The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have traded away the 13th selection in the upcoming NFL Draft, but there are still seven selections in Mark Dominik’s pocket. Starting with the second round, the Buccaneers have plenty of opportunities to select prospects and continue to build depth across the board.
Dane Brugler, draft expert for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com was kind enough to take some time from his busy pre-draft schedule to answer a few questions about the remaining Buccaneer draft picks and how they may be best used. You can follow Dane on Twitter here, to get even more of his thoughts.
Leo: Without Dallas Clark in the fold and lacking another proven starter, the Buccaneers are almost certainly going to select a tight end in the middle rounds. Amongst players like Gavin Escobar, Vance McDonald, and Jordan Reed, which ones stand out as the best pass-catching tight ends that may give Josh Freeman a reliable intermediate target?
Dane: Depends what type of tight end Schiano is seeking for that offense. Escobar can stretch the seam and make difficult grabs at every level of the field, but needs a lot of work as a blocker and probably needs to operate from the slot. McDonald is in the discussion to be the top all-around tight end in this group, not dominant in any one area, but he’s reliable across the board as a receiver and blocker. Reed is more of the “joker” TE variety, can line him up in the backfield, in-line, slot or wherever you need him. He was a QB two years ago so he’s still developing as a pass-catcher, but the tools are there for him to be a reliable option. The name I’ll add to the mix is Cincinnati’s Travis Kelce who is the best tight end in the draft not named Tyler Eifert and would be a great pick for Tampa on the second day.
Leo: There have been reports that the Bucs have met with Le’Veon Bell and Christine Michael as they search for a running back to spell Doug Martin. What kind of future do these two have in the league, and would they be suited to a backup/change of pace role?
Dane: I’m not a huge fan of Bell, but in the right role, he can carve out a quality NFL career. He has the hands and blocking prowess to stand out as a 3rd down back. Had 78 career catches in college and would even motion to the slot in some formations. He needs to continue to get stronger in pass pro, but he has the frame and body to do it. Michael is the type of prospect that can be as good as he wants to be with his ideal frame, quickness and strength. He spent the 2012 season in the coaches’ doghouse so character is a question mark, but he might be the most physically gifted back in this class.
Leo: The Buccaneers are lacking a first round pick, and also no longer need a number one cornerback. That means pass rush may be the first position selected by the Buccaneers’ war room in the second round. What are the best 4-3 pass rushers who are going to be available outside the top 40?
Dane: A pair of SEC rushers should be available for the Buccaneers in the second round, Damontre Moore and Corey Lemonier. Some thought Moore could be a top-10 pick, but he is still very unpolished with his pass rush moves and realistically will need some time to adapt in the NFL. Moore might have the best motor of any defender in this class, but he needs to stay focused and develop. Lemonier is an intriguing athlete who kind of fell under the radar after Auburn’s disaster season, but he has everything you want physically and, like Moore, is probably another season away from putting it all together. Either would be good picks to draft and stash and pencil them in as starters in 2014.
Leo: One last question. As a graduate of an FCS school, I have a ton of respect for the players from smaller schools that make it in the NFL. Give us a couple of small school players to keep an eye out for as potential breakout players.
Dane: I gave 3 FCS prospects a top-100 grade: OT Terron Armstead (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), CB Robert Alford (SE Louisiana) and WR Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech). Armstead has the makings to be a future NFL starting tackle or guard. Alford has some durability concerns, but some teams have first round grades on him. And Rogers has all the talent you want, but the baggage will push him down boards. He’ll still find a home somewhere top-100.
Leo: Thank you, Dane!