Nov 29, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack (46) makes a tackle on Bowling Green Falcons running back William Houston (32) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bowling Green beat Buffalo 24 to 7. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL Draft is still quite a few weeks away, but it’s never too early to start breaking down the big news and important stories, especially as they pertain to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here are some of the top stories from the past few days about prospects in the upcoming draft.
Khalil Mack’s NFL Fit
One of the biggest questions for Khalil Mack is just how well he’ll fit into an NFL defense. The Buffalo outside linebacker is athletic, but also strong at the point of attack as a pass rusher, so where does he fit in the league?
According to former Buccaneer and current SBNation blogger Stephen White, he can do it all.
White says that Mack has the athleticism, skills, and polish to be an impact player at any of three positions (4-3 defensive end, 3-4 outside linebacker, middle linebacker) from day one, but admits he doesn’t have the high ceiling of Jadeveon Clowney.
Lovie Smith may be willing to modify his defense to add more man coverage concepts in this upcoming season, but there’s no chance he moves to a 3-4. So it’s encouraging to see that a former NFL defensive lineman sees Mack as a fit at the 4-3 end spot, as that’s something the Buccaneers could definitely use with the seventh pick in the draft.
NFL QB Coaches Prefer Carr over Manziel
Derek Carr opened some eyes at the NFL Scouting Combine by posting some impressive numbers in the athletic drills he participated in. He ran well, jumped well, and appeared to be on a similar athletic level as Johnny Manziel, who is widely considered to be a dual-threat quarterback.
But what will open even more eyes is a report that NFL quarterback coaches seem to prefer Carr as a prospect over Manziel, who is being touted as a number one overall pick possibility in the upcoming draft.
NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread reported that NFL QB coaches were polled at the Combine as to which passer they prefer, and no fewer than 17 said Carr.
I’ve already posted my draft profiles for both Manziel and Carr, and I agree that Carr is the better prospect. With similar athletic tools, a cannon for an arm, and better all-around ability as a thrower, Carr is closer to being an NFL QB than Manziel.
Bortles to the Bucs? It’s Possible.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com and NFL Media posted his latest mock draft, and it includes a surprise at the top of the board: No quarterbacks in the top 4.
While you may think this is a fairly ridiculous outlook, consider last season, when Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, E.J. Manuel and Matt Barkley were all considered top-10 picks at one point or another, and the draft unfolded in a much different way.
There are legitimate concerns about each of these quarterbacks, and they may fall in the draft. If they do, don’t be surprised if the Buccaneers take one, and allow Jeff Tedford to work through the footwork issues of Bortles or Carr, or the pocket presence and chaotic style of Manziel.
You may also notice that this mock has the Buccaneers selecting Bortles over Teddy Bridgewater. While my draft profiles for the two players conclude that Bridgewater is a better prospect, Bortles has a very high ceiling, and Tedford’s coaching may help unlock his troubled footwork and set him free to Andrew Luck-like heights as an athlete and a thrower.
Have an NFL Draft topic you want to discuss? Leave your thoughts in the comments, or e-mail the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions that may be answered in this column in the future.