It has been far too long before I gave my thoughts on who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should take in the upcoming NFL Draft, as the uncertainty surrounding the Darrelle Revis trade has held the Bucs’ first round choice in limbo. As I wrote recently, I believe it’s time to move on from Revis, and this mock draft represents the Buccaneers drafting without acquiring Revis from the New York Jets. Bringing in strong rookies who have a chance to develop into solid NFL starters provides a much more financially controlled plan for future success, so here are my thoughts on the players Mark Dominik should take next week at the NFL Draft.
- Round One: D.J. Hayden, Cornerback, Houston: Hayden has quickly ascended draft boards as the offseason has worn on (and as his medical concerns have faded further into the past). There’s still some concerns about his health, but if teams (like the Bucs) have done their homework, they’ll know what they need to know about Hayden’s medical status. Outside of his injury, there’s not much to be found on this young man’s “negatives” list. He has never gone toe-to-toe against the best competition in the nation, but he’s always excelled in coverage and as a playmaker in coverage and as a fumble-forcer. He’s an impact player with solid technique and good eyes for the football and the quarterback. He’s got all the resources needed to be a franchise corner, and that’s exactly what the Buccaneers need.
- Round Two: Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Mississippi State: This wouldn’t be the first time the Buccaneers have double up on a position in rounds one and two, but this would be a more successful and necessary attempt as compared to selecting Gerald McCoy and Brian Price a few years ago. Banks has slid down the big board lately, but he’s a big, sturdy corner who plays on the field faster than he runs in shorts on Astroturf. He’s a strong option to develop into ball-hawking corner, as he’s the all-time leader in interceptions at his alma mater, Mississippi State.
- Round Three: Tyler Bray, Quarterback, Tennessee: When the Buccaneers released Dan Orlovsky, and re-signed him to a smaller contract, it was likely to set up the team to draft a QB in the 2013 NFL Draft. Bray has a top-notch NFL arm, and the confident approach to use that arm strength to thread the needle to receivers. He’s got some concerns, but any quarterback taken in round three will. But as a backup to a veteran with a big arm like Josh Freeman, he could be a good backup, and might develop into something more if pressed into duty by the departure of Freeman in 2014.
- Round Four: John Simon, Defensive End, Ohio State: A versatile, hard-working defensive end who will work his butt off as a part of the defensive line rotation. He’s big, and plays strong, and combines that with a high motor and relentless pursuit. He’ll never give up on a play, and tackles well.
- Round Four: Le’Veon Bell, Running Back, Michigan State: Doug Martin needs a backup, and Bell could be just that. He’s a productive, strong runner. He’s got good hands for a running back. And he’s good in pass protection. In other words, he has all the tools needed to be a second running back, and could fill in should something happen to Doug Martin.
- Round Five: David Quessenberry, Offensive Tackle, San Jose State: The Bucs have a solid starting five on the offensive line, but lack a good backup tackle. Quessenberry is a player the Bucs are interested in, and for good reason. He’s going to be a perfectly fine offensive tackle, but doesn’t have any elite skills.
- Round Six: Denard Robinson, Wide Receiver, Michigan: The Buccaneers lack in explosive playmakers on offense, so they can take a chance on Denard Robinson, and see if he’s able to develop into a lightning-in-a-bottle player who can make things happen on offense, and possibly in special teams as well.
- Round Six: Tommy Bohanon, Fullback, Wake Forest: Greg Schiano wants competition at every position. One position at which there is no competition is fullback, where Erik Lorig sits atop the depth chart with no competition. Bohanon was active as a runner and receiver at Wake, and lined up in multiple positions. He’s a good blocker, and probably the best pure fullback in the draft.
What do you think of this mock draft, Bucs’ fans? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. And if you don’t like it, don’t worry, the real draft will be here in just a matter of days!