Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Under-the-Radar QBs to Consider in NFL Draft
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new regime has already put its stamp on the quarterback situation, bringing in veteran Josh McCown on a two-year deal. However, given McCown's age and the length of his contract, having a young quarterback waiting in the wings would be a wise decision.
The question is: Will it be Mike Glennon, or will the Bucs' new decision-makers want to procure their own young passer in this year's draft?
Most of the conversation regarding the Bucs taking a quarterback in this draft has centered on the top options likely to be available in the first two rounds. Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel have all been mentioned for the Bucs at the seventh overall pick.
But according to Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune, the Bucs might be looking deeper into the draft for their quarterback of the future:
One of the questions still being asked of the Bucs is whether they will draft a quarterback this year. The McCown signing, Smith said, doesn’t preclude them from doing that, but it probably reduced the chances of the team spending a premium pick on a quarterback.
Don’t be surprised if they pass on a quarterback or wait until the late rounds to take one. The Bucs think one of the best quarterbacks in this class could be flying below the radar — though they won’t give a name.
Here's a look at five names that could be up Tampa Bay's sleeve when the latter rounds of the draft roll around.
Brett Smith, Wyoming
Yet another low-profile quarterback with similarities to Johnny Manziel, Brett Smith was a combine snub despite an impressive junior campaign. He threw for 3,375 yards and 29 touchdowns while playing for a 5-7 team without much of a supporting cast. He has displayed his skills as a dual-threat quarterback his entire career, amassing 1,529 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground as well.
What he lacks in elite measurables, footwork and arm strength, he makes up for with his insatiable competitiveness and intangibles. Smith is a vocal leader who excels at putting the ball in the perfect spot for his receiver to make a play, and his skill set has been compared to former Bucs QB Josh Johnson.
While he likely won't be ready from Day 1, the presence of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon would allow Smith to learn and develop, possibly into an effective starter for the Bucs—who attended Smith's pro day—down the road.
David Fales, San Jose State
Considered in the preseason to be one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation, David Fales' stock seems to have cooled quite a bit. Despite a season throwing for 4,189 yards and 33 touchdowns, he is projected to go somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds of this year's draft.
Despite his flaws, his toughness and poise could turn the heads of Lovie Smith and Co. Fales has a great work ethic and a reputation for being coachable. If the fifth round rolls around and the Bucs haven't grabbed a QB yet, Fales could be their man if he's still on the board.
Keith Wenning, Ball State
He won't jump off the tape and wow you with any particular physical trait, but Keith Wenning (6'3", 218 lbs) seems to do everything well. He doesn't have the strongest arm, but his ball placement and timing are outstanding. He backed up his relatively strong film with an impressive week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game.
Projected to go in the later rounds, Wenning could end up being a "diamond in the rough" if given time to develop and digest Jeff Tedford's complex offensive system.
Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Johnny Manziel took all the headlines last season as the undersized signal-caller who always seems to make a play at the right moment. But Connor Shaw made a habit of doing the same thing for the Gamecocks, just with less fanfare. Head coach Steve Spurrier went so far as to call Shaw the greatest quarterback in South Carolina history.
A gritty competitor who showed great toughness and leadership ability throughout 2013, Shaw (6'0", 205 lbs) is an intriguing prospect and a tough one to project at the next level. If the Bucs want to take a late-round flier on a guy who could develop into a successful quarterback in the right system, he is well worth a look.
Jeff Mathews, Cornell
Should the Bucs prefer a more prototypical passer with a rocket for an arm, don't be surprised if Jeff Mathews piques their interest. At 6'4", 223 pounds, he has the size to go along with his impressive arm strength. He's been compared to the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, which makes the Ivy-Leaguer an intriguing late-round prospect.
Lacking in overall athleticism, he's not going to make too many plays with his legs, and his mechanics need some developing. But if the Bucs get to their pick in the seventh round and are targeting a pocket passer rather than a "new-breed" quarterback, Mathews just might be worth snatching up.