FAB 3. SR’s Insight On East-West Shrine Game Prospects

Tampa Bay found Canadian tight end Antony Auclair from last year’s East-West Shrine Game, which takes place in the Bucs’ backyard in St. Petersburg, Fla. Will the 2018 all-star game produce another Buccaneer or two in April?

I attended the East-West Shrine practices this week and here are my Bucs-related observations:

• Miami defensive end Chad Thomas was probably the best-looking pass rushing defensive end at the East West Shrine Game. Thomas spoke with the Bucs scouts and looks the part of an NFL defensive end at a chiseled 6-foot-5, 275 pounds. Thomas was a two-year starter for the Hurricanes and record 26 tackles for loss and 10 career sacks, with 23.5 tackles for loss and nine of those sacks coming over the last two years. Thomas looks like he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, but he hasn’t proven to be anything close to an elite passer yet. Thomas performed so well that he got the call up to play in the Senior Bowl next week and he could wind up in the third round.

• North Carolina State defensive end Kentavius Street had a nice week in St. Pete where he showed a nice mix of power and quickness off the edge. Street played opposite of his roommate, Bradley Chubb, and recorded 3.5 sacks as a senior and nine during his Wolfpack career. When Chubb didn’t play in the bowl game against Arizona State, Street came through with 1.5 sacks in the win. The Bucs spoke with Street during the week and the 6-foot-2, 287-pounder could be a Day 3 target.

• Missouri defensive end Marcell Frazier only played three years for the Tigers, but notched 31 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks in his career. He recorded 8.5 sacks during the 2016 campaign and saw that number dip to seven last year, but Frazier told me he became a much better run stuffer and increased his tackles for loss from 9.5 in 2016 to 15.5 last year, which was the most in the SEC by a defensive lineman. He interviewed with the Bucs and got a good feeling from it. The 6-foot-5, 261-pound Frazier will likely be drafted somewhere between the third and fifth rounds depending on how he tests at the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day.

• Central Michigan defensive end Joe Ostman had a sensational week at the East-West Shrine practices and was the fastest and most relentless pass rusher despite being undersized. Ostman had 45.5 career tackles for loss and 26 sacks for the Chippewas, including 19.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks last year. Ostman has tremendous hands that would allow him to swim over tackles, tight ends and running backs despite being undersized. NFL coaches and scouts, including the Bucs, loved his high motor, maximum effort and pursuit of the ball during the week. He could have a big East-West Shrine Game on Saturday.

• Fordham running back Chase Edmonds was incredibly productive at the FCS level, rushing for 5,862 yards and 67 touchdowns while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Edmonds didn’t rush for less than 1,600 yards per season and averaged over 20 touchdowns per year during his first three years until injuries struck during his senior campaign, limiting him to 577 yards and five touchdowns and a 4.2 average. Edmonds suffered an ankle sprain on Tuesday, but what he showed in one and a half practices made scouts drool. Although not the biggest back at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, Edmonds ran with speed, power and great body lean, which caught the Bucs’ eyes. What works in his favor is that he’s an accomplished receiver, catching 86 passes for 905 yards (10.5 avg.) and seven touchdowns in his Rams career. That will help him get drafted on Day 3.

• Michigan State center Brian Allen was probably the best offensive line prospect in attendance this week. Allen is a compact, 6-foot-2, 303 pounds, but plays with great leverage, technique and tenacity. He moves well, which allows him to combo block at the line of scrimmage and then get to the second level and block a linebacker. If the Bucs have any plans to move Ali Marpet from center back to guard and draft a center, Allen, who is viewed as a mid-round pick, could be a target.

• UConn defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi is a big, 6-foot-4, 303-pounder that plays with tremendous leverage and pad level for a big man. He played nose tackle and three technique tackle both at UConn and during the East-West Shrine Game. Fatukasi recorded 170 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 14 sacks for the Huskies, including a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2015. Fatukasi notched four sacks as a senior and displayed great strength, explosion and decent quickness for a big man. He definitely helped himself and is viewed as a mid-round pick, possibly by Tampa Bay, which interviewed him.

• USF defensive tackle Deadrin Senat was a force to be reckoned with in St. Petersburg. At 6-foot, 305 pounds, Senat is shorter than ideal as an NFL nose tackle, but he was by far the best interior defensive lineman at the East-West Shrine and turned down an invitation to the Senior Bowl to replace Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who opted out of the game. Instead, Texas’ Poona Ford, who is similarly built at 5-foot-11, 303 pounds, but not as good, will head to Mobile after the East-West Shrine Game. The thick, squatty Senat anchored extremely well against double teams and showed good quickness with his pass rush. He’s likely a Day 3 pick due to his size.

• Kansas State kicker Matthew McCrane had a great week in St. Petersburg. McCrane broke several K-State records held by Martin Gramatica, who was the Bucs’ third-round pick in 1999 and helped Tampa Bay win Super Bowl XXXVII four years later. McCrane has a big leg, and drilled a 55-yard kick to end practice on Tuesday with the majority of the team yelling and screaming in his ear. McCrane, who connected on 86.4 percent of his field goals for the Wildcats could get drafted on Day 3 or could go undrafted. I know general manager Jason Licht got crucified for spending a second-round pick on Roberto Aguayo in 2016, but spending a late draft pick on another kicker like McCrane to challenge Patrick Murray wouldn’t be a bad idea if it was in the sixth or seventh round.

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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]
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Pete Wood
2 years ago

I’m just not buying that the Titans are any sort of model of NFL success. I would argue that the Bucs had a better draft in 2017. If the Titans have more starters from 2016, it is solely because they had so many second round picks. I am not convinced that the Titans are on the way up and would not be surprised if they are out of the playoffs next year with a losing record. The team I think the Bucs should look to is Jacksonville. Those guys, thanks to perhaps the best drafting in the league, are going… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Wood

Curious if the Jags fans are going to start contributing to Chris Baker’s charity since he inspired their team with his “3 wins in the playoffs” comment in the preseason. Wait.. what.. he didn’t say playoffs??

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Horse
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Wood

Don’t forget they are in a weaker conference too than the NFC and especially NFC South.

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Horse
2 years ago
Reply to  Horse

I meant NFC South being the toughest to play in.

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Buc 1976
2 years ago
Reply to  Horse

Horse I agree NFC south is a much better Division and will be for years to come.

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FLBoy84
2 years ago

Definitely agree Scott that LIcht has seemed to miss the boat when it comes to stocking positions with more than one potential starter for depth. Koetter likes to use the “our guys” line a lot. Team might need to do a better job evaluating “our guys” and grade them more on actual production than perceived promise and potential. Something’s wrong with the current formula. New England seems to be one of the few teams that can plug in their no-name depth guys and not lose too much production. Maybe Licht needs to remember he doesn’t have BB on the sidelines… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago
Reply to  FLBoy84

Don’t get me wrong guys, I’m a fan of most of what Licht has done since he’s been here, but stocking positions with players actually capable of pushing the starters for playing time isn’t one of them. While the need to maintain salary cap space for upcoming contracts is understandable, missing the playoffs for the past 10 plus years while consistently being in the Top 5-10 in available cap space each year doesn’t seem to be working. Understand FA is a crap shoot as well, as most pundits lauded the under-the-radar signing of Baker as a great move. Doesn’t mean… Read more »

ahenneke
2 years ago

I agree that NFL teams can sometimes make the play-offs with a great defense, and a solid running game helps. But to make the play-offs on a year-to-year basis, teams need a franchise QB. That has been proven over and over. It also helps to play in traditionally weak divisions like New England, but that’s another story. I would be willing to wager that the Jaquars and Vikings don’t have the same success next year, although the Eagles will with Wentz returning. New England gets by with a mediocre defense because they are often playing with a lead, making the… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago
Reply to  ahenneke

Might wanna throw RB in there with OG as an offensive need.

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cheveliar
2 years ago

We like the “Informative” Scott Reynolds!!!! Nice read dog. I always knew you had it in you. LOL

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surferdudes
2 years ago

I think making the playoffs in your fourth season as a Q.B. is living up to expectations. Bortles was key last week in the Jags win, you act like the Jags defense won that game Scott, they didn’t, Bortles did, to me he is a franchise Q.B.. Should’ve promoted Robinson, and fired Licht. Licht has shown he doesn’t know how to build a team. His first draft was Evans, over Donald, big mistake. You build from the front back, Licht hasn’t shown in anytime in four years he gets that. When Coughlin was with the Giants he’d draft 2 D… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago

Enjoyed the Licht/Robinson comparison as well, well researched (ht to Trevor I’m assuming). And noticed Joe Flacco’s name was missing in Fab 1. Are we really considering him “elite” now?

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e
e
2 years ago

I agree, Scott, that I hope that Koetter has a more “nose to the grindstone” approach this offseason. It seems pretty obvious that the OL & DL are where the upgrades need to take place. Nelson seems like a great prospect, but why not a guy like Ohio St. C Billy Price who is the unquestioned captain of that O-Line and shows all of the leadership that you look for, beyond simply a guy that blocks? Moving Ali back to his natural guard position would help set up both the running game and passing game. Last thing, not a huge… Read more »

chefboho
2 years ago
Reply to  e

Agreed. And I feel like markcwalton will get lost in the shuffle because of so many good rb’s entering the draft this year. Would love to get him in the third round. He can catch the pass out of the back field and has great wheels

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Graham
2 years ago

Hindsight articles are fun. “But what Licht should have done immediately there after is not believe that the real Martin was the 1,400-yard guy in the contract year, but rather the sub-500-yard guy the two previous seasons in 2013 and ’14, because that’s who he is – evidenced by two more sub-500-yard seasons in ’16 and ’17. He should have signed Martin and then signed another highly talented running back or do what the Titans did and draft Henry with a premium pick even though they just acquired Murray, who signed an extension worth $6.3 million per season.” Tell me,… Read more »

Pete Wood
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham

It’s funny to me that most of the pundits and fans seem very happy with Bucs free agent moves and draft picks at the time. Graham is right about twenty twenty hindsight. There was universal relief when Bucs signed Martin to a new contract. Most fans were thrilled to keep him. And, pundits from the local to the national level all praised the signing of DJax. Let’s be real here. The only draft picks that I have not liked the past few years were Hargreaves and that second round picker. Would I have preferred more defense overall? Sure. But, I… Read more »

Naplesfan
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham

The best running backs often get drafted well back of the first half of the first round. All the hype and PR went to Leonard Fournette last spring … but the guy who will win OROY this year is Alvin Kamara, a third rounder. Good drafting isn’t just about picking decent first rounders … it’s about finding talent throughout the draft, particularly in the mid-round Day 2 picks. Licht has been pretty uneven in finding value. He’s had a couple of good ones, like Justin Evans and Kwon Alexander , but he’s also had some stinkers, like ASJ and Noah… Read more »

Devasher
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham

Licht, who gave Doug Martin a top 5 leaguewide contract for a RB with the first two years guaranteed didn’t believe in Martin at all? So when he kept Doug at his inflated top 5 salary even though it wasn’t guaranteed this year due to his drug suspension and still had to serve the remaining 3 of his 4 game suspension this year you think that shows a lack of belief in a him? 😂 If we want to go the hindsight route, then Jason could have merely drafted Devonta Freeman in the third round in 2014 instead of Charles… Read more »

Graham
2 years ago
Reply to  Devasher

What kind of contract do you think Doug was going to get elsewhere as a free agent coming off his 2015 season? You think he would have signed here without any guaranteed money?! The fact Licht was smart enough to put language in the contract that got the Bucs out of it if Martin got himself suspended was brilliant. My guess is they were all set to take Dalvin Cook with the 19th pick and release Martin until OJ Howard fell. When that happened they made the decision to give Doug another chance. Justin Evans, Chris Godwin, and Beckwith are… Read more »

Devasher
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham

NFL contracts ALL have clauses for outs when a player is suspended due to drugs/PDA’s. Remember Eric Wright? Do you think Mark Dominik was just really shrewd when he magically inserted that into Wright’s contact? No, it’s common for ALL NFL contracts to included clauses like that. LOL First, Licht failed to take on Martin’s option year, which would have been the one year he played well, allowing Martin to become a free agent when he otherwise would not have. THEN he compounded his previous mistake (par for the course for him) by keeping Martin around and not renegotiating his… Read more »

macabee
2 years ago

A few thoughts regarding free agency and the up-coming draft. I do not believe the Jason Licht strategy of waiting until the end of free agency to get value (not hiring top dollar free agents) has worked – we get Chris Baker instead of Calais Campbell. Incredibly, six of the top 10 2017 spenders in free agency, a period formerly reserved for desperate teams to throw money at anyone, made the playoffs: the Patriots, Titans (yes Jon Robinson, a Licht understudy), Rams, Vikings, Panthers, and the Jaguars (who spent $20 million more than any other team). Maybe it’s time to… Read more »

Naplesfan
2 years ago

Certainly agreed that a strong running game and a strong defense are keys to championship football. But let’s not make the same mistake the Bucs have repeated over and over again since the Super Bowl team of relying upon superstar running backs and failing to build and maintain the strongest possible offensive line. A super running back like Cadillac Williams or Doug Martin may temporarily boost the running game, but when these backs are continually running into brick walls they inevitably get injured too much and their productivity drops off the proverbial cliff. Been there done that twice now. But… Read more »

Bob Will
2 years ago

The biggest thing that gets me about all of this is adjustments. Look at all the playoff teams, look at the teams that just lost and they are making adjustments. They fire some coaches and hire others, special teams, OC’s, DC’s. They evaluate why they didn’t make the Super Bowl and they are making changes. I agree with keeping our head coach but when we look at the rest of the staff and say, “Oh no we did fine this year we are keeping everything as it is.” Are we crazy? If you make no changes you will get the… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob Will

Had a similar reaction when no changes were announced, but in hindsight, it’s easy to see how some of the coaches might’ve gotten a little complacent after the D in particular started to come around during the last half of 2016. Hard to imagine they all just magically forgot how to coach overnight. Thinking they’ll have a better approach in 2018. And hard to put all the poor production and results strictly on the coaching staff, as most of the players, if they were being completely honest. would probably say they could’ve executed their assignments better and left some plays… Read more »

Pick6
2 years ago

the biggest difference between the bucs and titans is that 2015 season. while the bucs ascended to mediocrity under lovie smith, the titans continued to be horrible. that led to them getting a king’s ransom from the eagles for the right to draft wentz, and they turned that incredible haul into multiple starters and all pros. while the titans parlayed the #3 overall into multiple premium picks over the next 2 drafts, the bucs took their smaller quantity of picks and used 2 of them to trade up for a kicker who is no longer with the team. Rate this… Read more »

Horse
2 years ago

I could care less about comparing Titians and Bucs; I’d stay focused on NFC and especially the South. I’ll stick to the only thing I have heard out of Licht’s mouth, ” our need is DE and RB”. We shouldn’t be discussing any Center or Guard under 6’2″; same for DE’s. I’m hoping Licht will find a way to pick up more draft picks and not for trading back up. Time for GM and Head Coach get tough with their players in how they practice in 2018. I remember we practiced very hard in Orlando during the preseason of our… Read more »

JustaBuc
2 years ago

Wow. I know this wasn’t the point of this Fab 5, but Mariota is starting look very suspect right now. Not a bust, but suspect af. How the heck are you going into a complete nosedive in production on a playoff team that’s supposedly built around keeping as much pressure off of you with a good line and a great running game? 15 games – 281-of-453 (62 percent) passing for 3,232 yards 13 TDs / 15 INTs with 2 fumbles, 1 fumble lost and a 79.3 QB rating. Like what?!! That’s getting close to like Blake Bortle’s rookie numbers. Not… Read more »

Garv
2 years ago

When we saw how much better the running game was with Peyton Barber in there over Doug Martin, even with a depleted OL minus the Bucs two best starters, doesn’t it seem likely that a good running back can make an OL better just as much as the other way around? Imagine having great running back? If Barkley happens to fall to 7? Bucs have to take him IMO. Right away Jameis gets better. One of his strengths is play action. Imagine it with a legitimate threat! Of course if he’s not there and the only one of the top… Read more »

Horse
2 years ago
Reply to  Garv

Garv, agree with you. It is one of the priorities.

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scubog
2 years ago

Gee, a lot of really nice comments respecting each others’ opinions and philosophies on how to construct a play-off team. Bravo fellow commenters! Fact is, there are a number of ways to achieve success. To me, having a stout Defense that can limit the opponent’s ability to score, makes having a high scoring offense of our own a lesser priority. As Sapp used to say, “Just give me 17 points.” That said, having a great ball-control running game that maintains possession of the ball, also limits the opponents’ ability to score. Do both and victory will be a much easier… Read more »

Horse
2 years ago
Reply to  scubog

Scubog, Amen!

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drdneast
2 years ago

This was really a great read, Scott and it solidified many of my preformed opinions. First off, it really clarified the performances of Mariota’s and Winson’s last three years. Mariota has really benefited from having a solid running game and defense to play with. In the meantime, Winston has had to shoulder the burden of carrying the offense himself while not being able to rely on a defense that has been lackluster except for an 8 game stretch in 2016. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t worry to much about Winston’s INT’s, it’s the fumbling that drives me nuts.When… Read more »

Horse
2 years ago
Reply to  drdneast

Drdneast, do you think you were the only one who said the same thing? Despite the pleads for the last couple years to draft defensive ends, it could have easily been the correct moves that they chose except they chose the wrong players. We got to live in the now, not the past. Let’s hope they do better this time in drafting.

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jvato24
2 years ago

I agree, Get a Beast Running game and every stat on Offense and Defense will Improve .. Get some Big Backs

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martinii
2 years ago

Nice thing about this time of year is that everyone is right and no improvement idea should be ignored. If you choose you can Bash everyone and everything about the Buc’s or you can focus on minor improvements that in your mind would push the Buc’s into the playoff’s and possibly beyond. Remember what reality hands us at the end of the season may be totally different. That being said, I agree with Macabee, Defense has historically been our strong suit as proven by the Dungy years and the very chemistry of the team. Until the last few years offense… Read more »

surferdudes
2 years ago

Since there has been no change to the coaching staff, or front office, I’m not expecting much change to our record in 2018, 7-9, 6-10 seems reasonable. I believe the Glazers should’ve brought in an outside consultant to assess the whole organization. They could use a Tom Coughlin type, vice pres of football operations, to at least make some recommendations on F.A., and the draft. Maybe the Glazers should mend fences with Dungy, and just pay him for some different opinions. Licht, and Koetter seem fixed on certain players, like Martin last year. While we were screaming for Barber, they… Read more »

Freeman Strickland
2 years ago

The Bucs do a good job limiting the commitment of guaranteed money to the first year or two of a contract. That makes it all the more puzzling that they do no “overstock” more. CB Haden mentioned in the article is such a failure to overstock. The one that has made me crazy all year is LT Andrew Whitworth who left the Bengals for the Rams in 2017 and had his third straight Pro-bowl year. I still hope for the best with Donovan Smith, but “overstoking” with a guy like Whitworth could have helped Smith’s professional development and allowed a… Read more »

drdneast
2 years ago

I have no reason to doubt your word Horse. But the overwhelming number of and Pewter Report wanted the Bugs to draft Bargreaves. This year they wanted the FSU kid who had a history of injuries in college. Not surprisi fly, they followed him to the NFL.
I also have blundered as a GM. I urged the Bugs to resign Martin and then ,esp hi for another year. Unfotunaly since Martin got his big money, I believe he has lost his hunger for the game

Ll

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owlykat
2 years ago

If you study Licht’s philosophy in our drafting most of the time he ignores our real needs such as great linemen on both sides of the ball and instead drafts trying to take the best player available. So we had a great TE and could get another TE in later rounds who could both block and catch, Auclair, just as big as his first choice last year but he still used his first choice on another TE we didn’t really need, instead of taking the highest rated DE which we badly needed. Remember his first draft when he spent a… Read more »