FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• One of the biggest risers among media draft pundits is East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones, who had a good showing at the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl where he caught six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Jones had two other touchdowns that didn’t count – one that was negated due to a penalty and one that should have counted in the back of the end zone, but there wasn’t instant replay reviews available for the college all-star game. Jones set FBS records for the most catches in a career (399) and the most catches in a single season (158) in the Pirates’ pass-happy offense last year.

But Jones isn’t worth the hype he’s getting. The problem with the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Jones is that he has pedestrian speed and is expected to run in the high 4.5s at the NFL Scouting Combine. Jones is not considered to be a big receiver, nor is he a blazer.

Jones racked up a lot of those catches on bubble screens and smoke routes at the line of scrimmage, and averaged just 10.7 yards per catch in his career, which is nothing to get excited about. Also consider that out of 399 catches, Jones had just four catches of 40 yards or more in his East Carolina career with just two over 50 yards. That’s one catch of 40 yards or more for every 99 catches, which is a terrible big-play average.

Louisiana Tech WR Carlos Henderson – Photo by: Getty Images

Louisiana Tech junior wide receiver Carlos Henderson, who also came from a pass-happy offense and is similarly built at 5-foot-11, 193, had 147 career catches for the Bulldogs, including 82 catches for 1,535 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Henderson averaged 19.5 yards per catch in his three years at Louisiana Tech and had 13 receptions of 50 yards or more in his career. Henderson, who averages one big-play catch for every 11 receptions he makes, is expected to run 4.5 or lower in the 40-yard dash and has much more big-play production than Jones does.

Jones is regarded as a third-rounder by some NFL Draft pundits, but ESPN’s Mel Kiper has him going in the first round for some strange reason. I just don’t see it. Jones is good, but he’s not worth going in the first 64 picks.

• Why hasn’t there been more buzz on Washington wide receiver John Ross from yours truly or the other PewterReport.com Bucs beat writers? I did write about Ross quite a bit during college football season in previous SR’s Fab 5 columns, but as I’ve come to learn more about him in the offseason, he’s become quite an injury risk.

Ross tore the meniscus in his right knee in 2013, and then blew out the ACL and meniscus in his left knee in 2014. That caused him to miss the entire 2015 season before returning in 2016 to catch 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. Now Ross needs shoulder surgery this offseason to repair a torn labrum. Ross won’t be benching at the NFL Scouting Combine and will have surgery right after his trip to Indianapolis where his medical evaluation will mean the difference between him going in the first, second or third round.

Ross is often compared to DeSean Jackson due to his 4.25 hand-timed speed at Washington last year, but Jackson, who was drafted in the second round in 2008, didn’t have Ross’ injury history coming out of California. And Jackson, who turned 30 in December, is entering his 10th season in the NFL. Ross had microfracture knee surgery to repair his meniscus and ACL in 2014 and that is expected to shorten his NFL career, which will undoubtedly affect his draft status.

• One player that could blow up at the NFL Scouting Combine and solidify a first-round grade is UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who also has position flexibility as a pass-rushing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. The 6-foot-2, 258-pound McKinley would be wise to enter the Combine as a defensive end because his sub-4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash will certainly rank among the best at that position.

McKinley, a junior entry, notched 16 sacks and 28 tackles for loss for the Bruins. He had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 2016, while forcing three fumbles. McKinley had six total forced fumbles and one recovery to go along with 10 passes defensed in three years at UCLA.

“Takk is tenacious, Takk is a dog,” UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes said. “I would take that dude to war anytime, anywhere. The dude goes hard on every play. He brings a good emotion to the table that gets the whole defense fired up just based on how he plays. He’s very, very, very competitive. If he loses a down he goes psycho. It’s like somebody punched him in the face for no reason. If you see him lose a few reps then all of a sudden he can get three straight sacks. Takk is an animal. He’s a first-round pick. He’s the best defensive end in the country by far in my opinion.

“Takk is special. He did all that this year and he’s still raw. His ceiling is very high. When the Combine comes around he’s going to run a 4.4. The dude is a track star as well. He’s fast, he’s strong and he’s physical. He can do it all. He’s an NFL defensive end.”

Like PewterReport.com’s Trevor Sikkema, I’m not buying the hype on Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, who was projected to Tampa Bay with the 19th overall pick in the draft in Daniel Jeremiah’s mock draft on NFL.com. Kamara, who split carries with Jalen Hurd, is a third-round back at best in my opinion.

He only rushed for 596 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016 after rushing for 698 yards and seven scores as a sophomore following a transfer from Alabama. The appeal with Kamara is his all-around ability as a running back, receiving threat out of the backfield and a punt returner. But what I don’t like is his production as a running back against top-flight competition.

Kamara only had four yards on four carries against Oklahoma and eight yards on seven carries versus Georgia in 2015. Last year, Kamara had nine yards on three carries against Virginia Tech, six yards on two carries versus Florida and 21 yards on eight carries against Alabama.

The fact that he couldn’t beat out Hurd for more carries is a bit disturbing, as are the lack of opportunities he got to run the ball. Kamara only had four 100-yard games in two years at Tennessee, and three games with 15 carries or more. Three!

How do I know he can be a feature back in the NFL, which is what he would have to be to warrant a first-round pick, as Jeremiah suggests he’s worth? Kamara had 19 games with less than 15 carries and 16 games with less than 10 carries.

Sorry, I want a proven guy to tote the rock on a full-time basis. If the Bucs draft Kamara in the third round to be a pass-catching weapon the way the team uses Charles Sims, a former third-round pick himself, that’s fine. But there are eight other running backs I would rather see in Tampa Bay instead, including Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon, Toledo’s Kareem Hunt, USF’s Marlon Mack, LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine and Wyoming’s Brian Hill.

• Be sure to follow all of the Bucs’ offseason action by following @PewterReport on Twitter by clicking here, and like PewterReport.com’s Facebook page by clicking here.

• Did you ask a question or leave a comment in last week’s SR’s Fab 5 comments section? I offer my replies to each SR’s Fab 5 each week, so be sure to go back and read my answers to your question or the feedback I leave to your comments. Thank you for taking the time to not only read SR’s Fab 5 each week, but for caring enough to leave your comments, too. It’s very much appreciated it.

• Spring is right around the corner, and if you are interested in buying a luxury home or selling yours, turn to Jennifer Zales, the official real estate agent or PewterReport.com, the Bucs Radio Network and the Tampa Bay Rays. Nobody knows the Tampa Bay area and the luxury real estate market better than Jennifer Zales Real Estate.

Zales is co-representing a home built for former New York Yankees star Jorge Posada at nearly $6 million and has had some record-breaking home sales in the Tampa Bay area’s luxury home market. Be sure to check out a list of properties on Zales’ amazing website, TampaBayLuxuryHomes.com. For inquiries you can reach Zales at (813) 758-3443 or via e-mail at [email protected]

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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: [email protected]
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yuccaneers

Scott – I am guessing, the team has fully boughten into, Tyler Oberly, the team’s Manager of Analytics, Elitics Model, that uses his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) index to help determine a price point for each of the teams free agents based on, the following snippet from you Fab 5 column……. “This is typically done through statistical analysis of a player’s stats with his age, previous contract and overall value to the team (leadership, work ethic, locker room character, age, etc.) factored in.” – in essences, it gives the team a singular grade or point scale – which is then… Read more »

macabee

I get It, you get it! But we got some work to do at home with poppa Koetter. You know he’s the boss! lol.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2588754-dirk-koetter-says-he-doesnt-trust-buccaneers-analytics-department

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JasonOfthetower

Been a fan of McCaffrey for a while now. He’s my draft crush. I’d love to see him in Pewter and Red, but I don’t know if they pull the trigger at 19.

Personally, I don’t think he makes it out of the first round.

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Bucnut2

Totally agree

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cgmaster27

Loving this RB centric Fab 5. I for one am in for cook if he falls to us of course, which would be a small miracle. It all depends on free agency at this point. I am not for trading up too far to get him either as we need picks. If he’s still there like two spots ahead of us, make a move and get him. As for McCaffrey, I’m not a big fan. I wouldn’t mind getting him if we traded back, but not at 19. He’s too small for my liking. He’ll end up going to New… Read more »

jongruden

CG- saying ” I want Cook” doesn’t surprise me since this would be 3rd yr in a row you wanted a Nole in the first round ha I will have to watch FSU Games next yr to see who you want for us in first round next yr, lol Mark Cook will have a whole article dedicated to this as well, I rather get wr Corey Davis who is a beast and is a do it all wr. or I can be on board with OJ Howard as well

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cgmaster27

Jon good to see you take a break from the Arizona team site to pay us folk at pewter report a visit. Haha As for wanting Jalen Ramsey last year, look at any sites rankings and he was the best rookie DB taken last year. Look at Jameis’ rookie season, it speaks for itself. As for cook, there’s a reason he’s number one back in some boards ahead of Fournette. If he’s there at 19 it would be complete stupid not to take him. I’ve stated a couple times I would take Corey Davis all day if he’s there. But… Read more »

scubog

JonnyG: The FSU players we would like to see in red and pewter is because they are good, not because they wore garnet and gold. Maybe if you observed the aforementioned trio during their college careers you too would have trumpeted their virtues. There once was this little LB who some saw as a Safety. He was a “tweener”. Those of us fortunate enough to watch #10 play knew whichever position he was given he’d be a star. He settled at LB, was given #55 and was pretty good. Sometimes, even though you live in the desert, you come off… Read more »

jongruden

FSU Fans are bias to their fore mentioned players forget about the other rb’s like Fournette and McCaffery get FSU Back Cook. I have see countless articles written By FSU Fan Mark Cook for campaigning for his Nole Players in the past like that’s the only school in the country, just calling it like I see “You Can’t handle the truth”- A few good men So I’m a New Yorker now? Ha ok, whatever Scu very few so called fans on this web site or in Tampa know as much of the Bucs as I do and you know this.… Read more »

Bucnut2

SR another GREAT fab 5. thank you. I love MacCaffrey and would not be upset if we take him at 10 even though that might be a reach. The guy can flat out play. I like hunt as well and agree with your comment on Jones. Thanks again Scott.

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Brandonges

I feel like McCaffrey is going to be overdrafted. He should be a nifty utility player, but I don’t see him as an NFL bell cow back (despite the number of college carries listed in the article). Unless Dalvin Cook or Fournette fall (they won’t), I don’t think there is a back worthy of taking at 19. I read an extended piece on Obi Melifonwu recently and this kid is intriguing. Incredible size/speed and good production. I think if Mike Williams and Corey Davis are off the board and an elite DE doesn’t fall, this guy should be the pick.… Read more »

surferdudes

With talent at R.B. deep in this draft, seems no doubt we will up grade an area of need. Why not McCaffery in the first, Hunt in the third? That would be a young cheep dynamic duo moving forward. You could even play them together, moving McCaff all over the field. Draft a good receiver in the second, and we got some fire power.

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Naplesfan

I think the Bucs would be crazy to take any running back in the first round, the position simply doesn’t merit a first round pick. In this particular draft which is heavy on talent at several offensive positions, including running backs, I’d prefer to see the Bucs wait til Day 3 to take any RB. I know that PR writers and quite a few commenters here seem to be seriously intent on digging Martin’s grave, but I am still not convinced the Bucs are going to just cut him. His NFL career is not over til it’s over, he’s still… Read more »

thewbacca

I agree. Keep Martin at a fair contract based on incentive. I think McCaffrey is more at his ceiling than OJ Howard and Corey Davis, they have way more upside.

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Naplesfan

By the way, I saw a report today on si.com by Alan Schechter that Roy Cummings was told by the Bucs they intend to hold on to Martin for the foreseeable future. They are not required to make any decisions on him until he completes the third suspended game of the 2017 season … they can void his contract at any point until then and he won’t count against the cap. So basically, they can have him practice and play in the pre-season, no matter whom they draft of pick up in free agency, wait and see who’s actually performing… Read more »

plopes808

That’s great news! I still hope we keep him and he makes a comeback though.

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scubog

That is exactly what I’ve said the Bucs will do with Doug Martin. No need to break up with your girlfriend until you’ve secured another date to the Prom.

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thewbacca

Scott you really make me wish Tampa would draft every player you feature on the Fab 5. I still think Corey Davis will be a gem in the NFL but will be unavailable when the Bucs pick. I think the best mix would be: OJ Howard, Budda Baker, and Kareem Hunt.

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plopes808

IF Cook is there at 19, I’d be for taking him. But I’m torn between that option and trading back, getting McCaffrey AND an extra pick. Lucky for us, the Cook option will likely be off the table by the time we pick. I could also see us grabbing a DE, but with the depth of this draft BPA seems like our best route either way. We have enough holes right now that just about any position we hit will fill a need. Licht will get us some good pieces again this year and push us closer to being consistent… Read more »

drdneast

I agree with you 100 percent about Martin, Naplesfan. I am so tired of the media and fans screaming for the team to cut a valuable resource every time a player does something worse than get a traffic ticket in public. Generally it is the same people who whine and cry about Buc management letting the player go and calling them stupid when the player returns to his All Pro level of a play less than a year later. Martin is doing all the right things to return to the Bucs including checking into a rehab facility. If ASJ had… Read more »

scubog

I don’t disagree with your point about retaining Doug Martin through Training Camp and then making an evaluation of him just like any other hopeful trying to make the roster. I know this much, a repeat of his poor 2016 season this August would be disastrous if Licht doesn’t have a viable replacement to be the lead back.

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kram0789

I don’t think RB is one of our top 3 needs on offense. WR, OL and TE in that order. WR is the obviouse no.1 need. OL is second because we have to protect Winston and we have to open holes for the RB’s. Last year our line was exposed as mediocre. Especially in our losses we were unable to run block and pass protect adequately. No matter how good the skill players are, if we can’t run block and pass protect the offense is going to be inconsistent at best. I think that describes the 2016 Bucs offense. Tight… Read more »

surferdudes

Don’t get the love for Druggie Martin. Even if they kept him, he wouldn’t be able to play until week four. Then he would need time to get into playing shape. This draft is loaded with young cheap legs, the Bucs will draft at least one back, resign Rodgers, and have Barber compete with at least one undrafted walk on. Guy’s like a lost love, let Martin go.

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chetthevette

Good Fab 5 as usual. Why do people think that a new running back will suddenly turn the running game into the juggernaut we fielded 2 years ago. What the difference was and still is one player. Logan Mankins. If Sweezy is as good of run blocker as advertised all our current players can gain big yardage. I can’t see McCaffery lasting more than a couple of years as the bell cow back. NFL linebackers and safeties will make mincemeat out of him. Our #1 pick should be a slam dunk, not some “I hope this works” pick. I’m now… Read more »

GoldsonAges

RB’s are a dime a dozen. I would draft 1 or even 2 and move on from the aging injury prone Martin and Sims. We need to get some young blood in here at rb

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drdneast

You are spot on about the loss of Makin’s resulting in our porous offensive line last year. Surferdudes is the exact type of “fan” I was talking about. He will be the first to call Bucs management stupid if they cut him and he goes on to excel elsewhere. Don’t think for a minute Martin is going to take a huge pay cut from the Bucs in order to run behind an offensive line like last year. He has his pride. Would you take $3 million from the Bucs to run behind last years offensive line or $3 million to… Read more »

scubog

I agree with you that holding onto Doug Martin, albeit with some renegotiated contract terms through his three game suspension, is the smart thing to do. At that point it will be like the hotel commercial “Should he stay or should he go?” I don’t think there are many teams out there who would see Doug Martin’s 2.9 yds/carry, frequent injuries, unnamed drug use, hefty salary and be too eager to sign him in hopes that he can play like he did in 2015. He probably knows his best chance is here. When a guy off the street (Rodgers) who… Read more »

Glen Davies

Aloha from Big Island, Hawaii. A point that’s been bugging me for decades is this…so much of sports injuries are unavoidable. That is, dumb bad luck. It doesn’t get near the coverage that the player is/has become “unreliable” Jameis could be labeled that in any offensive play, @ any time (ask Bo Jackson or Joe Theisman). Bret Favre started > 210 consecutive games. Barry Sanders was the only Detroit offensive threat, yet Kiffin couldn’t stop him. Barry was smaller, as this column points out, and very talented, and lucky. As quarterback, all Jameis can do is rotate his shoulder when… Read more »