In the next installment of Buccaneers draft prospects to watch, we take a look at the Miami Hurricanes.
The Miami Hurricanes were one of the surprise teams of the 2017 college football season, even getting themselves set up for a run to the College Football Playoffs. Unfortunately, they couldn’t finish the season on a winning note, losing their final three games. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t provide plenty of draft prospects, some of which the Buccaneers may be looking at come April.
Here are a list of 2017 seniors that will be draft eligible;
Wide Receiver – Dee Delaney
Wide Receiver – Braxton Berrios (Playing in Senior Bowl)
Defensive End – Chad Thomas (Playing In East/West Shrine Game)
Tight End – Christopher Herndon IV (Playing In Senior Bowl)
Defensive End – Trent Harris
Guard – KC McDermott (Playing in East/West Shrine Game)
Offensive Tackle – Trevor Darling
Defensive Tackle – Anthony Moten
Senior To Watch: Defensive End Chad Thomas
Thomas finished his senior season with 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks for the Canes. During his four years at Miami, he played in 40 games, amassing 103 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, and ten sacks. These aren’t eye-popping numbers by any means, but you can see the consistent growth and development over the years and his progression in football intelligence and decision making is notable.
Luke Easterling of The Draft Wire currently has Thomas projected as the thirteenth ranked edge defender (4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers). Thomas is also currently projected to be a late day two to early day three pick meaning he is an option if the Buccaneers miss out on a player like Bradley Chubb in the first round. Focusing on offensive line, running back, or the secondary within the first two rounds would open the door for a player like Thomas to be the third or fourth round guy – and potentially another mid-round steal for Jason Licht.
Of course, with the success of the Hurricanes and the apparent return of “swagger” to The U, some underclassmen are declaring for the draft to capitalize on their opportunity. Here is a list of players who have already declared;
Defensive Tackle – RJ McIntosh
Defensive Tackle – Kendrick Norton
Running Back – Mark Walton
Keep an eye on: Cornerback – Michael Jackson
Underclassman To Watch: Running Back Mark Walton
Before injuring his right ankle in a win against Florida State, resulting in surgery and missing the rest of his 2017 season, Walton was on a tear. In just his third season, Walton has become more involved with the offense each year, carrying a bigger load and helping spark the Hurricanes’ revival.
Walton finished his career with 2,006 yards on 395 carries with 26 touchdowns in 31 games. That was good for a career 5.1 yards per carry average. On the receiving side, Walton had 56 career receptions for 624 touchdowns and two scores. Basically if Walton had the ball, good things were about to happen.
With the Buccaneers in obvious need for a running back, Walton could be on their radar as a mid to late round sleeper. There are still questions surrounding Walton’s recovery and ability to produce given his injury, but participation in the scouting combine and/or Miami’s Pro Day could not only quiet doubters but also begin to rise Walton up the ranks. Easterling has Walton ranked as his seventh best running back prospect and the Buccaneers would certainly benefit from the game changing abilities he brings to the offense.
There are options out there from the Buccaneers’ own backyard and still just a little under a week before the deadline for underclassmen to declare. As I said earlier, keep an eye on Corner Michael Jackson. He has not yet declared, but some speculate he will.
The Bucs have a chance to continue drafting players from Florida programs and this year might be the right time to pounce on one of the members of The U. Oh, and they can bring that turnover chain with them.