Buccaneers: Best remaining underclassmen to watch

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 16: Defensive back Josh Jackson
IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 16: Defensive back Josh Jackson /

As we approach the end of our 40 Teams in 40 Days series, we take a look at some noteworthy underclassmen – and potential Buccaneers targets – from schools that didn’t make the list.

Working on this project over the last month has given me a new understanding of just how many schools are out there across the country. Even after 40 schools I had no trouble finding countless others that missed the cut. That’s the purpose of this article today – to round up all the stray underclassmen entering the draft from universities that typically fly under the college football radar. After a look at the fourteen underclassmen I compiled, we’ll dial in on a few specific guys that could help out the Buccaneers.

Best remaining underclassmen

Jessie Bates, safety, Wake Forest

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, linebacker, Western Kentucky

Maea Teuhema, offensive tackle, Southeastern Louisiana

Eddy Wilson, defensive tackle, Purdue

Frank Ginda, linebacker, San Jose State

Ryan Nall, running back, Oregon State

Breeland Speaks, defensive end, Mississippi

Josh Jackson, cornerback, Iowa

James Daniels, center, Iowa

Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, defensive end, Toledo

Isaiah Oliver, defensive back, Colorado

Simmie Cobbs, wide receiver, Benedictine

JJ Dallas, defensive back, Louisiana-Monroe

D.J. Moore, wide receiver, Maryland

J.C. Jackson, defensive back, Maryland

Underclassman to watch: Josh Jackson, cornerback, Iowa Hawkeyes

Josh Jackson is by far the best player to slip through the cracks of our 40 in 40 series. The perfect marriage of elite talent and dire need on the Buccaneers’ end, Jackson is a player to keep a serious eye on as we approach the draft. Jackson played three seasons for the Hawkeyes but was quiet until his junior season breakout, in which he recorded eight interceptions – two of which went for touchdowns – and 48 total tackles.

Standing at 6’1, 192 lbs Jackson is a bit taller than the prototypical Tampa corner, and has a much larger wingspan than both Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves. As a former high school receiver Jackson’s top skills relate to his ball skills, which is reflected in his eight interceptions and an absurd 24 passes defensed in his junior season. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson’s combo of interceptions and passes defensed made him the nations best defensive play-maker. Sounds like something the Buccaneers defense could use, right?

All of those superlatives and accomplishments add up to an elite draft prospect who will likely be drafted inside the top fifteen picks. Though he’s not mentioned as often as Bradley Chubb, Quinton Nelson, Minkah Fitpatrick, Saquon Barkley or Derwin James, I believe that Josh Jackson is a legitimate candidate for the Buccaneers seventh overall pick. Tampa is faced with a budding crisis at the cornerback position. Vernon Hargreaves is one season away from being a bust, and there isn’t a single corner on the bench that deserves to see signifcant snaps in an NFL game. If Brent Grimes retires or changes teams, that budding crisis suddenly turns into…uh, whatever is much worse than a crisis. Apocalypse. End of days. That sort of thing.

Even if Grimes returns the Bucs will still be searching for an improved second corner via this year’s draft and free agency, and there’s few better options in this draft than Josh Jackson. Mike Mayock and Daniel Jeremiah both have Jackson as their second best corner, while Mel Kiper called him the best cornerback in all of college football in 2017.

Next: Arizona State 2018 prospects

So Buccaneer fans, who are your favorite underclassmen in this upcoming draft? Do you see Josh Jackson as a potential fit with the team in the first round? Sound off in the comments with your take!