Oklahoma was one of the final four teams standing in the College Football Playoff this season. Plenty of players from that roster will now enter the NFL Draft. One name is going to stand out above the rest, but which players might the Buccaneers keep an eye on?
The Buccaneers have some work to do this offseason, and some of that will come through April’s NFL Draft. Tampa Bay doesn’t really seem to care whether a prospect played at a big-time school or not, but big game experience can never be a bad thing, right? Oklahoma played in plenty of big games this year. Considering the Bucs have looked to former Sooner Gerald McCoy as their
defensive leader for years now, might there be some other Sooners worth keeping an eye on this draft season? Here is Oklahoma’s list of prospects in this year’s draft:
Tight End- Mark Andrews
Wide Receiver- Jeff Badet
Offensive Lineman- Orlando Brown
Fullback/Tight End- Dimitri Flowers
Defensive Tackle- Du’Vonta Lampkin
Quarterback- Baker Mayfield
Linebacker- Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Safety- Steven Parker
Wide Receiver- Jordan Smallwood
Cornerback- Jordan Thomas
Defensive End- D.J. Ward
Offensive Lineman- Erick Wren
Senior to Watch: S Steven Parker
The Buccaneer defense is a huge work in progress at the moment. There is a major need for help up front, both up the middle and on the edge… Especially on the edge. The linebackers don’t need to be tweaked with at all, but the secondary is uncertain at this point in the offseason too. Cornerback is a position of need, but with T.J. Ward surely gone and Keith Tandy‘s inconsistent playing time, the Bucs could use another safety. Chris Conte should be back, but it would still be nice to add another one.
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That’s where Steven Parker could be an option. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 204 pounds, he has a similar build to Justin Evans, Tampa Bay’s 2017 second round pick. He can play both strong and free safety, which is key in Mike Smith’s defense. Parker could join Evans as the core of the Tampa Bay safety group for years to come. Walter Football projects him as a guy who could go anywhere between the fifth and seventh round. He is the site’s 23rd-ranked safety, but has the potential to be a late steal.
In his career at Oklahoma, Parker put up 217 tackles (eleven for loss), three and a half sacks and 20 pass breakups. As far as turnovers go, he finished with two interceptions, a forced fumble and four fumble recoveries. He made a big play in his final game, scooping up a Georgia fumble in the Rose Bowl and returning it 46 yards for a touchdown. In his senior season, he was named to the All-Big 12 second team by the conference’s coaches. Out of high school, he was a four-star recruit with offers from the likes of Alabama and Michigan. If Tampa Bay has already addressed its defensive line and backfield by the later rounds, Parker would be an intriguing option.
Another potential senior to watch is fullback Dimitri Flowers. The Bucs haven’t really used a fullback very often under Dirk Koetter, but a guy with the lead-blocking and pass-catching ability of Flowers could be enticing.
Underclassman to Watch: DT Du’Vonta Lampkin
Offensive tackle Orlando Brown would be the ideal underclassman to watch for Tampa Bay, but he looks like a potential first-rounder. So, the Bucs could look on the other side of the line. Du’Vonta Lampkin surprised some people by declaring for the draft as a redshirt sophomore. What doesn’t surprise anyone, though, is that the Bucs need some help on the defensive line. Lampkin might be somewhat of a project, considering his pedestrian production and some discipline problems. At the same time, this could be a guy that will fly under the radar. Tampa Bay could spend a late pick on him or potentially bring him in as a free agent if he goes undrafted.
The lack of production is likely a byproduct of his limited time on the field early in his career. However, 2017 was his best year as a Sooner. OU Insider, the Sooners’ 247 site, praised him for being one of the best players on the defensive front at times throughout the season. There’s certainly potential there. In 2017, he racked up 23 tackles (five for loss) and a sack. Those numbers aren’t too special, but those won’t be the numbers that matter most to scouts. Lampkin stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 335 pounds. Those numbers could be eye-catching, as his size might project well for a nice NFL career.
His aforementioned discipline problems cost him the first six games of the 2016 season and the 2017 opener. Those troubles, plus the fact that he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience, could be why people were caught off guard when he left school early. At this point, he is a late-round guy or UDFA possibility, but with the current state of Tampa Bay’s defensive line, his size and potential could intrigue the Bucs. Not to mention, who better to mentor and develop an Oklahoma defensive tackle prospect than former Oklahoma product Gerald McCoy? McCoy is the type of player- and person- that a young prospect would be lucky to have around.
Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield obviously won’t be in Tampa Bay’s draft plans, but these defensive players could be on the radar heading into April.