Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been busy this offseason, despite the perceived lack of action, and have certainly been working on a Darrelle Revis trade and scouting free agents. But perhaps the most important aspect of the offseason for the Buccaneers, considering Mark Dominik’s plan to build a team the right way and avoid overspending on free agents, is the draft preparation. We have learned this week about a few more prospects who will be visiting with the Buccaneers, so let’s take a look at the players the Bucs have taken the time to meet with.
Since the last article about the draft prospects the Buccaneers have met with, Walter Football has updated their list of players the Buccaneers have met with, adding a few interesting prospects. Let’s take a look at the new ones on the list.
It turns out that the Buccaneers have met multiple times with defensive end Margus Hunt from Southern Methodist. The 6’8 defensive end has only been playing football since 2009, and is a former track and field champion in his native Estonia. He runs a 4.5 forty yard dash, can bench 225 pounds 38 times, and is still learning the game of football despite putting up 8 sacks as a senior. In 2009, in his first year playing football, Hunt blocked seven. SEVEN. field goals and punts. His height, leaping ability, and awareness are through the roof on special teams, meaning he would never truly be a bust, but may fail to completely deliver on his second round prospect grade.
Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The problems with hunt are the same as most inexperienced players, and the same as most tall defensive linemen. He has a tendency to get blown up and held up thanks to his large frame, and has trouble getting leverage on other players. He also is still learning the game and doesn’t have the consistency most teams would like in an every down defensive end. He would fit well in Tampa Bay, however, because he’d be able to come in as a pass rushing specialist. It will be interesting to see if he’s targeted in a trade-up scenario by Mark Dominik, as he’s currently slated to go in the middle or end of the second round.
The Buccaneers have also continued to meet with running backs, having another meeting with Texas A&M runner Christine Michael, and Michigan State bruiser Le’Veon Bell. Both are interesting change of pace backs for Doug Martin, and both will be available in the middle of the draft. Michael has been on the Buccaneers’ radar for quite a while, whereas Bell’s status on the Buccaneers’ draft board has only recently been revealed. We’ve discussed Michael before, but Bell has yet to be discussed. He’s a 230 pound running back with decent speed, and is the kind of player who works hard to get something out of every play. He’s not going to truck every defender with strength and balance, and he’s not going to run past every defender with speed, he’s just going to churn out yards consistently and make himself difficult to tackle. Either of these players would be excellent additions to the Buccaneers’ running attack.
Another interesting prospect the Buccaneers have met with is Corey Lemonier, linebacker from Auburn. He’s a pass rush specialist who started the 2012 season well for the Tigers, but like the rest of the Auburn program, did not play well in the SEC schedule. He’s definitely not big enough to be a defensive end, meaning he’d have to be a stand-up rusher, as his 255 pounds wouldn’t hold up with his hand on the ground. But with the loss of Quincy Black, and uncertainty at the strongside linebacker position, Lemonier could be an option to rush the passer from that position.
The Buccaneers have also met with Tyran Mathieu, cornerback formerly of LSU. Most of you already know all about “The Honey Badger”, but just in case you don’t, he’s a former top flight cornerback from LSU who ran into trouble with the law and the school’s rules and found himself out of college football for this past season. He’s a very dynamic player who makes an impact as a defender and as a return man. He is quick, but also physical, especially considering his diminutive size. It will be interesting to see if the Bucs take a flyer on Mathieu, as he could wind up being a very good NFL cornerback. His off-the-field problems could be a major headache, so Tyran would have to prove to Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano that he is a changed man.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as more prospects show up on the Buccaneers’ radar! The NFL Draft is approaching quickly, so news will start to come in more and more quickly over the coming weeks, so be sure to keep your eyes on The Pewter Plank for all the updates.