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Feb 24, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney sits on the bench during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: How Do the "Best Players Available" Fit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?


After their free agency spending spree, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed themselves in the unique position of being a 4-12 football team without a lot of needs. Adding an edge rusher, two offensive linemen, a tight end and a cornerback filled most of the holes on the roster, and while the team still has some work to do, they figure to fill most of the holes before the 2014 NFL Draft.

That means the Bucs can go with the best player available, but how would each of the top draft prospects fit onto the Tampa Bay roster?

Let’s start with the most talented player in the draft.

Jadeveon Clowney

This one should be obvious. Michael Johnson is a fantastic player who is slated to play right defensive end, but adding Clowney to the line, in any way, shape or form, means adding incredible athleticism and potential. No matter where he plays along the line (apart from replacing Gerald McCoy, obviously) he’ll add an explosive force to a line made better by adding Johnson already this offseason.

Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel

The answer here is pretty easy. All of these quarterbacks would get their chance to win the job right out of the gate by overtaking Josh McCown and Mike Glennon during training camp, but the Bucs would have the luxury of having two capable but less-than-special starters to play while they develop their rookie of choice.

Khalil Mack

If Mack is available for the Bucs, he might be too good to pass up, despite obvious concerns about how he fits into a Lovie Smith defense. He’d likely have to make the switch to defensive end, or play a role (hybrid linebacker, pass rusher) that Lovie Smith has never used before. But Mack is polished and ready to be a force in the front seven of an NFL defense, even if he’s not a perfect fit in Tampa Bay.

Sammy Watkins

Watkins’ fit for the Bucs is fairly obvious, as he’d see the field as a wide receiver from day one, with the chance to pass Mike Williams for the second wideout spot if he lives up to his hype. He’d also return kicks and punts and make a difference on special teams as a result.

Greg Robinson

For this one, I’ll defer to Stephen White, who has the plan all laid out for how to use Robinson in Tampa.

 

 

Robinson was a top recruit at guard coming out of high school, but played tackle in a run-first system at Auburn. So assuming he hasn’t forgotten how to play inside, he’d be a virtual lock to perform better than Jeremy Zuttah at guard, and could replace Anthony Collins or Demar Dotson at tackle once the duo hit their 30′s in a few years.

Jake Matthews

Unlike Robinson, Matthews doesn’t seem to be suited to moving inside and playing guard. That makes Matthews the toughest fit of all of the top prospects in the draft, because he’d be relegated to the bench, or would push a well-paid starter to the bench with no flexibility to move them around.

Eric Ebron

Another obvious one. Ebron represents an upgrade over both Brandon Myers and Tim Wright, and gives the Bucs a new day-one starter at tight end with huge upside.

Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert

An option many fans wouldn’t have considered a month ago, the Buccaneers could make a move for a cornerback early in the draft to fill out their depth chart at the position. Pairing Alterraun Verner with a young corner and Johnthan Banks represents young depth that should only get better over time with good coaching from Lovie Smith and company.

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  • Jayson Kaplan

    Clowney is intriguing, but I find it hard to believe he’ll still be around at #7.

    Bortles or Bridgewater are also interesting prospects, particularly with McCown in place so they wouldn’t be forced to assume a starting role immediately (unless they kill it in camp under Tedford). Manziel I won’t even waste time talking about. No way that guy succeeds in the NFL long-term.

    Now Mack or Robinson, those are the two I most covet for the Bucs. I’d take Mack #1 if I were Houston and Robinson looks to be very promising and would make a nice addition to the new-look offensive line.

    No offense to Watkins, but I still don’t take a WR at #7, not with Jackson and Williams already in place. If he’s the best available at #7 then we should trade down with someone who wants Watkins and add more picks.

    • jay26mc

      I agree with everything you said except Watkins. Watkins is a player that would immediately change our offense for the better. Williams is not even close to as good as Watkins. If he’s there at #7 we would be crazy not to get him.

      • Jayson Kaplan

        It’s a little premature to say Watkins is better than Williams considering only one of them has played even a single down in the NFL. Even the most promising prospect is still just that.

        • jay26mc

          The same can be said for any player in the draft. That doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t try to fill their needs and the Bucs need a new WR and kick returner. If they can get the best one available then why wouldn’t they?