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FAB 1. Inside The Bucs’ 2021 Draft
We hope you enjoyed Pewter Report’s coverage of the Bucs 2021 Draft. After missing out on any Bucs’ Best Bets in the 2020 NFL Draft due to a weird scouting season interrupted by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pewter Report hit on two Bucs’ Best Bets with Tampa Bay’s first two picks.
When it comes to covering the Bucs draft – nobody has a history of doing it better than Pewter Report. Thank you for record turnout on this year’s 3-day Pewter Report Draft Show, which had well over 20,000 viewers. And thank you for helping us set new web traffic records for April by turning to Pewter Report’s Bucs draft coverage.
Now it’s time to offer up some Bucs draft scoop that you might not have known about.
Bucs Were Trying To Get Tryon
Tryon was the sixth edge rusher drafted in the first round. But he was actually the third edge rusher on Tampa Bay’s board. Miami’s Jaelan Phillips was selected 18th overall by the Dolphins. Michigan’s Kwity Paye was drafted next by the Colts three picks later.
The Saints drafted Houston’s Payton Turner at No. 28 and then two more edge rushers went before Tryon was selected. The Bills selected Miami’s Gregory Rousseau at No. 30, followed by the Ravens drafting Penn State’s Odafe Oweh at No. 31. Only Phillips and Paye – the consensus top two edge rushers in this year’s class – ranked higher than Tryon. The Bucs getting him at No. 32 represented tremendous value.
Trask Was Top Of Second Tier QBs
It’s unknown exactly where Trask ranked on Tampa Bay’s draft board at the quarterback position. Five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. The last of which was Alabama’s Mac Jones at New England at No. 15. Trask was the next QB selected and it would be safe to say that he was No. 6 on Tampa Bay’s board.
Bucs QB Kyle Trask – Photo by: USA Today
The Bucs wouldn’t have considered selecting Trask at No. 32 if Tryon had been drafted elsewhere, but it was a sure bet that he was going to be taken at No. 64. The risk for Tampa Bay holding out to draft him at No. 96 was going to be too great. When the Bucs picked Trask with the final pick in the second round, Minnesota drafted Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond two picks later, followed by Houston drafting Stanford’s Davis Mills with the next pick at No. 67.
The reality is that there were only eight quarterbacks worth drafting this year in Tampa Bay’s evaluation. By the 67th overall pick all of those QBs were gone. So the Bucs didn’t feel like they over-drafted Trask at all.
Trask, a big 6-foot-5, 240-pound pocket passer, and was regarded as Brad Johnson 2.0 around One Buc Place during the pre-draft process. No, Trask doesn’t have the elite arm talent to single-handedly win games. But surround him with plenty of weapons like he had at Florida – and like he’ll have in Tampa Bay – and he’s a winner who can pile up the stats.
Barmore To The Bucs Wasn’t Going To Happen
You may have noticed that Pewter Report didn’t have Alabama’s Christian Barmore in any of our Bucs mock drafts. Nor did we have Barmore as the Bucs’ Best Bet at defensive tackle.
Despite Sapp’s criticism of Barmore making national news, that didn’t stop the him from being a fixture in many first-round mock drafts. Until he slid to the second round where New England selected him with the 38th overall pick. Barmore was the player most linked to the Bucs in media mock drafts but it was never going to happen. It is believed that Tampa Bay actually had Washington’s Levi Onwuzurike as the top defensive tackle on their board instead.
It Wasn’t Only Ojulari’s Knee That Worried The Bucs
Georgia EDGE Azeez Ojulari – Photo by: USA Today
Another defender frequently mocked to Tampa Bay at No. 32 was Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari. But the Bucs passed on him in favor of Tryon for two reasons. First, Ojulari did have medical concerns with a degenerative knee condition, according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline. I’m not sure if the Bucs’ doctors came to that same medical conclusion. But the second and most important reason why Tampa Bay passed on Ojulari was due to his lack of ideal size and lack of speed to power.
Ojulari measured 6-foot-2, 249 pounds at his pro day. The average height and weight of the six first-round edge rushers was 6-5.5 and 265 pounds. At 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, Tryon is three inches taller and 13 pounds heavier than Ojulari. Tryon also posted a better three-cone drill at 7.18 compared to Ojulari’s 7.27.
Hainsey’s Superior Senior Bowl Won Bucs Over
Notre Dame’s Robert Hainsey, the team’s third-round pick, was on Tampa Bay’s radar after playing four years at right tackle. But like most teams, the Bucs project the 6-foot-4, 302-pounder moving inside to guard or center in the NFL. Hainsey played guard and center for the first time at the Senior Bowl and really shined, using his quickness and strength to move bodies in the run game and hold up in pass protection.
Hainsey, who had 32 reps on the bench press at his pro day, was one of NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 10 Winners at the Senior Bowl: “Hainsey was one of the most consistent prospects this week. He played with good hands and a firm base, taking snaps at guard and tackle. The team that picks him will be getting a very polished player. It didn’t go unnoticed that the Notre Dame guys worked after practice every single day. And I was told Hainsey’s interviews with teams were outstanding.”
Meinerz Was No Marpet
Pewter Report was an early conductor on the Quinn Meinerz-to-Tampa Bay train, featuring the Wisconsin-Whitewater center in our first two mock drafts. But after that we dropped him from consideration and didn’t even have him as a Bucs’ Best Bet at center or guard.
A small school lineman with long hair who turned heads at the Senior Bowl? Seems like the Bucs’ kind of lineman after Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa fit that profile from years past. But as it turns out, Marpet, a left tackle at Hobart College, was far more advanced than Meinerz was from a technique and athleticism standpoint coming out of school. The Bucs had a higher grade on Cappa, who was Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in 2018. They chose Hainsey in the third round at pick No. 95. Tampa Bay might have considered Meinerz in the fourth round, but Denver drafted him with the No. 98 pick in the third round instead.
The Bucs didn’t draft a defensive tackle, which wasn’t too surprising for two reasons. First, Tampa Bay re-signed free agent defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon in the offseason. Second, this was a lousy draft class at defensive tackle, which prompted those re-signings. But given the fact that Suh is 34 and McLendon is 35, defensive tackle is the top need in Tampa Bay when it comes to the 2022 NFL Draft.
Let’s take a sneak peek and see if next year’s defensive tackle class is any better than the 2021 group.
FAB 2. DT Draft Class In 2022 Looks Iffy
In a rare feat, not a single defensive tackle was selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Two defensive tackles – Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw – went in the Top 15 in 2020, and Quinnen Williams went third overall to the New York Jets in 2019. In fact, there were six defensive tackles selected in the first round of the 2019 draft.
So what about next year’s class? The Bucs sure could use a young defensive tackle to pair with Vita Vea, who will be playing on his fifth-year option in 2022. There are a handful of names you’ll need to know heading into this year’s college football season.
Texas A&M DT DeMarvin Leal
The list starts with Leal, the junior from Texas A&M. You may have seen his name pop up on several 2022 Mock Drafts – and with good reason. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle is known for his athleticism and relentlessness. He’s recorded 75 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, three pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his first two seasons playing next to Bobby Brown III.
Clemson DT Tyler Davis
Davis enters his junior season looking to stay healthy after battling a knee injury and other minor injuries that limited him to 14 tackles, five TFLs and two sacks in seven games in 2020. Davis had a breakout freshman season in 2019, notching 45 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 15 games. The 6-foot-2, 300-pounder has a low center of gravity, but is quite agile and powerful. He’s one of the best pass rushing tackles in college football.
Stanford DT Thomas Booker
Booker enters his senior season with 100 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception through his first three years at Stanford. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Booker is full of juice and has the size and athleticism to be a big-time play-maker for the Cardinal in 2021. He underwhelmed a bit in 2020 with just 21 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack in six games last year and is capable of more this season.
Georgia DT Jordan Davis
At 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, Davis is a massive man and an absolute space eater. He doesn’t get the pass rushing opportunities he deserves playing nose tackle, but has still logged five sacks, 6.5 TFLs and 58 tackles in his three seasons at Georgia. Davis was wise to return to the Bulldogs for his senior year to improve his technique and his draft stock. If he can show he can pressure the pocket a bit more and rack up a few more sacks Davis could be a first- or second-round pick due to his rare size and power.
North Carolina State DT Cory Durden
Durden’s college career at Florida State got off to a hot start, as he notched 39 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, five sacks, two pass break-ups, and a forced fumble as a sophomore in 2019. But injuries and internal turmoil at Florida State derailed his junior season and he produced just seven tackles and half a sack last year. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Durden transferred to rival North Carolina State, which is known for producing NFL defensive linemen. With 7.5 career sacks, Durden has the pass-rushing ability that could see him get selected early if he can get back to his 2019 production with the Wolfpack.
Memphis DT Morris Joseph, Jr.
I’ll include Joseph in the mix if he can add some size to his frame for his senior campaign. The 6-foot-2, 275-pounder used his quickness and athleticism to record 53 tackles 11.5 TFLs, eight sacks and a forced fumble last year. He has produced 86 tackles, 15 TFLs and 10.5 sacks in three years in college. If Joseph can add 10-15 pounds of size and get into the 290-range and have similar production to what he had last year it would only boost his draft stock.
Some of the early 2022 mock drafts feature names like Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey (6-3, 297, half a sack), Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis (6-4, 312, 1.5 sacks), D.J. Dale (6-3, 307, one sack) and Labryan Ray (5.5 sacks), and Michigan’s Chris Hinton (6-4, 305, 1 sack), but the previous production hasn’t warranted that hype yet as far as I’m concerned. Just because a defensive tackle is from Oklahoma, Alabama or Michigan doesn’t mean he’s going to automatically become a good pro. We’ll see how the 2022 season goes for those high-profile defensive tackles.
Some other defensive tackles worthy of being on the radar are Georgia’s Travon Walker (6-5, 275, 3.5 sacks), South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens (6-3, 305, 1 sack) and Notre Dame’s Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (6-2, 282, 3 sacks).
FAB 3. Darden Brings Speed, Quickness To Bucs WRs
With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Tyler Johnson the Bucs have a collection of physical receivers with some size to them. Yet only Scotty Miller has the combination of speed and instant acceleration that head coach Bruce Arians craves in his offense. So with Miller halfway through his rookie contract with the team, Tampa Bay wanted to add another burner to the wide receiver corps and to help on special teams.
Enter North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden, the Bucs’ fourth-round draft pick. At just over 5-foot-7 and weighing 174 pounds, Darden is a blur that can catch the ball. He timed at 4.44 in the 40-yard dash, but actually plays faster due to his ability to start and stop on a dime, breaking ankles on the regular.
North Texas WR Jaelon Darden – Photo courtesy of North Texas
“Slow feet don’t eat,” Darden is famous for saying.
With the wide receiver screen becoming a regular staple in Arians’ offense down the stretch last year, Tampa Bay got a player in Darden who can thrive with those opportunities to make defenders miss. Darden recorded 230 catches for 2,782 yards (12.1 avg.) and 38 touchdowns at North Texas. He had a breakout year in 2019, catching 76 passes for 736 yards (9.7 avg.) and 12 TDs with many of those receptions coming on screen passes.
Darden’s North Texas Career Receiving Stats
2017: 32 catches for 281 yards (8.8 avg.), 3 TDs 2018: 48 catches for 575 yards (12 avg.), 4 TDs 2019: 76 catches for 736 yards (9.7 avg.), 12 TDs 2020: 74 catches for 1,190 yards (16.1 avg.), 19 TDs
When given the opportunity to make more plays downfield in 2020, Darden thrived, catching 74 passes for 1,190 yards (16.1 avg.) with 19 touchdowns in nine games – three fewer than he played in the previous season. Darden went from being a First-team All-CUSA receiver as a junior to a first-team All-American as a senior, winning the CUSA MVP in the process.
Darden produced nine 100-yard games for the Mean Green and had nine games with two or more touchdowns. He had five games in which he scored three times or more. No wonder the Bucs actually traded up in the fourth round to grab him.
Darden’s Top Games At North Texas
13 catches for 244 yards (18.8 avg.), 3 TDs vs. Charlotte 8 catches for 173 yards (21.6 avg.), 4 TDs vs. UTEP 10 catches for 204 yards (20.4 avg.), TD vs. Middle Tenn. State 8 catches for 135 yards (16.9 avg.), 3 TDs vs. Louisiana Tech 8 catches for 143 yards (17.9 avg.), TD vs. UTSA
Knock him all you want for him feasting against Conference USA opponents, but Darden can’t help the conference he played in, nor did he control the North Texas schedule. He did show up big in a pair of contests against Power Five schools, catching two passes for 75 yards (37.5 avg.) and a TD at Cal in 2019 and posting five catches for 87 yards (17.4 avg.) in a game at Arkansas last year.
North Texas WR Jaelon Darden – Photo courtesy of North Texas
Arians knows a thing or two about speed receivers. He used to coach Pittsburgh’s receivers before taking over as the offensive coordinator, and he’s had a hand in drafting some speedy wideouts as a head coach. Arians helped select burners like John Brown, J.J. Nelson and Ryan Swope in Arizona, as well as drafting Miller in his first year in Tampa Bay.
Darden will likely replace Jaydon Mickens as the team’s punt and kick returner as a rookie, while also being featured on offense in special packages – much like Arians does with Miller. Tampa Bay can never haven enough speed on offense, and just added some more with Darden.
FAB 4. Tale Of The Tape – Bucs OLBs Tryon And Pierre-Paul
Bucs OLBs Joe Tryon and Jason Pierre-Paul
I originally published this feature on Friday about an hour before the start of Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. It wasn’t widely read due to the timing, so I wanted to give it new life be republishing it in this week’s SR’s Fab 5.
Yet other Bucs fans weren’t wowed by the selection.
Perhaps it was just Tryon’s lone year as a starter at Washington that makes them wary of Jason Licht’s latest first-rounder. Noting Licht’s recent successes in the draft, especially with first-round picks like nose tackle Vita Vea, linebacker Devin White and right tackle Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay’s G.M. should be given the benefit of the doubt, however.
Some of the Bucs fans that aren’t impressed with the addition of Tryon are likely fans of Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Pierre and believe the veteran is a good edge rusher. Yet there are some striking similarities between Tryon’s size, production and athletic testing compared to Pierre-Paul when he was a first-round pick out of South Florida in 2010.
Let’s go to the tale of the tape between both pass rushers – and your opinion of Tryon just might be changed.
Bucs OLB Joe Tryon – Photo courtesy of Washington
Tryon and Pierre-Paul are both 6-foot-5, and the Washington product weighed 259 at his pro day. Pierre-Paul weighed 270 at the NFL Scouting Combine coming out of USF in 2010.
Tryon has 34-inch arms and Pierre-Paul’s arms are slightly longer at 34 3/4 inches. Tryon’s hand size is 10 1/4 while Pierre-Paul’s is 10 3/8.
Tryon ran a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, while JPP was a tick slower at 4.78. The Bucs rookie was also slightly faster in the 10-yard split, edging out the veteran 1.64 to 1.68. Tryon also had a faster time in the short shuttle, running a 4.36 compared to Pierre-Paul’s 4.67 time. Both edge rushers had identical 7.18 times in the 3-cone drill.
Tryon proved to be the more explosive athlete, posting a 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump and a 35-inch vertical. Pierre-Paul had a 9-foot, 5-inch broad jump and a 30.5-inch vertical. Tryon also had 22 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, while Pierre-Paul recorded 19 reps.
Overall, it’s fair to say that Tryon’s athleticism is at least on par with that of Pierre-Paul’s – if not better in some areas. The college production of both of the pass rushers has some striking similarity, too.
Pierre-Paul played three years of college football with his first two seasons at the JUCO level. He dominated his freshman year at College of the Canyons with 14 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery. The next year he was at Fort Scott Community College where he notched 70 tackles, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But once JPP got to the FBS level he had one season of good, but not great production. In his lone year at USF as a junior, Pierre-Paul posted 45 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and a had pick-six. He was drafted 15th overall to the New York Giants in 2010.
Tryon had 20 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup as a freshman, seeing limited snaps. As a redshirt sophomore, Tryon posted 41 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and a pass defensed.
From a statistical standpoint, Tryon’s sophomore year at Washington compares favorably to Pierre-Paul’s junior season at USF. So was he a reach at No. 32, as some might suggest? No, not at all.
Will Tryon have the same level of success that Pierre-Paul, a four-time Pro Bowler, has had? Only time will tell.
But based on similar size, athletic testing and college production, it’s easy to see why the Bucs drafted Tryon to contribute now and eventually replace the 32-year old Pierre-Paul down the road.
FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• DARTIN’ DARDEN: Here’s an impressive statistic about new Buccaneers wide receiver Jaelon Darden, the team’s fourth-round pick out of North Texas. The guy was literally a step ahead of the competition last year for the Mean Green.
Bucs’ WR Jaelon Darden had a step or more of separation on 90% of his targets this season.
• BROWN IS BACK FOR A REASON: While I wasn’t personally thrilled with the Bucs’ decision to re-sign wide receiver Antonio Brown, I understand it. Brown caught fire down the stretch for Tampa Bay, leading the team over the last six games he played in (including the playoffs) in catches per game and receiving touchdowns per game. Click the graphic below.
• PR PODCAST SCHEDULE RELEASE SHOW THIS WEDNESDAY AT 7:30 PM ET: The Pewter Report Podcast is energized by CELSIUS and broadcasts four live episodes each week in the offseason – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4:00 p.m. ET unless there is a special event. The upcoming week has one of those special events as the Bucs’ 2021 schedule will be known when the NFL releases its schedule on Wednesday.
Pewter Report will be hosting a special Bucs’ 2021 Schedule Release Show at 7:30 p.m. ET. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel – PewterReportTV – and watch it. We’ll also have Jake Arians, son of Bruce Arians, as our special guest on Monday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Here are the four latest editions of the Pewter Report Podcast to watch in case you missed an episode.
Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard and Scott Reynolds kicked off the week with a recap of the Bucs’ 2021 draft.
Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard and Matt Matera used Tuesday’s show to break down the current state of the NFC.
Pewter Report’s Mark Cook and Taylor Jenkins offered a recap of the NFC South teams’ 2021 draft classes.
Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard and Scott Reynolds welcomed The Draft Network’s Trevor Sikkema back to the Pewter Report Podcast to talk about the draft and the Bucs’ upcoming season.
Watch the Pewter Report Podcasts live on our PewterReportTV channel on YouTube.com and please subscribe (it’s free) and add your comments. All Pewter Report Podcasts are archived there so you can go back and watch the recorded episodes if you missed them live.
The audio versions of the Pewter Report Podcasts will can be found on iTunes and Soundcloud. There is no better time to listen to or watch a new Pewter Report Podcast – energized by CELSIUS – than Friday afternoon on the way home from work, or early Saturday morning during your workout or while running errands.
• A LOOK BACK AT BRADY’S DRAFT PROFILE: The draft report wasn’t pretty back in 2000 when the New England Patriots selected Michigan quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick. But he turned out to be a super sleeper on Day 3, didn’t he?
Never forget Tom Brady's Draft Report:
▻ Poor build/Skinny ▻ Lacks physical stature/strength ▻ Lacks mobility/ability to avoid the rush ▻ Lacks strong arm ▻ Can’t drive the ball downfield ▻ Doesn’t throw tight spiral ▻ System-type player ▻ Easily knocked down @TomBradypic.twitter.com/qLTLLwOrDz
Bucs K Ryan Succop and OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by Fox 13
• VERY SPECIAL DELIVERY: As if 2021 can’t get any better for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after winning Super Bowl LV in February, free agent kicker Ryan Succop and free agent outside linebacker Shaq Barrett were re-signed this offseason. But the excitement for those two didn’t stop there.
Succop and Barrett welcomed new babies into the world on the same day on April 21, according to a report on Fox 13.
“When I saw that Shaq had their little baby, I thought, ‘Oh man, this is great! Two little Bucs born on the same day? That’s gotta be a great sign, right?” Succop said. Succop and his wife Paige were blessed with their third child, a son named Sawyer. For Barrett and his wife Jordanna, they welcomed their fourth child, a daughter named Arrayah.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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