Buccaneers: Boise State Broncos 2018 prospects to watch

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Brett Rypien
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Brett Rypien /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers in recent years have been big fans of drafting Boise State running backs, but does the current Bronco roster have any other positions of interest to offer the Bucs?

The Boise State Broncos and their trademark blue field are the next stop on our college prospect tour. The Broncos had an impressive 11-3 record in 2017, including a 7-1 record in conference play. Led by quarterback Brett Rypien (nephew to Super Bowl champion Mark Rypien), Boise State’s season culminated in a 38-28 Las Vegas bowl victory against the Oregon Ducks.

Tampa Bay has recently made two high profile draft selections from Boise State, both running backs – Doug Martin in 2012, and Jeremy McNichols in 2016. Lack of production from both of these players is why the Bucs find themselves in such desperate need of running back in this year’s draft. The Buccaneers may tread carefully around Boise runners, but the Broncos still have plenty of other options for them to consider.

Boise will see fifteen seniors and one underclassman enter this year’s draft, so let’s go over the list, and then break down a few specific guys that could help out the Buccaneers.

Linebacker – Leighton Vander Esch (underclassman)

Wide receiver – Cedrick Wilson

Quarterback –  Montell Cozart

Wide receiver – Austin Cottrell

Running back – Ryan Wolpin

Linebacker – Gabe Perez

Linebacker – Blake Whitlock

Safety – Cameron Hartsfield

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Offensive line – Andrew Terceck

Offensive line – Mason Hampton

Offensive line – Archie Lewis

Tight end – Alec Dhaenens

Tight end – Jake Roh

Wide receiver – Brock Barr

Defensive tackle – Daniel Auelua

Defensive tackle – Austin Silsby

Senior to watch: Center, Mason Hampton

The Buccaneers need to beef up their interior offensive line this off-season, and will reportedly consider moving Ali Marpet back to right guard if the right center prospect comes around. While Boise State center Mason Hampton isn’t the home-run talent that would immediately make the Bucs swap Marpet back to guard, he could be a mid-round project worth developing.

Hampton, standing at 6’3, 295 lbs, was named to the All-Mountain West team this year and was one of thirteen finalists for the Campbell Trophy, an award for the nation’s top scholar athletes. He also had repeat appearances on the Academic All American team. Hampton was not invited to the NFL combine, so he’ll need to shine at the Boise State pro-day. Consider him for now a late round prospect.

Underclassman to watch: Linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch

Boise State’s lone underclassman in the 2018 draft is your underclassman to watch, surprise! Aside from being the only option available, Vander Esch is actually worth keeping an eye on. The linebacker/defensive end has drawn rave reviews and is considered a potential second round pick. Vander Esch capped off his career in epic fashion by dominating in Boise State’s Las Vegas bowl victory. He racked up twelve tackles, three tackles for loss, and a sack.

In his junior season, Vander Esch had four sacks, two interceptions, and 141 total tackles. It was without question his breakout season, as he contributed very little as a freshman and sophomore. There’s some debate over whether Vander Esch will play inside or outside linebacker, but at 6’4, 240 lbs I think he’s capable of either. Neither of those positions are particular areas of need for the Buccaneers, but you can never write off talent.

Next: Jay Hayes Fired by Bucs

That’s our look at the Boise State Broncos and their draft eligible players. Which Bronco do you like best for the Buccaneers in the upcoming draft?

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