There are more mock drafts out there than Mel Kiper has follicles on his head, so let’s add to the insanity with another Buccaneers’ centric mock draft. In order for me to figure out what the Bucs are going to take, I had to channel Mark Dominik and figure out what the roster is lacking. Immediate needs jump out at DE, DT, TE, and QB. With the release of Dan Orlovsky, the QB position becomes an even bigger need, especially with Josh Freeman entering the last year of his contract. Beyond the needs, I had to question what other teams will do, and this is obviously imperfect. There will be at least one trade ahead of the Bucs but these projections assume all teams stay put. Here are my picks:
Round 1, Pick #13: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson posted 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, and four sacks in 2012. The Missouri DT is a top-ten pick, but he could fall to the Bucs for several reasons. In my projection, the Jaguars overdraft QB Geno Smith with the second pick. The other two teams ahead of the Bucs with screaming needs at DT, Oakland and Buffalo take Sharif Floyd and Star Lotulelei respectively. The Jets could also use a DT, but in my draft they grab Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee) because their WR corps was so bad last season that I might have made the roster and made a few catches. So many teams drafting before Tampa Bay have greater needs than defensive line that there is a strong possibility that one of the top three DTs falls to the Bucs. Richardson would be a great replacement for departed DT Roy Miller. DE Bjoern Werner is another possibility here, but I am not certain the Bucs are sold on him and they may be planning on going to go with some combination of Da’Quan Bowers, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Adrian Clayborn.
Round 2: Vance McDonald, TE, Rice
Go Owls! With the TE position playing such a huge role in the League these days, the position will be sure to draw a lot of interest in the first couple of rounds in the draft. I see the top three TEs,Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame, Zach Ertz of Stanford going before the 43rd pick. McDonald is today’s prototype TE. He is 6’4”, 267 lbs and runs a 4.6. He has large hands and catches the ball consistently away from his body. He ended his career with 120 receptions, 1,513 yards and 15 TDs. He is exactly what the Bucs need working the seams and taking pressure off Josh Freeman.
Round 3: D. J. Hayden, CB, Houston
The Bucs wait to address their biggest need area, and they stay in Texas to get a good one. Hayden suffered a freak injury in practice which ruptured a vein and landed him in critical condition. He is healthy now and ready to return to top form and is one of the fastest rising players in the draft. In fact, it is now doubtful that he will last until the third round. He brings prototype size ( 6’1”, 192 lbs, and speed (4.4 – 40 yard dash time) to the position, outstanding closing speed. In 2012, his SR campaign, Hayden returned two of his four INTs for TDs. He tackles. He covers. He wears pewter in the fall.