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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Finding 'Speed in Space' in Every Round of Draft

Luke EasterlingCorrespondent IOctober 12, 2016

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Finding 'Speed in Space' in Every Round of Draft

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    In his introductory press conference, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford made multiple references to a new catchphrase.

    In regards to his offensive philosophy and what he's looking for in his personnel, Tedford continued to reference "speed in space":

    To try to put a square peg in a round hole is not the wisest thing to do, so we want to make sure that whether we have the players on our team now – which is what we’re in the process of evaluating – they can do some of the things we want to get done, or drafting them, or free agents, or acquiring them however we get them. The philosophy is we want to make sure we can run the football; we want to be physical up front and run the football. We want to be diverse. We want to get speed in space, multiple personnel, formations. 

    I think it’s important to find guys who are versatile, that can do those type of things. Then great speed – when I say speed in space, to get outflanked and get guys in the open field that can make guys miss and be explosive with big plays.

    Last month's NFL combine proved that there are plenty of prospects in this year's class with speed to burn.  If the Bucs want to add players that fit Tedford's "speed in space" mentality, they will have plenty of options throughout the entire draft.  

    Here's a look at least one prospect they could target in each round of the draft who brings the top gear to the table.

1st Round

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    Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

    This one's a bit obvious.  While Watkins is easily a top-five talent, the need at quarterback for the teams picking in that range could push him down to the Bucs at the seventh pick.  

    Watkins boasts a rare blend of size (6'1", 211 lbs), speed (4.43 40-yard dash at the combine) and physicality.  Much of Clemson's offensive success was built on moving Watkins around and finding creative ways to get him the ball in space, which is exactly what Tedford wants to be able to do with his playmakers.  

    If Watkins is still available at the Bucs' pick, you can bet that Tedford would be salivating at the chance to add his explosive abilities to his offense.

    Back-up Plans

    Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU (trade down)

    Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State (trade down)

     

2nd Round

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    Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi

    If Watkins is off the board when the Bucs pick in the first round, they'll more than likely go in a different direction with that pick.  The top-tier receivers are projected to be off the board by the time the Bucs pick near the top of the second round, but trading down from the 38th overall pick is a possibility.  

    If they do trade back, one target who could bring speed to the table is Moncrief, who ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash at the combine.  That time was impressive considering Moncrief's size (6'2", 221 lbs), and his speed was one of the few question marks about his skill set heading into workouts.  

    With his combination of size, speed and overall athleticism, Moncrief would be a strong addition to a Buccaneers receiving corps that already includes Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.

    Back-Up Plans

    Martavis Bryant, WR Clemson (trade down)

    Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina (trade down)

3rd Round

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    Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado

    If Darrelle Revis is still on the roster, the Bucs won't own a pick in the third round (it will belong to the Jets as a condition of the trade for Revis).  However, moving back in either the first or second rounds is definitely possible, meaning the Bucs could add a third-rounder via trade.

    If they do end up picking in the third round and are still looking to add speed, Richardson is a name to keep in mind.  After missing the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL, Richardson responded by catching 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior this past season.  His 4.40-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine proved that he has the straight-line speed to be a threat in open space and is the kind of fluid route runner the Bucs would love to have lined up in the slot.

    If Tampa Bay can procure a pick in the third round through a trade, keep an eye on Richardson if they haven't added a receiver in the first two rounds.

    Back-Up Plans

    Mike Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest

    Josh Huff, WR, Oregon

4th Round

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    Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State

    If the Bucs are still looking to satisfy their need for speed when the fourth round rolls around, the Bucs will still have plenty of options.  One of them will be the NFL combine's fastest man.

    Archer blazed his way to a 4.26-second 40-yard dash, falling just short of setting a new combine record.  A jack-of-all-trades playmaker, Archer racked up 4,980 all-purpose yards in his career for the Golden Flashes, averaging 10.3 yards per play.  Archer also impressed by doing 20 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press (just one less than South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney).

    A bit of a "tweener," Archer's size (5'8", 173 lbs) makes it difficult to project him as a full-time starter at either running back or receiver.  However, any offensive coordinator worth his laminated play card will find a way to put an athlete of his caliber in a position to make plays.

    Back-Up Plans

    Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming

    T.J. Jones, WR, Notre Dame

     

5th Round

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    Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma

    If the Bucs are looking for someone to add a flash of speed to the passing game, while also bringing elite skills as a return man, look no further than Saunders.

    The nephew of former NFL All-Pro receiver Webster Slaughter, Saunders shocked no one by running a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.  While undersized at 5'9" and just 165 pounds, Saunders boasts outstanding explosiveness and quickness, making him a terror after the catch.  He's a smooth athlete, but will have to improve the precision of his routes to be a successful slot receiver at the next level.  Until then, he could make an immediate impact in the return game.

    Back-up Plans

    L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri

    Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama

6th Round

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State

    In addition to missing a pick earlier in the draft, the Bucs are also currently without a selection in the sixth round, thanks to a trade with the Chicago Bears for offensive lineman Gabe Carimi.  However, any trade down in an earlier round could give Tampa Bay a pick in this round, and they should still have some solid options if they want to get faster at receiver.

    After a prolific senior campaign for the Cardinal (83 catches, 1,572 yards, 14 touchdowns), Janis lit up the NFL combine by running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, despite his impressive size (6'3", 219 lbs).  Like most late-round prospects, Janis definitely has his weaknesses (smaller hands, not consistently playing to his size), but he's a blue-collar guy who lives to play the game and has the physical tools to develop into a contributor at the next level.

    Back-up Plans

    Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor

    Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan

7th Round

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    Dave Tulis/Associated Press

    Albert Wilson, WR, Georgia State

    Even if speed is addressed earlier in the draft, don't be surprised if the Bucs try to add more with a late-round flyer.  

    Wilson followed up a productive career with the Panthers (175 receptions, 3,190 yards, 23 touchdowns) with an impressive performance at the NFL combine.  Wilson matched Clemson's Sammy Watkins with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and caught everything thrown his way during the "gauntlet" drill.  At 5'9", 202 pounds, Wilson has a thick build and was a versatile playmaker for Georgia State in 2013, averaging 23.5 yards per kick return and finishing third on the team in rushing yards.

    Back-up Plans

    John Brown, Pittsburgh State

    Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska

     

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