As the NFL Combine fades further into the distance in our collective rear view mirror, let’s take one last look at a three late round prospects that the Buccaneers might target before we enter the hectic free agent season.
A.J. Klein, Linebacker, Iowa State
Klein is effort personified. The Iowa State linebacker overcomes less than perfect athletic ability with fantastic effort, strong leadership, and high football IQ. CBS Sports has this to say about Klein:
Named a consensus All-Big 12 player in 2012 and the co-Defensive Player of the Year out of the conference (along with Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander) in 2011, Klein has proved himself to be among the more consistent and dependable linebackers in the country. While he may not possess the ideal timed speed or change of direction of his peers, he’s fast on the field due to terrific instincts and effort.
As such, don’t be among those “surprised” when his success continues in the NFL, even if he winds up being drafted later than his production would seem to warrant.
Klein has been named team captain twice, and is exactly the kind of guy that the Buccaneers look for on draft day. He’s the perfect candidate to outperform his draft position, because hard work and effort can result in solid contribution at every level, especially from a player who was extremely productive at the major college level.
The linebacker will likely be available after the fourth round, so the Buccaneers could afford to pick him up after selecting areas with more immediate needs.
Sanders Commings, Cornerback, Georgia
There are a few guys from UGA who will go higher in the draft, and probably for good reason, but Commings was just as much a part of the successful Dawgs defense as anyone else. He’ll be available late in the draft, especially after being measured shorter and heavier than expected. But Commings is a sturdy defensive back who has the muscle to handle receivers and shows athleticism to keep up with them as well. He’s skilled at keeping an eye on the QB, as he showed against Alabama, picking off the Tide and adding in defended passes as well. He’s a willing tackler, but needs to work on his form.
Commings isn’t the perfect “Buccaneer Man”, but he has all the on the field talent to be an option at nickel corner or safety in the NFL. If he has his mind right, he could grow into a productive NFL player as a defensive back.
Cory Grissom, Defensive Tackle, South Florida
The Bucs wouldn’t have to go far to get information on this draft prospect. Grissom was the anchor for the Bulls defense for 40 starts in his career. He overcame injuries at the start of his career to become a consistent and reliable member of the USF defensive line. He’s always been the “Roy Miller” type for the line, with other, smaller players surrounding him. Grissom is similarly sized to Miller, and knows how to occupy space in the middle of the field, as Miller did for the Bucs in 2012. He’s not the strongest defensive lineman ever, but he’s able to create a solid surge in one-on-one situations and collapse the pocket. Available late in the draft, Grissom could provide a strong option to replace the defensive snaps lost by Miller’s likely departure.
We’ll have a much better idea who the Buccaneers will target in the draft once free agency has hit its stride. But for now, what players do you like as late round sleepers? Let us know in the comments below.