January 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (96) celebrates a defensive play against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half of the 2017 Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Seventh Round – DT, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, USC
There’s a school of thought that says teams should move up when they know the guy they want is available, but may not be when they get on the clock.
The Bucs did just this when they packaged their 2017 and 2018 seventh-round picks into a package for the right to pick 223rd overall.
With the pick, the selected USC defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu.
The soon to be 26-year old defensive lineman tallied a total of 53 career tackles in three collegiate seasons including two in Utah playing for the Utes.
If you’re wondering why he’s so old for a rookie in the NFL, it’s because he did a two-year mission in the Philippines before coming back and having a medical red shirt season to start his career.
The young man has talent, but he’s also got the hunger to succeed. Knowing USC would be the better place for him to showcase his abilities, Tu’ikolovatu spent six-months living out of his car before being able to move into student housing.
All the while, he was preparing to make his mark as a Trojan, and now he’s a member of the Buccaneers.
The need for defensive line depth was there, and he certainly looks to fill what the team needed some more help with.
His age draws the grade down a bit, but not too badly.
Pick Grade: C
The final day of the draft is in the books, and the Buccaneers followed an offense and defense back-and-forth pattern throughout.
Whether this was the plan all along, or it just worked out this way is unknown, but the two picks taken today fill needs and were spent on solid players.
Day three tends to lack big-time star power, but the potential for both of these young men to become names all Bucs fans know is very real, even if it won’t come for a couple of seasons.
For the last day this year, our grade on day three is:
Day 3 Grade: C+
What are your thoughts on today? Who are your favorites, or who would you have rather seen the Bucs take?
How do you feel about the two trade-ups which impacted the day three selections?
Next up is rookie and training camps, and we’re just three short months from live football.
Check back in as we grade the entire class, and of course, come back often as we look forward to what should be an exciting 2017 football season.