of my e-mail accounts get the most blocked data information attempts. We all know about tracking so I’ll leave that up to you…

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      • Thanks for the update, DBuc! I’m not super savvy on the inner workings of websites… Is it from PR or outside sources?

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  2. I am looking forward to see this Defense Line this year.

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  3. First, gotta give credit to Pewter Report for the great scoops leading up to the draft. I feel like PR readers are more informed than 99% of all other fans because of the great work you guys do. So many hits across the mock drafts and Best Bets. Kudos.

    That said, that was quite the puff piece for Vea. I have all the hope that he succeeds, but forgive me for being skeptical that a guy who had 3.5 sacks his senior year at college can be a viable NFL pass rusher. If he cant, then this is a blown pick. His career will always be compared to Derwin James’s for me. Only time will tell if Licht made the correct pick.

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    • This tells you who the educated fans are versus the uneducated fans. If you think Vea getting 3.5 sacks is going to decide whether this is a blown pick or not, you really need to take up a different sport as a hobby. Because that’s so far from the reason they drafted him it’s not even funny. There’s so much more that goes into it. If the Bucs didn’t have McCoy, yeah I’d agree that maybe 12 is a little too high for Vea. But his job is not to get sacks. His job is to completely shut down the run and demand double teams so that McCoy( who’s never in his life seen a one on one), and JPP, can can get freed up to get to the QB. It’s as simple as that. His job as a freak athlete of his size is to stop the run, get push up the middle, and let McCoy and JPP wreak havoc. Just by the teams DLine roster alone, it was the perfect pick. Anyone that knows anything about football knows this was a brilliant pick. Who made that Ravens Defense so good for years? It wasn’t Suggs, and it certainly wasn’t Reed, it was Ngata. His presence freed the rest of the DLine up. Anyone that says the Bucs should have drafted James is delusional

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      • Hey, Dave. Go fuck yourself!

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      • Seriously, what an insufferable prick you must be

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  4. I am really, really, hoping that Benenoch can beat out Sweezy at RG. Sick and tired of this dude being on the roster.

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    • I believe with Benenochs athleticism he should be able to unseat Sweezy. He has very good movement for a guy his size and he should excel in our zone scheme. Hopefully this 3rd year is the year he finally puts it all together.

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  5. Great job PR Staff! FAB 5 and Cover 3 are AWESOME!!

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  6. Great draft coverage guys! I razzed ya about the James and no trade back predictions only because I didnt agree. You guys got me turned onto Cappa and Watson well before the draft. And others like Nathan Shepherd who Ive become a big fan of. I thought Licht had a great draft. Ive been calling for him to trade back more and luckily it worked out perfectly this year. Go Bucs

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  7. Licht and Co should be applauded for acquiring the draft picks they did given what the team started started the draft with. If you rate a DT and a SS the same, you take the DT every time. NFL games aren’t won by the teams with the best safety play but largely on who can control the line, as the 5-11 Bucs can attest to.

    Unfortunately the decision to sign DeSean Jackson to the 11mil/yr deal ended up costing the team a 3rd round compensatory pick as it offset much of the 16 mil that Mike Glennon received from the Bears. At the time the draft hadn’t occurred and receiver was a weakness, but with Evans, Brate, Howard, Humphreys and Godwin, Jackson ended doing more harm in costing the team a high compensatory pick, cap room that could have rolled over and blocking playing time for Godwin than any good it did.

    One of the most overrated things I’ve ever heard is when a GM crows about the value they received in the draft relative to their board. In 2016 Licht proclaimed that VHIII, Spence and Aguayo were all 1st round graded players on their board. At the time Scott crowed about the Bucs acquiring that much perceived talent. The problem is, they have to play football first before you hand the GM and scouts any awards. It’s like choosing to go to a restaurant that you rate really highly only to get food poisoning. Just because you thought it would be good doesn’t mean that it won’t end up going through you in a hurry. The hope is they’ve learned something and can keep some of the momentum from last years draft going.

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  8. Good Fab 5 Scott; you did a good job defending the pitch Licht gave as to that line of draft logic. I still say we are short 1 or 2 DE’s for our pass rush. I didn’t see the need for a DT when DE was still a priority, but I understand the logic behind it. When we traded down to 12th spot, I was hoping we were going to trade down again as I still saw the need for DE.
    My other comment is about Swizzy and his health issues; might be time to bite the bullet and move on and use the savings to sign Smith & Alexander. I got it Jackson, Humphries, Conte, Gholston, Fitzpatrick cap space will be used to sign Winston to a new contract.

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  9. Enjoyed the article Scott. It always amazes me how wrong I’ve been over the years when trying to construct my war room and plan my strategy for the draft. I aways find out after the fact that what I am thinking and what the Buc’s are thinking couldn’t be farther apart. The problem is I get most of my analysis from outside sources like ESPN, NFL.com, DRAFTEK, etc. Hence when one of your mocks come out i don’t recognize half the selection you project. Since the draft however I have researched the picks and now I see why we would take a Vea over a Fitzpatrick or why If Nelson was not available we would not drop to James if Vea was still on board. I had no idea we have been Following this kid for 2 years. For most of us fans it’s smoke and mirrors, but every year I dive back in and every year I walk away scratching my mead. One side bar if I may, what is the physical condition of Tu’ikolovatu? Can you imagine a goal line stand with Vea and him crowding the middle?

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  10. Another site quoted Licht as saying Cappa would start out playing right tackle, who’s right? I think his body type, long, and leaner then most guards would make him a better tackle prospect. It’s great to have position versatility if you’re drafting a player to be a back up along the line but, I believe if you need to find a starting right tackle, draft a player who’s been there done that well at a high level during his college career. Nobody was clamoring over Q. Nelson for his ability to play any position on the line. I also don’t know why Licht likes to get to cute drafting players from small schools, I think he got lucky with Marpet who should be a pro bowl R.G. by now instead of moving to a new spot every year. I watch alot of SEC games so it’s hard for me to believe there wasn’t a better option then Cappa.

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  11. Really enjoyed the inside scoop about Jason Licht’s Draft process Scott. That’s why we come to this site. I learned a long time ago that what the “experts” say isn’t necessarily what the teams think and certainly not gospel. Looking forward to Training Camp and getting Pinkstob’s take.

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  12. Great article! Its really nice to hear that Licht was just as pissed about the Dline as much of the fans were. He saw what we saw and did a great job revamping the trenches.

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  13. Excluding the RB and Guard, my board lined up with the Bucs board. Chubb, Vea, James. I would have been happy with any of them at 7 but Im overjoyed about getting Vea at 12 along with the two additional 2nd round picks.

    When we are contending for a Superbowl in a few years we will look back at this draft as the reason for our success. Vea is going to make the entire front 7 better.

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  14. Excellent article! A+

    This is the kind of info I want to see you guys at PR produce from time to time.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Go Bucs!!!!!

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  15. Scott, A+ specifically for Fab 1 that is.

    Is Trevor PR’s equivalent of Rob McCartney or Jon Spytek? Is Mark your guy like Mike Greenberg?

    Don’t answer that. 🙂
    ________________
    Go Bucs!!!!

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