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Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scores a touchdown against Duke Blue Devils safety Jeremy Cash (16) during the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Chatter: Mock Drafts, Johnny Manziel Consensus and More

This will be the first in a regular series of random thoughts on the NFL Draft from around the web, which will include looks at mock drafts, player profiles, and draft news.

The NFL Draft is still months away, but it’s the primary topic of conversation in Tampa Bay. Fans of the Buccaneers are eager to see which young stars will join the team in the draft, with a special focus placed on the seventh pick the Bucs earned by finishing 4-12.

Here are some of the NFL Draft stories being talked about around the web today.

ESPN Mock Drafts Updated

Both of ESPN’s primary draft experts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., updated their Insider (subscription only) mock drafts, which can be found here. Both experts feel the same way about the Buccaneers’ pick, as they both have Tampa Bay selecting Khalil Mack from Buffalo.

Mack is an intriguing prospect who wouldn’t fit perfectly into Lovie Smith’s ideal scheme on defense, but he has all the tools to provide Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier with a dynamic pass rusher who is also capable as a linebacker.

The main disagreement I have with these mock drafts was Kiper Jr.’s in particular, which featured, the Buccaneers passing on UCF quarterback Blake Bortles. As I wrote in my profile of Bortles, I believe he’s a worthy first-round selection and has Andrew Luck/Ben Roethlisberger upside. The Buccaneers won’t have another chance at a QB like Bortles for a while, unless they somehow manage to have a worse season in 2014 despite a much improved coaching staff. It would be foolish to pass on him.

Johnny Manziel, the Consensus “Best Quarterback?”

In another frustrating moment from Kiper Jr., the long-time ESPN draft analyst told the media the following during a conference call today.


Personally, I believe that Manziel isn’t even among the top-5 quarterbacks in this draft, and that he doesn’t belong within the first few rounds and should be drafted as a project who could develop into something resembling Jeff Garcia.

The bigger problem with Kiper’s statement is that it’s almost certainly untrue. As Pro Football Talk mentions, there’s no way any player is a “consensus” anything in February.

Buccaneer fans will be familiar with Johnny Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, who represented Josh Freeman and was a key figure in the drama surrounding the former Bucs’ quarterback.

Burkhardt’s job is to make Manziel as much money as possible so that his paycheck grows as well. Planting this information with ESPN would be a step in the right direction to continue to grow the myth and legend around “Johnny Football.”

Teams could also be spreading noise about Manziel in hopes of hyping him up to allow their franchise to select other players that fall down the board because of Manziel’s inflated stock.

Overall, I don’t believe that Manziel belongs in the first round of this draft, but if Kiper Jr.’s report is true at all, I will likely be proven wrong by at least one NFL executive.

Improving the Buccaneers’ Offensive Line

Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft has released a three-round mock draft, and he, like many others, has Khalil Mack putting on a red and pewter hat in the first round.

But since his mock draft extends into the second round, we can learn that he feels another top priority for the Buccaneers is to add an offensive lineman. He mentions having previously mocked an offensive tackle to the Buccaneers, and for this instance of his mock, has changed that to guard.

He alludes to the injury status of Carl Nicks and the large contract due to Davin Joseph, and he’s right to believe that the Buccaneers may look to add a guard to replace one or the other. His pick is Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State, who I have heard nothing but good things about.

Have an NFL Draft topic you want to discuss? Leave your thoughts in the comments, or e-mail the editor at  [email protected] with your questions that may be answered in this column in the future.

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  • victorbarney

    Leo Howell, you seem right on the mark to me. I hope someone in management is hearing you…

    • LeoTPP

      Hah, I doubt it, but I’d be happy to share my thoughts.

    • LeoTPP

      Thanks for following along!

  • Buc87

    Spot on! I keep checking for updates on the draft situation every day. Blake Bortles is clearly the guy we should be drafting. It’s unlikely he’ll still be there at #7 so we need to trade up to #1 or #2 to get him. The pass rush can be resolved by free agency and Lovie’s coaching of existing players. Someone like McCluster can resolve WR/special teams, a long shot at Alex Mack and a late round pick can resolve O-line. Not one expert has said Glennon will be a franchise QB, just that he could do a job for us. Is that what we really want to settle for?

    • LeoTPP

      I think you may be surprised by Glennon becoming available at 7. I think there’s a bit too much hype about the quarterbacks and the need for quarterbacks among the top 5 in the draft. I would go out on a limb and say the Jaguars and Raiders will probably not take a QB, and if the Browns take Manziel, then Bortles could be there for the Bucs.

      • Steve Batchelor

        If you don’t think that Houston and Jacksonville and Cleveland and the Raiders don’t need a QB Leo then you need help buddy..Houston won’t pass on Bortles and Jacksonville won’t pass on Bridgewater unless they both stink up the combine and their pro days.Ok let’s say you’re right…Name me the 6 picks before our pick that make any sense at all to improve their team and keep the fans from lynching the owners and GM’s. If every team passes on a QB and sees next year as their savior then they are seriously deranged because who knows what happens between now and then.

        • LeoTPP

          I never said those teams don’t need a quarterback. Never. But among the teams in the top 7, there are plenty of needs besides quarterback, and plenty of potential options to fill them.

          It’s early February, and quarterbacks are being hyped. The same was true last year. Manuel, Smith, Nassib, Barkley were all first round types in January and February. I’m just saying that these teams have more than one need, and if they’re not sold on the quarterback, they’re not going to take the quarterback.

          The early word from NFL teams on these quarterbacks is Manziel, if anyone, is the top guy. That means teams are undervaluing Bridgewater, Bortles and Carr and they could slide. If the Texans, Browns and Raiders all want Manziel, only one will get him, and the others may pass on QB at that point.

          I’m not saying anyone is saying “wait until next year to get our QB” but if you don’t like your options, you don’t take one. If every team that needed a QB took a QB, Glennon wouldn’t have been there in the third last year. It’s about getting the best players. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the ridiculous hype over these quarterbacks.

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  • Steve Batchelor

    I definitely agree we need to release Joseph or trade if possible(doubtful) to free up cap space. I also agree we need to draft a guard in the 2nd round. We need to draft Sammy Watkins in the first. Before you disagree Leo I’ve got a question for ya. What if Williams or Vjac get hurt and go on IR? We are too thin at WR and Sammy would alleviate that problem. I know this draft is loaded at WR and I would be OK with going with a second option at WR in the 3rd but we don’t have that option. We have to get a guard in the 2nd and maybe the 4th. We are way to thin on offense at all positions except RB. If we go into this draft and even look at any defensive players not named Clowney then we are in for a world of hurt because even though I really like Glennon he can’t carry an offense…At least yet…

    • LeoTPP

      What if any starting player gets hurt and goes on IR. By your same logic, we should draft C.J. Mosley to back up Lavonte, or Greg Robinson just to backup Penn. You don’t spend the seventh pick in the draft on depth.

      And if Glennon can’t carry an offense, why give him a THIRD receiver that he won’t use to their fullest extent? The only offense with similar weapons this past year was Denver, and they have the greatest QB of all time under center. The Bucs need a third receiver, but taking one at seven is absolutely bonkers to me. You don’t need to take a guard in the second, although you can, and the fourth is going to have plenty of good WR options, especially for a team needing just a slot guy.

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