FAB 4. More Bucs Draft Notes
I received a lot of positive feedback about my Bucs Draft Notes from last week’s SR’s Fab 5, so I decided to include some more of my thoughts about the upcoming NFL Draft in this week’s SR’s Fab 5 column.
• The more I hear the excuses about Wyoming quarterback’s Josh Allen’s accuracy – he completed less than 57 percent of his passes in college – the more I am reminded of former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman, who had similar size and a strong arm. Neither Allen nor Freeman had a particularly good offensive line in college. Allen had a sensational running back in Brian Hill to hand off to before his senior season, but lost Hill to the NFL Draft last year, which put more pressure on the quarterback last year.
Allen completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards as a sophomore along with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but struggled as a junior, completing 56.3 percent of his passes for 1,812 yards with only 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. At Kansas State, Freeman had a very good sophomore season when receiver Jordy Nelson was a senior, completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,353 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a junior in 2008, Freeman’s stats dropped as he completed only 58.6 percent of his passes for 2,945 yards with 20 TDs and eight INTs.
There are some NFL Draft pundits that believe that Allen should be a second round quarterback, and I agree with them. If I’m an NFL team I have a hard time drafting a QB that completed 56 percent of his passes for less than 2,000 yards and fewer than 20 touchdowns in his final year in college. I think it’s crazy that Allen is being talked about as a Top 10 pick or even the first overall selection by Cleveland.
• I feel awful for North Carolina State defensive end Kentavious Street, who tore his ACL during a workout for the New York Giants. I had the chance to meet Street at the East-West Shrine practices in St. Petersburg, Fla. and came away very impressed with this hard-working, versatile defensive lineman. It’s a shame that this injury is going to affect his draft stock, which was in middle rounds before he got hurt.
I want to write that draft prospects should not be subjected to pre-draft workouts by teams other than the NFL Scouting Combine and their pro day, but I realize that these injuries are rare. Serious ACL injuries often happen in non-contact drills, such as the injuries that beset Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater. Street could have been working out on his own with a personal trainer when this injury occurred. It just looks a little worse that he did it working out with an NFL team, and I’m sure the Giants feel bad for the kid.
Injuries are part of the game. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who was a potential Top 10 pick a few years ago, had a serious knee injury in his bowl game, as did Michigan tight end Jake Butt in his bowl game in 2016. Both of their draft stocks tumbled as a result. I remember being at the Senior Bowl several years ago when Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin tore his ACL. Last year during his pro day, Washington’s Sidney Jones, a likely first-round cornerback, tore his Achilles tendon.
These are only a handful of injuries compared to the thousands of draft prospects that go through the pre-draft process of all-star games, workouts and pro days unscathed. But if I’m an NFL agent, I let my prospects’ college tape speak for itself and limit the risk of injury by having my client skip workouts for teams and only perform at the NFL Scouting Combine if he gets the invite and his pro day. You only get drafted once and the risk seems far greater than the reward.
• With the talent available this year, where the Bucs are picking and the players they have brought in for pre-draft visits, I feel pretty good about the prospects of Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht having a very good draft again this year. If the Bucs can have another draft similar to the one the team experienced in 2015 when Tampa Bay drafted quarterback Jameis Winston, offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, and last year when the team selected tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans, wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Kendell Beckwith, this franchise should solidify a roster that has enough talent to be a perennial playoff contender for at least the next five years or so.
Then it’s up to the players to work hard and live up to their talent, and the coaches to use their players wisely and continue to develop them. If Licht plays his cards right and comes away with a strong safety, a cornerback, a pass-rushing defensive tackle, a guard and two running backs in this draft class the Bucs should theoretically not have any glaring weaknesses on their roster – provided that there aren’t any major busts from this haul.
• Two late-round safeties to keep an eye on in Tampa Bay are Wisconsin’s Natrell Jamerson and Penn State’s Troy Apke. The Bucs had defensive backs coaches on both campuses to work out Jamerson and Apke, who have one thing in common aside from being Big Ten safeties – speed.
Jamerson, who hails from Ocala, Fla., turned heads with a 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and benching 225 pounds 20 times despite being 6-foot, 198 pounds. Jamerson started his Badgers career at nickel cornerback before moving to safety during his senior season. Jamerson returned kicks at Wisconsin, and had one touchdown, in addition to being heavily used on the coverage teams where he recorded 20 tackles over his career. Jamerson needs to spend a developmental year learning the nuances of playing safety, but can shine on special teams in the meantime.
Apke, who is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, opened eyes at the NFL Scouting Combine when he blazed a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. He also dazzled in the 20-yard short shuttle with a 4.03 time, and in the three-cone drill with a 6.56 time. Apke, who only started one year for the Nittany Lions, needs to work on his ball awareness and his tackling, but could star on special teams as he develops.
• It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Bucs brought in Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey for a Top 30 pre-draft visit. The top offensive tackles usually go in the top 15, and McGlinchey is the best of this year’s class, and also played next to guard Quenton Nelson, who is considered to be a Top 10 pick in this year’s draft. McGlinchey
Some NFL scouts believe that McGlinchey is better suited to play right tackle – where he can be great – rather than left tackle in the NFL – where he can be good. Tampa Bay right tackle Demar Dotson is entering his 10th season with the team and will turn 33 in October. With the Bucs planning on moving Caleb Benenoch to guard this year to compete for a starting job with J.R. Sweezy, Tampa Bay could use an heir apparent to Dotson.
McGlinchey also squared off against North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat, and could have provided some draft intel on both of those players to the Bucs’ brass. Don’t be surprised if the Cleveland Browns select McGlinchey with the fourth overall pick as they lost future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas to retirement this offseason. The Browns will use their first-round pick on a quarterback and will need a left tackle to provide blindside protection.
• If I had to guess who the Bucs will select at No. 7 right now, I would say Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or Florida State strong safety Derwin James. Either way, I see the Bucs going with a cornerback near the top of the second round. Stay tuned to PewterReport.com as the 2018 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away.