Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Every year, teams meet with players in the months leading up to the draft, and it can indicate a bit of the draft strategy of a particular team. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the current list of players they are known to have met with is short, and doesn’t reveal as much about the Buccaneers’ draft plans as fans would like. There are no meetings with Xavier Rhodes reported, and no meetings have been noted between the Buccaneers and any of the premier pass rushers. but according to the fine folks at Walter Football, we do have an idea of some of the players the front office has met with. Here’s the list:
"Kiko Alonso, LB, OregonMike Catapano, DL, PrincetonGavin Escobar, TE, San Diego StateMarquise Goodwin, WR, TexasLane Johnson, OT, OklahomaVance McDonald, TE, RiceBrendan Melanophy, DB, FordhamChristine Michael RB, Texas A&MDavid Quessenberry, OL, San Jose StateJ.C. Tretter, OL, CornellDesmond Trufant, DB, WashingtonBrian Winters, OL, Kent State"
As we’ve stated here at the Pewter Plank, Desmond Trufant is the one top cornerback prospect that makes the most sense for the Buccaneers, but constitutes a reach at the 13th selection. It’s no surprise that they have met with him, and may target him if he slides down the draft board. The interest in Lane Johnson is certainly something to notice, but it’s not out of the question for him to be on the board at number 13. Drafting an offensive tackle that high would be a bit of a surprise, but Johnson would be great value at the 13th pick. The interest in tight ends Escobar (who we profiled earlier) and McDonald shows that the Buccaneers are likely looking at picking up a tight end in the middle rounds of the draft.
The other offensive linemen being interviewed are late round prospects, which is a very likely strategy the Buccaneers will employ. Offensive skill players Christine Michael and Marquise Goodwin are both middle to late round picks who would provide depth at running back and wide receiver respectively.
I think the most important thing to draw from this list is to not try and draw too much from this list. The Buccaneers tend to be a quieter organization when it comes to player interest in the first place, and the draft is one area where teams are extremely hesitant to show their cards. The NFL Draft is one big chess match, and even with Twitter and websites scouring all of their sources for news, the biggest and most important scouting and meetings will be held closely to teams’ chests until the draft is over.
So it’s nice to read a bit about the players the Buccaneers have reportedly met with, but the big names that Mark Dominik has his eyes on will only be revealed on draft day. Don’t be surprised if one or two of the players above get selected, but there are likely dozens of other names on the top of the Bucs draft board that we may never know about.